Let the Beat Build #24: November 2014
Diversions: LTBB #24 Diversions
“Slow Rollin’ Low” - Waylon Jennings
KW: Anthems. Personal and universal. Middle finger to the sky as it falls. It was hard to pick this over “Waymore’s Blues,” “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?,” or, I don’t know, most of Waylon’s seventies output. Or any of the truly great madness that Iggy Pop was making at the same time. Or the Cardigans. Or Beulah. Or Wilco. Or Cibo Matto. This is going to be the best November ever. December better look out, this month is going to sweep the leg. I used to play Waylon’s songs (even this one, which is mostly a Billy Joe Shaver song) on my guitar to anyone who would listen. I would still do that. I should still do that. Life is at least one third pining for things that you can’t have anymore. That’s this.
"Freedom of Speech" - Above The Law
JW: Sorry this took me so long. I've been chewing on the notion of anthem, and there were so many directions. As much as ever, the Diversions List reflects this. As I write this, Break Stuff is the most recent entry on a list that has DJ Kool, Queen, Nirvana, Pantera and Shit Robot. So I'm gonna take it personal. In 1990, a film came out that galvanized my perception of non conformity, individuality and dissent. Pump Up The Volume, as Hollywood as it was, still tapped into a cultural energy that took punk to NWA, License To Ill to Grunge. Over half the songs on this album were anthemic for me.
“Rhymin and Stealin” - Beastie Boys
KW: I remember jamming out to this before I understood what any of it meant, back in 1987 or so. I also remember one summer evening with friends singing this song off the balcony of our friend’s apartment back in 1994. Due to laziness, it’s the only Beastie Boys record on my phone at the moment, which means I listen to it approximately every three days. I love this album, with all its flaws and bravado. Supposedly, this is the drum loop that started the Beastie Boys, when MCA figured out how to make tape loops and was inspired to turn their punk band into a rap group.
“More Than A Woman” - Bee Gees
JW: “Struttin” is a theme that we’ve seen more than once on LTBB. This is a bonafide struttin’ song. Staying Alive is the obvious strut-choice. But I was listening to this song the other day as I walked out of the subway station, and all of a sudden, my sneakers turned into boots, my hips loosened up and I high-fived a bus driver. One of those things might not have happened. I can’t know for sure what you were thinking when you added this to the list, or who or what this song represents, but it’s a spirit animal for moving in public. KW: I got kind of heavy into old records at one point, and every record collection in America has a copy of Saturday Night Fever in it. That’s how I got into the Bee Gees. One summer night I hopped into a cab on Allen and Delancey and the driver was jamming out to this song. Cruising around the City listening to the Bee Gees, headed to some party, NYC that’s baller.
“C.R.E.A.M.” - Wu-Tang Clan
KW: Not only does sound smooth as hell, but it’s also twenty years old and still fresh. That old fly shit, I guess. Like the hardcore Wu-Tang version of the Bee Gees. I want all disco to be at least as good as the best Bee Gees. I want all hip hop to be at least somewhere near as good as the best Wu-Tang. The saga continues, Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang. And every day that saga gets truer, cash still rules.
“Rattled By The Rush” - Pavement
JW: Agreed. I want all Indie Rock to be at least as good as the best Pavement. This may deviate from the Anthem anchor, but I think that’s fine. Harness Your Hopes was a close second, or Cut Your Hair. Plus, we’ve got a good thing going with Waylon-ATL-Beastie Boys-Wu so let’s keep it eclectic.
“Let Me Clear My Throat” - DJ Kool
KW: This follows “Rattled” due to its slinky distortion, which is applies to dance floor madness instead of rock groove. There should be more guitar solos in hip hop. I guess dirty ass horns will do though.
“Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” - Run The Jewels (feat. Zack De La Rocha)
JW: I’ve never heard this song before, and I’d be interested to hear how you made your way to it. But I like it. It’s a good “fists in the air” song. Not the Jersey kind, the collective movement energy kind. Kind of like It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop. 24 Hour Party People and B.O.B. almost took this slot. But something about ...Count To Fuck reminded me of A$AP Rocky x Skrillex, LTBB #8, which I listened to almost daily in the summer of 2013. Inside this broken old man is a rough, rugged and raw yout jumping up and down. KW: El-P is the man. I first heard this when someone I follow on Soundcloud posted it. I was like “wait, this is great” and then El-P dropped a verse and I was like “no way.” These guys just did a Kickstarter to remix their record using only cat sounds. Fucking crazy.
“Fuck Tha Police” - N.W.A.
