Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tom Waits' Top 20 Tearjerkers Of All Time

It seems this is the year where the Internet sought to kill the "list" by overuse and severe abuse. This Guardian piece 35 Reasons Why I hate Lists sums it up perfectly.

But the *key* problem with the endless Buzzfeed list obsession of anything and everything... is it is all about the WRONG FUCKING THINGS! "36 Cats Who Are More Bored Than You." "59 Walruses Who Think You Should Get A Life", "The 87 Most Irritating Things About The Internet's Obsession With Listing Things As Though It Is Inherently Amusing."


Luckily *Carlo Sands* is here to rectify the problem and provide all humanity with the only list civilisation actually needs: "Tom Waits' Top 20 Tearjerkers Of All Time".

'I want to believe in the mercy of the world again...' Where are all the lists about Tom Waits songs?

Tom Waits has been in the music business more than 40 years now, and, while his music has undergone transformations, if there is one thing Waits knows how to do, it’s churn out a heat-rending tearjerker.

This is often misunderstood. Waits is sometime seen as an eccentric "weird-for-weird's sake" oddball who is near impossible to listen to. Or a highly stylised maudlin drunken lounge singer with a ridiculously over-the-top voice.

But what Tom Waits is, more than anything else, is a brilliant storyteller. He is a man who can fill your heart with hope in one verse, rip it out with the next and then stomp it into the dust to finish. And he can just as easily do it in reverse. He tells stories about what is to be human, to try to actually *live* on this godforsaken hellhole called Planet Earth.

Interviewing author J. T. LeRoy for Vanity Fair in 2001, Waits said: "The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering."

Waits goes on: "It cheapens and degrades the human experience, when it should inspire and elevate." Waits does the opposite. Far from cheapening the human experience, he elevates it. And has done so, consistently, over four decades.

'And I call your name, I can't sleep at night...' Waits' elevates the human experience.

The songs on this list are tearjerkers, but not all the tearjerking comes from sad tales of heartache and loss. True, a lot do, but it includes songs like "Jersey Girl" -- Waits' heartfelt song for the woman he would marry (and has collaborated in song writing with ever since). And "Invitation to the Blues" ends on a hopeful note, while "Hold On" is defiant. "Long Way Home" and "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You" could even be described as "sweet".

"New Year's Eve" and "Christmas Card from a Hooker In Minneapolis" are tearjerkers for different reasons -- both are troubled tales of urban decay, the first set against the hope of a New Year coming, the second... well it should be heard.

There is a hell of a lot more to Waits than tearjerkers -- even if Tom Waits would not be Tom Waits without them. But they are worth highlighting in a society drowning in "love songs" mostly featuring empty sentimentality. We seem afraid of genuine emotion in music.

But love and loss is part of our experience. Few capture it -- and tie the experience to the rest of life -- like Waits does. He combines it with a sense of what it is to be beaten down -- but still standing.

This list is far from complete. It is also *not* a list of the *best* Tom Waits songs. It is simply meant to be good examples of a *certain type* of Waits song. Also, much of Waits material from the '80s on was written with Kathleen Brennan (Waits described the song-writing process as "she washes, I dry"). So I have indicated where the notoriously publicity-shy but key creative collaborator was a co-writer.

Here it is (order does not suggest any "ranking"). You can also hear it as a YouTube playlist)

* * *

1) Shore Leave

"...And I wondered how the same moon outside
over this Chinatown fair
could look down on Illinois
and find you there
and you know I love you baby
and I'm so far away from home..."

Waits is a poet and his use of imagery can be devastating. This song from 1983's Swordfishtrombones is a classic example. It introduces the "junkyard percussion" type sound he developed during the '80s, but most of all, his tale of a homesick soldier in Hong Kong is a fine example of how Waits' uses *words*. I chose the album version over Waits' stunning Big Time performance, as its more understated feel is a bit better at drawing out the imagery of the words. But the Big Time performance is nothing short of spine-tingling. Read the lyrics.

2) Alice

"And so a secret kiss brings madness with the bliss." I dare anyone to deny that truth, and if you don't understand it, you've never lived. This is simply one of the most devastating and heartbreakng songs I have ever heard. From 2002's Alice. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

3) Blue Valentines

"And it takes a lot of whiskey to make these nightmares go away." A fine example of Waits' earlier work, this track from 1978's Blue Valentines is an evocative tale of being haunted by the past. Read the lyrics.

4) Invitation To The Blues

"Mercy mercy, Mr. Percy, there ain't nothing back in Jersey but a broken-down jalopy of a man I left behind..." I kinda find it hard to even talk about this song. From 1976's Small Change, a brilliant booze-soaked album that was my introduction to Tom Waits, the song is a true tearjerker. Killer line after killer line, it ends on a hopeful note. But you gotta take the whole thing in, so play it again and read the lyrics.

5) Jersey Girl

"And I call your name, I can't sleep at night..." This track, from 1980's Heartattack and Vine was writen for Waits' soon-to-be-wife Kathleen Brennan. They are still together and it must be pointed out that Brennan played a huge role in the development of Waits music from this point on, co-writing much of his material. This live version from 1979 shows the emotional power Waits can give this song. Read the lyrics.

6) Downtown Train

"Outside another yellow moon
Punched a hole in the night time, yes
I climb through the window and down the street
Shining like a new dime
The downtown trains are full
With all those Brooklyn girls
They try so hard to break out of their little worlds
You wave your hand and they scatter like crows
They have nothing that will ever capture your heart
They're just thorns without the rose
Be careful of them in the dark
Oh if I was the one
You chose to be your only one
Oh baby can't you hear me now
Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train
Every night it’s just the same
You leave me lonely, now..."

That first verse is pure, heartbreaking poetry. This song from 1985's Rain Dogs features my favourite opening verse of any song I know of. You can also see a great live performance where Waits is accompanied by just a guitar and a double bass. Read the rest of the lyrics.

7) Trampled Rose

"I know this rose like I know my name. The one I gave my love, it was the same..." This song from 2004's Real Gone is the sound of a man defeated by life and love. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

8) Green Grass

"Lay your head where my heart used to be, hold the Earth above me ..." A beautiful, moving song about death from 2002's Alice. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

9) Hold On (Live)

"Down by the Riverside motel,
It's 10 below and falling
By a 99 cent store she closed her eyes
And started swaying
But it's so hard to dance that way
When it's cold and there's no music
Well your old hometown is so far away
But, inside your head there's a record
That's playing, a song called Hold On..."

From start to finish, a heartbreaking tale of small-town bigotry, crushed dreams and a determination to just keep on going. This live version, accompanied only by a softly played piano, brings the words to the fore. You can hear the version from 1999's Mule Variations (and see a rare video clip) here. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

10) Christmas Card from a Hooker In Minneapolis

"Hey Charlie I'm pregnant..." One of Waits' classic opening lines, matched by the song’s closing lines, which I won't quote so as not to spoil the story. You can see a live performance of this track from 1978's Blue Valentines that stuns a sceptical crowd into silent awe. Read the lyrics.

11) Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets To The Wind In Copenhagen)

"And it's a battered old suitcase to a hotel some place, and a wound that will never heal." A long, vivid tale of, in Waits' words, "throwing up on yourself in a foreign country", the classic opening lines set the scene: "Wasted and wounded, it aint what the moon did. I got what I paid for now." You can hear the strings-backed original from 1976s Small Change. Read the lyrics.

12) Innocent When You Dream (Big Time version)

"I gave my love a locket and then I broke her heart..." Sounds like a heartbroken man staggering down an empty street waving a near empty bottle of absinthe while he shouts his woes to the moon. 1987s Frank Wild Years contained two versions of this. Read the lyrics.

13) Hang Down Your Head

"Hush a wild violet, hush a band of gold. Hush you're in a story I heard somebody told..." Just another beautiful but heartbreaking song from the Master of Misery on his classic 1985 Rain Dogs album. Covering Tom Waits is a very hard thing to do, but Lucinda Williams does a great version of this. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics

14) Talking At The Same Time

"All the news is bad, is there any other kind?" On this track from 2011's Bad As Me, Waits mixes personal heartbreak in with the widespread pain and suffering caused throughout US society by the Great Recession -- where "we bailed out the billionaires, they got the fruit, we got the rind". Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

15) New Year's Eve

"It felt like four in the morning
What sounded like fire works
Turned out to be just what it was
The stars looked like diamonds
Then came the sirens
And everyone started to cuss"

Just a Tom Waits' New Years Eve... full of desperate people in desperate situations. A tale of being trapped in urban decay, this is a real tearjerker from 2011's Bad as Me. I know a fan of Tom Waits who, the first time he heard this song while driving his truck, began crying. It’s that kinda track. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

16) All The World Is Green (Live on Letterman)

"Pretend that you owe me nothing, and all the world is green. We can bring back the old days again..." From 2002's Blood Money, a tale of loss and nostalgic longing for a better past. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

17) Georgia Lee

"Why wasn't God watching?" The emotional power of this song, from 1999's Mule Variations, comes from the fact it is about a true story. Georgia Lee Moses was a 12-year-old girl found murdered in 1997 near where Waits and Brennan live in California.

The case got a lot less attention than the very similar horrific murder involving the 12-year-old Polly Klaas a couple of years earlier -- a fact some put down to Moses being Black and the daughter of a mentally handicapped single mother. Waits and Brennan were determined Georgia Lee Moses would not be forgotten. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

18) Make It Rain (Live)

"I want to believe in the mercy of the world again..." This slower live version of this bluesy track from 2004's Real Gone brings the tale of betrayal and pain to life. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

19) Long Way Home

"Well I stumbled in the darkness, I'm lost and alone..." This is a very moving, almost sweet, tale in which the narrator battles the pressures and temptations of life but finds salvation in love. It appeared on 2006's triple album of never-before-released rarities, Orphans.

It is also a great example of Waits' quality as a performer, and the role of his rough voice. Waits' actually gave this song to Norah Jones, who recorded it first. Her version is fine -- there is nothing wrong with it and musically it is pretty indistinguishable from Waits'. But then you listen to Waits sing it, and it breaks your heart. Waits' voice is essential -- it is grounds his songs, it drags them through the dirt. And this makes the emotion feel more real and cuts against cheap sentimentality. Co-written with Kathleen Brennan. Read the lyrics.

20) I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You

"...'Cause falling in love just makes me blue." A sweet song from Waits' first album, 1973's Closing Time. Waits was yet to develop his trademark growling vocals, giving a unique feel to this romantic tale of late-night bar life. Read the lyrics.

* * *

Well, the only thing left to say is it was near impossible to chose only 20 great tearjerkers. There are so many more -- Waits' career was spanned four decades and there is not a bad moment in it. I simply tried to give an overview. You gotta a great Waits tearjerker not there? Feel free to add it in the comment section.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Five Great Christmas Songs...

Christmas is one of those things you can't actually stop, so you might as well write decent songs about it. I gotta say, though, as we are on the topic, my Christmas came early -- on December 23 when the whole of Wanderland was jumping and singing as the Western Sydney Wanderers demolished the Central Coast Mariners, who had the sheer *gall* to beat us in last season's grand final.

The *true* meaning of Christmas! Wanderers players celebrate with the fans after their 2-0 defeat of the Mariners! Check out Shinji Ono's hat! Christmas is red and black!

But you know, not everyone was at Wanderland in Parramatta on Monday night to experience such GLORY so here are five Christmas songs I think are worth fucking hearing. I'd say "The Top Five Christmas Songs Of All Time That You Really Must Hear Right Now!", or some other shit, but FUCKING BUZZFEED HAS KILLED THE LIST! THIS YEAR, THE LIST HAS JUMPED THE SHARK AND THE SHARK JUMPED UP AND ATE THE LIST!!!

So I will simply call this "Five Great Christmas Songs" and you can do with that what you will. Here they are as a YouTube play list.

* * *

Five Great Christmas Songs

5) Merry Christmas From the Family -- Robert Earl Keen

"Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk ..." Texas country singer Robert Earl Keen's tale of a gloriously drunken, messy family Christmas.

4) Grateful for Christmas -- Hayes Carll

"I wish I had a drink or maybe a dozen ..." Writing a sweet Christmas song without making it unbearably saccharine is a really hard task. It takes a songwriter and performer of the quality of Hayes Carll -- *another* Texas country singer -- to pull it off.

3) Shit Christmas Without You -- The Mighty Stef

"Sometimes love don't do the things you want it to..." The Mighty Stef is a severely -- even tragically -- underrated bluesy folksy rocking powerhouse, and this song introduces heartache, lost love and a nostalgic romanticism to the festive season. It also references song 1) in this list.

2) Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis -- Tom Waits

"Hey Charlie, I'm pregnant..." Continuing with the nostalgic romanticism, here is a great live version of Tom Waits' classic from 1978's Blue Valentine. From that great opening line to its killer final line (which I won't quote in case you've never heard it before), it is a blinder. In other Tom Waits Christmas news, here is a song by Roy Ivy that parodies a latter-day Waits style of song called "A Tom Waits Christmas".

1) Fairytale of New York -- The Pogues

"It was Christmas Eve babe, in the drunk tank..." What can be said about this asides from the indisputable fact it is not just the best Christmas song ever, but one of the best songs of all time full stop? Very little, so here is a different version by the great Irish folk singer Christy Moore.

Merry Christmas you bastards. Here's the only fucking image from the Internet you need. Coz it says all that needs saying about the fucking Internet.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Smash: a poem.


Smash smash smash smash.
Smash smash smash smash.
Smash smash smashity
smash smash smash smash smash smash smashity smash smash
FUCKING GODDAMN SMASH!!!!!!!!!!!! SMASH!!!!!!!!!!! SMASH!!!!!!!!!!!
Smash smash smash smash.
I am never watching the news again.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Filipinos outrageously politicse their own national tragedy by demanding climate action!!!

Have you heard the latest outrage by these global warming extremist scum? Nothing is sacred to these bastards, NOTHING!

While millions of Filipino people were struggling with the terrible effects of a massive storm, which a glance at Wikipedia will reveal have long occurred in the Philippines, a representative of their *own government* has outrageously dared to politicise this national tragedy!

Yes, the Philippines climate change commissioner Yeb Sano had the unbelievable *gall* to get up at negotiations over so-called global warming and say:
We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway.

'Unprecedented, unthinkable and horrific...' How DARE HE SAY SUCH THINGS!

How outraged those poor people must feel as they search in vain for non-existent food and water amid the apocalyptic scenes of total and utter devastation caused by one of strongest storms on record, that their own representative at climate change talks would have the gall to demand climate action!

I mean, especially as it is hardly a one off for them in recent years. Not when there was the death and destruction wrought by tropical cyclone Ketsana in 2009, Typhoon Washi in 2010, Tropical Storm Bopha last year and the southwest monsoon rains in August last year...

As dead bodies float past them on flooded streets, the peoples' rage must be uncontrollable at the sheer gall anyone would demand emergency action to reduce the growing risk of such severe, almost unimaginable social catastrophes engulfing them in such unspeakable, repeated tragedies.

These people must be *outraged*.

The extremist bastard does not stop there! Sano *actually*, christ I can barely type these words I am so filled with rage at how goddamn *insensitive* he is being to even *dare* raise this at such a time, he actually says... climate sceptics should "get off their ivory towers" to see the impacts of climate change firsthand!


Now if there is ever a man of the people, it is Andrew! When Australia’s most diligent climate “sceptic” isn’t on TV abusing anyone to the left of Attila the Hun, or at his keyboard writing racial abuse, or attending lavish dinners thrown by the prime minister or large corporate interests ... why he is... well... I guess sleeping as that is pretty much his whole week filled.

Andrew Bolt: Man of the people.

But if you thought this Sano bastard could not sink any lower... well get this! He actually said:
Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms.

As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm.

Sure, this is what climate scientists have been screaming at us for a few decades, but what a time to raise it! NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR SCIENCE! FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, HOW INSENSITIVE CAN YOU BE?!

You might think by now, a sense of shame would stay this prick’s tongue. No. He actually added:
To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare them to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce.

Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America. And if that is not enough, they may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.

The only thing I can possibly imagine in his defence for this atrocious abuse of a tragedy to push his extremist “global warming” barrow is the poor guy is probably traumatised.

You see, his own hometown was destroyed by the almost unprecedented Super-typhoon and he is yet to know the fate of many relatives. Sano did receive news his brother was alive — having spent the last two days gathering the bodies of the dead “with his own two hands”.

No doubt all that grief is affecting the poor sod’s judgement. No, if you want dispassionate commentary that would never exploit any tragedy to push an agenda, Andrew Bolt is your man.

And no doubt Andrew has already written a blog post pointing all this out. I can’t actually read his blog myself, due to doctor’s orders and a strict court injunction banning me from doing so after I slaughtered 183 innocent people last year in a tragic case of “Bolt-rage” after I accidently skimmed a post of his on racial discrimination.

But if you want to know what the extremist hippies are saying about him, you can read independent "journalist" Wendy Bacon responding to a Bolt blog post attacking her on the question of climate science.

Now, if you are one of those insensitive hippy pricks cruel enough to *politicise* such a tragedy but advocating action about its causes ... then: You can add your name to a call on rich nations take climate action. And you can donate to grassroots relief efforts, but be warned, these pricks out doing all they can to help the affected also point out climate change may just be a factor.

'Weather's been funny 30 years or so...' Corb Lund's almost haunting song on global warming may be a minature study based purely on southern Alberta in Canada, without the scenes of death and destruction that have become all too common, but its sense of unease based on emperical evidence of serious climate change is still eerily unnerving.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Clicktavist Spam Template

I name no names. I think we all know.


Dear __________ (i)

Did you see the news?(ii) Our community(iii) is achieving some big things!(iv)

Please take 30 seconds to follow the link and send a message(v) so our government knows(vi) that we won’t let them do this in our name!(vii)

We can’t do this without you!(viii) Together(ix) we know can do it!(x)

Thanks for all that you do!(xi)

Barry, Sam, Jenny, Mariah, Micky, Babyface Vinnie, Jimmy The Hat, and Joey “Killer” Marconi(xii)


(i) Name to be inserted by computer program and most likely screwed up, undermining our pathetic attempt to appear genuinely chummy.

(ii) Some hack journo finally got sick of us calling and did a 300-word story on us -- crammed in between articles on Miley Cyrus’s relationship break up and one about a Kim Kardashian tweet -- which we are going to use to promote the illusion of our relevance.

(iii) A random collection of emails from people who once took 10 seconds out of their day to stop looking at cat gifs on tumblr to click “sign” on a petition they didn’t read and now get their inboxes spammed ten times a week.

(iv) Some scrap has been thrown our way that we can pretend is progress while on all the big points, the alliance of governments and huge corporations continues driving humanity towards total destruction. But that’s depressing. So here is something that happened that we can exaggerate to the point where our claims of progress become barefaced lies.

(v) Seriously, for fuck’s sake! It won’t even take 30 seconds you lazy pricks, we cannot have made it easier for you to cleanse your conscience with about two clicks of a fucking mouse so stop looking at cat gifs and/or porn and help us justify our existence!

(vi) Of course, the government also knows no one sending this message would ever vote for them in a trillion years if the alternatives were a slug and a rotten mango covered in swastikas.

(vii)The government has absolutely no intention of doing it in any of your names, you bloody idiots. They are taking all the credit for themselves.

(viii) It takes two to spam! Us to send the email and you to delete it!

(ix) See above.

(x) Assuming “it” is engaging in a deluded congratulatory wankfest.

(xi) Seriously is it *that hard* to click the link and press “send” you useless fuckers?

(xii) We are a bunch of 30-something failed student politicians who hate each other and just spent the past 20 minutes in a screaming match over who was responsible for failing to wash up the coffee mugs in the office sink. Also, some of us sound like gangsters.

To sum up that up, I am not sure why supporting progressive social change means you have to accept being patronised like a small child and feed bullshit.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pale Blue Eyes -- the Lou Reed song that rips my heart out

OK. Lou Reed is dead.

As amazing as it is that he even lived to 71 given his serious substance abuse (in the early 70s, the press was basically just waiting for the guy to die, believing it was just a matter of time), I actually find it really unsettling to realise I now live in world without Lou Reed in it.

I am not going to try any profound analysis of Lou Reed's career and his vast body of work. Others far better equipped have had their crack at it.

I am not gonna talk about the raw rock'n'roll perfection of "I'm Waitin' For The Man" or the pop perfection of "Perfect Day", which starts so superficially pleasant and ends in such despair. I'll just simply note my personal favourite Lou Reed song -- one he recorded with the Velvet Underground, "Pale Blue Eyes".

'Thought of you as everything I've had but couldn't keep... I've had but couldn't keep.'

It is, put simply, one of the most heartbreaking songs I know of -- to such an extent it reminds me of the best Tom Waits' heartbreaking ballads. And, as anyone who knows me will attest, that is pretty the highest compliment I could pay.

And I find it heartbreaking for similar reasons -- like a great Tom Waits’ ballad, it is not polished or even close to "perfectly" sung. The song is dragged through the dirt. It is the sound of someone falling down and trying to get back up. Lou Reed's vocal sounds just like a man having his heart torn out... and trying to keep on going.

