Category: The Daily Loper

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.

Meanwhile Donnie Van Zant’s shot at being Jim Belushi rested with his band .38 Special, was derailed by a guy named Don Barnes, and .38 Special went the bland pop route, scoring singles like “Hold Me Loosely” and “Caught Up in You,” which I couldn’t stand then, though maybe they’ve aged — hang on, let me check YouTube real fast — nope, they’re still pretty bad.

And it fact, the video for “Caught Up In You,” — which was a top 10 single, for chrissakes — is hilarious in its incongruity: everybody looks like they were just cast in a Skynyrd biopic, and they’ve got two drummers, none of which makes any damn sense when you listen to the generic straightforward pop-rock son they’re playing. Ah, the 80s.

Much better was the Rossington-Collins band, where Allen Collins and Gary Rossington sidestepped the “how to replace Ronnie” problem by hiring a woman named Dale Krantz to do the singing. Even with Billy Powell and Leon Wilkenson from Skynyrd as extra ringers, though, I remember the Rossington Collins songs as being good not great.

Best of all, of course, was Molly Hatchet, which rode on top of the guttural growl of a guy named Danny Joe Brown, a three-guitar attack where they actually used all three guitars, and of course those over-the-top Frank Frazetta album covers, which hinted at the power of the music inside.

Which, outside of the first album’s cover of the Allman Brothers “Dreams,” I don’t remember. I never bought the album Flirtin With Disaster, though I must have heard it at some point, because Tim did buy it. He does, however, report that outside of a couple of songs, the record isn’t all that great.

But the title track sure enough is. Opening with a guitar rattle and then settling into a southern-fried boogie groove that’s full of curlicue guitar hooks and modulation after modulation, “Flirtin’ With Disaster” sounded great on the radio, proudly wearing its Skynyrd influences like a confederate flag jeans jacket patch.

I’m travelin’ down the road
I’m flirtin’ with disaster
I’ve got the pedal to the floor,
My life is running faster
I’m out of money, I’m out of hope,
It looks like self destruction
Well how much more can we take,
With all of this corruption

Of course, if it was all boogie grooves and myth-making lyrics, it wouldn’t just be flirtin, but a full-on disaster, instead there’s a nod and a wink throughout the song — guitar break comments during the verses, stop-times, reversals — right down to Danny Joe Brown’s laugh after he Van Zants “And you are too, baby” and the whistle he tosses in during the guitar solo handoff.

It is, of course, an appropriately long guitar break, all three guitarists getting in their licks, climaxed by everybody playing the same thing at the same time, and yet another modulation, before then head into the final set of verses and chorus.

In the end, “Flirtin’ With Disaster” wasn’t going to make anybody forget Skynyrd, but it was definitely a highlight of that Day on The Green at the Oakland Coliseum that Craig & I went to in 1980 when we saw Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio and left before Journey came on.

Flirtin’ With Disaster

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
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Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The Daily Loper – Dec 17, 2010

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The Daily Loper – Aug 30, 2010

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