"No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" by the Guess Who

This came into me after one of my friend’s Facebook statuses was about them not having sugar for their coffee. Plus, it’s Mother’s Day, so the second half works as well.

I don’t understand why the Guess Who aren’t bigger outside of Canada than they are— they never seem to be on classic rock band lists, despite having a fairly big catalogue with some fairly massive hits.

"Ophelia" by the Band (online archive)

I heard a bit of the concert inducting Robbie Robertson into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame earlier this month. The Band are a band who never seem to be as ‘classic’ as the Beatles, Dylan, and even the Byrds, but really have a deep catalogue and breadth of sound. Everyone knows “The Weight”, I think, and “Cripple Creek” but after that knowledge really depends. Here’s one that should be a stone-cold classic but (to your average listener) is still a bit of a hidden gem. This week’s Sunday classic.

"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (wikipedia)

It was April Fools’ Day a few days ago. This song came into my head as a result. The first time I heard it was my own interpretation on the piano while I was going through a “60s songbook” my parents had when I was younger. According to the Wikipedia article up there, Frankie Lymon was one of the first teenage pop sensations. I didn’t know that.

"Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles

It’s been a gorgeous week, with the mountains of snow slowly disappearing, clear streets for biking, and some days where I actually didn’t need a coat. Perfect song for it. Also, I found this awesome album cover to go with it.

"Last Nite" by the Strokes

Yesterday, I put on two albums I haven’t heard in a while: “Is This It” by the Strokes and “Dej Stijl” by the White Stripes. I first heard both these albums in 2001. The Strokes released theirs in that year, Dej Stijl came out in 2000 but I didn’t hear it until going back retroactively after the 2001 release of “White Blood Cells.” In fact, 2001 was pretty much the beginning of my love affair with music. From “Bleed American” by Jimmy Eat World to “In Search of…” by N*E*R*D to Jay-Z’s “Blueprint” and the eponymous debut from the Gorillaz, not to mention Radiohead’s “Amnesiac” and Daft Punk’s “Discovery”,  2001 signals, to me at least, the beginning of a modern classic age. Everything at that time seemed new and exciting and limitless. Probably it’s just my age that paints in that way— pretty much everyone elevates the music they listened to in high school— but 2001 was pretty awesome. Hell, Timbaland was still working with Miss E Elliott back then. It might be early to some, but this nearly-ten-year-old song is today’s Sunday classic.

"Tangled Up In Blue" by Bob Dylan

So on CBC, we’ve been doing a “blue” theme for close to a month now. Listeners tell us what song they think of when they think “blue”. We’ve had lots of answers— but no one has said this one. It kind of surprises me, because I don’t think it’s an obscure song. It is, hands down, my favourite Dylan song, which is saying a lot. It is this week’s Sunday classic.

"The Leader" by the Clash

After yesterday’s song, it makes sense to turn to the band themselves for this week’s Sunday Classic. Sandinista! is, to my mind, what really proves the greatness of the Clash. Yes, London Calling is a stone-cold classic rock album, but this sees the band exploring hip-hop, dub, waltz, and everything in between. It’s a sprawling album, one to get lost in. Incidentally, I managed to listen to 3/4 of it while shoveling snow this morning…. that’s a lot of snow.

"Everyday I Write the Book" by Elvis Costello

For whatever reason I’ve heard this song multiple times this week, and not in the context you’d expect. Actually, I’m not sure what context you’d expect to hear Elvis Costello, but in my case this song kept popping up in podcasts— talk podcasts, at that, where music is just used as bridges. CBC, BBC and NPR. Not once did they play the full song, which was frustrating, because it’s one of those songs that once you hear, you want to hear again and again, definitely not just snippets.

I’ve noticed that you don’t often see Elvis Costello as an “influence” on contemporary artists. Lou Reed, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell all get mentioned by every other band (especially lyric driven ones), but Elvis Costello? I really can’t think of a single artist who attributes inspiration to him. This is surprising, because a lot of what he did is extremely contemporary. Listen to this song: the marriage of rough, rock and roll voice to claccist pop harmonies/female vocalists? That’s Destroyer all the way, even though everyone would credit Leonard Cohen. Whatever. I’ll be listening to my Value Village “The Very Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions” today, which was how I was introduced to him in the first place, and remains one of the best albums I own. Happy Sunday, everyone!

Footnote: If I can stick to it (and history indicates I won’t be able to), Sundays are going to be classic Sundays here— blogging about pre-2000s music.