Titles are hard... aka... no they're not, I'm just tired and kinda drunk... Top 7 random songs I'm listening to tonight

So, as I sit here sipping my Evan Williams Bonded (being a musician doesn’t often afford you the good stuff, so this is the best I can do for now. Which, all things considered, Evan Williams White Label is a pretty damn good $12 bourbon) after a long night of music at the Evening Muse (read: it’s late. Like 1am right now), I have the urge to drink and listen to some really random music that’s still on my iTunes from like fucking sixth grade until I fall asleep on the couch, then drag my dead-ass tired butt to bed. Some people call these guilty pleasures, but I’m not ashamed to say I love a single one, so I guess they’re just “random pleasures.” Which sounds like a sex toy shop. Anyways, since I had to write a blog anyways, let’s do this together.

Now, to be sure, I am not ashamed of liking any of these tunes. Some of them I play personally when I’m drunk (but not too drunk to forget the chords or the lyrics) or add to party playlists to see if the room is as cool as I am (they rarely are) with some really random shit. I’m not totally sure where this may go, but I’ll at least get you started on my first five or so tunes. Fuck it, let’s go!

1) “You Only Get What You Give” - New Radicals

This is often a jumping off point for me on nights like this. I fucking love this song. I may have posted about how much I love this song and the weird, mall-inspired music video but I cannot contain how much this song makes me feel good. That sentence doesn’t really make sense but you get the point. Bonus points to the guy for having a massive hit, realizing he hated the music industry (in ‘98 or ‘99 no less, when they were still at least investing in artists…), getting sick of being asked to write “You Only Get What You Give,” the sequel and quitting while he was ahead. Not everyone wants to be Smash Mouth…

2) “My Favourite Game” - The Cardigans

I know I’ve posted this before sometime, but who gives a shit. This is about what I’m listening to tonight and this is currently on. There’s a lot of pressure to say something profound in the four minutes before a new song song starts. I have nothing like that to say now. So, I’ll just remind everyone that I found this song via Gran Tourismo 2 for the original Playstation. My buddy and I would stay up all night playing it so we’d inevitably hear this song more than a few times. I might love it via Stockholm Syndrome but either way, it’s on and I’m singing along (quietly, as it’s 1:08am currently). Speaking of video games, if you want a truly scary experience, play the original Silent Hill video game with the sound off and Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” playing in the background. Maybe we were just beyond exhaustion but that was a truly terrifying experience. Without the game sounds, everything scared us twice as bad as it should have. Why am I talking about video games? Damn you, Cardigans!

3) “Give It Away” - The Red Hot Chili Peppers

“What I got you gotta give it to your mama…” “What I got you got to get it put it in you…” Yep, those are both in the first verse so you know what you’re getting yourself into with this one. Man, RHCP used to be so weird and badass. The video, just fucking weird… I was such a huge fan of these guys. I owned every record (thank you BMG music group! 12 for the price of 1, cancel membership, rinse and repeat!) and played the shit out of them. I wanted to be John Frusciante, minus the heroin addiction, of course. It’s weird, I always wanted to be a singer but since I had no natural talent for it, I wanted desperately to be a bluesy-funky-rock guitar player. And I was until I ran out of people to play with and found it was easier to be on my own. I had started writing songs when I was 17 but they were fucking terrible and stayed that way until I was, what, maybe 22 or 23. But what magical life insights is a 19 year old supposed to have. I had decent tunes, but the lyrics were shit and made no sense. Plus, at the time I was obsessed with Bob Dylan, so everything was so esoteric, or standard folk fare. Topics included John the Baptist, saints, poets with bells in their shoes, fortune teller’s maids, princes and paupers, trains, but most of all, ramblin’. Why are we talking about this? My train of thought has rambled on… Ha!

4) “Killing in the Name” - Rage Against the Machine

If this isn’t one of the greatest songs ever, I don’t know what is. Needless to say, 12 year old Bradley was very righteous and angry. This was right around the time of the George W. and Al Gore presidential race, then came the unjustified war with Iraq after 9/11 and the first time I was hearing about what the police were doing to black people across the country via Dave Chappelle’s HBO comedy special “Killing Them Softly.” I got a subscription to TIME magazine shortly thereafter to start to learn about these things. Shortly thereafter, I realized TIME magazine was kinda bullshit (Bob Dylan was right in “Don’t Look Back”). But, most of all, when you’re 12 and someone is shouting “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” you’re going to fall in love, hard… But, even after all that, I still had to be talked out of joining the military when I graduated High School. I was so impacted by 9/11 (like so many others) that I felt I had to enlist. But, by the time I could, the war was long over and everyone had already realized it was kind of a mistake (read: huge clusterfuck). So, I slowly changed my mind back to becoming a Rock Star, which I am, but the just a barely scraping by kind of Rock Star. I’d like to drink Woodford Reserve but I’m an Evan Williams level star…

5) “Father of Mine” - