Archive for the ‘Carolina Top Five’ Category

Brian’s Top Five Valentine’s Day Songs

February 7, 2010 Comments off

Hearts, romantic dinners, chocolates, two people in love . . . Valentine’s day is nearly here. Maybe you have planned a romantic evening out filled with dinner and dancing. Perhaps you’re prone to something a little more intimate. A decorated table, candle light, a home made meal. What’s missing? The background music! Nothing adds that special ambiance more than romantic music perfect for the occasion. Scour your CD collection to create that special mix tape to add a little extra L’Amour to your evening. If you’re stuck as to what would work, or even searching for a radio dedication, here are my picks for the top five songs perfect for any Valentine’s Day.

Forever and For Always – Shania Twain: Here’s a shock: Brian likes a Shania Twain song! The bigger shock is that I really like this one. Musically it’s a distant cousin to Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” a fast tempo with slower instrumentation. Yet, it’s the affirmative tone in Shania Twain’s voice that helps make this “growing old together” song a romantic mix tape winner. Lyrically it’s a beauty, never overly sentimental or sappy, the song is filled with everything  that one would feel after falling in love, and making that lifetime commitment to never let go because you can never live without. Girls, it’s a no brainer. Guys, if she ever came to mind while hearing this song, dedicate it to her. Now. Right away.

Something – Beatles: George Harrison’s songwriting with the Beatles was largely forgotten in place of the Lennon/McCartney team. Most of his later songs written for the Beatles wound up on his first solo release, All Things Must Pass. “Something” was his final Beatles masterpiece, written about the intangibles that draw two people together. Even though the bridge threatens to betray the verses (“You’re asking me will my love grow, I don’t know”), it’s the final lines “Something in the way she knows, And all I have to do is think of her/Something in the things she shows me/I don’t want to leave her now/You know I believe and how” that gracefully returns the song back to the mysteries of attraction. Plus it’s the Beatles, and you never go wrong with the Beatles.

Have I Told You Lately – Van Morrison: Aren’t those three words, “I love you,” almost always taken for granted? I don’t think there’s a person alive who gets tired of hearing it or saying it.  Don’t go for the syrupy version that Rod Stewart had the hit with, it’s the original sung by Van Morrison that packs the punch. Stewart went for the swoon, while Morrison’s comes off as more sincere. Lines such as, “Fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness, ease my troubles that’s what you do” sound as real as though he were singing it directly to his wife, Michelle Rocca. Even though it would be three years before they would even meet, I’m sure it was his vision of whom he would be singing it to that propelled this version.

Valentine’s Day – Bruce Springsteen: Any number of Springsteen songs could fit the mood, from The River’s “I Wanna Marry You” to Tunnel of Love’s “Tougher Than The Rest.” Any would be a great choice, but tops is Tunnel of Love’s “Valentine’s Day.” It’s sparse musical arrangement (a cymbal tap, a repeating bass line, and a keyboard, all played by Springsteen himself) fits his lyrics. For all of it’s simplicity, it’s one of the most visual and heartfelt love songs around, with Bruce sending his character on an overnight drive to be with his girl. Just listen to Springsteen singing the lines, “tonight I miss my girl mister, tonight I miss my home,” and “that ain’t what scares me baby, what scares me is losing you.” The emotional wallop comes at the end. His keyboard rises to a beautiful crescendo as we allow our internal camera to pull away, watching the car’s tail lights disappear into the darkness. There’s never a doubt in my mind that, at long last, he was reunited with the one he loves.

When The Stars Go Blue – Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams knows how to tug at a heart string with either a beautiful lyric or melody. One of the highlights of 2001’s “Gold,” this one has both. Even though Adams’ love songs tend to be a tad off beat, “When The Stars Go Blue” will always have a special place. It comes off as a slow dance, lyrically it’s a bit scattershot. Under most, the line “are you happy now” might come off as cynical and snarky (it sounded good coming from Bono, not as much coming from Tim McGraw). With Adams it comes off as genuine, as does the rest of the song. The song’s bridge “Where do you go when you’re lonely, I’ll follow you” and his chorus with the vocal pitch changing “blue” is what makes this lullaby the “our song” for a slightly younger generation of lovers.

Please note: We are unable to provide the Van Morrison track.

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Top Five Most Bizarre Christmas Gifts

November 19, 2009 Comments off

We all have that one family or friend who is impossible to shop for. They’re the ones who either have everything or respond, “You don’t have to get me anything” when you ask what they’d like for Christmas. For that hard-to-buy-for person in your life, we’ve taken the guesswork out of the process, and compiled our own list. These gifts are sure to be a hit, or at least it is guaranteed that the recipient won’t have a duplicate stuck in the back of the sock drawer.

5. Jl421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank:
The gift that will automatically make you the best gift-giver ever. How many people will wake up Christmas morning to find a tank waiting for them? Absolutely none! For $19,999.95 (plus shipping and handling) you can change all of that. This Badonkadonk kicks some serious booty with speeds up to 40 mph on 6hp Tecumseh unleaded fuel. Our suggestion is to keep the cool factor high by keeping the “I’m a proud parent of . . . ” bumper stickers off the tank. While the neighbor down the street stares at their new, be-ribboned Lexus, you’ll be staring at your brand new tank. Who’s cooler now?

4. Roswell Soil Sample:
If you can’t fool ’em with dirt from your own back yard, go for the real deal. For all the Area 51 enthusaists, here’s something to put alongside the Berlin Wall brick you purchased back in 1989. Saving you the trip, the hassle of military interrogation and possible alien abduction, you can purchase an authentic soil sample from Roswell. This product also comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, so you know it has to be legit. The perfect gift for the Weekly World News afficionado.

3.UFO Detector:
Thousands can attest: those pesky U.F.O.’s always get in the way of a good desert road trip. Wouldn’t you like to know in advance if one were in the area? Know someone who’s worried that their little boy might be kidnapped by interstellar visitors? Push aside that dish with the mountain carved from mashed potatoes– E.T’s phoning home! This handy U.F.O Detector will warn you of your next close encounter! Through the miracle of moden technology (and one 9v lithium battery), the recipient will have advance notice of any extraterrestrial activity in the area. This gadget, along with the Roswell Soil Sample,  is sure to be quite the conversation piece at any party. Until it goes off.

2.Laptop Steering Wheel Desk:
Let’s say you’re on your way to work and you want to check the stock market. Or you’re cruising along the freeway knowing that an important email may be waiting for you. For the special (or maybe not so special) loved one in your life, you can purchase the Laptop Steering Wheel Desk. Use it for your laptop or lunch on the go. Surfing the web while making a U-turn has never been more fun or adventurous. We can only hope there’s enough room to rest your cell phone. If you can hear Billy Mays screaming in your head, don’t worry, we hear him, too.

1.Uranium Ore:
I love seeing folks glow when they receive that special gift. Every holiday there’s always that one present that radiates the spirit of the season. To go along with your brand new Geiger Counter, or if you just need that extra boost to get your DeLorean back to 1985, Amazon will sell you containers of radioactive uranimum ore. Purchase one or purchase enough to recreate your own Three Mile Island in the privacy of your living room. The post office must love dealing with this stuff and you will too! It’s the gift that’s perfect for the nuclear family.

Top Five Carolina Rock/Road Songs

November 17, 2009 8 comments

This list is for those looking to cruise down I-85 with the top down, arm hanging out of the window, singing along to music blasting from the radio. We’ve all done it without a care in the world as to who’s watching. Or maybe just finding that one song that fits that moment when you find yourself on a highway far away from home. Rock music and road trips have been perfect partners for years, and we couldn’t resist a compilation of the best of that pairing.

For this list the same rules apply as in the previous list: The song has to contain some form of reference to Carolina, be it specific or vague. Additionally, it cannot contain the same artist or band twice for the sake of variety, as well as a challenge to myself. Needless to say this has made creating these lists a bit of a challenge. Well, challenge accepted; the top five Carolina rock/road songs.

5. North Carolina Line – Gene Vincent: I’m going purely on reference here. While better known for “Be Bop-A-Lula,” “North Carolina Line” is more of a raw, somewhat hidden gem. Sounding like a distant cousin to Buddy Holly’s “Rave On,”  the only Carolina reference is in the title.  It’s a great rock song, and if you’re heading towards the Carolina line, blast it.

4. Carolina Blues – Blues Traveler: I know “Carolina” in this instance is in reference to a woman; however, I did mention “vague” and this certainly falls under that umbrella. Keeping the protagonist up all night and throwin’ down the rest of the time,  “Carolina” sounds like a handful. This song falls more under the heavy blues category, certainly sounding nothing like the poppy,  Grateful Dead ripoff  known as “Runaround” (a song who’s guitar passages were blatantly lifted from “Uncle John’s Band”). You’ll bang your head, stomp with your free foot, and pump your fist more than you’ll dance on your toes.  No need to fear, the girl driving alongside of you won’t stare too much.

3.  Let It Ride – Ryan Adams: I’ll make no bones about it: Ryan Adams is a genius. Chances are he’ll wind up on nearly every list I make, as long as it’s in a positive manner. “Let It Ride” is a slower song with a fast beat–think Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” It’s those qualities that make it an overnight road companion. Adams is quick with the Carolina references in many of his songs and this one slips in under the wire with the line, “Tennessee’s a brother to my sister Carolina where they’re gonna bury me.”

