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That perfect song and why it is so


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Why it is so?  Just listen.  The guitars,  the driving beat from the drums.  The lyrics, "There's a tattooed heart with an arrow through the middle with a name that looks like Joe..."

Los Lobos is in my pantheon of the greatest American band of the last 50 years.  Bold claim, I know, but goddamn, they have delivered some outstanding music.

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1 minute ago, baboso said:

Los Lobos is in my pantheon of the greatest American band of the last 50 years.  Bold claim, I know, but goddamn, they have delivered some outstanding music.

I got in that argument many times maybe 10-20 years ago, when they were really rolling.  I completely agree.  "Kiko" is one of the best albums ever put out by an American band.  I mean, it's just fucking phenomenal.

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1 hour ago, Mole said:

I don't know if it's perfect or better than perfect. This is the most unbelievable performance I've ever heard. Lalah Hathaway's vocals are obviously mind blowing, but the band is smoking, and after the polyphonic singing starts up towards the end (she's comping for herself like a keyboard player and hitting all the changes, check out the interplay between her and the organ), the band cranks up the energy and just blows the roof off of the thing. It's cool to see great musicians obviously blown away by each other and collectively raise to another level. Lot's of former UNT kids in this too, so Mean Green represent.

 

Holy shit.

Actually, the polyphonic singing sounds a lot like the DLR shriek. Like at the beginning of "Jump," for example.

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I have been lucky enough to see them live 4 times.  The first was right after they hit it big in the mid 80s with "Will the Wolf Survive" in a little club with me and about 300 vatos.  Absolutely awesome.  They did an acoustic show in Birmingham when I was there that was just insane.  Next time was in Atlanta and they were fully electric, played their own stuff and did covers of Cinnamon Girl and Politician that about melted my face.  Hulla was there with me and we were both like, "Holy shit," I may have just witnessed musical perfection.

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On 1/12/2021 at 10:10 PM, Mach 1 said:

I'll submit two:

One is for the combination lyrics and song

And lyrics that are a bit more opaque, but the music is the best

 

 

I wanted to play but this post stole all of my thunder. I'm like Jimmy because a song that hits me as perfect changes from day to day but these two never change for me.

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I'm with you [mention=1170]baboso[/mention].  To me, the two greatest American bands are Los Lobos and The Heartbreakers.  About 90 years between the two of them with very few member changes.   

I have to confess my general ignorance on Los Lobos. Where should I start with them?
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i checked my ipod (remember those?) that has close to 20,000 songs and this is the song I have played the most.

my perfect song : Husker Du - "Celebrated Summer"

  • punk dynamics
  • classic intro - introduce¬†the guitar riff, isolate the bass for a sec, drum snare cracking thru
  • power pop melodies abound
  • quiet/loud (stolen a lot since then)
  • monstrous loud melodic guitar solo
  • wistful¬†lyrics

"Do you remember when the first snow fall fell?

When summer barely had a snowball's chance in hell?"

 

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44 minutes ago, tbone_ said:


I have to confess my general ignorance on Los Lobos. Where should I start with them?

Wolf Tracks is the compilation album of their biggest songs.  Kiko and the Lavender Moon is generally thought to be their best album.

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I can completely get on board with "American Girl", "Rock With You", and "Dock of the Bay".  No question about any of those.
It's a different day, and I said I'd probably pick a different song every day for a month.  This song is perfect.  Most people think of it as pop candy, but it has some the nastiest guitar tones in recorded history.  It fucking blazes, you just have to listen past the (awesome) vocal harmonies.  He straddled a line between 60s/70s psychadelic haze and pure pop, and I have no idea how he did it. 
Yep, perfect.  Wouldn't change a thing.
 
 


And that’s only his second best song.

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Paul Carrack.  What a phenomenal singer.

I'll tell this story because I don't care that I've told it a half dozen times:  my wife is a big Eric Clapton fan.  So, when he came to the Erwin Center maybe ten (?) years ago, I got us tix.  First row of the mezzanine, so nobody in front of us, nice seats stage right.  Clapton did a set list you'd expect, it was cool, he's not my favorite but whatever, he's a damn fine guitarist.  Then at some point he mumbled something about letting his keyboard player take a turn, and out of nowhere Paul Carrack (who I had not recognized) was doing an absolutely stellar rendition of "How Long" by his band Ace.  I was gobsmacked.  A total surprise.  (By the way, that song is not about a cheating lover, it's about a bandmate who was two-timing Ace and working with other players on other projects.) 

