“Meat Man” – Jerry Lee Lewis

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Here is Jerry Lee Lewis declaring his role as a carnivore very loud and clear. Doubt me? As Jerry Lee declares: “I been down to Macon, Georgia … I ate the fuzz off a Georgia peach … Plucked me a chicken in Memphis … Mama, I still got feathers in my teeth.” Ladies, you’ve been warned. I’m not sure if this was the inspiration for Tesco Vee’s notorious punk rock band The Meatmen, but I’d love to think so.

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“The Velvet Underground and Nico: A Symphony of Sound” (1966) dir. Andy Warhol / Paul Morrissey

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Here is some classic footage of the Velvet Underground jamming out circa 1966, courtesy of Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey. Considering that very little footage exists of this seminal band … and the fact that both Warhol and Morrissey thought enough to film this … makes this essential viewing. Put your shades on and groove, baby!

“So Early in the Morning” – Trouble Funk

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Trouble Funk was one of the best of the go-go bands back in the 1980s. The only thing most people remember about go-go was that song “Da Butt” by EU from Spike Lee’s “School Daze.” If you think music from Washington DC begins with Minor Threat and ends with Fugazi, you need to check this out. Get ready to shake your a–!

“Better Man” – Pearl Jam

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Pearl Jam is one of those bands that I liked a lot 20 years ago, but don’t really do much for me these days. It’s not their fault … I’m just in a different space. But they do have some songs that I still love dearly and “Better Man,” from 1994’s album “Vitalogy,” is my all-time favorite of theirs. Many people interpret the lyrics as about a woman in an abusive relationship who is too afraid to leave. But I don’t think this is necessarily the case. I think the song is broader and more universal than that. The lyrics don’t spell out any kind of abuse going on. They don’t even indicate the guy the woman is with is cheating on her. He’s just no longer right for her for whatever reason and I think this is more about the mental struggles someone goes through when that person in a relationship that’s not working, but they’re afraid to end it because the fear of being alone overrides all else. I love the way the song starts quietly and then builds in emotion and intensity and then explodes with Eddie Vedder’s anguished vocals. Vedder has always had a great rock voice and this is, in my opinion, Vedder at his best.

While many people could hear this and say some trite s–t like “Drop that zero, yadda yadda …,” I think the song gives proper respect to how difficult it is for the protagonist to leave a person who is clearly not right for them without condescension. If you have ever been in a relationship and felt intensely about someone for a long time, but realize it’s not working, it’s not so easy to cut the chord because of what’s been invested emotionally. There’s a part that of you that wants to make it work because you’re afraid of admitting that you bet too much on the wrong horse. Granted, it’s not a healthy way to be. But it’s not as easy as someone who is not invested in the relationship may think. Key lyrics: “Memories back when she was bold and strong … And waiting for the world to come along…” “Better Man” is a great exploration of very complex and mixed emotions.

“One” – U2 / Johnny Cash

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I’m not a huge fan of U2, but “One” from 1992′s “Achtung Baby” is one for the ages. An almost perfect song / performance and easily one of my top 20 favorite songs of all-time. The song was ostensibly written about the band’s struggles during a particularly down period, but it’s far more universal than that. It’s so expertly written, it speaks for any number of troubled relationships where all sides have reached a point where breaking up is the only option given all the past hurt that has been aired … yet … there’s also a chance of redemption … though it’s difficult to see through all the past drama. An incredibly complex song that still continues to blow me away.

As great as U2′s version is, Johnny Cash’s cover tops it. It may even be better than his legendary cover of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt.” Breathtaking, emotional, brilliant stuff.

“The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) dir. Lewis Gilbert

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Ah … in much the same way many men remember their first “adult beverage” or the first time they lost their virginity … I remember when I saw my first James Bond film. I was 7-years old and my older brother was doing something far cooler than what I was doing on a particular fall night in 1977. My mom offered to take me to the movies and when she asked me what I wanted to see, I said “The Spy Who Loved Me.” I’m not quite sure what my mom knew what she was getting into. But … it was PG-rated … so I guess she shrugged her shoulders and said “OK!”

For those born after the advent of the PG-13 rating, let me explain that a 1970s PG could sometimes be the equivalent of what would constitute a mild R-rating these days. And hoo boy, did “The Spy Who Loved Me” deliver! Granted, there was no overt nudity or graphic violence … but holy mackeral, it blew my pervy 7-year old mind! You can talk all you want to about “Skyfall.” Yes, “Skyfall” was the best Bond film in years … but that honor is like being the best Tears for Fears song in years. At best, it’s going to be merely OK.

With that being said, I have a very soft spot in my heart for “The Spy Who Loved Me.” This is … by far … my favorite Bond film. It promised a world of illicit pleasures that I didn’t quite understand, but seemed pretty f–king cool nonetheless. Never mind the fact that life is NEVER as cool as a James Bond film. But this one always brings a smile to my face.

The opening credits sequence alone is beyond awesome. Yes, it’s cheesy as all James Bond credit sequences often are. But if you’re not able to watch this without a smile on your face, you’re not human.

P.S.: I also watched “Snoopy Come Home” that same night on television when I got home and thought it was equally awesome. When you add in the pizza my Mom bought that night for dinner, I distinctly remember that particular day as one of the best of my young life.

“Revenge” – Ministry

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Ministry’s leader Al Jourgensen has officially disowned this song and the 1983 album it came from (“With Sympathy”) for years. According to Jourgensen, he was “forced” by then-label Arista Records to push his music in a synth-pop direction. I’m still not quite sure why the American Jourgensen adopted what sounds like an Australian accent here. It sounds like Midnight Oil’s Peter Garrett fronting Depeche Mode. But I’m embarrassed to say, it works. OK, I like it a lot in fact, even though I really dig the extremely hard-edged direction Ministry is best known for. Yes, it’s cheesy, but this is very very good cheese.

RIP, Al Goldstein

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RIP, Al Goldstein, the clown prince of pornography.

Yes, the man was an unrepentant sleaze bag … but also a really, really funny and intelligent one. His long-running late night NYC cable public access show “Midnight Blue” always had me convulsing in hysterics, especially his legendary “F–k You!” segments where he went off on some hapless retailer, restaurant, or airline that offended him. Despite his intelligence, he sometimes had more balls than brains … and his own penchant for Nixon-esque self-destruction caused him to go down in flames back in the early 2000s. If I had a cigar tonight, I’d smoke it in his honor. Al, I hope you’re enjoying a pastrami on rye wherever you are.

The opening 8 seconds of this clip contain some nudity, but the remaining 9+ minutes is a compilation of terrific “F–k you!” rants from “Midnight Blue.” Due to language and other otherwise “adult” material, not safe for work or little ones.

“Little Drummer Boy” – The Dandy Warhols

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Just heard this cover today. As much as I love Joan Jett’s version from 1982, this Dandy Warhols cover from 1994 is pretty stunning, with a wall of guitar noise you can drown in. There was a video created for this, but because it prominently features a man in tighty-whiteys dancing around, I’m posting this “video” that only features the single cover sleeve. You’re welcome.