This just in….screaming all the way

There’s a tribute album to Shel Silverstein due out next week, and don’t worry the news wouldn’t normally have me leaping in the air and clicking my heels with joy either. But I heard Lucinda Williams do The Ballad of Lucy Jordan over on the Cover Me blog, and if that’s any indication this’ll be a milestone tribute to the man who wrote Boy Named Sue, One’s on the Way, Cover of Rolling Stone and several other half-novelty songs. (Bit of a coup for us to have the song too, but shhh, trade secret)

Well, let’s try a playlist

Here is where you put the HTML and the mp3 files go after that

OK, let’s see how this goes. Not many songs that people won’t have heard before, I expect, but all nice solid music. Anyway, one of these has been an earworm for most of the day, so it is a convenient peg to hang the post from.

Earworms … Mar 30

This’ll either irritate the crap out of you or you’ll want it on tape-loop. Barbeau (another prolific US indie operator, who may be UK-domiciled now) sings about the simple joys of life… but it’s the sugar/acid-drop backing vocals that make it memorable. Nice record for a spring day.

I’ve been playing lots of Trojan Roots Reggae in the car and that kind of drives earworms away, but every now and then I find myself singing this along in my head. My earworms always seem to be songs I know really well and which are tuneful. I can’t say that I ever get many Can or Van Der Graaf Generator earworms.

The Scarecrow’s dance moves are absolute genius, but even just in audio it’s uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time.  “I would not be just a nuthin’/ My head all full of stuffin’/ My heart all full of pain” – it’s both Yip Harburg’s lyrics and Bolger’s delivery that make it so surprisingly moving. Judy Garland’s warming intervention is fantastic, and the orchestration during the instrumental break for the dance is like Sun Ra stepped in.

A ghost story from the short-lived early ’70s Yorkshire Dales folk-rock band, it is sung from the perspective of the eponymous unfortunate “walking a valley that never saw the sun”. You never find out quite how or why he was hanged, although it may have been accidental. I like the mystery, the rolling tune (of the chorus in particular) and its atmosphere, which isn’t as gloomy as it sounds. There’s a certain amount of bucolic nostagia; this ghost seems quite content, actually.
Close your eyes if you will, and imagine yourself at a virtual benefit concert of some sort. It is the finale, and the early Kinks and Who have joined mid-stride Clash and Tom Robinson. Short, sharp pop punk; this is the sound of Maidstone’s Len Price 3. Not 100% the real thing, but there’s four or five cuts off this Pictures album that’ll make nice earworms for the summer.
This is Carla Bley’s instrumental arrangement of the Christmas classic for piano, bass and brass quintet, which has popped up on my MP3 player a few times since New Year, each time soothing away the cares of the day, and sticking around being hummed for a day or two afterwards. The musical colours come from mediaeval church music, Duke Ellington and some well-crafted discords.

Superb submissions people! This thing is really coming alive now. If you haven’t had a turn yet, what are you waiting for Spillers?

Play all earworms: