In the last few weeks, I've seen MySpace bulletins, various blogs and places like the AV Club feature people setting their iPod/iTunes libraries on "shuffle" and talking about the songs that come up. So, taking a cue from these, here's a sampling from my iTunes library on "shuffle":
"Ask the Lonely" by Journey
Here's a song that I discovered by just letting the CD play through. I never heard this song on the radio back in the day, but apparently it was a big hit. It's from the Two of a Kind soundtrack, a flick featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John post-Grease. I love the chorus melody and find its "When you're feeling love's unfair/you just ask the lonely" line very relatable.
"Day Two" by Explosions in the Sky
From the long out-of-print EP, The Rescue, this is Explosions in a rather experimental mode. Reportedly the band wrote and recorded eight new pieces in eight days and this came from the second day (hence the title). This features some choral-like vocals and piano - some things I'm curious if the band will ever use again on future recordings.
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police
I've always thought that Sting's vocals were mixed way too low in this song. Great track though, especially the piano hook.
"What's Wrong" by Dennis Wilson
I have to be honest: this was the first time I've heard this song the whole way through. Jeff posted Dennis Wilson's long out-of-print Pacific Ocean Blue record a few months ago and I downloaded it. Pretty good record overall, but this song doesn't really knock me out.
"Beat It" by Michael Jackson
An '80s anthem. Eddie Van Halen's guitar solo still cooks after all these years. I'm still in the dark as to what Michael Jackson is referring to with beating it. Of course there's the standard, locker-room slang for masturbation, but I've always taken "it" to mean avoiding kicking the crap out of each other. At least that's what he does in the video for the song . . .
"Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson
I credit the Wee Demon for introducing me to the power of this song. She put it on a mix CD for Jason and he played it for me one day in his car. I had heard Ted Leo's acoustic version, but I was really blown away by Clarkson's version. Yes, it's super-polished but there is a lot of life in it too.
"We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister
The first time I heard the name Twisted Sister, it was in Flight of the Navigator. I didn't hear this song until much later, when a local Kingwood band called Black Eyed Roger covered it. Sometime later I heard the original version. The drums sound nice and full and Dee Snider's raspy voice is right on target with the song.
"If the Kids Are United" by Sham 69
An often-quoted punk anthem that I didn't hear until about three years ago. When I hear the band's name, I often think about Henry Rollins' account of hanging out with Sham 69's Jimmy Percy in Get In the Van and Joe Strummer's reference to the band on the live version of "Capitol Radio" found on From Here to Eternity Live.
"Different" by Acceptance
Every week, there is a free download offered by iTunes' Music Store. I saw this one week and figured what the hell, so I downloaded it. This is a very glossy-sounding track (complete with piano and what I think are real strings), but it's not devoid of life. The chorus is pretty catchy. Also, Matt Pinfield from 120 Minutes is the A&R guy for this band. I wonder if he still is. I wonder if they're still on Columbia.
"Twin Falls" by Built to Spill
I heard Ben Folds Five's live version of this song before I heard this version. When I heard this version, I was rather disappointed. Ben Folds Five made this into a really fleshed-out midtempo ballad while Built to Spill kinda races through it. After years of listening to both versions, I have come to really enjoy the original as much as the cover version.
"When I Grow Up" by Garbage
I'm not a huge Garbage fan, but Version 2.0 is a fantastic album that could double as a singles collection. A really simple song that's hard to get out of your head.
"The Fallen" by Franz Ferdinand
I always think this song is called "Walk Among Us" because those three words are said so often. Well, that's not the title and no, it's not a reference to the Misfits album, Walk Among Us. Regardless, this a fun opening track to Franz Ferdinand's under-appreciated second album, You Could Have It So Much Better.
"Do Anything You Want to Do" by Eddie & the Hot Rods
A song I found after sampling a friend's copy of Rhino's No Thanks!: The '70s Punk Rebellion box set. The line, "Tired of doing day jobs/with no thanks for what I do," is something I sometimes feel, but not all the time.
"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie
A highlight from a rather dodgy Death Cab record. It's a rather morbid love song, but it's really beautiful at the same time.
"Guess I'm Doing Fine" by Beck
Sea Change is Beck's only record where I can take him seriously. The whole album is really sad, but I don't get all depressed when I hear it. This is one of my favorites from it.