THEN, color me double gobsmacked, Carrack ripped into "Tempted" by Squeeze, which of course he sang (save a line by Elvis Costello).  

I must confess, "Tempted" is probably my favorite song of all time.  It's completely suitable for this thread.  For that matter, so is "How Long".  But Squeeze was a band I just figured I'd never see, and there it was being played right in front of my face, and it sounded PERFECT.  I mean, if you get the lead vocals right and have a band full of pros, how far off is it gonna be?

I think I could nominate dozens of songs for this thread.

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There are several I’d say are just perfect songs: whether in their time or place as the fella says, or in general.    Here are several:

Reminds me of a trip driving through a blizzard to my Grandad‚Äôs funeral, and my uncle was in the truck with me the whole way from Dallas to Pittsburgh (snowing from door to door) ¬† ¬†We listened to the album on loop ¬† ¬†He died of throat cancer a few years after that ¬† ¬†I danced to this song with my mom at my wedding, as the mother/son dance, and out of respect for my uncle, her brother¬†making that trip with me for my grandad‚Äôs (Dad‚Äôs dad, my namesake) funeral. ¬†‚ÄúSetting‚Äô sails, spinnin tales, and fishin for whales, with a lady, that we both enjoyed‚Ä̬†
 

Some of y’all aren’t religious. That’s fine.  I am.   That’s fine too.  This is one that’s just about perfect in delivery, pitch, tone, and all.  Just a wicked song.  I want it played at my laying down.  


some others I’ll nominate:

-Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum

-Rain Song by Zeppelin (might be the best zeppelin song, just absolute musical perfection) 

-She by Green Day (just an absolute masterpiece of mixed sound, and one of the most perfectly drummed songs I’ve ever heard) 

-Dear Mr Fantasy by Traffic (Winwood, just making it happen)

-From Afar by Vance Joy (just a heartbreaking tale we’ve all been through, and his voice is so incredibly humiliatingly awesome) 

-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Trey3216 said:

Some of y’all aren’t religious. That’s fine.  I am.   That’s fine too.  This is one that’s just about perfect in delivery, pitch, tone, and all.  Just a wicked song.  I want it played at my laying down. 

I'm not a big country music consumer, but I remember when that song came out.  It struck me then as a terrific example of just how great a singer Ronnie Dunn is.  He's criminally underrated in that world, as far as I can tell.

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22 hours ago, tbone_ said:


I have to confess my general ignorance on Los Lobos. Where should I start with them?

I would start with the 2-disc compilation entitled Just Another Band from East L.A.  It covers the early (and, IMO, best) part of their career ranging from the late 1970's Spanish-language stuff into the early 1990's.  There's a lot of good stuff from that period that didn't make it on to the compilation, but it'll give you a good overview.

image.jpeg.61ccdb5d77856b5b79a50d3eca90d35b.jpeg

 

If you want to start with one of their studio albums, I recommend How Will the Wolf Survive? from 1984.  IMO, it's their best album.

image.jpeg.15eafd3ce163a692010e28b1f9760941.jpeg

Someone else mentioned Kiko and the Lavender Moon, and that's a good one as well.  I happen to like Wolf a little better.

 

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15 minutes ago, Carl Spackler said:

I would start with the 2-disc compilation entitled Just Another Band from East L.A.  It covers the early (and, IMO, best) part of their career ranging from the late 1970's Spanish-language stuff into the early 1990's.  There's a lot of good stuff from that period that didn't make it on to the compilation, but it'll give you a good overview.

image.jpeg.61ccdb5d77856b5b79a50d3eca90d35b.jpeg

 

If you want to start with one of their studio albums, I recommend How Will the Wolf Survive? from 1984.  IMO, it's their best album.

image.jpeg.15eafd3ce163a692010e28b1f9760941.jpeg

Someone else mentioned Kiko and the Lavender Moon, and that's a good one as well.  I happen to like Wolf a little better.

 

Sort of the beauty of Will The Wolf Survive is that it's got classic American rock mixed in with the more Mexican influenced stuff.  It's all good, but Wolf has a nice mixture.

