Certain Songs #1329: Nick Drake – “Pink Moon”

Album: Pink Moon
Year: 1972

For the longest time, Nick Drake was just one of those names that popped up on lists of cult artists of the early 1970s, a guy who I never quite got around to listening to, and nowadays, Nick Drake is someone who I’ve listened to, but mostly still haven’t quite come around to.

And in between all of that, of course, is one of the greatest collisions of crass commercialism and pure art that has ever existed: the Volkswagen “Pink Moon” commercial.

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Certain Songs #1328: New York Dolls – “Human Being”

Album: Too Much, Too Soon
Year: 1974

For reasons that are lost to the mists of time, I purchased the New York Dolls second album, the perfectly titled Too Much Too Soon about a year before I purchased New York Dolls.

Why I didn’t buy them in order is now lost to the midsts of time, but of course, by the early 80s, the Dolls were essentially known as an influence on the punk rock of the time, and David Johansen was beginning to distance himself from his past with his ever slicker solo albums, and Johnny Thunders was distancing himself from everything with heroin.

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Certain Songs #1327: New York Dolls – “Trash”

Album: New York Dolls
Year: 1973

“Trash” was released as part of a double-A side with “Personality Crisis” in 1973, and while the latter song was too unruly by half, it seems to me that in an era with AM hard rock singles like “We’re An American Band,” “Smoke on the Water,” “Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo” and “Takin’ Care of Business,” there was no reason that “Trash” couldn’t also have been a chart-topper.

But, of course, it wasn’t: there wasn’t going to be any world-conquering for the New York Dolls, except perhaps posthumously, and even then, it seems to me that out of all of the proto-punk forerunners — The Velvets, MC5, Stooges — their story is the one that I actually know the least.

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Certain Songs #1326: New York Dolls – “Frankenstein (Orig.)”

Album: New York Dolls
Year: 1973

You could never ever get away with a song like “Frankenstein (Orig.)” today.

Not because it’s particularly offensive or dirty, but rather in the past few decades, we’ve all come to understand that “Frankenstein” was the doctor (and pronounced “fron-ken-steen” as well) and referring to the monster as “Frankenstein” is just inaccurate, and even borderline offensive. Monsters have feelings too!!

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Certain Songs #1325: New York Dolls – “Personality Crisis”

Album: New York Dolls
Year: 1973

I’m not really sure what it means that there were only a handful of bands in the early 1970s willing to take on the Rolling Stones in the ragged-but-rough roots rock category. The Faces, of course. Aerosmith, maybe. And, of course, the New York Dolls, whose debut album was a critical link between the Stones and the punk rock that followed.

Like all of the aforementioned bands, the Dolls were built upon the tension between the flashy lead singer who wanted everybody to love them and the crack guitarist who provided licks, riffs and occasional vocals, to boot.

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