Certain Songs #1395: Olivia Newton-John – “A Little More Love”

Album: Totally Hot
Year: 1978

Curveball!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before — in the course of 1400 posts, that’s gonna happen — but in the summer of 1978, I got my first job, working as a computer data entry person for the claims adjustment company my dad co-owned. I worked in the “computer room” — basically several terminals all hooked to a gigantic NCR computer, entering data and offering my takes on the programs my dad was writing to capture that data.

How long ago was this? When I first started, people were still smoking at their desks, and it was a huge huge huge deal a couple of years later when smoking got segregated to the break room. It was also during the period where there was music piped quietly throughout the entire company. Not Muzak, but the local “light music” station. Luckily, in the computer room, it was too noisy to hear the piped-in music, so we got our own radio. Unluckily, it was tuned to the top 40 station, KYNO AM, which I had recently outgrown as I turned more towards the hard the older guys on my block were digging.

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Certain Songs #1394: Buzzcocks – “You Say You Don’t Love Me”

Album: A Different Kind of Tension
Year: 1979

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,” 1979’s A Different Kind of Tension was where they perfectly balanced their pop tendencies with their artier tendencies, and while I’m always going skew pop, I really did love many of the weird tunes like Steve Diggle’s thrashy “Sitting Round At Home,” Shelley’s droning “Hollow Inside” and the awesome title track.

Balancing that out was Shelley’s questioning “I Don’t Know What To Do With My Life,” Diggle’s hilarious fucksong “You Know You Can’t Help It,” and, of course, “You Say You Don’t Love Me,” which roars out of the box with about million hooks.

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Certain Songs #1393: Buzzcocks – “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”

Album: Singles Going Steady
Year: 1979

Figured that in the wake of Pete Shelley’s sudden and saddening death, I might write about a couple more of his Buzzcocks songs in the next couple of days. And then a couple of his solo songs when I get there (as I was going to do anyways), so here’s yet another highlight from Singles Going Steady, the mold-breaking “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays.”

One of the things that struck me about the Buzzcocks was that their albums were more experimental than their singles, and so I never loved the artsier first two albums Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Love Bites as I did Singles Going Steady or even A Different Kind of Tension, which is where I think they found the balance between punk pop and punk art.

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Certain Songs #1392: Old 97’s – “The One”

Album: Blame it on Gravity
Year: 2008

Then Rhett Miller started making solo albums. Which made sense: he’s always been prolific as hell, and he wanted to make music outside of the established sound / groove of the Old 97’s.

And so starting with 2002’s The Instigator, Miller has spent his time alternating solo albums with Old 97’s albums , and in fact he has just released his most recent solo album and an Old 97’s Christmas album (neither of which I’ve heard as of this writing), so as far as his fans go, he’s never disappeared.

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Certain Songs #1391: Old 97’s – “Singular Girl”

Album: Satellite Rides (Bonus Disc)
Album: 2001

“I didn’t know you were up to the Old 97s,” a visibly delighted Rox said when she read the post for “Timebomb.” And despite the fact that the stars have never aligned for us to see them in concert — and they just played in L.A. a couple of nights ago, but we had a long-planned party that night — they’re probably one of her favorite artists, so she was interested in what other songs I was writing about.

So, obviously she was fine with things like “Barrier Reef” and “Murder (Or a Heart Attack),” she was dismayed that I was skipping “Oppenheimer” — just missed the cut — and I had planned not to write about “Singular Girl,” until I got to the version on Rhett Miller’s solo album. “But it’s got one of the greatest lines ever,” she pointed out, and as we both repeated that line at the same time, I realized that I needed to write about it after all.

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