Shoe’s Deep Cuts

For you youngun’s out there, a deep cut refers to a song that was buried deeply on an album, probably somewhere toward the end of side two. The song probably wasn’t expected to be a hit, hence the song placement. Wait. Does anyone under 40-years old even know what an album is? Does LP ring a bell? Nothing? Sigh. Let us continue . . .

We all have personal favorites of a particular artist or band, songs that may have never been a hit or played on the radio. Songs that weren’t critically acclaimed but just struck a chord with you. Struck a chord, get it? Musical reference. That, my friends, is writing. Wannabe scribes take note. Anyway, it’s something that can’t be explained, that chord, that something that can bring tears to your eyes or make you want to listen to the song over and over. Sometimes the song can be something you’re afraid to admit you like. Full disclosure: “If Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson comes on the radio, I always sing along. That’s Kelly up top. Killer pipes, lemme tell ya. And don’t you dare try to tell me your foot doesn’t tap when “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus comes on the radio. Now THERE’S a guilty pleasure. Guilty Pleasures . . . there’s a blog idea. Hey, it’s OK to like Beiber, Chopper. I ain’t mad at ya. So here we go. These are songs that aren’t guilty pleasures, but rather tunes that I’ve always loved but have never been recognized as their artists’ best work. Enjoy . . .

Guilty – Alice Cooper

Sure, Alice is better known for songs like School’s Out or Eighteen, but my favorite has always been Guilty. It has a great guitar riff to open, then Alice growls out these lines:

Just tried to have fun,
Raised Hell and then some,
I’m a dirt talking , beer drinking, woman chasing minister’s son.

When I was a high school AD I used to include this song in my pre-game song mix. I still don’t know how I got away with it. Highly recommended. Give it a listen here. You’re welcome.

Acadian Driftwood – The Band

The Band has a ton of good songs, including The Weight and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, but I love Acadian Driftwood, in particular the live version on The Last Waltz. Originally recorded in 1975, it describes the forcible displacement of the Acadian people after the war between the French and the English over what is now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and part of Maine. Robbie Robertson’s lyrics were influenced by Longfellow’s poem Evangeline, which describes the deportation of the Acadians. Just a beautiful, haunting, intelligently written song. Here’s a link.

‘Til I Die –  The Beach Boys

Quite simply one of the most beautiful, sad, and heart wrenching songs ever recorded. I feel it’s one of the rock eras most underappreciated songs. It was released off the legendary Pet Sounds album and is all about Brian Wilson and his slow descent into mental illness. How can you not be touched by these lyrics?

I’m a cork on the ocean
Floating over the raging sea
How deep is the ocean?
How deep is the ocean?
I lost my way.
I’m a rock in a landslide
Rolling over the mountainside
How deep is the valley?
How deep is the valley?
It kills my soul.
I’m a leaf on a windy day
Pretty soon I’ll be blown away
How long will the wind blow?
How long will the wind blow?

These things I’ll be until I die.

Talk about a cry for help. In 45-years I have never grown tired of this song, and I’m always touched by the lyrics. Here’s the original mix. Be sure and listen all the way through.

Lay Down Burden – Brian Wilson

Another Brian Wilson tune, this is a song from his great Imagination comeback album in 1999. It’s another sad one about the death of his brother Carl, and again he lets us in on his innermost feelings:

So many years spent running away
How many times I wished I could stay
Too much emotion a hole in my heart
Feeling alone since we’ve been apart
And if I had the chance
I’d never let you go
Just want you to know.

Lay, lay me down, lay me down
Lay down burden.

Gorgeous melody and classic Wilson harmonies as well. Sigh. Here ’tis.

One Step Up – Bruce Springsteen

Like a lot of you I’m a big Springsteen guy. If you ever see him live you’ll never forget it. Born to Run, Jungleland, Thunder Road, he has so many great songs. Still, One Step Up hits me the hardest:

Bird on a wire outside my motel room
But he ain’t singin’.
Girl in white outside a church in June
But the church bells they ain’t ringing.
I’m sittin’ here in this bar tonight
But all I’m thinkin’ is . . .
I’m the same old story, same old act
One step up and two steps back.

Who can’t relate to that? Here’s the video.

Ol’ 55 – The Eagles

I know this may seem like an odd choice, what with all the classic Eagles songs out there. But, if I had one Eagles song to listen to on a deserted island, this Tom Waits written release from 1973 would be my pick. It was on The Eagles 1974 album entitled On the Border, and although it isn’t an original Eagles song I still think it’s one of their best. It also happens to be the song that first introduced me to The Eagles. Check out this clip.

Junior’s Farm – Paul McCartney & Wings

This song is NEVER mentioned among Sir Paul’s greatest, but in my opinion it ranks right up there with Band On the Run, Live and Let Die, and Maybe I’m Amazed. It’s a rocker and features a searing guitar solo by Jimmy McCullough. Recorded on a farm in none other than Nashville, TN, I dare you to listen to this song without tapping your foot.

