Thursday, October 28, 2010

Song of the Week: Big Star "The Ballad of el Goodo"

This week's Song was inspired by a recent tweet.  Last Thursday, I tweeted this while caught at a red light:

"Gorgeous fall day--windows down, driving (sure, recklessly) to @ "Early Aubade." "

Ahh, fall: joyful driving times and kinda-weird driving thoughts!

Later, I got to thinking (I'll warn you: this gets slightly morbid, but it's a fun question, so come along with me).  Say (God forbid) you're in a terrible car accident and don't survive.  Somehow, through the crash and wreckage, your stereo continues to play whatever song you were driving to when the crash occurred.  Say this is the song that inspired you to drive recklessly and crash.  And say this song is stuck on repeat, full blast, while the police and ambulances and (sure, why not) media show up to the scene.  Nobody can turn it off.  It is, for better or worse, the immediate soundtrack to your death, and the musical postscript to your life.

Now...what would be the best possible song to be playing in this moment?

Before we get there, I'll pick a few superlatives for me, inviting you to chime in with yours:

Most Likely Song: Pearl Jam, "Animal"
Be forewarned: I drive like a complete lunatic whenever this song is on my stereo.  If I need to get somewhere really fast, I simply pop in Pearl Jam's Vs and throw caution to the wind.  One time I made it from my house in East Nashville to my friend's in Belle Meade in 9 minutes.  I didn't even get to the last verse of "Daughter."

In my defense, Jesus Christmas have you heard this lately?

Least Likely Song: Iron and Wine, "Love and Some Verses"
First, I don't own a hard copy of the CD, so it's never in the car.  Second, I like them (and this song), enough to still be engaged/not fall asleep.  Third, it's the least aggressive four minutes of music I've ever heard.  It makes me want to do nothing but hang out at a four-way stop and wave everyone else through (in awful driving circles, that's honored as the "East Nashville Special"). 

Most Prescient Song: Beatles, "Day In the Life"
An obvious (and totally worthwhile) pick, top to bottom.  I'm putting it here because our quasi-hero dies in an implied traffic accident.  Also, would there be a creepier sound on repeat than the noise-chatter that closes the song?  

Least Prescient Song: Oasis, "Live Forever"
Because, you know, irony.

Most Funereal: Dropkick Murphys, "Amazing Grace"
Because I'd want my funeral to be 100% Celtic and at least 50% rock.

Most Embarrassing Song: Olivia Newton-John, "Physical"
Because...a lot of reasons.  But reason #284: in this scenario, you're driving alone.  Hmmmm....

My Pick (2nd Runner-Up): My Morning Jacket, "I Will Sing You Songs"
The 5:28-7:20 section is, for me, maybe the most resonant piece of song I've ever heard.  It sounds like heaven.  (Side note: couldn't find an album version online, but this video is awesome.  The section I'm talking about comes at the 5:42-7:45 mark.)

My Pick (1st Runner-Up): Beatles, "In My Life"
A popular pick, and with good reason: what does this song say that you wouldn't want said, and what does it leave out?  Bonus points for childhood memories attached to it.

And finally...My Pick: Big Star, "The Ballad of el Goodo"
Longtime readers might've seen this coming.  Five main reasons this beat out all the other contenders (Beatles and Dylan abounding):
1) I can't think of a song that I relate to more.
2) They say your life flashes before your eyes before you die.  Many of those scenes involved Big Star as they happened, so it's only appropriate Big Star plays as they flash by.
3) It's just perfectly, transcendently, impossibly gorgeous.  It's too damn pretty.
4) My greatest passion has always been music.  I can't think of a song that more perfectly embodies everything I love about pop music, and contains more things I personally look for in favorite songs (anthemic choruses, perfect harmonies, jangly production, brave lyrics, etc.). 
5) I heard a rumor that you get into heaven automatically if you die to Big Star.

So...what are your picks?  Hit up the comments and let me hear it!

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