The 30 Day Music Challenge (Part 1)

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably heard of the “30 Day Music Challenge”. Basically, you post a link to a song or YouTube clip every day for a month. Some versions of the challenge have silly guides, like “Day 1 – A song that makes you think of your best friend”. While I have accepted the challenge, I’m not following those rules. I’m just making it up as I go.

Here are the songs for days 1-10; part 2 is here and part 3 is here.

DAY 1: “Making Plans for Nigel” by Headlights

Enjoy this fab cover of XTC:

DAY 2: “Balloon Man” by Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians

I chose this just because it reminds me of James Bolton, and our strange trip to Vero Beach, Florida in 1989. The highlight of the trip? We went to a video store to rent a couple of movies, but since this was Florida, I talked him into renting an adult film. We went back to the condo, ate dinner and first watched a “real” movie. I had a fake ID and had bought a ton of beer, so by the time we watched the adult film, we were pretty tanked. As soon as the “action” started, James started saying things like “Oh my God!” and “Ewwwww!” and “he’s putting it THERE???”. I stopped watching the movie and looked at James’ face as it contorted into all kinds of bizarre expressions. Somehow he’d managed 18 years without ever seeing a porn film, and the looks on his face were PRICELESS! He made me turn it off halfway through the film.

DAY 3: “Good Advices” by R.E.M.

I was driving somewhere with my high school friend Jeremy Wilms one day and this song came on. After the first line, in which Michael Stipe says “when you greet a stranger, look at his shoes”, Jeremy turned down the stereo, looked at me and said, as sincere as could be, “you know, that really is good advice”.

Day 4: “Questionnaire” by Chas Jankel

We got cable in the late 70s. And before there was MTV, HBO used to show videos between movies. I only “sort of” like this song, but I remember HBO Video Jukebox playing this song all.the.damn.time, so it reminds me of dancing like a monkey in the living room of my folks old home in Snellville. And if you have no idea who Chas Jankel is, he was the keyboard player for Ian Dury.

Day 5: “Same Old Scene” by Roxy Music

It’s only one of the best songs human beings have ever written!

Day 6: “Cabaret”

I actually HATE this song. Why? Because, when I was a very young boy, my mother and her brother (my uncle, obviously) took my sister and I on a road trip to Florida. And for reasons I’ll never even begin to understand, they only brought TWO 8-track tapes with them. One was a Glen Campbell tape that broke before we even got out of metro Atlanta. The other was the Cabaret soundtrack. It was the only thing we listened to for almost ten hours. Imagine: you’re a six year old boy, and all you get to listen to is Liza Minnelli for ten hours. Surprisingly, I’m not gay. Today was also the first time I’ve heard the song since 1977.

Day 7: “Eight Miles High” by Hüsker Dü

This was one of the most eye-opening songs I’ve ever heard. Sure, I’d listened to a lot of Iron Maiden and Slayer thanks to my best friend Rich. I myself had listened to a lot of Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Misfits and other such “loud guitar music”. But this song was different. Bob Mould seemed to lose total control during this song. It’s so primal, so cathartic. It’s almost like one could liberate himself by getting lost in this song. Or maybe it’s just fun to listen to when high. Whatever.

Day 8: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash

When I first moved to Duluth, it seems like everyone at Duluth Middle School hated me, especially this long haired metal-head named Richard, who picked on me every single day. Things started to look up by the spring, though. I had a HUGE crush on a girl named Leigh Anne, and was pretty sure she liked me, too. But she went away on what seemed like an agonizingly long school trip. There was nothing else going on in Duluth that weekend other than a dance at DMS, so I went. Rich was there, and not only were we both stag, we appeared to be the school outcasts as well. We were bored as hell, so we asked the DJ (Chance Page, son of history teacher Fiona) to play something “punk”. All he had was “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”. And so Rich and I, being dumbasses who had no idea how slam dancing worked, lined up at opposite ends of the gym and ran towards each other at full speed and collided at center court. Then we did it again. And again. So then Mr. Holland threw us out, which we both found funny. With nothing else to do, we walked around downtown Duluth and changed the sign for “K&K Jewelers” to “KKK Jewelers”. And thus, that night, a true friendship was born.

Day 9: “Ever Fallen in Love?” by The Buzzcocks

Ah, Beverly Hillis, my first “head over heels” love affair. I was 15. She was 20. She had her own apartment and could buy beer. Her hair looked almost exactly like Annie Lennox’s in the “Sweet Dreams” video. She was older, smart, amazingly pretty and so sophisticated and worldly. On our first date we were supposed to go to a movie at the old Screening Room at Lindbergh Plaza. I remember being SO… INCREDIBLY… NERVOUS on the drive there, more nervous than I’ve ever been before or since. I’d prepared a mix tape for the occasion, and this was the lead-off song. It should have been a sign then and there, but listening it today still takes me back to being a terrified little boy who was in way over his head. I remember kissing her later that night… I thought I’d been struck by lightning and was having a heart attack.

Bonus trivia: The Screening Room was originally opened as the Broadview Cinema in the early 1970s. The theatre was a success, despite the narrowness of the room, small screen and lackluster sound. A second screen was added a couple of years later, which proved to be superior to the first screen in almost every way. So the original screen was sold off and opened as The Great Southeast Music Hall some time in 1977. The Sex Pistols played the first show of their 1978 US tour there. Some time after this, Weis Theatres sold the Broadview to George Lefont, who renamed it The Screening Room and showed art house films there.

Day 10: “Love Hangover (Long version)” by Diana Ross

I’ve listened to almost every kind of music there is: chamber music, opera, symphonies, be-bop, fusion, blues, soul, R&B, folk, disco, rock, prog rock, New Wave, avant guarde, alternative, trance, drum & bass, house, electropop, dream pop, shoegaze, gangsta rap… almost everything but country. And, for my money, you just can’t find a better bass line than Henry Davis’ work in this song. Love the song or hate it, you’ve gotta admit that the bass line fsking rocks!

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