The Problem With Lists

Whenever you set about making a list which has lofty goals — e.g. “Top 10 Songs That Defined The 60s“, you have to careful about the criteria.  On the aforementioned video, the listmaker used both record sales and influence on music as the primary characteristics for inclusion on the list.  Here’s the choice, as formulated:

10. Hit The Road Jack — Ray Charles (’61)
9. Mrs. Robinson — Simon & Garfunkel (’68)
8. You Really Got Me — Kinks (’64)
7. Respect — Aretha Franklin (’67)
6. Like A Rolling Stone — Bob Dylan (’65)
5. My Generation — The Who (’65)
4. Good Vibrations — Beach Boys (’66)
3. Satisfaction — Rolling Stones (’65)
2. All Along The Watchtower — Jimi Hendrix (’68)
1. I Wanna Hold Your Hand — Beatles (’63)

With honorable mentions of:

Stand By Me – Ben E. King (’61)
Be My Baby – Ronettes (’63)
Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye (’68)
Light My Fire – Doors (’67)
For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield (’67)

The problem with this list — and by the way, I don’t have any argument over the worth of the songs because they’re all excellent — is that I’m not sure how much the R&B numbers (e.g. Ray Charles and Aretha) influenced music, per se, because R&B hadn’t really changed much since the 1950s (e.g. The Platters) and it was only when James Brown’s funk and later, bebop came on the scene that the R&B genre started to change radically.  (The really big change to R&B had already happened, with Elvis using R&B to ginger up the early rock ‘n roll music and getting White people to listen to it.)

The biggest problem with the list, though, is the concatenation of “record sales / popularity” (which is an easy measure) and “influence” (which isn’t easy).  Using just sales, for instance, we’d have to include songs like Louis Armstrong’s Hello Dolly, Percy Faith’s Theme from ‘A Summer Place’ and the Four Seasons’ Big Girls Don’t Cry, all smash hits in the 1960s, but not influential songs by any measure.

Here’s an example of my confusion.  Simon & Garfunkel were simply folksingers (albeit brilliant ones), and even the brilliant Mrs. Robinson wasn’t that different from other songs of that genre, before or since.  Paul Simon would later be a major change agent in music, but S&G, not so much.

The two songs on the list which stand out as not only popular but also influencers are of course I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Good Vibrations, both of which changed the way other musicians started to compose and play.  The fact that they were also hugely popular merely emphasizes what giant songs they were.  Using that criterion, there would be a very strong case to put the 1967 Beatles’ A Day In The Life (the song and the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album) onto the list — because having already influenced modern rock music once in 1963, the Beatles went ahead and changed its direction again, in 1967.

Likewise, the inclusion of Satisfaction and My Generation makes sense because they weren’t much songs as they were generational counter-culture anthems and they too set the stage for others to follow.  (Despite my dislike of both bands, it’s quite likely that without The Who and the Stones there would have been no punk music, for example.  That’s “influence” for you.)

I also have my doubts about All Along The Watchtower because while it is quite easily one of my favorite rock songs of all time, all Hendrix did was make a Dylan song sound good (not a difficult task, by the way).  Jimi’s music was so different and so iconic that his would-be successors (e.g. Stevie Ray Vaughan) simply covered his songs.  Yes, Hendrix changed the way people played music, but I challenge anyone to point to a modern song of which you can say, “Aha!  That sounds like Hendrix!” (although I will allow that Lenny Kravitz has come awfully close on occasion, as did Prince).

So if you were to ask me to draw up my  list of 12 Songs Which Defined the 1960s, it would look like this, but ranked in no specific order:

  • Good Times Bad Times — Led Zeppelin (68) — OR — Whole Lotta Love (69) because Zep practically defined hard rock for future musicians.  Granted, they came right at the end of the 60s, but the point of the 1960s was that it set up the next decade’s music (and beyond).
  • I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Good Vibrations — no argument from me on those two;  the Beatles song established pop music and Good Vibrations was a forerunner for other neo-orchestral songs which followed, such as Bohemian Rhapsody.
  • A Day In The Life — for reasons as stated above.
  • Ditto Satisfaction and My Generation, which dirtied up the clean Beatle-esque songs of the 60s and reminded us that at its heart, rock ‘n roll isn’t pretty.  (By the way, if we use record sales as a criterion, Honky Tonk Woman — a much better song, in my opinion — outsold Satisfaction by far, but the latter is the more important song.)
  • Whiter Shade of Pale — Procol Harum (’67) turned rock progressive.
  • (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay — Otis Redding (’67) turned R&B into Soul.  Without Otis, artists such as Bill Withers, Percy Sledge, Joe Tex and maybe even Marvin Gaye might not have been as big as they were.
  • You Really Got Me — The Kinks (’65). Still heavy, even today.
  • Like A Rolling Stone — Bob Dylan (’65).  Hate his voice, love the music.
  • Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? — Chicago (’69).  Like Sergeant Pepper’s, you could pick just about any song off Chicago’s first album to put on this list.  (Jimi Hendrix’s comment to the band:  “Your horns are like a set of lungs and your guitarist’s better than me.”  ‘Nuff said.)
  • White Room — Cream (’68).  No list of musical influencers of the 1960s would be complete without Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.

