I have never been asked to name my top ten favorite songs, so when you asked I could only think of my top ten favorite albums.
However, I wracked my brain and came up with a decent list. Oh, and enjoy our new album...
However, I wracked my brain and came up with a decent list. Oh, and enjoy our new album...
1. Prince And The Revolution | I Would Die 4 U (Purple Rain Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
I'm a huge Prince fan and could make a top ten list of only his songs, but I figured I'd keep it interesting and just whittle it down to one on my favorite's list. This song always gave me a tingly feeling of longing. To me, the lyrics are attempting to measure up to something impossible. That's what I try to convey when I sing my version of the song. I remember watching Purple Rain before I ever owned a copy of the soundtrack album. Die 4 U just got imprinted in my brain. One day before I left for work (at a kitchen in a nursing home in those days), I put on a live record by The Pat Metheny group that was a guilty pleasure of mine at the time. The second track had a keyboard riff that sounded almost identical to Prince's song. I was aching to hear the song. Later that night, I was alone in the kitchen right before closing and it came on the radio! The drive of the synth bass and desperate melody consumed me and I stood there in the dark with only the blue light of the stereo there to witness the beautiful moment. I went out and bought the album right after my shift. Years later, thanks to a little insisting by my friend (and Luna Is Honey drummer) Amorn, I ended up covering the damned song.
2. R. Kelly | Religious Love
My good friend (the afformentioned Amorn) let me borrow a copy of R. Kelly's self-titled album from the mid-90's and upon first listen, I was instantly hooked on this song. It ended up on every mixtape I made for months after hearing the record. The lo-fi quality of the song after being transfered to tape gave it an even more personal feel. I played the song so much, I got my brother (aka E & E) hooked on it too. I remember a bootleg VCD copy of the movie Baby Boy having the same effect. I watched it when I had a very high fever and though it was some crazy art film. It was just fucking Baby Boy with Tyrese and Snoop Dogg (Snoop Dugg according to the package) being losers and attempting to rape women.
3. Harry Ray | Ride Your Pony
The first thing I did after moving out of my parents' place and into a dingy roach-infested East Hollywood apartment was buy several Beach Boys and Paul McCartney records and a vintage compilation of soul rarities called Ghetto Soul. Most of the tracks were great, but the second to last track on side A blew my mind. I played it over and over and over. I'd make love while hearing it. Fuck while hearing it. Do drugs while hearing it. Eat while hearing it. Attempt to play along to it. Every one of my friends who visited my house at that time heard it. Harry Ray has one of the best voices on the planet and can turn painful longing into lustful arrogance in his songs. This track inspired me to change direction in the type of songs I wrote as well as the sound of their production. It also set the mood for a new chapter of my life. Several years after hearing this song, I attempted to write the saddest song I've ever written and came up with Harry Ray a somewhat psychedelic ballad about walking the streets like a dog. The main riff and vocal melody are inspired by Ride Your Pony. It is included on Luna Is Honey's 2009 release, Raptor Red.
4. Elvis Costello And The Attractions | New Lace Sleeves
I love the way this song opens Side B of Trust (my favorite Costello album). To me, Costello is one of those songwriters (only to be matched or maybe topped by Paul Weller. I dig The Jam so much I couldn't even narrow it down to one song of theirs to put on this list) that puts alot of power into melodic soul songs whose live counterparts tend to blow the recorded versions out of the water. This song really got me through a rough time that I'd rather not go into detail about due to several people that might read this after it is posted. Even though I have no idea what the hell this song is about, the lyrics seem to match what I was feeling and certain things I wanted to say. Funny. I read somewhere that Costello said he wrote this song when he was 17 or something, which makes the lyrics seem a bit more arbitrary. However, I love the arrangement and vocal delivery. I played this one a lot in my home and had my girlfriend going from this song is amazing to oh gawd, not this shit again. It would be great to cover this song live someday.
5. My Bloody Valentine | You Never Should
I was blown away by Isn't Anything by MBV when I heard it for the first time in High School. Every song is a winner, but this song always got repeated plays on my CD player. This was a record I'd listen to in class to tune everything out. I remember having a really strange relationship with a Korean exchange student classmate of mine named Mina Moon. Aside from awkward eye contact and her copying my English and Science homework, we wouldn't speak to each other as often as I would have liked, but for some reason we were close friends. I hated the way that would make me feel sometimes. One day, she told me she was going to move back to Seoul after the semester was over. I happened to have my headphones on and was really tuned into the instrumental climax of this song. I think she expected me to be heartbroken about it, but I just said, oh, ok. She cried and I never heard from her again.
