Monday, 18 January 2016

Songs About Birds

Tweet tweet, birds sing their tiny hearts out in an attempt to woo their mates, none too dissimilar to our pop heroes. So here's 15 songs dedicated to birds, even if most of them are anthropomorphised. So to redress the balance I've also posted pretty pictures of each bird.

1) T-Rex "Ride A White Swan"
Marc Bolan/ T-Rex were around a smidgeon before I became conscious of the existence of pop & rock music, so I kind of missed the whole thing with him. My exposure to Glam Rock was more Mud, Wizzard and (whisper it) Gary Glitter. Ah such days of innocence... One of my favourite bands were called Swans. Definitely black swans though given the heaviness of their music. They're not in this chart though, because they never penned a ditty to our feathered friends.

2) Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - "Roadrunner"
This was originally released in 1972 when I was 8 and still sub-music, but I remember seeing it on Top of The Pops at the same time as the fledgeling punk songs so it must have been re-released around 1978. Yeah I know this song's about a car, but there really is such a bird so it counts. Look, here's a picture to prove it.

3) Rolling Stones - "Little Red Rooster"
The Rolling Stones display their Southern US Delta Blues influence by covering this Howlin' Wolf song. Don't think British roosters get overwhelmed by any heat. But I could be wrong.

4) Mahalia Jackson - "His Eye Is On The Sparrow"
I only knew this from the Marvin Gaye version, but that doesn't seem to be on YouTube. But I found this version instead which is really rather wonderful.

5) John Mayer - "Vultures"
Not my sort of music, but my sort of bird. I've written about vultures in several of my stories. I think along with swans, definitely my favourite birds. An odd coupling but then that's me all over, contrary. I'm so contrary I put a song like this in my chart, even though I detest it with a passion. 

6) Nick Cave - "Black Crow King"
When Cave has his black hair cascading down to cover his face, there is something of the corvine about him. An Aussie far from home also influenced by the myth and folklore of the Delta Southern US States. 

7) Nightingales - "Urban Ospreys"
That's a band called The Nightingales singing about Urban Ospreys, not vice versa. One of those bands which garnered much critical acclaim but not much commercial success. I dunno, I did use to own all their albums, but the music just sounded too brittle and light for my tastes so I got rid of them. Still a bit undecided on them to be honest.

8) Public Image Ltd - "Albatross"
The opening track from one of the most daring and radical albums that epitomised 'New Wave' that itself emerged from the 3-chord thrash of punk rock. The album fuses punk and dub-reggae into a very angular and disorienting sound. In my all-time top 10 albums.

9) Iron Maiden - "Where Eagles Dare"
When Iron maiden first burst on to the scene, they seemed to offer a new direction for Heavy Metal, one that addressed social issues in those gloomy years of economic hardship in the 1980s. But a bit of stadium success and it was a reversion to drummers in leather shorts and light shows that could have powered a medium sized third world country. Oh well, opportunity missed.

10)  The Mob - "No Doves Fly Here"
Giving the lie to the notion that anarcho-punk couldn't be 1) elegiac 2) intelligent 3) tuneful

11) The Three Johns - "Teenage Nightingales To Wax"
Three people dancing in the audience and a giant flag. Another one of those indie bands I dutifully used to like and follow around their gigs. Can't think what i saw in them now. 

12) Big Black - "Pigeon Kill"
And then there were bands like this which I wish I had seen live, but never quite managed it. And yes that is Steve Albini's own blood over his white teeshirt. Barnstorming (barnowl storming?)

13) Killing Joke - "The Raven King"
A song written as a eulogy for a dead band member.

14) Elbow - "Starlings"
Youa lways know when a band has gone over the top, when they get a massive orchestra to back them. Portishead excepted, they're allowed to since they're maling soundtracks for movies that don't actually exist.

15) Radiohead - "Morning Mr Magpie"
The first and in all probability last time Radiohead will appear in the pages of this blog...

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