The music is downbeat, basic and repetitive. It provides an almost haunting background over which Lou Reed sings, in a shaky voice that threatens to collapse under the weight of the pain, the story of his love for a married woman (Wikipedia claims the song was about Reeds' first love, who was married to another man). This is a stylistic trick Canadian band The Cowboy Junkies later used to great effect.

The song is raw. Lou Reed's vocal is utterly fragile, he sounds at every moment like the emotion will overwhelm him and he'll break down. Yet he pulls himself together -- just.

Each line is delivered with repressed emotion. But by the end, when he sings to the woman he loves, but cannot love, "But it's truly, truly a sin", the suppressed emotion in that highly conflicted line nearly bursts through to drown the song.

But it doesn't. You can feel the dam cracking. It comes so close to splitting wide open. But somehow it holds. And this near-unbearable tension makes the song even more heart-wrenching.

This is a personal favourite -- one that rips my heart out each time I hear it. But the skills as a songwriter and singer Reed employs here are found throughout his career.

Lou Reed was truly one of the giants, and the fact he no longer walks among us is still more confusing to me than painful. I can't comprehend it. Lou Reed has always been alive. He has just always been around. I guess getting older is as much about confronting the mortality of others, even those who seem immortal, as it is confronting your own.

Pale Blue Eyes

Sometimes I feel so happy,
Sometimes I feel so sad.
Sometimes I feel so happy,
But mostly you just make me mad.
Baby, you just make me mad.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Thought of you as my mountain top,
Thought of you as my peak.
Thought of you as everything,
I've had but couldn't keep.
I've had but couldn't keep.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

If I could make the world as pure and strange as what I see,
I'd put you in the mirror,
I put in front of me.
I put in front of me.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Skip a life completely.
Stuff it in a cup.
She said, 'Money is like us in time,
It lies, but can't stand up.
Down for you is up.'
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

It was good what we did yesterday.
And I'd do it once again.
The fact that you are married,
Only proves, you're my best friend.
But it's truly, truly a sin.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.
Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hello! Rodeo! I am brilliant!

Hello world! It is a little known fact about Carlo Sands that he... that is *I*... am actually the greatest rodeo rider thingy person who stays on those *totally mad* bulls the longest IN THE WORLD! TRUE STORY!

I don’t really like to boast about it, being famously modest. In fact, I would say probably I am the MOST MODEST PERSON *EVER*! TOTALLY! I AM A FUCKING *GENIUS* AT BEING MODEST!

The point is, I am a *brilliant* rodeo rider. The greatest ever. Now, *true* I have never ridden a bull. I have never even *seen* a rodeo except once briefly on TV *or* been to Texas. Like, ever!

But my statement remains accurate. You see, I can *tell*. I look at a bull and I am like “I could totally ride that! I’d be AWESEOME!” Seriously, I look in the bull’s eye... I stare right at the bull on the other side of the fence... and I just KNOW I could totally dominate that beast!

It is this feeling I get. And, as a 21st century sensitive new age male, I trust my feelings. Those fucking bulls are MINE, MOTHERFUCKERS!

I would totally *own* any bull I chose to ride. I just *know it*.

But I simply stare the beast down and walk away. It is just one of those things. I could never *actually* get on a bull, not with my cheekbones. I have my adoring public who are obsessed with my cheekbones to think of.

I would just never do anything to risk the object of their adoration. And sometimes, the bravest thing is to walk away.

But trust me, I’d be great. I know.

Did you know that rodeo is the official sport of Wyoming, South Dakota and Texas? Wikipedia taught me that, and if we have learned anything from the unprecedentedly severe and destructive bushfires that struck New South Wales over the past week, it is that Wikipedia is the source of all knowledge.

Anyway, did I mention out what a great a rodeo rider I am? Fucking brilliant. A natural. But I don’t like to go on about it, due to the modesty thing.

I'd point out just how great I am at this kinda shit if I wasn't so modest.

So, ah, just go on about your lives like before and pretend I never imparted this groundbreaking information. But just remember... if you are ever in a life-threatening situation where what is desperately needed is someone who can ride a bull without falling off... just think of me... then ask someone else coz I hate showing off.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Thousands are sailing... a song for our times. RIP Phil Chevron

'And I never even got so far that they could change my name...'

I break my long silence on this godforsaken blog to post that song, due to the tragic news today that its writer, The Pogues' Phil Chevron, lost his long battle with cancer, aged just 56.

I mean seriously what kind of fucking godforsaken world is this when Phil Chevron is taken from us yet Robin Thicke lives? A severely fucked-up world is the answer. A severely fucked up world indeed.

I am extremely glad I had the immense pleasure of seeing the pretty much "classic" Pogues line up in Sydney last year. It was an amazing night, I couldn't believe my eyes -- there on stage was these legendary figures from another, glorious era, who created an entire new genre of their own. And Phil Chevron stepped up to sing "Thousands Are Sailing" while Shane McGowan staggered off stage to refill his drink.

I put the full words to "Thousands Are Sailing" below, coz it is not just a great song, but fucking goddamn poetry. And its story of forced emigration -- specifically about Irish emigration to America -- is just really fucking relevant. And the tragic dying trying to reach safety is really fucking relevant, from the horrific death of 363 (at last count) who died trying to reach Italy to the goddamn hellhole of *THIS* so-called country where the authorities make of point of letting asylum seekers die.


Thousands are sailing

The island it is silent now
But the ghosts still haunt the waves
And the torch lights up a famished man
Who fortune could not save

Did you work upon the railroad
Did you rid the streets of crime
Were your dollars from the White House
Were they from the five and dime

Did the old songs taunt or cheer you
And did they still make you cry
Did you count the months and years
Or did your teardrops quickly dry

Ah, no, says he, ‘twas not to be
On a coffin ship I came here
And I never even got so far
That they could change my name

Thousands are sailing
Across the western ocean
To a land of opportunity
That some of them will never see
Fortune prevailing
Across the western ocean
Their bellies full
Their spirits free
They’ll break the chains of poverty
And they’ll dance

In Manhattan’s desert twilight
In the death of afternoon
We stepped hand in hand on Broadway
Like the first man on the moon

And “the blackbird” broke the silence
As you whistled it so sweet
And in Brendan Behan’s footsteps
I danced up and down the street

Then we said goodnight to Broadway
Giving it our best regards
Tipped our hats to Mister Cohen
Dear old times square’s favorite bard

Then we raised a glass to JFK
And a dozen more besides
When I got back to my empty room
I suppose I must have cried

Thousands are sailing
Again across the ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery
Postcards we’re mailing
Of sky-blue skies and oceans
From rooms the daylight never sees
Where lights don’t glow on christmas trees
But we dance to the music
And we dance

Thousands are sailing
Across the western ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery
Where e’er we go, we celebrate
The land that makes us refugees
From fear of priests with empty plates
From guilt and weeping effigies
And we dance

'The island it is silent now, but the ghosts still haunt the waves ' Phil Chevron sings his song.


Friday, May 31, 2013

OK, OK, a new post! Here are my top 20 songs of the past 20 years

Oh fuck it is the last fucking day of goddamn May and I haven't even posted in this godforsaken blog so far this whole fucking month.