6. The Beach Boys | The Trader
One summer afternoon, I was doing mushrooms with the girlfriend and some buddies of mine. My friend Ryan looked like his trip was about to go sour and everyone else noticed, which made him feel even worse. Trader came on the speakers and took us all to another world during the smooth instrumental sections toward the end of the song. It saved his experience and made The Sun shine. We listened to it all day until the sun disappeared. Carl Wilson sings this track off of Holland from the 70's. He's one of my favorite vocalists and has inspired a lot of my earlier work. Like some of the other artists I've mentioned on this list, The Beach Boys have loads of songs that would have fit on here.
7. The Cure | Lullaby
I saw the video for this song when I was 16 and loved the idea of being in bed and being swalled by a big mass of fur, mouths, and arms in a dingy English room. I love the way the song builds and builds, but stays somewhat gentle. A great well-known song. I used to enjoy listening to it at night while sitting on the kitchen counter when I was a teenager. The window in the kitchen overlooked a huge ravine that swallowed up every bit of light aside from the cars passing on the other side. It always felt like I was about to go swimming in a bottomless lake full of charcoal water. I was always afraid to turn my back to it.
8. Oda Kanako/Dali/Moon Lips | Moonlight Densetsu
I was gonna put a song by The Time on this list, but I'm picking this one instead. One of my favorite Japanese show theme songs. Enough so that it made it onto this list! This song has haunted me from the days of being an awkward adolescent (when it annoyed me) until now. I prefer the loneliness of the original version, but the synth bassline and drum-pump of the later versions is irrisistible. This song made its way on many a mixtape and accompanied me on a lot of early morning bus rides and stumbles home after waking up somehwere from being too wasted. It's strange and funny that harsh and regrettable moments such as those can be soundtracked by a song like this. I hope that I find a 7'' of this song someday. I never knew what the English translation of the lyrics were, so I looked them up to put on here. This is what a sore throat, dirty clothes, scuffed shoes, bad breath, a bruised head, scratched hands, blue eyes, a half-smile, and a clear gelatin heart sound like at 4 in the morning: I'm sorry, I'm not gentle...I can say it in my dreams...My thoughts are about to short circuit...I want to be with you right now...The moonlight makes me want to cry...I can't even call, it's midnight...But I'm so innocent, what should I do...My heart's a kaleidoscope...We are lead by the light of the moon...We meet by chance again and again...The countless shining stars above us foretell love's whereabouts...Born on the same Earth...A miracle romance...Just one more weekend together...God, please give us a happy end...In the present, past, and future...I'll always be in love with you...When we first met, that so very dear...Glance you gave, I'll never forget...From the millions of stars in the sky, I can find you...Changing coincidences into chances, I love this way of life...A wondrous miracle approaches us...We meet by chance again and again...The countless shining stars above us foretell love's whereabouts...Born on the same Earth...A miracle romance...I do believe in that, a miracle romance...
9. The Birthday Party | Dead Joe
My first exposure to The Birthday Party was watching the live video Pleasure Heads Must Burn (someone gave me a copy of Hee-Haw when I was much younger, but I lost it before I could even get a chance to listen to it). From then on, I realized they could do no wrong. I love all of their records, but Dead Joe came into my life at a time when I was writing at least a song a day and trying to find a new direction in my music. That time was also very confusing and manic. My friends and I used to hang out in an unfinished addition to my house. It was a really trecherous place to be at night especially while inebriated because it was three stories and had no railings. A creepy, but well-meaning middle-aged co-worker of ours (straight out of prison) came over one afternoon with a load of beer and a bottle of 100 proof vodka. Seemed strange, but no big deal. He tags along to a show and next thing my friends and I know, we're driving in his car and he's swerving all over the road. I say, what the fuck? and ask him to drop us off on the side of the street. He looks over at me with a look of utter fear on his face and grabs my arm begging me not to leave. All of this with no speech, just heavy nervous breathing. Still swerving in the car, Dead Joe playing for some reason, my friend grabs a bottle and throws it at him. It hit him, but didn't break. I grabbed my cd from the player and we jumped out of the car when the kreep hit the brakes at a red light. He drove off and we just laughed and laughed amongst a sea of broken glass and brake light reflections. See the song I mentioned prior to Joe for the trip home.
