“Smartphone” – The Bayonets

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THE best song of 2013 I’ve heard so far … and a former selection by Stevie Van Zant as “Coolest Song in the World” on his Sirius Underground Garage radio station … is “Smartphone” by the Bayonets. Seriously, who can resist that swingin’ drum sound, those nasty guitars, and that organ craftily insinuating its way into your brain?  This is some seriously cool s–t!

“Six Days on the Road” – Taj Mahal

Mahal’s rockin’ cover of Dave Dudley’s classic trucker anthem “Six Days on the Road” has been a frequent play on Sirius XM’s Little Steven’s Underground Garage for the past couple of months.  I’m not quite sure why, since this cover is over 40 years old and don’t think it’s appeared in any film, TV show, or commercial recently, but who am I to question the great taste of the programmers at the world’s best radio station?  Seriously, wouldn’t you rather hear this awesome track in heavy rotation on classic rock radio stations instead of, well, pretty much the entire oeuvre of Styx or Supertramp?  From Mahal’s 1968 album “Giant Step.”

“Dancing with Joey Ramone” – Amy Rigby

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What was it about Joey Ramone that inspires the most loving tributes from fans and fellow musicians?    Probably because in most of the tributes I’ve read and heard, he was universally talked about as being a sweetheart and a gentleman.   This is a lovely song by Amy Rigby that I heard over the weekend on the Sirius satellite radio channel Little Steven’s Underground Garage.   Joey’s brother Mickey Leigh paints a far darker picture of the man in his memoir “I Slept with Joey Ramone.”  I don’t doubt Mickey’s account, but I also don’t doubt everyone else’s accounts either.  I interviewed Joey for my college newspaper in 1990 and got a chance to meet him (and the rest of the Ramones) backstage after the gig he played near my local college.  The show started 2 hours late due to (from what I was told) some issues with their road crew at the previous gig, but the Ramones gave it their all and still performed a great show.  A friend of the club owner invited me backstage, and as soon as I got there, I immediately felt that I needed to leave.  Not because I didn’t feel worthy, but because the band looked really tired and I felt they needed their space.  However, Joey and the rest of the band  received me graciously and were very cool.  I told them they played a great gig, that I appreciated their music, and then left after a minute or two of minor chitchat.  Again, they had no reason in the world to be cool to me, but they were.  I’ll always be thankful for that and it’s an example I’ve always tried to keep in mind on how to treat people, even when you don’t feel like being your best.

“Harmonic Generator” – The Datsuns

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Lest anyone get me wrong, I love my children very much.  However, one of the side effects of becoming a father of young children is that your knowledge of what’s hip and happening becomes null and void, either because you don’t have the time or are too tired to care. Which is why I never heard this awesome song from 2002 (the year my oldest was born), a song that would have likely been in my Top 5 for that year (or any year, for that matter). Better late than never I always say and thanks to Sirius’s Underground Garage, I have been able to play catch up on a lot of great stuff I’ve missed.