Well, I am a busy man, beer doesn't just drink itself. But I am only too aware of just how fucking agonising it is for the world to be waiting impatiently for ANOTHER FUCKNG GODDAMN BLOG POST FROM CARLO SANDS! And so here we go. Buy me a beer sometime. (Like seriously, buy me a beer -- there is a pay pal donate button for that very purpose on the right.)

So... ah... the world eh? Big things have been happening. There are riots in Sweden, fascists marching in Britain and in Germany THE FUCKING GAS CORPORATIONS ARE THREATENING THE BEER!!!

Gawker explains the potential horror story: "If there are two things Germans have traditionally loved, it's purity and beer. Now, according to a German brewers association, both are at risk because of a potential law that would legalize fracking in the country.

"A 500-year-old beer purity law called the 'Reinheitsgebot' is apparently at stake. The 'Reinheitsgebot' states that German brewers can only produce beer using malt, hops, yeast and water. The chemicals produced by fracking could, according to the Brauer-Bund beer association, pollute water in the underground wells used by some breweries."

OK, now, as anyone who watches David Letterman could tell you, it has long been known that fracking is dangerous but HOLY SHIT THIS JUST GOT REALLY FUCKING SERIOUS!

Now, apparently, it's unlikely a fracking law will be passed before September due to pressure on the government. So. We have THREE MONTHS to ensure the German government is made fully aware of the consequences of fucking with German beer.

And to think the beer news got off to a very rare good start this month. Yes, amid all the inventing of shit like "fracking", scientists also managed to actually do something socially useful. They have invented beer with a longer shelf life.

Yes, ABC News reported: "Australian drinkers will soon have the option of buying a beer with a much longer shelf life. A new type of malt barley, developed by Adelaide researchers and a Japanese brewer, can prevent beer from tasting stale as quickly."

Apparently, South Australian farmers are to begin commercial production of the barley this year. And just in fucking time too. What with the growing threat of a climate changed-induced holocaust, now is pretty much the time to start stockpiling beer for the coming collapse of civilisation.

But the most important thing to happen this month, for all of humanity, is I have decided to join in Australian radio station Triple J's Vote for your top 20 songs of the past 20 years poll. Yes, with much agonising, I completed the extremely difficult and time consuming task of compiling the Official Carlo Sands Top 20 Songs From the Past 20 Years List!!!

Now I realise this is pretty much the moment you have all been waiting for -- quite possibly for all of your pathetic, pitiful lives. Before I give the list, I should give a few words about the extremely difficult process of selection -- something anyone who has ever tried to formulate such a list will fully appreciate.

Twenty years is a long, long time. It is actually pretty much the totality of the years I have been seriously listening to popular music. There is just so much to choose from, so many options from some many sources, and just when you think you've nailed it a song you totally forgot about jumps into your brain and demands inclusion! God it was hard.

And *yes*, of course, as anyone who knows me would fully expect, Tom Waits *does* make an appearance on the list. No surprises there!

I hope you will all find this a very interesting and wide-ranging list! And here it is in the the form of a YouTube playlist!

* * *


1) TOM WAITS Big in Japan (1999's Mule Variations)

'I got the powder but not the gun. I got the dog but not the bun...' Man is singin' my life here.

2) TOM WAITS Hold On (Mule Variations)

'They hung a sign up in our town, "if you live it up, you won't live it down". So, she left Monte Rio, son, just like a bullet leaves a gun. With charcoal eyes and Monroe hips, she went and took that California trip...' This is a Tom Waits song -- no prizes for guessing how that bid for escape works out. Let's just say 'You gotta hold on'.

3)TOM WAITS What's He Building in There? (Mule Variations)

'What's he building in there? What the hell is he building in there? He has subscriptions to those magazines. He never waves when he goes by. He's hiding something from the rest of us ...' Tom Waits did neighbourhood paranoia and deep-distrust two years before 9/11. Waits always was ahead of his time. You'll note at the end of the (brilliant) video, the last line 'We have a right to know!' is delivered over a grainy shot of a bloke holding an American flag.

4) TOM WAITS Alice (2002's Alice)

'And so a secret kiss brings madness with the bliss..' Fuck, this song gets me every single time. One of a handful of absolute Tom Waits classics and *that* is truly saying something.

5) TOM WAITS All the World Is Green (2002's Blood Money)

'Pretend that you owe me nothing, and all the world is green. We can bring back the old days again, when all the world was green...' Oh god. And I thought 'Alice' was a heartbreaker.

6) TOM WAITS God's Away On Business (Blood Money)

'Who are the ones that we kept in charge? Killers, thieves, and lawyers.' Waits takes a look at the state of the modern world and this song -- with his best Cookie Monster vocal -- is the result.

7) TOM WAITS Hoist That Rag (2004's Real Gone)

'The smell of blood, the drone of flies. You know what to do if the baby cries. Hoist that rag.' Waits' savage take on patriotism and war.

8) TOM WAITS Dead and Lovely (Real Gone)

'Everything has its price, everything has its place. What's more romantic than dying in the moonlight?' Like a film noir storyline, this Waits song is hardboiled -- deadly and tragic in equal measures.

9) TOM WAITS Green Grass (Real Gone)

'Lay you head where my heart used to be. Hold the earth above me. Lay down in the green grass. Remember when you loved me.' AARRGGH for god's sake Tom! Stop it. Stop just creating brilliant achingly heatbreaking songs one after the other. STOP PUTTING EVER OTHER SONGWRITER ON PLANET EARTH TO SUCH SHAME! It is not nice.

10) TOM WAITS Make It Rain (Real Gone)

'She took all my money, and my best friend. You know the story, here it comes again...' A true Waits blues classic.

11) TOM WAITS Low Down (2006's Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards)

'She's a gone lost dirt road. There ain't no way back I been told. Well she's a story they all tell. She's a rebel, she's a yell.' Great Waits rocker...

12) TOM WAITS Lord I've Been changed (Orphans)

'Well, I know I got religion, Lord knows I'm not ashamed...' Now come on, you tell me with a straight face you've come across a better clip than this one right here over the past 20 years...

13) TOM WAITS Walk Away (Orphans)

'There are things I've done I can't erase. I want to look in the mirror see another face. I said, "never", but I'm doing it again. I wanna walk away, start over again.' Sing it, Tom.

14) TOM WAITS Down There By The Train (Orphans)

'There's no eye for an eye, there's no tooth for a tooth. I saw Judas Iscariot carrying John Wilkes Booth.' This Waits song is so good, it was first released by Johnny Cash.

15) TOM WAITS Long Way Home (Orphans)

'Well I stumbled in the darkness, I'm lost and alone...' Christ, another killer heartbreakingly bittersweet love song by Tom Waits. Goddamn the man, goddamn him.

16) TOM WAITS Take Care of All My Children (Orphans)

'You can put all of my possessions here in Jesus' name. Nail a sign on the door...' Yeah you fucken tell 'em.

17) TOM WAITS Raised Right Men (2011's Bad As Me)

'I said there aint enough raised right men... there's your trouble...' Just so very true.

