The other night, I heard Tom and Caitlin discussing the current state of music while The Decemberists played on The Colbert Report. The general consensus was that Tom doesn't get music today and that musicians, The Decemberists especially, take themselves to seriously. I'm not entirely sure I agree, but I see where they're coming from. (I think it takes a certain amount of self-awareness and goofiness to write a folk-rock-opera, especially one about rakes and drowning and queens and... whatever the fuck The Hazards of Love is about. That being said, I dunno if we really needed a folk-rock-opera.)
Anyway, I think a good sign of a band taking themselves too seriously is the length of its song titles. But they could also just being having a good time... who knows, really. I don't, but that's not going to stop me from continuing to write this list.
(The opposite of really long song titles is rap skits. Oh man, the minute you record a rap skit, you are basically saying to the world, "Listen. We're only in it for the goofs." Like, "Where Are My Panties?" on Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Good call on that one, Laksh.)
15. "You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son" - Wolf Parade
I have no way of evaluating the truth of this statement, but the boys in Wolf Parade are Canadian, and that’s as good as trustworthy. (They are Canadian, right? Did I make that up? “Oh, Peter… he thinks everyone is Canadaian.”)
14. "Up on Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days" - Sunset Rubdown
You can make your own Sunset Rubdown song. It’s really easy. Just come up with a balls-to-the-wall ridiculous statement about another person, with a hint of nature-themed mysticism to boot. (For instance, “You Painted My Woods With Sunfire, I Cried ‘Nay!’”) Great, there is your title. Now, just drone anxiously and yelp for five or six minutes about childhood and wolves and maidens or whatever, and you are basically there.
13. "Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickeral Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)" - Sufjan Stevens
Several of these are longer via the addition of parentheticals. (That is kind of cheating, but whatevs.) There were also a bunch more Sufjan songs with long titles, but I figured it would be overkill. Hey, by the way, it’s almost getting to be time for us to say, “Remember Sufjan Stevens?”!
12. "Final Countdown Of The Collision Between Us And The Damned" - Public Enemy
Really just a 49-second loop of beats and bleeps. And I guess at the end we collide with the damned? That part is less clear.
11. "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" - Black Kids
Oh, Black Kids. If only you had like, two other songs that I liked.
10. "Listening to Otis Redding At Home During Christmas" - Okkervil River
It would be kinda funny to start an Okkervil River tribute band called like, Overkill Revir. Oh god, if I ever do that, just… beat me with a book or something.
9. "Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' Bout That Girl" - The Kinks
As featured in Rushmore! Man, how good were The Kinks. I mean, yeah, “You Really Got Me” and “Lola”, sure, fine. But those boys could range it from straight-up, boogie-down garage rock (the aforementioned) to giggly goof-ass college boy stuff (“A Well Respected Man”) to emo/indie bedrock (“Strangers”, “This Time Tomorrow”).
8. "Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight" - Whiskeytown
You’re excused, Ryan Adams!
7. "Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into the Water, Triumph Of" - The Mountain Goats
The refrain of this song is “I come from Chino, where the asphalt sprouts!” so I always imagine that it is being sung by Ryan Atwood of The O.C. …I’ve said too much.
6. "Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is In Another Castle" - The Mountain Goats & Kaki King
Hey! Cool! Another Mountain Goats song. And one is about video games, no less.
5. "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again" - Bob Dylan
Note: Back in the 60s, this sort of predicament was cool to joke about, now it’s a DSM-IV recognized psychological disorder.
4. "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Oh, hello, my karaoke song. Don’t believe me?! FEAST YOUR EYES! (Thanks for the video, Lauren.)
3. "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis" - Tom Waits
This is maybe not so long of a title, actually, but… I mean… goddamn. That is a title. It’s got stuff we can ALL agree on as a family—Christmas, Minnesota, and prostitution. NICE.
2. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to be a Long, Long Time)" - Elton John
As previously mentioned, this was my favorite song for a little while when I was a little guy. (Maybe five or six or so.) Despite my early introduction to metaphors, it took me a super-long time to get that this was about the horrors of fame, not the horrors of space travel. Not gonna lie… I kinda like it better my way.
1. "This Is How You Spell 'HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics'" - Los Campesinos!
WHAT! That’s not a title, that’s a bowl of word salad. Los Campesinos!, you are on warning. (I kid, I kid… I like you guys. I’m still really sorry you didn’t make our Top 15 Albums of 2008 list—even after you basically wrote our theme song, “My Year in Lists”!)