2. Cadillac Ranch – Bruce Springsteen: One of the more driving tracks from “The River,” this is one which inspires throwing the cowboy hat on and turning up the volume. It has the country sounding guitar solo, the rock sounding sax solo, and lyrics involving cars, and a reference to a racing legend:

James Dean in that Mercury ’49, Junior Johnson runnin’ through the woods of Caroline“.

You got it, boss. You also have the number two slot on this list.

1. The Promised Land – Chuck Berry: The granddaddy of all Carolina rock songs by one of rock music’s best. This is the ultimate traveler’s song, a rock n’ roll cross country trip from Norfolk, Virginia to California. It’s signature Chuck Berry, that “Johnny B. Goode” sound that has found itself in rock songs too numerous to mention, yet you never tire of hearing it. Aside from it being an all time great driving song, it contains specific Carolina references as well as references to our good neighbors to the north and south.

I left my home in Norfolk Virginia
California on my mind
I straddled that Greyhound
And rode into Raleigh
And on across Caroline

Stopped in Charlotte and bypassed Rock Hill,
And we never was a minute late.
We was ninety miles out of Atlanta by sundown,
Rollin’ ‘cross the Georgia state.

It’s one of the ultimate rock songs by one of the ultimate rock and rollers, a signature driving song if there ever was one.

Top Five Carolina Fireplace Songs

November 16, 2009 Comments off

Snow’s falling in the mountains, a rug on the floor of either the velvet plush or bearskin variety, a roaring fire, and the one you love.

What’s missing in this picture is the perfect background music–something to complete your scene. That’s where we come in.

The rules for my list were very simple: keep it Carolina-based, containing a lyric to either a  location or a slightly more vague Carolina reference, and don’t repeat artists. I could’ve easily populated my list with nothing but James Taylor and Ryan Adams, and it was tempting to do so. It was in the interest of variety, as well as a challenge to myself, to come up with five different bands and artists to choose from. This wasn’t easy; however, I believe there’s something here for everyone.

So, create a fire, reach for a glass of beaujolais nouveau for the season or perhaps a nice Cab (red on a winter night, please) and take a look at my top five Carolina fireplace songs.

Top Five Carolina Fireplace Songs

5. Coast of Carolina – Jimmy Buffett: Better known for his beach bum songs, the man who practically invented a lifestyle returned to his country roots in 2004’s “License to Chill.” With a reference to the Carolina coast and a lilting, somewhat seafaring musical quality, it’s probably the only curveball on this list for those reasons. It’s the perfect paradox, a backdrop to looking forward to a warm summer day on a lake or the sea, even though snow is falling outside your window. Don’t think for a second if “Margaritaville” contained a Carolina reference that it wouldn’t have ended up here instead.

4. Oh, Carolina – Vince Gill: This song has all of the ambience needed for a romantic fireside evening, even though it appears to be about the protagonist leaving for a spell and his loved one leaving for good. While lyrically not the greatest mood setter, the lines “I thought the beauty of your hills would hold her here for me,” and “Oh Carolina, I would have never gone” still contain a wistful quality to share with a loved one.  Or enjoy this one alone . . . which might prove to be more appropriate, depending on your frame of reference.

3. Oh My Sweet Carolina – Ryan Adams: It’s difficult keeping several Ryan Adams’ songs off this list. Narrowing it down to a few was hard enough; getting it down to one was close to impossible (if I could get away with honorable mentions, there would be several of his on that list). The loneliness in Adams’ voice underscores his reflective tone, while Emmylou Harris’ gentle harmonies provide a perfect match. Whether or not “Carolina” is a girl, a reference his home state, or both, is irrelevant.”The sweetest winds blow across the south.”

2. Blue Sky – The Allman Brothers: There’s an undercurrent of spiritual, down home serenity evident in every minute of this classic. Dickie Betts’ voice contains a blissfully joyous view of his landscape, his solo being one for the ages. This one is a drifter’s tale, finding Betts walking along a riverside heading towards his Carolina love. “Good old Sunday morning, bells are ringing everywhere. Goin’ to Carolina, it won’t be long and I’ll be there.”

1. Carolina in my Mind – James Taylor:  You had to see this one coming.  And, yes,  it was the obvious choice here. James Taylor’s voice can be compared to a warm blanket and a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night, something soothing and reassuring, a Carolina treasure. And what better addition to that cold Carolina evening than his ode to longing for home.

With a holy host of others standing ’round me/Still I’m on the dark side of the moon/And it seems like it goes on forever/You must forgive me/If I’m up and gone to Carolina in my mind.”

To anyone who has ever suffered bouts of homesickness, or for those who are reflecting about the place they call “home” . . . whether it be for the Carolinas or anywhere else . . . this one’s for you: the top Carolina fireplace song on the list.

–Brian, Entertainment Editor