18) TOM WAITS Talking At the Same Time (Bad As Me)

'Well it’s hard times for some; for others it’s sweet. Someone makes money when there’s blood in the street...' Yep.

19) TOM WAITS New Year's Eve (Bad As Me)

'It felt like four in the morning, what sounded like fire works turned out to be just what it was. The stars looked like diamonds, then came the sirens.vAnd everyone started to cuss...' New Years Eve Tom Waits' style.

20) HAYES CARLL She left me For Jesus (Trouble in Mind)

'I'm a gonna get even, I can't handle the shame. Why last time we made love, she even called out his name...' Ah Texas country singer Hayes Carll... there is no "greatest songs" list worthy of the name with him -- except my Top 25 Songs by Female Artists one, of course. Man did make my "best songs about war" list though.

Well there it is people! I have been as fair as possible and tried to source my songs from the widest possible sources (sure there are just three tracks off Mule Variations and six from Orphans but Orphans *is* a triple album) so I am pretty sure there is no possible basis for complaints.

But I have learned, in such matters, it is pretty much impossible to please everybody. So *no doubt* there will be those of you eternal malcontents who will want to insist "why only ONE song from Alice? What the fuck about, say 'Another Man's Vine'?" Or, with some justice, you might want to know how it was possible to leave Hayes Carl's "Knocking Over Whiskeys" off the list (to that, all I can say is, well it was all the fucing Tom Waits songs that did it).

So if, depsite all the hard work and agony that went into this list, you really think you can come up a better top 20 songs from the past 20 years, or just just wanna throw in one or two suggestions, well by all mean s use the comment section. I mean I have NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN FUCKING READ YOUR PATHETIC ATTEMPTS AT MUSIC CRITICISM SO JUST GO RIGHT AHEAD MOTHERFUCKERS! GO ON! FUCK YOU!

Also, if you want to buy me a beer (and who doesn't?) you can via the pay pal button on the righthand sid of this blog.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

'The colour of blood I'd say' -- songs on the horror of war

Today is Anzac Day, commemorating the day a contingent of Australian and New Zealand young working class men landed at Gallipoli in a bungled invasion of the Ottoman Empire on behalf of the British Empire -- and got slaughtered in weeks of horrific mass carnage of unspeakable horror. It is ridiculous and tragic in equal measure that this horrific example of industrial scale killing is used to bolster nationalism and militarism, to help justify MORE killing.

Wel, I wrote a column, my weekly Carlo's Corner for Green Left Weekly, called Gallipoli -- Never forget, and never forgive that gives my views on this issue. Rather than repeat that here, I have produced a list of songs on the horror of war (in the case of the first three, specifically on Gallipoli). Then, three songs on *responses* to the horror of war.

The list is not intended to be complete. These are just the songs that I love that occurred to me today. You got others, don't fucking complain it is not on there, put it in the goddamn comments section. You can go to a Youtube playlist based (but not 100% the same) as the list below.


'If I was asked I'd say/The colour of the Earth that day/It was dull and browny red/The colour of blood I'd say'

'Death hung in the smoke and clung to four hundred acres of useless beachfront.' All the songs, each a snapshot of the horror of war, from PJ Harvey's 2011 'Let England Shake' album are on this YouTube playlist. The lyrics of each can be read here.

'How well I remember that terrible day when our blood stained the sand and the water. And how in that Hell that they called Sulva Bay, we were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.' Liam Clancy's live version above is pretty untouchable version of this song, but for the best recorded version, you cannot go past The Pogues rendition.

'Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame, the killing, the dying, it was all done in vain.' The sound quality on this clip is not the best, but the emotional weight of the performance makes it worth going with this version. The best recorded version is the fantastic rough-edged rendition by early folk punk band The Men They Couldn't Hang.

'Frankie kicked a mine the same day mankind kicked the moon. God help me, he was going home in June.' The Herd provide a hip hop cover of Redgum's classic about an Australian soldier sent to Vietnam.

'At least we’re winning on the Fox Evening News.' Richard Thompson on the horror of the Iraq War, the title taken from British soldier slang for 'Baghdad', filled with other pieces of slang coz 'no one dies when we're speaking double speak'.

'The smell of blood, the drone of flies. You know what to do when the baby cries. HOIST THAT RAG.' Tom Waits, asked about his 2004's Real Gone album that contained anti-war songs for the first time in his career, said singing protest songs was like "throwing peanuts at a gorilla". But Waits has a good throwing arm and his aim is true.

'How is it that the only ones responsible for making this mess got their sorry asses stapled to a goddamn desk?'

'I'm not fighting for justice. I'm not fighting for freedom. I'm just fighting for another day in the world here.'

'Yeah, you tell me that this is not a dream. I've become a steel spring. Uranium tips, night vision cruise missiles gonna cut the belly out of the sky.' The Drones perfectly capture the horror of war throughout the past century... right up to the sheer unspeakable horror of the permanent, endless so-called "war on terror". Read all the lyrics.


Bob Dylan-Masters of War(graphic) by ccharlie182

'And I hope that you die. And your death'll come soon. I will follow your casket in the pale afternoon. And I'll watch while you're lowered down to your deathbed. And I'll stand over your grave 'til I'm sure that you're dead.'

'Political scum, political scum, you lead the way, you beat the drum...' Irish American celtic punk band The Tossers give their considered view on politicians who send young working class people to kill and die. But the best response of all is....

'Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war. Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky than at Sulva or Sud El Bar.' A rising. The best response to the horror of industrial-scale slaughter for Great Power is to rise up against the Great Power -- and strike out for freedom. Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising against British rule was driven in large part by opposition to the imperialist slaughter in Europe... to keep Irish people, facing the threat of conscription being introduced by their British masters, out of the war and to strike a decisive blow at one of the Great Powers responsible for the carnage.

Sadly, they lost -- so an even better response was the Russian Revolution, which won, took Russia out of the war and was a decisive factor in ending the slaughter as the generals of all belligerent nations began to fear the example of a successful slave revolt on their ranks.


They don't quite fit, but they deserve a special mention...

'Tell me I'm a hero now, so someone else can fight this war...' Texas country singer Hayes Carll's surrealist, hallucinatory, drug-fuelled tale of a soldier in Afghanistan.

'Sent me off to a foreign land. Said go and kill the yellow man. I was born in the USA...' Worth including just because it is so misunderstood. Widely mistaken for a patriotic song, even Ronald EReagan -- to Springsteen's bemusement and anger -- used it as a presidential campaign at one point. By the 1990s, Springsteen had taken to performing the song acoustically or so stripped back (like above) that the words and their meaning were impossible to misunderstand. This song is only pro-USA is you think poverty, lack of opportunities, the send of womring class youths to foreign wars, and the abandonment of those who fight and widespread unemployment are good things. Which, in Reagan's defence, I think he actually did.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

'May the judged be their judges when they rot down in hell' -- Fuck you Maggie

What the media should do, of course, is take all their editorials and op eds about a world famous politican who has died -- with their "authoritarian" and "tyrant" descriptors and their tales of economic destruction and class hatred and rising corruption and society breakdown and support for dictators -- and just do a simple find/replace, removing "Hugo Chavez" and inserting "Margaret Thatcher". Just to save some time.