10. The Smashing Pumpkins | 33
I was gonna avoid putting a Pumpkins song on here, but I just couldn't do it. They were my favorite band in my teenage years. I started off hating them, but this was the song that won me over. Ever since, I ended up being in a lot of situations where I was in a room full of people that started singing this song. I always thought, what planet am I on where this kind of shit can happen?...The funniest memory I have of this song was when I was dating an older girl in High School and she invited me to her prom. I went to a private school that didn't believe in proms. We had what they called banquets that were basically proms sans dancing and room for debauchery. If you wanted to get drunk or laid, you had to try really really hard. Anyway, I was really curious about attending an actual prom. It turned out to be one of the most frustrating and boring experiences of my life. I had more fun on the drive there. The girl's friends were really cool and kept trying to get me to sing on this lame mini karaoke stage they had setup in some corner of the building. They finally convinced me to do it. I was gonna sing a song by The Cars or something, but my girlfriend's ex (who went to the same school as her) was there and kept trying to outdo me at everything. He sang some shitty 80's new wave song that showed how loud he could sing. I decided to change what song I was going to sing and when I looked in the song book, lo and behold, 33. My date loved the Pumpkins so I decided to sing the song. It was extremely inappropriate, but it made her ex really jealous and made her ignore everyone but me for the rest of the night.
+11. The Gap Band | Outstanding (Long Version)
+12. Gato Barbieri | Marnie
...And Carinhoso...Both changed my life and they way I made/listened to music!
+13. Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges | Tudo Que Você Podia Ser
Last summer, I took a trip to Brasil to vacation, visit my girlfriend’s family, and try to find balance in my very chaotic life at the time. I was very inspired by that trip creatively and wrote several of the songs from Luna Is Honey’s latest EP, Coolbreeze while I was there. I have always been a fan of Brazilian music, but after that trip, I immersed myself in copious amounts of it. Each time, digging deeper and finding more and more gold that I hardly had a chance to come up for air. This song was introduced to me by my bandmate, Jay Francisco (him and I also have a great side project called GEMS). The haunting melody, beautiful lyrics, and triumphant sadness of the song just did it for me. The song is also nice and concise and features a flawless arrangement. After about a year of spinning this track over and over, I finally got around to checking out the album it was from, 1972’s Clube Da Esquina. That record is a flawless 70’s record that is light years ahead of it’s time. The cover artwork is so perfect and sets the mood for this beautiful record. Very Beatlesesque, but far superior in quality to any of their albums in my opinion. Makes me want to turn into a dog and crawl from the beach to the desert to watch the Sunset. It’s interesting to think that records like this were censored in Brasil’s political climate of the late 60’s and early 70’s, while in the States, people like Bob Dylan were allowed to spew their garbage freely.
+14. Marcos Valle | Bicho No Cio
This was another track introduced to me by my bandmate Jay. The title of the song translates to Animal In Heat and the lyrics talk about a relationship gone sour that causes both parties involved to become passive and never actually call it quits. The album this track is from, 1981’s Vontade De Rever Você is a solid Boogie Funk masterpiece. I’m a big fan of early 80’s Boogie Funk (so much so, that on one of my deep dives into the genre, I almost considered giving up Rock Music entirely). I could list a million Boogie tracks, but will end this list on this note to represent the genre. The first thing that drew me to Marcos Valle was that he produces his vocals in a very similar way to the way that I do. Finding distant kindred spirits is an important part of Inspiration, I think.
I’m on a secluded beach. My feet are being cut repeatedly while scaling a large rock that leads to a cliff side covered in cacti. No matter. The water is transparent green. To my left: two people I care about. Eye candy. To my right: a sheer drop with a young child and her father playing dangerously close to crashing waves and sharp rocks. In front of me: a beautiful ocean with a high salt content that allows even the most frightened person to float unafraid. I can’t figure out which direction to keep my focus on. I want to break the camera in my hands. Send it crashing into a million pieces and watch each of them sink into that beautiful water. Maybe the camera is me. When I turn around, I’m driving a car. The L.A. skyline making my stomach turn as I drive towards it. I’m smiling and playing the track again.