Category: Certain Songs

Certain Songs #1190: The Monkees – “Last Train To Clarksville”

Album: The Monkees
Year: 1966

Over 50 years later, the authenticity debate rages on.

There are literally still people who care only that The Monkees were artificially created because a TV executive saw A Hard Day’s Night and exclaimed “hey, we gotta get us one of those!” I’m not one of them: I loved the TV show as a kid, and again as an adult, and the Monkees were perhaps the first example of an artist whose critical reputation grew as the people who loved them as kids became adults.

Not to mention, since we’ve gone into a more overtly pop-oriented era, those old debates seem, well, old.

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Certain Songs #1189: Molly Hatchet – “Flirtin’ With Disaster”

Album: Flirtin’ With Disaster
Year: 1979

After Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane went down, there was a but of a rush to fill the void left by Ronnie Van Zant’s death.

At first people people thought that maybe one of the bands of Ronnie’s brothers, Johnny & Donnie, might fill the hole. Not so much, as Johnny changed his band’s name, released a bunch of albums to squat until he just said fuck it and joined the reunited Skynyrd in 1987, and has now been with them three times as long as Ronnie was.

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Certain Songs #1188: The Modern Lovers – “I’m Straight”

Album: The Modern Lovers (reissue)
Year: 1980

Like Big Star’s Third, it seems like theThe Modern Lovers has a different track listing upon each reissue, as the definition of what “counts” on a record that was released years after it was recorded expands and contracts over time.

This first happened in 1986, when Rhino reissued The Modern Lovers added three songs to the original LP: “Dignified and Old,” “Government Center” and “I’m Straight.” The former two were fine, if minor additions to the album (and “Government Center” is a horrible way to end the record, both aurally and thematically, after the summation of “The Modern World.”)

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Certain Songs #1187: The Modern Lovers – “Girl Friend”

Album: The Modern Lovers
Year: 1976

At some point in 1973 — around the time The Modern Lovers were signed to Warner Brothers — Jonathan Richman had a change of musical heart. It wasn’t that he didn’t still love rock ‘n’ roll, but rather he didn’t want to make loud, noisy, overly electric rock ‘n’ roll.

Which meant that when it came time to properly record the songs that had been demoed for WB and A&M, Jonathan really didn’t want to. Which was a problem, of course, for his band, their producer John Cale, and eventually Warner Brothers records, who reacted to Jonathan’s compromise of recording the songs but not touring them by dropping the band.

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Certain Songs #1186: The Modern Lovers – “Someone I Care About”

Album: The Modern Lovers
Year: 1976

Wither Ernie Brooks? As the bass player in The Modern Lovers, his massive, roiling basslines were definitely part of what gave them such a primal power. But, unlike keyboardist Jerry Harrison, who ended up being the final piece of the puzzle that was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Talking Heads, David Robinson, who ended up being the drive train for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Cars, and Jonathan Richman, who ended up being Jonathan Richman, Ernie Brooks didn’t go on to huge musical acclaim in his post Modern Lovers career.

That said: it wasn’t like he stopped playing. He played bass for folks like Elliot Murphy, David Johansen and even hooked back up with his old college roomie Jerry Harrison after Talking Heads disbanded, and as recently as 2014, still had fond things to say about his experiences with The Modern Lovers, as you might when you know that you were part of one of the greatest albums ever.

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