The two leaders, one who died on March 5 the other on April 8, left rather different legacies -- one, for helping the poor, at home and overseas. The other for waging war on the poor, at home and overseas.

One of these two leaders' deaths sparked widespread mourning, the other street parties. Check out these images and see if you can guess which one was the "tyrant"...


Hundreds of thousands of people accompany Hugo Chavez's coffin onthe streets of Caracas

Venezuela's streets were scenes of outpourings of grief.

Real News report on mourning for Chavez in Venezuela and beyond


Celebrations break out in Glasgow's Green Square after news of Thatcher's death.

Thousands gather outside Belfast's City Hall to celebrate news of Thatcher's death.

A street party in Liverpool with fireworks -- to mark the death of a leader who tried her hardest to destroy the city.

So a murderer and torturer, who denounced Nelson Mandela, befriended the worst dictators like Chile's General Pinochet and gave Pol Pot a helping hand has finally fucked off to Hell.

The corporate media are eulogising her and expressing "disgust" at those who have the gall to be happy at the demise of their greatest tormentor.

But even when they might feel obliged to give some nod of recognition to the savage class war Thatcher waged across Britain, there is one aspect likely to be largely ignored -- on top of Thatcher's infamous assistance to pro-Western dictators all over the world, there was Thatcher's policies of murder and torture in the cause of deepening British control over the six counties in Ireland's north.

It is well known that -- on top of the torture and abuses in prisons and the campaign of killings and repression in Ireland's north -- Thatcher's refusal to compromise in the case of the hunger strike by republican prisoners in the infamous Long Kesh camp lead directly to the death of 10 men.

Under Thatcher, the policies of repression against the Irish struggle extended onto mainland Britain, with the gross violation of the rights of Irish people living in England that included the framing by means of torture of innocent people for bombings they had nothing to do with.

Censorship is a sign of a guilty regime -- the truth cannot be allowed out. And so the censorship in Thatcher's Britain on "the Irish question" went to absurd lengths -- Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams' voice was even banned from being broadcast. But it was not just Adams' voice -- a song by a popular band that dared deal with the topic was banned from public broadcast and a TV performance of the song was pulled from the air.

The song was The Pogues "Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six". Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan is now better known as an irredeemable drunk, but his lyircs savaged the British state crimes against the Irish people -- in Ireland and Britain. It campaigned for freedom for the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four -- framed for bombings they didn't commit, both before Thatcher came to power, but whose suffering continued under her government while attempts to get out truth were censored.

Thatcher's regime was one that could not even bear to hear about its own crimes in a song...

...There were six men in Birmingham
In Guildford there's four
That were picked up and tortured
And framed by the law
And the filth got promotion
But they're still doing time
For being Irish in the wrong place
And at the wrong time

In Ireland they'll put you away in the Maze
In England they'll keep you for seven long days
God help you if ever you're caught on these shores
The coppers need someone
And they walk through that door

You'll be counting years
First five, then ten
Growing old in a lonely hell
Round the yard and the stinking cell
From wall to wall, and back again

A curse on the judges, the coppers and screws
Who tortured the innocent, wrongly accused
For the price of promotion
And justice to sell
May the judged be their judges when they rot down in hell...

May the whores of the empire lie awake in their beds
And sweat as they count out the sins on their heads
While over in Ireland eight more men lie dead
Kicked down and shot in the back of the head ...

'Five simple things we asked of them, five simple things denied. But Thatcher would not compromise...'

Scenes of jubilation in celebration at Thatcher's death on Falls Road in Belfast. You can hear the banging of bin lids -- a highly symbolic gesture as the banging of bin lids was used on Falls Road (and other places in the nationalist community) to announce the death of each of hte 10 young men Margaret Thatcher let starve to death in 1981.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My top 25 songs by female artists -- FINALLY THE WORLD CAN KNOW!

So, like, in 2010, in response, like, to Triple J's "top 100 songs of all time poll" coming up with only two songs sung by women, the socialist youth organisation Resistance ran this, like, poll themselves to determine the top songs ever by female artists.

Anyone who wanted to take part got to send in 25 songs and, like, I *totally* took part and my votes kinda made no difference to anything but you know, kids these days eh? But I was not put off and, like, was totally determiend to *immediately* get my *shit together* and put my 25 songs onto this VERY HERE BLOG so the world could see the *TRUE* list.

That was, like, three years ago now. And every year, espeically around International Women's Day, I think: "THAT IS IT I WILL GET IT DONE RIGHT NOW!" and something happens, like I go and get another beer. And then nothing happens.


I shall make a few brief points of introduction. One is, this list has changed a fair bit over three years. There are songs and artists I didn't really know then that I have had no choice but to include. Also, my tastes have shifted -- there is less indie guitar pop stuff and more country-flavoured glorious storytelling brilliance.

And, as it is not a competition, the criteria has changed a bit too -- I don't feel the need to pick a particular song by an artist I like just coz that I think *that one* will have some chance of getting other votes too (not that this made any difference).

But most importantly, this is no longer an attempt to make a case for the "greatest songs ever by female singers". Such a list is highly subjective anyway, and there is always so much any individual hasn't heard. So, now, the list is just simply 25 songs I happen to like a lot by female singers.

As a result, it acts as a bit of a intro into some of the acts I think are cool, and as a result there are few multiple songs by acts I love, coz I just cannot bring myself to only choose one -- it doesn't do 'em justice. Also, it ranges from very well known acts like PJ Harvey through to far less known (but should be well known) acts from Australia -- such as the brilliant Cash Savage and Mojo Juju.

There is no doubt many songs I am missing, and would have added if only I have thought of them. So, less "25 greatest songs by female artists", it is just "25 songs by female artists that I really like".

So here it is (in no particular order). (And here it is handily compiled in a YouTube playlist for your listening pleasure.)

You don't like it, go and fucking make your own list you useless whining motherfuckers.

* * *

"This world is crazy, give me the gun." Wise words from PJ indeed. Is this really better than a good half dozen other songs from her 2000 clssic Stories fFrom the City, Stories From The Sea, let alone countless others from albums before and since? That would be a big call. But, as it is pretty much just impossible to chose, fuck it. "Big Exit" kicks it off.

"Death was everywhere,
In the air
And in the sounds
Coming off the mounds
Of Bolton's Ridge.
Death's anchorage.
When you rolled a smoke
Or told a joke,
It was in the laughter
And drinking water
It approached the beach
As strings of cutters,
Dropped in the sea and lay around us.

Death was in the ancient fortress,
Shelled by a million bullets
From gunners, waiting in the corpses
With hearts that threatened to pop their boxes,
As we advanced into the sun
Death was all and everyone.
Death was all and everyone.

As we advance in the sun
As we advancing every man
As we advancing in the sun

Death hung in the smoke and clung
To four hundred acres of useless beachfront.
A bank of red earth, dripping down
Dead is now, and now, and now
Death was everywhere
In the air
And in the sounds
Coming off the mounds
Of Bolton's Ridge.
Death's anchorage.
Death was in the staring sun,
Fixing its eyes on everyone.
It rattled the bones of the Night Horsemen
Still lying out there in the open

As we, advancing in the sun
As we, advancing every man
As we, advancing in the sun
Sing 'Death to all and everyone'."

