For most of my life, I have enjoyed beer as much as it has enjoyed me. Somewhere along the line, I stopped enjoying beer. As much as I didn’t like the taste, I really didn’t like the way it made me feel: bloated and sloppy. Then beer became an aversion.
Fortunately, drunks have options. So I switched to a strict regimen of red wine, and couldn’t be happier. In fact, every so often I’ll revisit my old friend Beer, just like old times. And then the next morning I’ll wake up and say, “Man, I sure don’t miss ol’ Beer. He’s kind of a drag.”
In the end, there’s a sense of reasoning at play that justifies the aversion. Sometimes though, I’m not really sure why I don’t like things. I just don’t.
GUILTY PLEASURE TAG TEAM
Missy Elliot – Work It
“Work It” is by far my favorite song of 2002, and contains a bunch of my favorite song lyrics of all-time. Number one on the charts:
If you a fly gal get your nails done
Get a pedicure, get your hair did
And while we’re in the neighborhood…
Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness
Yeah, I dunno. It’s just a catchy jam.
OK, I’ll come clean. Both “Sweetness” and “Work It” were all over the radio during a very specific AND particular period of my life. At the time, I was super-jammed; finishing my degree at SFSU, playing in a band, and working a full-time job. I was driving back and forth to work and school, probably spending two hours per day in the ride, hence listening to the radio, since I couldn’t be bothered with having CDs in the car. Having CDs in your ride was an invitation for a crackhead to smash your driver’s side window. Regardless, I basically flip-flopped between the mainstream rock station and the hip-hop station, so that’s all I was listening to for about nine months.
Also, I had been involved in relationship that had left a very bad taste in my mouth. This song doesn’t necessarily remind me of the relationship, only the fact that I had a sour taste in my mouth, and some sweetness would have been a welcome respite.
Meanwhile, I was impressed with the production of the Missy Elliott track. The song makes me laugh. Dunno why.
Pink Floyd sans Syd Barrett
Look, I had been indoctrinated by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and The Wall (1979), long before I knew anything about The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967). Christ, I owned Ummagumma (1970) at 13 years old; it was the weirdest record I’d ever heard in my life. Didn’t know what to make of it. For a couple of years, I wouldn’t even play the damn thing; I’d just marvel at the album cover. It wasn’t until I was out of high school that I heard Piper and said, “You know what? FUCK Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd was Syd Barrett.”
Pink Floyd – Lucifer Sam
Of course, I’ve argued with people about Pink Floyd, and I admittedly don’t have a solid foundation of attack. Aside from arguing about the name – it’s a great name, but I think they should have changed it after Syd left/was replaced by David Gilmour – all I can do is stand there with my arms folded and say, “I don’t like it anymore.”
And then Roger Waters left. The two guys largely responsible for everything they ever did were no longer in the band. You cannot call that Pink Floyd, I’m sorry. You can call it David Gilmour’s Pink Floyd, or David Gilmour Plays Pink Floyd, or David Gilmour and a Bunch of Guys Who Are Not Pink Floyd.
Listen, it’s the same thing with Lynyrd Skynyrd. You can’t replace Ronnie Van Zant with his little brother. It’s upsetting.
Def Leppard – Let It Go
Somewhat of a counter-intuitive pick – on principle alone – this jam has several redeeming qualities or factors; most importantly, it comes from their second album High n’ Dry (1981), produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, The King of Hard Rock, who had just produced the most quintessential, untouchable hard rock album, AC/DC’s Back in Black (1980).
And there’s little doubt who and/or what Def Leppard is trying to do here – equal parts homage and rip-off. Either way, it’s a superbly crafted rock jam and sounds amazing. In my book, it’s one of the best jams AC/DC ever did.
The Rolling Stones
I know you’re thinking, “Nah, man, it ain’t possible” but it’s actually true. While I appreciate their contribution to music, I don’t really like it. I’m a total faux fan. The subject comes up and I’ll be, “Aw yeah, dude, the Stones are great”, but here’s what I really think.
Mick Jagger’s affectations are a huge turn-off, and Keith Richards, man, everybody keeps telling me this cat can play guitar, but it always sounded to me like the second-string dude was doing all the work. On the other side of the stage, it’s hard to say which member of the rhythm section has a pulse. Has Charlie Watts ever played in a time signature other than 4/4? In his entire career? This band has been inactive since 1982. Whoever is putting out records under the Rolling Stones brand umbrella is running one hell of a scam.
Meanwhile, I would never put on a Stones record at home, except for maybe Beggar’s Banquet. I can count the number of times I’ve played Let It Bleed on exactly zero fingers. I dunno. They have a zillion great jams. I just don’t care.
U2, October (1981)
I like this album precisely for all the reasons you might assume I wouldn’t. As Bono himself said, October “goes into areas that most rock n’ roll bands ignore.” If by that he means areas where Jesus is found, then that’s a profoundly accurate statement.
First of all, this is the first and last mainstream Christian rock album I ever bought. I like my rock n’ roll to be of the secular variety. While there are many solid reasons to hate this band, their first four albums are quite remarkable.
And frankly, as a teenager I was far too dense to be in any way influenced by spiritual yearning on a rock record. I had no idea what Bono was singing about on “Gloria”, and had completely misheard the Latin phrase in te domine as “Here today, gone today.”
After October, U2 had two more records left in them before everything went to shit and they got B.B. King embroiled in the farce.
This live version of “Gloria” is from the concert film U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky.
Years later, I would cite this song as an example of why band introductions are a bad idea. U2 never quenched anybody’s spiritual thirst. They simply made salty chips that made everybody thirsty.
U2, The Joshua Tree (1987)
Whenever I hear a track from this record, I cannot help but think, “It’s really good, but…” At the time of its release, U2 was arguably the Biggest Band in the World. Their previous record, The Unforgettable Fire (1984) was in my estimation, about as far as they could go in the genre without completely jumping the shark, which they had previously avoided by releasing such an uncompromising album as The Unforgettable Fire.
As I said, The Joshua Tree sounds really good and contains a bunch of hot jams. Another reason I should have loved this record: it was produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. For many years, I could never put my finger on why it rubbed me wrong. I could say it was the maudlin power ballad “With or Without You”. Maybe it was the video for the hyper-anthemic “Where the Streets Have No Name”. It definitely had something to do with the gospel style chorus of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, one step beyond John Cougar. It was kind of like “Pink Houses” crossed with a prank phone call – again with the spiritual yearning.
The term “jump the shark” didn’t come into the modern lexicon until 1997 – ten years after the release of The Joshua Tree. Finally, I realized that this record is the first of many sharks U2 would jump in their long and industrious career.