Category: The Daily Loper

Certain Songs #577: Hank Williams – “Move it on Over”

Hank williams 40 greatest hits Album: 40 Greatest Hits
Year: 1947

You don’t need me to tell you that Hank Williams was a titan of American popular music, an ace songwriter whose music was equally influential for rock ‘n’ roll and country.

And in fact, his first big single, “Move it On Over,” is clearly one of those songs that was rock ‘n’ roll before anybody had coined that phrase.

Of course, I heard this song via George Thorogood, via Rock 96 FM, the weird FM station that had arisen in Fresno in the 1970s, and probably didn’t even know it was a Hank Williams song until I found it later on the utterly indispensable 40 Greatest Hits.

His first Billboard chart single, “Move it On Over” features an unstoppable rhythm section and hot guitar leads leaping from the mix. All of this threatens to overshadow the clever lyric about a man who is literally in the dog house.

She’s changed the lock on my front door
My door key don’t fit no more
So get it on over (Move it on over)
Scoot it on over (Move it on over)
Move over skinny dog ’cause the fat dog’s moving in

A story song that doesn’t really feature a chorus, “Move it On Over” lives and dies on the call-and-response in every verse, where Williams’ twang contrasts nicely with the far more polished harmonies of his backing band. It’s a neat combination of utter rawness and sheer professionalism.

As the song progresses, Williams confesses to the sins that got him in this position, and even as he declares that she’s gonna take him back, you can tell that’s just false bravado, and the dogs might wanna look for a new place to live.

“Move It On Over”

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Certain Songs #576: Hall & Oates – “Rich Girl”

Hall & Oates Rich Girl Album: Bigger Than Both of Us
Year: 1977

So I just took a look at Hall & Oates singles discography, and with the possible exception of “She’s Gone,” “Rich Girl” is pretty much the only one that I even like, much less love.

And I don’t even know if I’m right or wrong here: it kinda seems like Hall & Oates have had a bit of a critical reappraisal in the past few years, and that’s fine by me, but that doesn’t mean that I’m gonna run out and give “Maneater” another try, either.

So like “Boys of Summer,” or “Knock Me Down,” “Rich Girl” is the quintessential Song I Love By An Artist I Don’t Like.

And there’s this: how many songs are put-down songs of a girl that use the word “bitch” in the chorus without referring to the girl as a “bitch” in said chorus. Admirable restraint there, Daryl Hall!

Using the eternally great trick of starting with Daryl Hall singing the ridiculously hooky chorus over just an electric piano, and finishing with Halls calls being responded by a slew of John Oates while the shimmering Philly strings dance on the horizon, “Rich Girl” deserved to be the #1 hit single it was.

While 1977, when this song came out, was the year I started making my transition away from Top 40, but that summer I got my first job in the computer room at my dad’s office, and all they had on was KYNO’s Top 40, so for the next two years songs I liked — “Rich Girl,” “Go Your Own Way,” “Miss You” — were absolute lifelines.

“Rich Girl” performed on Dutch TV, 1977

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Certain Songs #575: Haim – “Honey & I”

haim days are gone Album: Days Are Gone
Year: 2013

One of the most critically albums of the the current decade, Haim’s Days Are Gone seemed to epitomize the “toss it all into a blender and see what happens” ethos of the download era.

In other words, after a decade where the actual financial cost of trying any kind of music trended towards zero, musicians have a much wider breadth of influences, and music fans have less of an excuse to stay genre-bound.

I mean, you can, of course. But it was much easier to dismiss entire genres when you had to pay a whole shitload of money just to sample those genres. And what his has meant, in practice, is a lot of mongrel music that is nigh-on unclassifiable.

Like “Honey & I,” my favorite track from Days Are Gone, which is a kaleidoscope of drums fading up and down, guitars hitting when you don’t expect them to hit and sisters Alana, Danielle & Este Haim singing circles around each other.

It’s unfocused and dreamy, and spends so much time sabatoging whatever momentum it threatens to gather, it’s an extra pleasure when they kick it into a straight rave up near the end, but even that’s a bit of a feint, like they just wanted to know that sure they could do that, but, nah!

Except live, when they’re having too much fun rocking out to stop.

“Honey & I” live in Glastonbury, 2014

“Honey & I”

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Certain Songs #574: Guns N’ Roses – “You Could Be Mine”

Guns you could be mine Album: Use Your Illusion II
Year: 1991

The summer of 1991 was a weird time for me.