If picking a song from PJ Harvey's general career was near impossible, picking one song off Harvey's stunning concept album on the horror of war (2011's Let England Shake) was a task to drive the best of us totally insane. Luckily, I am *far* from the best of us and a long way from sane. So here is this heartbreaking gem on the topic of the horrific slaughter at Gallipoli in 1915.

"Take another little piece of my heart now baby..." Some bastard ripped out Janis's heart and so then she ripped out her lungs and throat to let us all know about it. There is nothing else to say, except that if you think that is a great vocal performance...

"Honey I know she told you that she loved you much more than I did." ... then check the this shit out.

“We’ve lived in bars and danced on tables.” There is no denying it, this song by Cat Power speaks to me.

“Who needs love when there’s Southern Comfort?” That line alone from the Dresdon Doll's Amanda Palmer would warrant a spot on this list. But you place it in the context of Palmer's witty, ironic and increasingly desperate impassioned plea against the empty superficiality of the world around her, and... well... I kinda think I wrote that sentence badly and this part is redundant.

“I’m armed and I’m equal. More fun for the people.” That’s all that needs to be said, really. This track from M.I.A. is, once more, just one of a number that could be inserted here.

"Don't try and push me coz you'll get a reaction. Another drink and I'm ready for action." Lily Allen exploded onto the popular music scene with 2006's Alright, Still, brimming with attitude, swaggering, and giving one finger to sexist pricks and another to the world in general. This song sums up her approach. She was a young woman who refused to play by the set rules -- she drank, swore, and sung about screwing who she wanted and demanding her own pleasure... and the response from much of the media was predictable. I discuss Lily Allen and this phenomena in my blog post Explaining Lily Allen.

"Oh Jesus Christ almighty. Do I feel alright? No not slightly." Lily Allen's witty take on trying to live under late monoply capitalism... the hurt, frutration and anger at the "way that things go" just barely below the surface.

“God blessed me, I’m a free man. With no place free to go.” Neko Case sums up the entire capitalist system in 13 words.

“It’s not the smell in here that gets to me, it’s the lights. I hate the shadows that they cast. And the sound of clinking bottles is the one sure thing I’ll always drag with me from my past.” Such vivid imagery in this destroyingly beautiful melancholic song about love and guilt and memories.

"Here comes that feeling that I'd forgotten
How strange these streets feel
When you're alone on them
Each pair of eyes just filled with suggestion
So I lower my head, make a beeline for home
Seething inside"

Just to prove it is was not a one-off, there is this equally compelling poetic tale of feeling ambivalent, but ultimately happy, over the end of a relationship. Every line paints a picture -- and at times cuts deep. And the Cowboy Junkies can do devastating social criticism -- just check out This Street, This Man, This Life with its terrifying depiction of the horrors that lurk in surburbia ("This street holds it's secrets like a cobra holds it's kill / This street minds it's business like a jailer minds his jail / That house there is haunted / That door's a portal to hell / This street holds it's secrets very well").

"We're hanging here within an inch of our lives from the day we're born till the day we die..." This is the glorious country folk husband-and-wife duo Shovels and Rope. Cary Anne Hearst and Michael Trent mix up songwriting and singing duties, and Carly takes the lead for this one. Check out some more in this Shovels and Rope playlist I created.

"She said 'I know there's something deeper here I'm supposed to discover, but all I really want tonight is to find myself a lover. Cowboys are my weakness so won't you buy me a drink. Whiskey is my poison that way I don't have to think about it..." There is great bit at the end of the performance of this gem of a track by Kate Mann when some bloke yells out "Who *wrote* that song" and Mann looks up and says "I did".

"I've got your memories, or... has it got me?" It was very difficult to pick just one track by Patsy Cline, who evokes pain with such heartfelt simplicity... For further evidence, you could pick pretty much anything she recorded, but you good examples are Why Can't He Be You and If You've Got Leaving On Your Mind. Not recommended if you've spent an evening drinking by yourself... unless you like to cry.

"I was drinking here last night, and drinking here the night before too. And if you're looking for me tomorrow, you can bet I have nothing better to do..." Cash Savage, the heartbreaking blues singer from country Victoria, knows how to rip your heart out and stomp it into the dirt. When I first heard this song, I thought that songs just don't get much better than this. But then I heard...

"It took 19 years to find her. And three years to make her mine. We had four good years of loving. But it only took two words to bvreak her heart..." Oh, jesus christ. Just... holy shit that is a song. Fuck.

"Down at the Cross, out in the street, I shot somebody she loved more than me..." The first time I ever came across Australian singer Mojo Juju, she was part of a group of artists performing a Tom Waits tribute night at The Vanguard in Newtown, Sydney. Mojo Juju came out and gave a passionate speech about just exactly why she adored Tom Waits... which would have won me over by itself, but when she sung a spinechilling version of "Alice" to close the night... the whole place was under her spell. This accoustic recording, and the one below, don't quite do justice to Mojo Juju, who comes to life with a band playing live. But you can go and find that out for yourself on YouTube. The simplicity of these recordings, however, highlight her quality as a singer-songwriter.

"Did you see me last night in the carpark? Holding hands with a beautiful girl? Standing in the wind as the train rushed by, hoping it'd blow me on outta this world ..." It is not surprising Mojo Juju loves Tom Waits so much, she shares his knack for telling the stories of hopeless but deeply felt love.

"Queers and straights unite ... standing in the way of control, we live our lives!" Gossip's 2005 song was sparked by anger at the homophobic policies of the then-Bush administration. More than just a call to arms, it is a celebration of the daily resistance of simply living your life as you are.

"When you're ready we can share the wine... Call me." Simply because there is no way such a list could be considered complete without Blondie.

"I aint done nuthin' cept kill a man what belongs to me..." Blues singer Victoria Spivey's 1927 track. You wanna know why? Check out the next track.

"From the start most every heart that's ever broken, was because there always was a man to blame." Kitty Wells is to the point in this early example of an "answer song" (it was recorded in answer to a Hank Williams track Wild Side of Life which blamed "loose women" in honky tonk bars for leading men astray).

"There's a guy work's down the chip shop swears he's Elvis, just like you swore to me that you'd be true..." Ah, the lamentably late Kirsty McColl combines insanely catchy pop and a honky tonk vibe with a "fuck you" punk rock attitude ... just a classic... what popular music should be...

"Right proudly high in Dublin town, they hung out a flag of war. 'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky, than at Suvla or Sud el Bar." It is nearly Easter again, the anniversay of when Irish freedom fighters rose in 1916 -- not just to strike blow for Irish freedom but against the horrific imperialist system slaughtering millions of working people for Big Powers in the so-caled "Great War" of 1914-18. In other words, against the horrors depicted in the second song in this list -- PJ Harvey's "All and Everyone". It is a classic Irish rebel song, and Sinead O'Connor can damn well sing.

That is it. Don't forget, you can listen to offical YouTube Playlist for this blog post here. If you got better suggestions? Feel free to use the comment section. Or, you know, just KEEP YOUR GODDAMN IDEAS TO YOURSELF.