Nothingman – Pearl Jam

From 1994’s Vitology, Nothingman is one of Eddie Vedder’s best songs. Here’s his take on the lyrics. “The idea is about if you love someone and they love you, don’t fuck up…’cause you are left with less than nothing.”

Amen to that brother. Of all Pearl Jam’s tunes, this is my favorite. Close second? Alive.

Paranoid Eyes – Pink Floyd

Big Pink Floyd fan here, and I think the album this song came from, The Final Cut, is one of their most underappreciated and underrated albums ever. It was Floyd’s last album before Roger Waters vamoosed, and it’s basically all Waters all the time, which is fine by me. Check out these lyrics:

Button your lip don’t let the shield slip
Take a fresh grip on your bullet proof mask
And if they try to break down your disguise with their questions
You can hide hide hide
Behind paranoid eyes.

You put on your brave face and slip over the road for a jar
Fixing your grin as you casually lean on the bar
Laughing too loud at the rest of the world
With the boys in the crowd
You hide hide hide
Behind petrified eyes.

You believed in their stories of fame fortune and glory
Now you’re lost in a haze of alchohol soft middle age
The pie in the sky turned out to be miles too high
And you hide hide hide
Behind brown and mild eyes.

True dat, no? Trust me, when you’re 50 you’ll get it. Here ye be.

I’m out. I hope Santa brings you what you need this Christmas.

5 thoughts on “Shoe’s Deep Cuts”

  1. I have one of those brains that doesn’t hear lyrics. I rarely know what a song and am frequently surprised when/if I ever actually see the lyrics in print. Best thing for me is to watch a concert on TV with the closed caption turned on. What I do perceive is melody which probably accounts for why I care so little for rap or hip hop. To me is is just a bass line or a thump. Melody and a good groove is everything to me and when Name that Tune was a popular TV show I was the reigning king. There are many songs that are my favorite because of just a few notes or a guitar riff and I’ll listen to the song repeatedly just to hear that special few notes. In Bohemian Rhapsody there is a huge “clash” that follows the line “thunderbolts and lightening, very, very frighting…” that makes the hairs on my neck stand out. My wife and I were coming back from Chillicothe the other night and listening to B.B. King’s Bluesville on XM. The played an old 12-bar number by Freddie King that had such a great groove we almost stopped the car in the middle of US 50 and “jitterbugged.” I know it was Freddie King, I know it was 12-bar, but I couldn’t begin to tell you what any of the lyrics were let alone the title of the tune. Maybe that’s what I find amazing about how you, Dave, and others, i.e. Matt, you’re ability to get the full measure from music.

  2. Nice! ‘Til I Die is not only my favorite Beach Boys tune but one of my favorite songs ever. Dark, beautiful & a little bit trippy…just like I like ’em! There is a channel on Directv (840) called 8-Tracks (It used to be called Deep Tracks which was a way better name!) that plays all the underplayed & underappreciated songs from the more popular groups from that classic 65-75 era. They also play songs by bands of that era that have kind of disappeared into obscurity. Great bands like The Music Machine, Cold Blood, Gentle Giant, Cactus, Budgie, Atomic Rooster, 13th Floor Elevators, Patto, Blues Image, Hawkwind, GONG, CAN, etc… ( I CAN go on but will stop there!)
    Here’s a few deeper, more unknown tracks that I love from bands that everybody knows.
    Jimi Hendrix ~ Drifting
    This song is absolutely beautiful! Jimi’s voice has never sounded better & his layering of backwards guitar & the inclusion of the vibes make this one mesmerizing tune. He also did Angel & First Rays of the New Rising Sun around this time. It’s almost as if this blues man from another dimension had a premonition that his time on this 3rd rock from the sun was coming to an end. To think of the music he would have created if he would have lived on! Damn!

    Pink Floyd ~ If
    A sweet lil gem from one of Floyd’s most underappreciated albums. (I personally love Atom Heart Mother!) Waters line “…and if I go insane…please don’t put your wires in my brain” perfectly foreshadows the direction that the Floyd would take with later, more well know albums such as Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here & The Wall. Madness & isolation: Waters favorite subjects! The man was always in need of some serious therapy! Ha! Another great track from this slightly overlooked album is Gilmour’s ~ Fat Old Sun. He does an amazing version of it on his 2007 live album Remember that Night.
    Since I’m mentioning Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother era, I should also mention a very trippy, little side project that Waters did around that time with the electronic composer Ron Geesin. “Music from the Body” has some very rare, acoustic songs from Waters on it such as Sea Shell & Stone, Chain of Life & Breathe (not the Dark Side number!) mixed in with some seriously, psychedelic orchestral bits that could have fit in perfectly with the Floyds more experimental work like Ummagumma.