This just STOMPS.

I can thank Bull Durham for making me a Lobos fan.

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I like the more professional approach of "Kiko" to "Will the Wolf Survive", but both are great.

Buy them all.  I haven't found many music geeks who don't really come to love the band after a little concentrated listening.  They are the epitome of "honest".

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On 1/15/2021 at 3:02 PM, jimmyjazz said:

Paul Carrack.  What a phenomenal singer.

I'll tell this story because I don't care that I've told it a half dozen times:  my wife is a big Eric Clapton fan.  So, when he came to the Erwin Center maybe ten (?) years ago, I got us tix.  First row of the mezzanine, so nobody in front of us, nice seats stage right.  Clapton did a set list you'd expect, it was cool, he's not my favorite but whatever, he's a damn fine guitarist.  Then at some point he mumbled something about letting his keyboard player take a turn, and out of nowhere Paul Carrack (who I had not recognized) was doing an absolutely stellar rendition of "How Long" by his band Ace.  I was gobsmacked.  A total surprise.  (By the way, that song is not about a cheating lover, it's about a bandmate who was two-timing Ace and working with other players on other projects.) 

THEN, color me double gobsmacked, Carrack ripped into "Tempted" by Squeeze, which of course he sang (save a line by Elvis Costello).  

I must confess, "Tempted" is probably my favorite song of all time.  It's completely suitable for this thread.  For that matter, so is "How Long".  But Squeeze was a band I just figured I'd never see, and there it was being played right in front of my face, and it sounded PERFECT.  I mean, if you get the lead vocals right and have a band full of pros, how far off is it gonna be?

I think I could nominate dozens of songs for this thread.

Wow. Just wow. 
I don‚Äôt feel I¬†can¬†contribute to this thread because I simply ¬†cannot pick ¬†what I think is the ‚Äúperfect song‚ÄĚ (literally impossible for me)-But you heard two that I would‚Äôve eventually mentioned- BOTH¬†in one fateful glorious night. I am so stoked¬†for you!¬†
What an awesome opportunity!

SO.COOL.

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Los Lobos Recs:  Both compilations mentioned above are fantastic.

Studio Releases:  My two favorites are listed above.  I can't imagine my life without either of them.  Bought them both on the day they were released.  Musicianship is stellar and the material is as solid as it gets.

"Will The Wolf Survive" is a great party album. Perfect for backyard bbq, beer drinking and general merriment.
"Kiko" is sit-your-ass-in-a-chair-and-soak-it-in record. 

When Baboso and I saw them, I was really surprised they played the title track to "Kiko".  I still get chill-bumps thinking about that moment.  I always thought that album was the best Neville Brothers album ever released, if that makes sense.  

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54 minutes ago, KaitlyynDuff said:

I don't know how to explain why I like it because I'm not actually keen on arts and stuff. I was even told that my taste is bad. However, I do love Some Nights by Fun. It really looks like it could work as a musical movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQkBeOisNM0

gamerz don't need no stinkin' Geneva Convention.

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My opinion on this changes day to day, let alone month to month. But I'll put this up as pretty much perfect.  First of all, the harmonies and how amazingly musical it is. It's deceptively complex while sounding simple.  Second, it crosses all boundaries-- no matter what your cup of musical tea usually is, no one is going to listen to this and say "yeah, that sucks" unless you're just an angry 15 year old going through your Slayer phase. And even then you secretly like it.  The lyrics are touching enough without being totally sappy and it's a theme we can all "get".  It's a song you can enjoy as background noise or you can really sit and listen intently and absorb it all.  You can definitely place it as of a particular era, but it doesn't feel dated or corny or inaccessible. It's not even my favorite Beach Boys song (shout out to Little Surfer Girl), but it is probably their closest to perfection.

 

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16 hours ago, 956 Worldwide said:

My opinion on this changes day to day, let alone month to month. But I'll put this up as pretty much perfect.  First of all, the harmonies and how amazingly musical it is. It's deceptively complex while sounding simple.  Second, it crosses all boundaries-- no matter what your cup of musical tea usually is, no one is going to listen to this and say "yeah, that sucks" unless you're just an angry 15 year old going through your Slayer phase. And even then you secretly like it.  The lyrics are touching enough without being totally sappy and it's a theme we can all "get".  It's a song you can enjoy as background noise or you can really sit and listen intently and absorb it all.  You can definitely place it as of a particular era, but it doesn't feel dated or corny or inaccessible. It's not even my favorite Beach Boys song (shout out to Little Surfer Girl), but it is probably their closest to perfection.

