Monday, March 10, 2008

"B" is for Bracket

In my alphabetical mosey through my Ipod I'm now up to the letter "B." I noticed that I have 63 songs beginning with the letter "B," and since that was close to 64, which is a magical number in March, I figured I would do what any person would do with too much time on his hands...break up the songs into alphabetical order as rankings and do a bracket challenge. This sort of meaningless exercise makes me nostalgic for the old days of whatsbetter.com, back when you would get two random entries and simply clicked on whichever was better. I used to waste waaay too much time on that site, pondering whether Liquid Soap was better than Nirvana or incense was better than an electric pencil sharpener.

A truly random distribution matching of songs already randomly selected by letter leads to such interesting quandaries as why does Bruce Springsteen have so many songs that begin with the letter "B" ("Born in the USA," "Badlands," "Born to Run," "Better Days," "Brilliant Disguise"), whether or not Dire Straits's "The Bug" is better than Mary Chapin Carepenter's "The Bug" (tough call), and whether Johnny Cash's "Bird on a Wire" is better than Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" (yes, I think so).

Anyway, here is my final four of "B" songs and the songs they beat to make the final four.

"Brass in Pocket" (The Pretenders)
[Songs beat: "Bearers of the Light" by Michael Card; "Be Thou My Vision" by Fernando Ortega; "Bitter End" by the Dixie Chicks; "Brothers in Arms" by Dire Straits.]

The Pretenders did have the proverbial easiest path to the finals, somehow drawing CCM into the sweet 16. Still this is a great song. It is (not kidding here), the only song I've ever called a radio station during request hour to request. They didn't play it. Love Chrissie Hynde's vocals.

"Badlands" (Bruce Springsteen)
[Songs beat: "Burn Down the Mission" by Elton John; "Bloody Well Right" by Supertramp; "Brilliant Disguise" by Bruce Springsteen; "Burning Down the House" by the Talking Heads.]

This regional bracket was loaded. Somehow, but a fluke of aphabetizing, almost all the Springsteen songs ended up in the bracket, beating up on each other like ACC teams trying to get into the big dance. I really think Springsteen is underrated as a lyricist. There are times where he can rival Paul Simon for poetic metaphors, but he also has a sardonic edge to him that really encapsulates certain emotions:

"Workin' in the fields
till you get your back burned
Workin' 'neath the wheels
till you get your facts learned
Baby I got my facts
learned real good right now"

I'm mean that's just brilliant.

"The Boy from Tupelo" (Emmylou Harris)
[Songs beat: "Beast of Burden" by The Rolling Stones; "Be Good to Yourself" by Journey; "Blonde over Blue" by Billy Joel; "Beautiful Enemy" by Dar Williams.]

It sort of makes me sad that "Beautiful Enemy" didn't make the final four since it was the song that was playing in a Barnes & Noble one day that literally made me stop in my tracks, go to the counter and say "Who is that?" Still I think that Emmylou Harris's song is more compete (not as flashy at first but it works its way through the song rather than just stopping). I didn't even think it was the best song on the album, but one thing this exercise made me do is relisten to some songs when they came up on shuffle play.

"The Boys of Summer" (Don Henley)
[Songs beat: "The Beast in Me" by Johnny Cash; "Be Still My Beating Heart" by Sting; "Bye, Bye Love" by the Everly Brothers (kind of a neat contrast there); "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.]

Yes, I'll admit there is some sentimental value here. This song was hot on the radio the year I got engaged (I feel old all of a sudden), so it's the closest thing the spouse and I have to "our song." I will say, as I've gotten older, different things stand out about the song, to whit: "Out on the road today, I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac / A little voice inside my head said 'don't look back; you can never look back."

So that's my March Madness of "B" songs (not to be confused with "B" sides.

5 comments:

peter waldron said...

Ken,
I love the bracket system. The winner of the "Brass in Pocket" vs. "Badlands" game would clearly kick the ass of whoever came out of the other bracket (although strange things happen in the final four). However, "Badlands" is lucky that the live version of "Because the Night" didn't make the Springsteen Jersey Coast Conference finals, or else "Badlands" would never have made the final four.
I feel bad that "Bloody Well Right" lost in the sweet sixteen--I've always liked that one. Perhaps "Crime of the Century" will fare better in the "C" bracket

Darren said...

True story: One summer when I was still a boy (well, I was 20), I rode to a Grateful Dead show in the back seat of a Cadillac.

I still hate Don Henley.

T.C. Truffin said...

"Brass in Pocket" v. "Brothers in Arms" had to have been a barn burner. OT? 2OT?

Kenneth R. Morefield said...

Brothers in Arms is a great album, and that song is an underrated track off of it. If their was an Achilles heel it was that Mark Knopfler, as much as I love his voice, is a world class mumbler.

Doesn't kill my enjoyment of the song, but it alloys it very, very slightly.

elrambo said...

Much as I love Bruce Springsteen, "Boys of Summer" always trumps almost anything.