Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thirty Days of Blogging: Day 25

More lists.

Because you horrid people only reply to lists.

Here's the deal.  Think of a band.  Now consider two songs.
1) their most REPRESENTATIVE song.
2) their BEST song.

That's it.

Representative = if you had only one song to introduce an alien to this band, what would you play them?

BEST = if you had one song to represent the essence of their greatness...for any band..what would you choose?

Here are some examples.


Most REPRESENTATIVE SONG: Stairway to Heaven.

Helped by being long.  Encompasses the acoustic and heavy sides of the band.  Has the hippie-dippie stoned lyrics, and the rock n roll bad ass lyrics.  It's the band in one song.

BEST SONG: Going to California.  


Most Representative Song: (Don't go back to) Rockville

Best Song: Orange Crush


Most Rep Song: Where The Streets Have No Name
Best Song: One

Bruce Springsteen

Most Rep Song: Thunder Road (or some other 70s anthem)
Best Song: (Streets of) Philadelphia


Dezmond said...

Neil Young:
I am going to break your rule from the outset and give two Representative songs for Neil, because he has two distinct musical personalities. There is singer-songwriter Neil and garage Neil. To give just one would be to ignore half of who Neil is.

Representative Song(s): "Don't Let It Bring You Down" and "Down By the River." The former has that gloomy Neil feel while still being very pretty, and features some of his strangest lyrics. The solo acoustic live version from CSNY's '4 Way Street' is the best version, I think, where Neil dryly introduces the song: "Here's a song guaranteed to bring you right down. (pause, deadpan mumble) It's called 'Don't Let It Bring You Down.'" "Down By the River" is obvious, and obviously great.

Best Song: "Powderfinger." With that unmistakeable Crazy Horse chug, Neil tells a story with such detail and depth that it is like a film in five minutes. His best storytelling.

Bruce Springsteen:
Representative: "Born To Run"
Best: "Jungleland"
Favorite: "Incident on 57th Street"

Rep: "With Or Without You"
Best: "Bad" (live version from 'Wide Awake In America' EP)

Here are two where the Representative and Best are the same:

Peter Gabriel: "In Your Eyes"

Rolling Stones: "Gimme Shelter"

ANCIANT said...

What is the difference between 'best' song and 'favorite' song? None. There is no objective list of best song; to say one's best is to say one's favorite, and vice versa.

Strongly disagree about Peter Gabriel: Most Rep and maybe also best is Solsbury Hill. Best may be Shock the Monkey.

I'll have a larger list soon, for your edification.

Dezmond said...

Wrong. Best Song is their most accomplished, the peak of their powers and creativity. Whereas Representative is capturing the essence of the artist. Favorite is simply which song of their you personally dig the most.

ANCIANT said...

Then who determines what's the best? We're dealing entirely with subjective opinions here.

Consider this sentence:
"'A Day in the Life' may be the _best_ Beatles' song, but my favorite remains 'Hello Goodbye.'"

That is, essentially, devoid of meaning. What does it mean to say it's the best AND YET one doesn't like it as much as some other song? That you acknowledge that OTHER PEOPLE think it's the best (i.e.: their favorite) and that you disagree? In that case, it's not the best.

Or that you agree with them in some ways? But that's absurd. You can only think one song is 'the best.'--i.e.: your favorite. You might admit that some kind of majority would disagree, but that is not the same as saying the majority is right.

On the other hand, you can mean 'the best' as the most historically significant. ("Sgt Peppers is the best Beatles album"). But in that case, 'best' is being misused. Significance is not at all a marker for aesthetic excellence. Little Richard was incredibly significant, historically, but is his music still what we most love? James Fennimore Cooper was incredibly important historically, but do we read him much for pleasure? Etc etc.

What is usually swiped at, gestured towards, indicated, when someone says 'best' is something along the lines of: I know Spin/Rolling Stone/Rock Expert XXX thinks _a_ is the best song/album by X, and I have enough doubt about my own judgments and enough respect about their judgments to not be fully comfortable disagreeing BUT YET AT THE SAME TIME I DO NOT like _a_ as much as I like _b_, so in an effort to split the difference I'll call one the best and one my favorite.

JMW said...

I'm a little under the weather, so I'm not quite up to wading into this best/favorite debate, though I think there is truth in both arguments.

I kind of agree with Dez's Bruce picks.

Rep: Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Best: With or Without You

Rep: Welcome to the Occupation
Best: Fall On Me (and HUNDREDS OF OTHERS)

Rolling Stones
Rep: Under My Thumb
Best: Beast of Burden

Rep: Karma Police
Best: Fake Plastic Trees

The Smiths
Rep: The Boy With the Thorn in His Side (and lots of others)
Best: Panic

Rep: Talk Dirty to Me
Best: I Won't Forget You

Dezmond said...

ANCIANT, I think you can differentiate between "best" and "favorite." Take my Springsteen entry. When I say that "Jungleland" is his best song, I mean that it is the pinnacle of his abilities. Of course we are within the realm of subjectivity with art, but there are some observations that are more valid than others. On the extremes, for instance, regardless of some of my female students' preferences, you can basically make the statement that Bach is "better" music than Bieber.

I can argue that "Jungleland" is Springsteen's "best" song based upon the songwriting, it is some of his most vivid imagery and storytelling. It is epic in every sense of the word (length, being his second longest studio track) and in composition. It features Clarence Clemons' most iconic sax solo. It features his most dramatic and effective use of dymanics. Interesting complexity. It is the culmination of his first period (even placing it as the last track on Born To Run before the shift of Darkness on the Edge of Town). I guess I could also turn to critical opinion or fan consensus, but I am not depending on that really in my analysis. All of that means "Jungleland" is Bruce's best song.

But I can still say that "Incident on 57th Street" is my personal favorite.

And JMW, how can you not have Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"?

JMW said...

Here's where I stand on the best/favorite thing: You can have a different opinion about those things, but of course the term "best" is still subjective. In other words, "Bobby Jean" might be my favorite Springsteen song. But I don't consider it his best. I just love it, especially the sentimental bit at the end about the song on the radio. There might be a more extreme example: let's say I was someone (though I'm not) whose favorite REM song was "Shiny Happy People" for reasons that have to do purely with some goofy memory or whatnot. I could hold it as my favorite while applying different (though still subjective) standards to name what I might argue is their "best."

And: "I Won't Forget You," baby. Always.

ANCIANT said...

I am about to get on a plane, but rest assured, when I return I will demolish these shabby arguments.

Dezmond said...

Ah yes. The old "getting on a plane" excuse. Both a symbolic and an actual retreat. I think we have won the argument, JMW.