There are certain songs I could listen to every moment of every day for the rest of my life. “Hypnotize” by the Notorious B.I.G. and “Down on the Corner” (the notorious) CCR head up the list. Other songs are more time and place specific. The New Pornographers are perfect summer music, but their albums collect serious digital dust on my iPod during the winter months. Other songs, however, I never ever ever want to hear. It’s not that they’re bad. Several of these songs may even be musical masterpieces. I’ve just never heard them in a context I could appreciate.
1. “Brick” by Ben Folds Five
Was this the unlikeliest radio hit of all time? Ben Folds Five’s feel-bad abortion slowjam unexpectedly took the airwaves by storm, bumming people out all across the country. Oh, hey, you’re enjoying a late-night trip to Wendy’s for a Frosty. Things are looking pretty rosy. Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute. Here’s a song about terminating a pregnancy before dawn on the DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. Seriously, Ben Folds? You couldn’t wait until the day after the day after Christmas?
When, ideally, would you listen to this song? On the way to get an abortion? After the abortion? Abstinence-only education class? How about never. Never ever. Ever ever ever. Ever.
2. “Piano Man” by Billy Joel
Another glum song. Which is fine. It’s okay for songs to be sad. “Piano Man” is such an epic mopefest, that it’s hard to picture a time it would be good to hear. Even the guys in the bar in “Piano Man” wouldn’t listen to “Piano Man.” They’re probably rather hear some Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely. I don’t think a bunch of problem-drinking townies would appreciate the postmodern artfulness of sitting in a bar listening to a song about guys just like them sitting in a bar just like theirs.
Also, Billy Joel insists that Paul is a “real estate novelist.” That is not a kind of novelist. I have never seen or heard of a “real estate novel.” There is certainly not enough demand for this kind of novel that the world’s only writer of them would never have time to get married.
If I were ever at a bar where the piano player broke into “Piano Man,” I would just shake my head and be like: “Come on, man! What are you doing here?” Seriously, I would rather hear the borderline-unlistenable “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”
3. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
I know, I know. I’m an east coast liberal elite communist Jew. I’m sorry. I just never want to hear this song. The original version or the rendition that Kid Rock Vanilla Iced into his own regional pride anthem. I’m sorry. When I want to hear someone making music about loving a place that other people disrespect, I’ll listen to early Jay-Z. If it has to be from the south, I’ll opt for “Raise Up” by Petey Pablo, because at least that song gives you the direct imperative to wave your shirt around like a helicopter.
In the interest of even-handedness, I will admit that I am rarely down for hearing “Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys, which where I’m from is sacrilege. I do, however, appreciate it when I am actually on my way to Boston. It’s the same as how “Life Is a Highway” only sounds good when you’re on an actual highway. Except “Life Is a Highway” never appeared in The Depahted, which was a wicked good movie, kid.
4. “Scarborough Fair” by Simon and Garfunkel
“Scarborough Fair” makes a day at the carnival sound about as much fun as a puppy funeral. Also, the chorus is primarily concerned with what herbs are going to be available at this fair. It sounds like more of a farmer’s market, really. There are delicate harmonies and gentle guitar playing, but it comes off like a commercial for Whole Foods. Ugh.
5. “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” by Pink Floyd
Maybe I have a hard time getting into the soundtracks of psychedelic animated moves. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t do mushrooms. Pink Floyd is the black-light poster of bands. People who really like hallucinogens seem to enjoy both a great deal, but people with full time jobs don’t care for them as much. Anything you need drugs to enjoy probably isn’t all that great in the first place. People scarf down Funyuns when they’re high. That doesn’t mean Funyuns are an experience that can only be fully appreciated with the aid of a mind-expanding substance. It means you don’t know what’s good and what sucks when you’re stoned.
Maybe I just don’t get it. But I worry that Pink Floyd is a gateway drug that leads to dredlocks and “9/11 was an Inside Job” bumper stickers. All in all, it’s just another song that I never want to hear.
Honorable Mention: “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
Not my favorite tune, but sometimes I do want to hear what Game of Thrones would sound like with guitar solos.