Category: Certain Songs

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.


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.


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.


Certain Songs #1390: Old 97’s – “Question”

Album: Satellite Rides
Year: 2001

And now we come to what is unquestionably my favorite Old 97’s song. Which is ironic on several levels, the most immediate one being that it’s just Rhett Miller all by his lonesome on an acoustic guitar. So I guess that it’s more like my favorite Rhett Miller song, which just adds to the irony in that Rhett remade it on his second solo album, 2006’s The Believer, but with a more full arrangement — keyboards and strings — and it doesn’t work nearly as well.

But man does it work on “Satellite Rides,” not only sticking out like a sore thumb in between the full-tilt rockers, but also in tone: there’s no distance from Rhett Miller and the simple proposal story he’s telling.


Certain Songs #1389: Old 97’s – “What I Wouldn’t Do”

Album: Satellite Rides
Year: 2001

The thing about Satellite Rides was that it was almost an embarrassment of riches. Nearly every single song was a winner, from the power chord opener “King of All The World,” and running winners like “Rollerskate Skinny” and “Designs on You.”

Hell, even the outtakes were lit: the bonus-CD only “Singular Girl” is as good as anything on the record. And smack damn in the middle were a pair of songs that pretty much made the record for me — tomorrow’s subject, “Question” and the insanely hooky “What I Wouldn’t Do.”