I was in between girlfriends, bands and had finally gotten my life together to the point where I was just a semester away from graduating from college. In addition, I’d unexpectedly started living alone in the Tower District again.

So everything was pretty much in the air at that time.

But there was one thing I knew for sure, so sure that I wrote these exact words in my journal: “Prediction: the next Guns N’ Roses album is going to be very important to me.”

And while I’m sure that sentiment was at least partially due to whatever advance press the Illusion twins were getting, I’m guessing that it had way more to do with this song, the video of which was exploding all over the MTV that summer.

Said video, BTW, is yet another tentpole in my ongoing theory that Slash is a Time Lord. Why else would the Terminator travel back in time and target Guns N’ Roses but to make sure their time traveller doesn’t get in the way of his mission?

Meanwhile, musically, the song is the most perfect expression ever recorded of the Guns N’ Roses hybridization of Aerosmith & The Sex Pistols. “You Could Be Mine” is filled with big rumbling drum builds, feedbacky guitars and of course Axl’s sneer, which is at its sneeringest on the chorus.

You could be mi-innne
But you’re way outta li-iiine
With your bitch-slap rappin’ and cocaine tongue
You get nothin’ done
I said you could be mine

And the end, with Axl playing call-and-response with Izzy & Duff while Slash piles on the guitars and Matt Sorum pounds away, is utterly thrilling, getting harder and hotter until Axl ends the whole thing with a long scream of “miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiineee, yeah!”

I mean, I wanted a whole album of this stuff! Stat. Though in retrospect that would have been fucking exhausting.

Looking at it a quarter-century later, what we ended up getting was weirder, wilder and far more complex. If at the time, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II seemed like the bloated results of too much ego, too much money and too much drugs, then I think time has been incredibly kind to these records.

What seemed like ego in 1991 seems like generosity in 2016. Like they knew that they were going to explode like a supernova and that explosion was going to swallow everything whole, so might as well get these songs out there before that happens.

Like Sandinista! Or Warehouse: Songs & Stories, other examples where a band that instinctively knew it was nearing its last legs said “fuck it, here’s everything we got.”

Of course, I’m just glad I got to witness the supernova from a safe enough distance.

Official Video for “You Could Be Mine”

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Certain Songs #573: Guns N’ Roses – “Estranged”

Guns Estranged Album: Use Your Illusion II
Year: 1991

Believe it or not, I didn’t do every song I truly love from Use Your Illusion II.

That means I didn’t write about the perfect classic rockness of “Yesterdays,” or their over-the-top version of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” which featured a gospel choir singing the title over a stop time just because they could, or even “Locomotive (Complicity)” where the chorus has some of the best John Bonham drumming not done John Bonham.

But this gorgeous thing, I couldn’t resist.

With Axl’s whispered “alone” at the beginning as a signpost, Slash making his guitar cry to the heavens throughout, the multi-faceted “Estranged” kills even “November Rain” as an epic power ballad.

I fucking love Axl’s vocals on “Estranged,” especially on the I-guess-it’s-a-first chorus:

So nobody ever told you baby
How it was gonna be-eeeee
So what’ll happen to you baby
Guess we’ll have to wait and see-eee

Which is followed by a “ONE, TWO” and a glorious jumble of Matt Sorum’s drums and Slash’s keening guitar before finally getting into the song proper.

But that’s really a lie: there really isn’t a song proper in “Estranged,” as it’s as restless as its songwriter, one W. Axl Rose. So “Estranged” doesn’t really build properly from slow to fast or quiet to loud as it meanders through “all the changing seasons” of Axl’s psyche.

Whether or not that’s a good thing is, of course, entirely up to you. As always, best to have Slash’s guitar light the way.

There is another irony in “Estranged.” It’s a break-up song, natch, but of course the real-life break-of of Axl and Stephanie Seymour meant that she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) appear in the video, which I guess was supposed to be a sequel to “Don’t Cry” and “November Rain.”

In any event, this was all over two years after the Illusion twins came out and nobody gave a shit. Not only had The Spaghetti Incident?!? already come out, pretty much all of their singles after “November Rain” had completely stiffed, and MTV had started moving away from videos once and for all.

So while the “Don’t Cry” & “November Rain” videos felt like events, the “Estranged” video felt like a bad hangover from a party you didn’t even want to go to in the first place.

Official Video for “Estranged”

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