Monday, June 2, 2008

Unyielding Commissioning Knows Diddley

RIP, Bo Diddley -- Somewhere out there lies a wide, hazy line between blues and soul. Nobody strummed and wailed himself into the thick of that line like Bo Diddley. On Monday, he passed away at the age of 79. I defy you to hear any Bo Diddley track and keep still. His music had an infectious energy; when he played, even on record, you became enveloped in his upbeat guitar and smooth voice. One of the few legends I never saw in person, I regret missing that chance. The older I get the more I appreciate the nuances and charm of his music which at first glance always seemed simple. Diddley will be greatly missed, but at least we have his legacy, including this amazing footage:

Another Silly List -- Rolling Stone has released its "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time." (Clearer list up at Stereogum) It is notable that on this day where we celebrate Bo Diddley, none of his recordings made their list. However, a cover of his "Mona" (my favorite Diddley tune) by Quicksilver Messenger Service shows up at #88. Like any Rolling Stone list, they bend towards singles and Beatles tunes. Cases in point: the lone Smashing Pumpkins track is "Bullet with Butterfly Wings". With Silverfuck just sitting out there unmentioned, this is a travesty. Heck, even Zeitgeist has better "Guitar Songs" on it than Bullet.

The Beatles come in at 45 (When I Saw Her Standing There), 22 (A Hard Day's Night), and 7 (While My Guitar Gently Weeps), but don't place Helter Skelter on the list. That's astonishing right there. Also, the following songs are mysteriously considered "Guitar Songs" by Rolling Stone: "What I Got" by Sublime, "Beat It" by Michael Jackson, "Stay With Me" by Faces, and "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and his Comets.

While we can go on complaining, we are happy to report that the #1 song, Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry, is probably the right choice. Hendrix makes the list three times, in the wrong order, but 2 (Purple Haze), 12 (Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)), and 49 (Machine Gun) are solid picks (Voodoo Chile should be #2 on the list!). We're also glad to see the inclusion of Maggot Brains by Funkadelic, even if it is way down at #60 (this has to be in the top 5, no?). So on the whole, this is of course a terrible list - as it was destined to be - but is not totally without merit.

For what it's worth, the hastily-thrown-together FtY Top Ten Guitar Songs:
10) Badge by Cream
9) The Plan by Built to Spill
8) The Only Moment We Were Alone by Explosions in the Sky
7) Silverfuck by Smashing Pumpkins (this was nearly Siva)
6) Alone by Dinosaur Jr. (that no Dino was on RS's list is yet another travesty)
5) Supernaut by Black Sabbath (really, this whole list could be all Sabbath now that I think about it)
4) Stop by Jane's Addiction (would've been Mountain Song if it weren't for the damn Coors Light ad! Maybe I'll get over it one day.)
3) Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry
2) Maggot Brain by Funkadelic
1) Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix

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