Certain Songs #269: Danny & Dusty – “The King of The Losers”

Lost Weekend Orig Album: The Lost Weekend
Year: 1985

At some point in 1984, I started writing record reviews for CSUF’s newspaper, The Daily Collegian. Their building was right next to the Speech Arts Building (where KFSR) was, and there was definitely some crossover — Collegian folks were DJs, and KFSR people like Kirk & I wrote for the paper — as well as a friendly rivalry going on.

After all, the Collegian was a established CSUF institution — they even had Macs! — and we’d only been on the air for a couple years. I’ve already written how, in a parallel universe, I would have been a Journalism major, so I was psyched to be doing record reviews that somebody else was editing and actually publishing.

After all, my two lifelong dreams were to be a DJ and a rock critic — aim high, Jim! — and here I was, doing both before my 22nd birthday.

(more…)

Certain Songs #268: Danny & Dusty – “Song For The Dreamers”

Lost Weekend Orig Album: The Lost Weekend
Year: 1985

You know that picture of Mick & Keith singing from Exile on Main St? The one where Keith is holding a beer and Mick is holding a Jack Daniels while they’re both singing into the same mic?

I imagine that Steve Wynn and Dan Stuart had that picture in their head as they were singing “Song For The Dreamers,” probably the most optimistic track on The Lost Weekend.

(more…)

Certain Songs #267: Danny & Dusty – “The Word is Out”

Lost Weekend Orig Album: The Lost Weekend
Year: 1985

“Danny” was Dan Stuart of Green on Red, and “Dusty” was Steve Wynn of The Dream Syndicate, and in early 1985, they convened in a studio in Los Angeles with a bunch of their friends and spend 36 beer-and-whiskey fueled hours recording one of my all-time favorite one-off records, The Lost Weekend.

Populating the album with an endless series of boozers, dreamers and losers, Danny & Dusty — along with ringers Sid Griffin, Stephen McCarthy & Tom Stevens from The Long Ryders, Dennis Duck of The Dream Syndicate & MVP Chris Cavacas of Green on Red — cobbled together an album that sounded like The Replacements decided to follow Let it Be with a boozy, fucked-up version of Let it Bleed.

(more…)

Certain Songs #266: Dan Bern – “God Said No”

New_American_Language Album: New American Language
Year: 2001

In a weird way, “God Said No” just might be the ultimate Dan Bern song. For a guy who (tongue-in-cheek) sang “I am The Messiah” on the first song on he debut album, writing a whole song about a conversation where he basically asks God to let him alter history isn’t out of the pale.

That said, “God Said No” shows unusual pathos about human weaknesses and God’s understanding as such. The result is a lyric that resonates regardless of your personal belief system. After all, he could be making the exact same requests of The Doctor.

(more…)

Certain Songs #265: Dan Bern – “Simple”

smartie-mine Album: Smartie Mine
Year: 1999

Dan Bern’s most ambitious move to date was 1999’s two-CD Smartie Mine, a rock-solid collection of folk-punk tunes that also allowed him to stretch out with remakes and covers and craft great songs on subjects like Pete Rose, Marilyn Manson, Vincent Van Gogh, Tiger Woods and his own feelings about being a “New Dylan.”

Two discs meant that he also could stretch the song lengths, with songs establishing a riff and riding it for several minutes, like the two songs that end the first-disc, the piano-driven “Ballerina” and slide-guitar-filled “Simple.”

(more…)