So here, without further ado, my choices. You can listen to them by clicking over on Splotchy's post here.
Peter Gunn Theme--Henry Mancini
This is like, the most ultimate swanky, swinging private eye theme music ever. I remember watching repeats of Peter Gunn as a kid and thinking "cool". It starts with a simple cymbal, then the base line, then guitar and piano, and at about 0:12 the horns kick in. I love that moment. There's another great crescendo at around 1:15 when the horns get even louder, and swing harder. The rest is all peak, baby.
James Bond Theme--The Monty Norman Orchestra
Another song that, for me, defines cool. This is the version from the first Bond movie, Dr. No. Is there anyone who doesn't recognize the opening notes of this song? The first 40 seconds of the song is slightly menacing foreplay, then the perfect moment for me is at 1:07 when the brass section really starts screaming. The rest of it is all swagger.
Fear is a Man's Best Friend--John Cale
I first heard this song on a John Cale collection called The Island Years. It was a gift from Splotchy! I was a huge VU fan, but had never heard much of John Cale's solo work. The song begins almost delicately, building with guitar and piano. Around 1:24 it gets more intense when John bangs the keys a little harder:
You know it makes sense, don't even think about itThen at 1:35 it peaks and gets louder:
Life and death are just things that you do when you're bored
SAY fear is a man's best friendThe song ends with Cale screaming the chorus over a series of increasingly de-tuned bass runs and crashing cymbals. It's liberating.
Say fear is a man's best friend
Say fear is a man's best friend...
Heartbreak Hotel--Elvis Presley
I really wish I knew music, and musical terms, so that I'd have a better vocabulary to describe music that I like. I don't know time signatures or anything like that, but I know that I am consistently drawn to certain sounds. The eldest and I were talking the other day about how, in so many songs that we loved, that what really drove us wild was the space between the notes--the music that had those gaps and pauses that create so much drama and tension in the music. She mentioned Bauhaus' Bela Lugosi's Dead as a perfect example of this. I also thought of Visions Of Johanna by Bob Dylan.
But the one I settled on was this one, by the King. You cue it up, it starts and there's a moment of silence, and then a hillbilly wail:
Well since my baby left me...Followed by two percussive chords on a honky tonk piano
I found a new place to dwellTwo more chords, bang bang, like a drunk pounding the flat of his hand on the bar
It's down at the end of lonely street that's heartbreak hotel...The bass line comes in at 9 seconds, when Elvis takes a breath between "that's" and "heartbreak". Elvis' voice drops into a low, almost mumbling stutter and the song takes off, slow and swinging. The whole song is perfect, but what I love the most is the way those first few seconds grab you by the lapel and pull you in closer.
There's No Home for You Here--The White Stripes
Man, I love the White Stripes. I think they've got to be about my favorite act that's come along in the last ten years. The combination of primitive drumming, wild guitar heroics and Jack White's voice is just perfect for me. There's No Home for You Here is not even my favorite song by The White Stripes, but it's got one of my favorite moments: there's a pause around 1:53 in, then a chorus of "AAAAAHHHH" comes in over, and is eventually replaced by, a wall of guitar feedback that lasts until 2:12. I dig it.
I also loves me some lounge music; especially the jazzy, upbeat Latin tempos of Perez Prado. Patricia is one of those songs that people recognize when they hear it, even if they don't know its title or Perez Prado--it's turned up on a few soundtracks over the years. The song starts out with a simple melody, an organ riff over some brushed drums. At 28 seconds the brass comes in and the song starts swinging.