132. inner city blues (make me wanna holler)

“For all the suburban whiteness of my so-called tweens, at least the DJs at the local FM rock station were still allowed to be halfway cool. So you can bet they were digging deep into Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, which truly is one of the great †albums, every note, every sorrowful, soulful texture all flowing† together like one vastly complex song. So I’m sure I heard Inner City Blues†† when it was still pretty new, even if I wasn’t aware of it. Just part of the ongoing flow that was filling me in and filling me up with what was really going on† out there in that part of the world that wasn’t organized into easy suburban shapes.” (Philip Random)

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214. supernaut

“I’m thirteen, lying in bed and unable to sleep for reasons of existential magnitude, so I’ve got the radio on to keep me company, tuned to FM, of course, because I’m at least that cool. Anyway, this song comes on, heavy and wild, the singer howling about how he wants to reach out and touch the sky. But I didn’t catch who it was. Next day at school, I I’m quizzing everybody, but nobody knows what I’m talking about, and anyway, they’re mostly into Elton John or Three Dog Night. Long story short. It took fifteen years to get my answer, care of Jared, a marijuana dealer I knew at the time who played bass in various hard rock outfits, knew his heavy history. I mentioned the ‘I want to reach out’ part and he instantly said, ‘Black Sabbath Supernaut,’ like I’d just become magnitudes less cool in his eyes. How the hell could I not know Supernaut!? But I was just glad to have the answer, life suddenly feeling a little more purposeful, complete. Supernaut, found on side one of Vol. 4, which Jared had, so on it went, heavy and cool as I remembered. Life before the interwebs. You just had to keep digging.” (Philip Random)

BlackSabbath-1972-live(photo source)

365. gypsy man

“The band known as War at absolute peak power. In the case of Gypsy Man, it’s how the song creeps in, as if carried by a distant storm, catching the moment for me, 1973, maybe fourteen years old, the Watergate thing, the Vietnam thing, the whole prolonged end of the 1960s thing, all the bright colours fading, distinct stench of garbage caught in the breeze. But at least  radio was still good in 1973. You could actually hear Gypsy Man on a commercial FM station, the long album version. Because the big corporate screwing hadn’t happened yet, but it was about to, because the consultants had filed their reports. There was stupid money to be made with the FM airwaves, and all of this visionary art and truth-telling crap — it was in the way, babe.” (Philip Random)

War-LIVE-1976

697. hard nose the highway

“A road weary gem from a time when Van Morrison really could do no wrong (ie: the early 1970s). I definitely heard it on the radio when it was fresh (while FM was still cool) because I caught the Canada reference. But for some reason, I got it in my head that the name of the song was Seen Some Hard Times, which made finding it rather difficult, search as I might. So I finally stopped searching and found it anyway at a yard sale, early 90s sometime, hiding in plain sight as it were as the title track of an album that had been looking at me for decades.” (Philip Random)

VanMorrison-hardNOSE

783. incident on 57th street

“It was 1974 sometime, so I would’ve been fourteen or fifteen, a weekday night. I’m in my room doing homework or whatever, and suddenly there’s this song on the radio I can’t ignore. Sort of Bob Dylan, sort of Van Morrison, sort of the Band. But it’s its own thing. The singer feels younger, more hopeful, even if he is telling a sort of tragic tale, and he’s definitely telling a tale – love and violence, despair and romance. And then the DJ says the guy’s name but it’s kind of weird, and I promptly forget it. Which is no big deal, it’s a great song, I’ll hear it again soon enough. Except I didn’t. Because FM radio was turning to shit in those days, getting taken over not by music loving DJs, but coldhearted consultants who knew neither love nor grace. So it took maybe three years (and the breakthrough of Born to Run) before I finally discovered I’d been listening to a song called Incident on 57th Street, from Bruce Springsteen’s second album, The Wild the Innocent + the E Street Shuffle. Things just moved slower in those days.” (Philip Random)

BruceSpringsteen-1973