Archive for December, 2015

Day 52 – My Hands Are Tied My Feet Are Bound

December 10th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


For a band that despised the road trip song, R.E.M. was clever enough to write songs that felt very visual. “Reckoning” is maybe the perfect album when driving through a state like Nebraska with not much to see but big sky surrounding you. It finds a way of being Americana without being obnoxious about it. The subliminal cover with the serpent that includes the various song titles off the album, done by the Reverend Howard Finster doubles down on their predecessor by identifying that the band’s not playing games with the importance of putting together classic visuals.

I have always had a soft spot for R.E.M.’s ‘Burning Down’. Now, even though the song was released as a B-side for ‘Wendell Gee’, the song was recorded during the Reckoning sessions and feels a bit more appropriate for that album, such as the lead in. It is not a very complex song and has similarities to ‘Ages of You’, another early song that ended up as a B-Side.
I have felt that R.E.M. songs carry different degrees of importance and this one is not thought-provoking lyrically, even though the song’s lyrics when it was written way back in 1981 had been altered significantly to the Dead Letter Office version.

There were always a couple songs that were featured in my mind on the earliest of bootlegs that I purchased/acquired and this was one of those tracks. The bootleg, “R.E.M. – Georgia Peaches Ripe!” contained all the necessities for an R.E.M. bootleg; the classic lineup was featured (Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe), the jacket including the photo of the band sprawled out on both sides of the LP, and an incorrect date of the show listed on the jacket (January 10, 1981 instead of the correct date April 10, 1981). I think that I read somewhere that individuals knowingly did this on purpose. The thought was that they did not want the bootleg to come back to them so they would change the date which would make it look a little less obvious in case someone saw it in an album bin somewhere.

‘Burning Down’ was the second track on this album, the first being a cover Buddy Holly’s ‘Rave On’. The quality of the bootleg, as well as the fact that there was a very raw quality to the boot, as well as their sound made a very powerful impression on me.

On the surface, the song is a fairly benign R.E.M. b-side that shows off their ability to write a catchy tune. For me, it was always something more, a doorway into a world that I have yet to exit.

• Joe Strummer & The Mescalaros – Burnin Streets
• R.E.M. – Burning Down
• Guided By Voices – Burning Flag Birthday Suit
• Radiohead – The Butcher

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Day 51 – A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes

December 9th, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


The last month has been a challenge for everyone. News out of every crevice feels more dreadful than the day before. At times, its difficult to comprehend or even write. In the meantime, my iPod has officially “Died”. While there are still several days that are logged in, I was not able to get past the letter C before the damn thing died at a Yo La Tengo concert of all places.

As we write it’s final farewell as well as to pick out a song that represents the tone of today’s world, I figured Leonard Cohen would be the perfect individual to pick on.

Leonard Cohen is an acquired taste. There are plenty that cringe while listening to this Canadian crooner whose monotone delivery does not offer much excitement to his folksy tunes.

‘A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes,‘ one of the more obscure and complicated songs on the album ‘Songs from a Room,’ offers a starkness that just felt natural in today’s political climate. I would recommend listening to the entire album absorbing the all of the darkness and despair of the Partisan, about a man on the run from the Germans or the classic ‘Bird on a Wire’ describing a man whose looking to redeem his failures in life.

There are times when the tone of the song or songs might feel stronger than the words themselves. I think that following the news over the past month has been a very difficult ordeal. The moment you feel as if you get over one tragedy, another one occurs.

I get the impression that much of this will get worse before it will ever get better.

• The Minus 5 – Bullfight
• Massive Attack – Bumper Ball Dub (Karmacoma)
• Leonard Cohen – Bunch of Lonesome Heroes
• Dream Syndicate – Burn

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Day 50 – The Many Flavors of Brown Sugar

December 3rd, 2015 No comments

The continuing adventures of “Eric’s Trip Around the Sun”. One final trip with the iPod.


There are times when a song might appear on the list for the day and you are conflicted as to what to write.

One of the conflicts of rock and roll are the various songs that display a certain misogynistic patterns. There are several in the Velvet Underground catalog that while I enjoy them musically, you would not hear me singing these out loud anytime soon.

The Rolling Stones, ‘Brown Sugar’ is one such example. Now from a musical perspective, they wrote a catchy little song. On the other hand, some of the lyrics, the combination of sex, slavery and drugs are not promoted in a negative light. In fact, you would expect that if the song was played live that the fans should be singing along in unison with Mick Jagger.

It is no doubt a very clever play on words that can be interpreted in different ways but there is not a lyrical interpretation of this song that to me is presented in a positive manner that can allow me to somehow find joy in singing this. It really comes down to the tone only. Sometimes I think it would be better if you didn’t pay attention to the lyrics.

Yet, there is something daring and very rock and roll about a song like this. There is an ambiguity to the lyrics which provide a little cover instead of just saying it as it is.

There is a taboo nature of the sexuality in particular which obviously presents a “Tasty” portrait of a young black girl. From the perspective of Jagger, this comes, of course, off as interracial, which for the times was pretty taboo as well.

It’s not just crass words but something to be admired. I am sure I would never lead off with this at karaoke night but can still appreciate the art and craft of the lyrics.

• Oh Ok – Brother
• Animal Collective – Brothersport
• Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar
• U2 – Bullet the Blue Sky

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