    Elton John ~ Tumbleweed Connection
    This whole album is full of deep tracks! Besides the song Burn Down the Mission, most of these songs are relatively unknown compared to Elton’s wealth of chart topping classics. I love the whole conceptual American old west vibe of this album.You can definitely tell that Elton & Bernie were listening to a lot of The Band at the time. Tracks like Ballad of a well Known Gun, Country Comfort, My Father’s Gun, Where to now St. Peter? & Amoreena are still amongst my favorites. The re-issued “classic years” version of Tumbleweed also includes the original recording of my all time favorite Elton song, Madman Across the Water. This version of Madman includes David Bowies right hand man & the leading Spider from Mars, Mick Ronson on guitar! Awesome!
    I might as well mention a couple other deep tracks from Elton. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is full of classic Elton hits such as the title track, Bennie & the Jets, Candle in the Wind & Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting. For me though, the best songs are the more unknown ones such as Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding), Harmony, All the Girls love Alice, the raw & raunchy rocken’ number Dirty Little Girl & my second all time favorite by Elton, The Ballad of Danny Bailey. An amazing song!

    Genesis ~ Entangled
    I was always very into the Peter Gabriel era Genesis & couldn’t really stomach most of the music that they would go on to create through out the 80’s with Phil Collins on lead vox. (He really should have stayed behind the kit. Just listen to the work he did with Brand X. The guy is a phenomenal drummer!) I really dig the 1st album they did without Gabriel though back in 76. Trick of the Tail has a bunch of great songs on it such as Dance on a Volcano, Robbery, Assault & Battery, Los Endos & this little known, haunting ballad called Entangled. Collins voice & Steve Hackett’s guitar work are absolutely stunning on this number & when you add Banks cerebral sounding moog on the end of it, you have one beautiful song.

    Queen ~ The Prophet’s Song
    From their highly over-produced (but in a good way!) masterpiece, 1975’s A Night At the Opera. This album is full of balls out classic rockers that helped hearken in a whole new genre called Heavy Metal! Death on Two Legs, I’m in Love with My Car, Sweet Lady & of course their all time classic & most over played number, Bohemian Rhapsody. For me though, The Prophet’s Song is their greatest tune. This mystical prog rocker starts out gently then turns into one of the heaviest songs of it’s time. From Brian May’s crushing power riff that propels the song to the epic bridge of Mercury’s echoing voice cascading into a bunch of insane harmonies, this song has everything in it that is great about Queen!
    I guess I better stop there! MUSIC is the one subject (besides movies!) that I can go on & on & on about.Which reminds me…”Rock-n-Roll Hangman” was my favorite subject in school. hahahaa

      1. Yea! That could be fun, Larry! I’m pretty much clueless about every other subject out there but I can talk music-n-movies all day & night. Ha! I’m definitely in agreement with you when it comes to what I look for in music. A good melody over a good rhythm is key for me. I’m usually not all that concerned with lyrical content & just hear the voice as another instrument. It’s always a plus when a song I like does have good lyrics but it’s not required. I guess that’s why a lot of music I like seems to be dismissed & considered “cheesy” by most “serious critics” of music. It seems that most critics of music despise anything that is progressive & heavy & love anything that is musically very simple but with “complex” lyrics. Like the writers of Rolling Stone… (A magazine that I’ve grown to absolutely despise yet I keep reading it! ha!) they consistently crap all over some of my favorite acts then turn around & gush poetically about the wordplay genius of JayZ & Eminem! Hahahaaaa! I’m with you on the Hip-Hop-Rap-Crap. I JUST DON’T GET IT! I understand there is a place & a culture for that kind of music but it needs to go back underground & on the streets where it belongs. It’s always bothered me how Hip-Hop & the greedy, shitty attitude that goes along with it has bombarded the popular mainstream media. It’s everywhere now sending it’s bleak message to kids to “get rich or die trying” & “the world is yours” at whatever cost. (that last quote is from the gangsta rappers favorite movie of choice…”Scarface” Arguably, Brian DePalma’s worst movie! I don’t get it!) So many talentless gangsta thugs are cashing in on these clueless kids while some truly talented artists & musicians fade into obscurity. Oh well, I guess you either have the talent or you have the ambition. Seldom do the two mix.

        I’m gonna put a stop to this rant now. I am intrigued by the idea of having a little forum where I can put my 2 cents in about what I like & don’t like in music-n-movies. I’m not really the most computer savvy & don’t really have a clue of how to go about setting something up but yea… I like the idea of it! Sounds like fun!

  3. Interesting …I got one that has been in my little noodle forever …Years ago I went to a James Gang concert in Columbus,Oh. at the Agora ,they did a tune off the Gang Bang Album….”Ride The Wind”….I don’t remember it much on FM Radio,once in a while it would get some play ,but not often ..I bought the 8-Track just for that one tune ,of couse it had lots of other hits on it ,but that one was a Real Sticker.

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