 

I love the percussion in this song. When the snare starts at 2:07, this song becomes damn near perfect. 

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18 hours ago, KaitlyynDuff said:

I don't know how to explain why I like it because I'm not actually keen on arts and stuff. I was even told that my taste is bad. However, I do love Some Nights by Fun. It really looks like it could work as a musical movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQkBeOisNM0

Wouldn’t be my choice, but I think Fun is an underrated band.  The singer has a voice not far this side of Freddie Mercury.

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Well, I said I'd have a different song every day.  Today it's "Skyway".  I've seen the 'mats do it twice and Paul Westerberg twice, once at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis where he broke down crying.  It's just such a fucking beautiful song. 

It is the perfect narrative of a missed connection.

Here's the studio recording and then one from their reunion show at Midway Stadium in St. Paul, which I was fortunate enough to attend, because I flew up there from Austin like an idiot fanboy. 

If you don't think The Replacements were the greatest band in rock 'n roll history, then you're wrong.  Tommy will kick your ass for disagreeing . . . well, he's too nice, but he should.  Bonus track included.

 

 

 

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For me it's Robert Earl Keen's "Not a Drop of Rain," in which he uses the lack of rain to symbolize both the lack of actual, physical rainfall AND the emotional drought he's been in without the woman to whom the song is addressed.  The second stanza, in particular, is genius. "I thought the wind and water would elevate my mind" is poetry

Streets are almost empty, the shops are all closed down
There's not a soul left in the bar to tell my troubles to
Think I'll walk down to the river that runs just south of town
I hate like hell when there ain't nothin' left to do
But stand beneath the river bridge and listen for the train
It's been a long, hot summer, not a drop of rain

Well, I broke down in December, I headed for the coast
I thought the wind and water would elevate my mind
I surfaced in the springtime feelin' like a ghost
Missin' more than ever the things I left behind
Now I'm standin' on this riverbank and still cannot explain
It's been a long, hot summer, not a drop of rain

My bag is full of letters, unopened and unread
I'm sure they'd tell the story of worry and of form
My heart is beating heavy with all we left unsaid
I swear to you, I never meant you any harm
But sacrifice and compromise could never stand the strain
It's been a long, hot summer, not a drop of rain

Tonight I'll close my eyes again, try to see your face
And listen for your voice to tell me it's all right to sleep
Convince myself I'll wake up in another time and place
Knowin' all the while that it's a promise I can't keep
A string of broken promises, another link of chain
It's been a long, hot summer, not a drop of rain

The children on the playground, the lovers in the shade
Remind me of a life and time that feels more like a dream
When the sound of love and laughter was the music that we played
As we lay beside the waters of a never-ending stream
Now the stream has gone to hiding, the dream lives on in vain
It's been a long, hot summer, not a drop of rain

The clouds are building slowly on the skyline to the east
The wind and dust are dancing like the devil 'cross the lake
I could try to find a bottle or try to find a priest
Salvation won't be traveling either road I take
So I turn my collar to the wind that echoes this refrain
It's been a long, hot summer, not a drop of rain


 

 

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On 1/19/2021 at 12:09 PM, hullabelew said:

"Will The Wolf Survive" is a great party album. Perfect for backyard bbq, beer drinking and general merriment.
"Kiko" is sit-your-ass-in-a-chair-and-soak-it-in record. 

When Baboso and I saw them, I was really surprised they played the title track to "Kiko".  I still get chill-bumps thinking about that moment.  I always thought that album was the best Neville Brothers album ever released, if that makes sense.  

That's a great encapsulation of Wolf and Kiko.  Both terrific albums.  I like Wolf a little better because there are a couple songs on Kiko that I'll skip if given the opportunity (not that they're bad, they just don't match the others) whereas Wolf is aces all the way through.  But both are tremendous.

Kiko definitely has a Nevilles feel, doesn't it?  Well played, Hulla.

 

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