Category: Certain Songs

Certain Songs #270: Danny Elfman – “The Simpsons Theme”

61VXxkHipEL Album: Songs in The Key of Springfield
Year: 1989.

I never liked Oingo Boingo. They always seemed too self-consciously wacky to me, like Danny Elfman had heard about new wave from some friends and thought “hey, I can do that!” And proceeded to do so, making sure every note was misplaced just perfectly.

Naturally, the same things I disliked about Oingo Boingo were the things I loved about his scores for the 1980s Tim Burton films, from the frenetic Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure score to the stately Batman soundtrack, so I can now look at Oingo Boingo as Elfman’s extended demo tape for his true vocation as composer of awesome film scores.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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