Last week, local freelance writer and longtime Charleston music scenester Kevin Young contacted me with an assignment: to listen to and react to seven songs for his weekly “Here, Listen to This” column in The Post and Courier‘s weekly Preview section. I obliged, and spent a few moments listing to songs by the likes of The Creation, Taylor Swift, Wendy Rene, Pavement, the original Rock-a-Teens, The Scorpions, and Little Eva. I even had CP web editor Joshua Curry snap an unflattering shot of me in action with the headphones on.
Young, 35, is the daytime bartender/server at AC’s Bar and Grill. His knowledge of rap, rock, film, and Charleston’s weird band scene is vast and impressive. He started assembling the song review column for the P&C in 2006.
This week, I turned the tables on the columnist and sent seven tunes his way with his own assignment: to shove tracks by Loverboy, Thelonious Monk, Wire, Don Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Wings, and The Cars down his earhole and write back. “It’s rather rambly, but I did it as stream-of-conscious as possible,” Young says. “It almost sounds like the rantings of a loon.” Here are Young’s responses:
Loverboy — “Lucky Ones”
I just heard this nugget in a movie. I’m not too large on the Loverboy … I think this was early ’80s when all I was listening to was whatever my pops was piping through the tape deck. Usually, it was whatever was on the radio or Motown–era hits. I do remember my first exposure to Loverboy was “Working For The Weekend,” and the video that came with it. I always lumped them in with Foreigner an , for some reason, hair metal. I was never a big fan of Loverboy for one plain and simple reason: my wiener. I couldn’t take Mötley Crüe but, I could always count on the promise of some hot tart gallivanting around on stage. It rivaled scrambled Playboy TV when it came to satisfying my mid ’80s Catholic guilt-ridden desires. Anyhoo, back on the subject of Loverboy … they didn’t have any hot tarts so, my interest was non-existent until Neveldine/Taylor used their song “Turn Me Loose” in “Crank” to slimy aplomb.
Thelonious Monk — “Misterioso”
I could sit here and pretend that I know Monk’s catalog, but that would just be false. When I started working at a record store in the early-’90s, I was hired for my extensive knowledge of rap music. Once I got the job, one of the first CDs I got was a Thelonious Monk greatest hits CD. I’d listen to it over and over but, to this day, I could not tell you a single title. I liked the arrangements but, the painful reality is that I was, more than likely, listening to it because Guru name-dropped Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk and DJ Premier sampled “Misterioso” for the Gang Starr “Jazz Thing” — a song penned for Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues soundtrack.
Wire — “Fragile”
This is another example of finding out about a band from another band. I was reading an article about a long-gone band called Th’ Faith Healers, and the writer drew comparisons to Can, Television, The Fall, and Wire — bands that we had extensive catalogs of at the store. I ended up listening to some of their music and then put it away because it wasn’t, for lack of better phrasing, new. It never registered until much later the influence their music carried to the bands that I held so close to my heart. This song “Fragile” was covered in a Wire tribute record by Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. I like this a lot more than Ranaldo’s cover but, I’m sure I would’ve begged to differ back then so I could keep my hipster cred.
Don Williams — “I Believe in You”
Don Williams believes in a lot. I remember the first time I heard this was at a Christian youth group thingy. In retrospect, I wonder if the leaders of the youth group realized that Don said he doesn’t believe in virginity? Then again, this was the same youth group that would play Indigo Girls’ “Closer To Fine” and R.E.M.’s “End Of The World As We Know It,” despite the fact that it was a known that the Girls and Stipe were leading alternative lifestyles. This was also the same youth group where the members went through each other like a Hugh Hefner grotto party so, I guess ignorance to song lyrics is minimal in comparison.
Howlin’ Wolf — “Smokestack Lightnin'”
For some reason all I can think of is Gary Erwin [Shrimp City Slim] when I hear this. I used to visit his record store Erwin’s Music, and I’d always leave disappointed because they ain’t had no rap in there. I’ve never disliked blues, but my knowledge is limited for sure. It’s increased a little since I’ve noticed it’s use in more obscure horror films. It’s a wee bit haunting in that it-was-recorded-a-long-time-ago-so-now-it-sounds-almost-haunting way.
Wings — “Silly Love Songs”
Paul McCartney never registered on my radar much, but then again, neither did John Lennon. It wasn’t rap and it wasn’t soul. My pops used to play in a soul cover band, and he used to joke that he was waiting for that whole Beatles thing to blow over. Obviously, that never happened. I remember my first real exposure to Wings was McCartney’s filmic opus “Give My Regards To Broad Street” and the critical drubbing it got from that critic Michael Medved. Medved ripped into Paul, saying that Paul should find someplace to hide away. Medved was the same guy that ripped into (on the same show, nonetheless!) “A Nightmare On Elm Street.” He cited the film’s ridiculous premise and Johnny Depp’s apparent lack of talent. Medved is a fuckchop. Now, back to “Silly Love Songs.” I love this song and quite a few other Wings songs for the simple fact that they never pretended to be more than what they were. Paul wrote silly love songs and wore that on his sleeve. I can’t help but admire that.
The Cars — “Since You’re Gone”
This and quite a few other Cars songs had a penchant being moody and oddly dark. This song reminds me of a lot of teen sex comedies from the ’80s. I know this song wasn’t used in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, but I swear that I can see Judge Reinhold pulling himself and Phoebe Cates wet and walking in slo-mo. What can I say? I spent a lot of time inside watching way too many movies as a kid.
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