Honorable mentions:

  • Space Oddity — David Bowie (’69) although his real influence would come in the next decade (a story for another time).
  • Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag — James Brown (’65)… now he changed R&B.  Without him, no Earth, Wind & Fire, for example.
  • River Deep, Mountain High — Hellooo Tina (’66)
  • Funk #48 — James Gang (’69).  Like many of the musicians in the above bands, Joe Walsh probably influenced more bands than he’d care to admit.  We’ll look at him in greater depth when I get round to doing this for the 1970s.

I should point out that I don’t necessarily like all the songs listed above, but I can’t deny their influence on the 1960s.

Your arguments and invective are, as always, welcome in Comments,

That’s More Like It

As much as I have fun laughing at the Train Smash Women of Aintree et al., I must confess to enjoying the more classy women on display at Chester and more recently, at Goodwood this year:

 

…and even some of the questionable outfits were, by Aintree standards, quite restrained:

Good show, ladies:  in every respect.

That’s More Like It: Carnoustie Bares Its Fangs

It seems as though the Carnoustie weather only gave the players a false sense of security on Thursday, setting them up for Friday.  And it worked.

The vast crowds were not dodging imaginary lava, of course, but rain. Real rain. The sort of rain that turns course maps into mulch and makes bunkers look like mud. “I’m waiting here,” said one glum spectator, who had joined a swelling mob of clambering fans in watching a big screen from the comfort of the Open’s food tent. “I’ll have to go out later.”

By mid-morning, the food hall was part-cafe, part-viewing gallery and part-changing room. Those wise enough to bring waterproofs had found a place to pull them on, while others had been drawn to the smell of bacon butties. One woman, clearly unmoved by the prospect of exchanging her warmth for live golf, was simply reading a book. Another spectator told the Daily Telegraph that this was his first trip to the Open since Royal Troon in 2016, when the rain fell even harder. “At least I got a free course map,” he said.
It should be made clear that this weather is not unusual. This is Scotland. It rains. Get over it, right? But it was still hard to avoid the contrast between this misery and the opening day here, when Carnoustie provided a passable impression of a Mediterranean beach resort. On Thursday, the better-hydrated spectators fell asleep on the oversized, inflatable cushions. On Friday, those cushions drooped mournfully in the dirt like a herd of tired walruses.

It could always be worse, as they say, and it has been far worse than this at the Open. The conditions were so bad during the third round of the 2002 tournament in Muirfield that Trevor Immelman, the South African player, said he thought the world was going to end.

That braying sound you hear is Kim laughing uproariously.

(And thanks to Reader Pkudude, who sent me the link.)

Friday Night Movies

I have to admit to a secret addiction:  watching the election results of November 2016, most especially this half-hour summary.

Watch as the presenters manfully try to suppress their growing dismay at the inevitability of God-Emperor Trump’s election, and giggle like a little girl at the “We’ve lost but I don’t have the balls to tell you that!”  speech of Hillary Bitch Clinton’s lickspittle weasel campaign manager, John Podesta.

Of course, there are other wonderful videos to watch, and as a public service I’ve added a couple more, for your delectation:

“Trump Can’t Win” — a retrospective gloatfest

Liberal assholes’ stunned meltdown — “Get your abortions now!”, “This was a Whitelash!”, “You’re awake, by the way; you’re not having a terrible, terrible dream,” etc.

Enjoy, enjoy… and feel free to add your own links in Comments.

Then And Now

In days of old, when footballers were simple sportsmen and not the millionaire malcontents they are today, their WAGs (wives and girlfriends) were likewise a completely different sort to their modern-day counterparts.

You see, dating or being married to a footballer carried no special cachet back then — even if the footballer was famous or especially talented, the salaries were modest even by standards of the time.  So if one sees photos of, say, the WAGs of the English team which won the World Cup in 1966, they look like… well, like ordinary housewives:

Nowadays, of course, footballers are paid astronomical sums of money, and consequently they attract, shall we say, a different kind of woman (as seen by a companion pic of England’s 2018 national team’s WAGs):

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with this situation — women have always been attracted to famous and wealthy men — it’s just that nowadays, the rich and famous men have a lot more choices, and therefore the quality of the goods on offer has improved.

Although I have to say that “quality”, if applied to the 2018 WAGs, is a polite euphemism.  To me, most of them look like they’re off to the docks  to work Fleet Week.  But that’s just another factoid which helps answer the question: “Why do men play professional football?”

Last-Minute Replacement

Yesterday’s post about Royal Ascot should have appeared today, but I screwed up the scheduling thingy.  So instead of that, you’ll just have to be content with more pictures of my latest stalking obsession schoolboy-type crush, Carol Vorderman.  First, a few older ones:

…followed by some of more recent vintage:

Outstanding [sic].  I actually think I prefer her as a brunette, but the blonde probably makes it easier to hide the gray — because Ms. Vorderman is currently about 57  years old.