KW: In my mind, I have just remixed this track with nothing but cat sounds. Shit that would be ill. N.W.A. has never been prominent in my listening, but Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy E all were. It’s hard to imagine a group like like Run The Jewels existing without N.W.A., who arguably changed the course of hip hop when they sounded a voice of defiance over despair.
“Stay The Course” - DJ Shadow, Posdnous, Talib Kweli
JW: One of the things I love about hip hop is how easily the players are rearranged with awesome outcomes. Rock had supergroups, but the system was not built for them to mix and match as nicely. Right Turn was always a favorite though. Shadow is so good. Kweli is soo good. Plug One is so good. I don’t have the words right now, but isn’t there a difference between an album where each track has a marketable guest spot, and a single song made in collaboration with fantastic partners? That could be it’s own playlist. Hmm…
“Got ‘Til It’s Gone” - Janet Jackson with Q-Tip and Joni Mitchell
KW: This is my favorite Janet Jackson song. I think it’s the only Janet song I like. I had never heard Joni Mitchell before this track came out. I still say “dust” sometimes when something is finished. This came out at the height of Q-Tip’s popularity, right when he broke up one of hip hop’s greatest groups, A Tribe Called Quest, and then went on to do mostly mediocre solo stuff. Also, consider this a placeholder for the Jay Dee’s Revenge remix.
“Ace of Spades” - Motörhead
JW: This is my favorite Motörhead song. In truth it might be the only one I know. Lemmy's a badass though. Did you know he was born on Christmas Eve? And is older than my parents? I found this song in LA, a sort of perfect place for it. Yeah, Hollywood or Sparta, New Jersey. I think everyone could describe a person who rocks out to Ace of Spades. I would like to see a book of portraits of these people. It would be like Tulsa, Robbie Cooper’s avatar portraits and Breaking Bad. KW: Listening to this now, many years after I first rocked out to this as a kid in a metal band, I’m just astounded at the speed and clarity of it. I mean, if Lemmy can pull off this kind of bass riffing while probably half a bottle of whiskey into the deal, shit, maybe he should have been a surgeon. Right?
“F the CC” - Steve Earle
KW: I’ve been a Steve Earle fan since about 2002, when I got into Jerusalem and then Guitar Town. Somehow I missed his 2004 record, so I didn’t hear this until now. Smokin’. I revisited the lyrics for “Ace of Spades” and I was surprised at how good they are, but also at how they’re more general than I would have thought. But “F the CC” is specific, and I like that. I wonder how he feels ten years on, when it’s mostly same shit different President.
“Gimme Some Truth” - John Lennon
JW: “I'm sick to death of hearing things from a Uptight, short sided, narrow minded hypocrites… Schizophrenic, ego centric, paranoid Prima donnas… neurotic, psychotic, pigheaded politicians… All I want is the truth now just give me some truth now.” I have a strong hunch Steve Earle still feels this way. And Lennon would as well. We don’t usually bring current events into the mix, but last week, the Senate voted down the USA Freedom Act, preventing an effort at surveillance reform that would have functionally done very little. I read an article about it, basically deriding Glenn Greenwald for once being outrage and now being unmoved by lawmakers inability to act ineffectually. “So what then are we to make of his now-casual dismissal of a bill to curtail the program...” When we say “gimme some truth”, we mean cut the bullshit. That doesn’t mean the truth is the end goal. The truth is the baseline. Change is the demand. A different world is the goal. Now what?
“Territorial Pissings” - Nirvana
KW: And this is how I feel sometimes. It’s easy to feel this way. Listening to it now I’m reminded of “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves (To Love And To Be Loved),” the great Bright Eyes anthem about peering down into that feeling, and climbing back out. I remember listening to this in cars at high rates of speed when it was new. But I still love to blast Nirvana while driving 25 miles per hour in the suburbs. There’s something empowering / pathetic / humbling about doing that. JW: I was blasting Nirvana after the Cowboys won the Super Bowl. I was trying to cut my friend off and spun my car out, hopping the median. Playing grab-ass in your cars is totally empowering / pathetic / humbling.
“Waiting Room” - Fugazi
JW: Stack this somewhere on top of the last three. “Fight for what I want to be… Function is the key.”
“But I don't sit by idly
I'm planning a big surprise
I'm gonna fight for what I want to be
I won't make the same mistakes
Because I know how much time that wastes
Function is the key”
“Epic” - Faith No More
KW: You totally didn’t take my Faith No More click bait, so I’m dropping it as if it was one of your picks, because I know it is. JW: I was THIS CLOSE [ ]. It’s it! What is it?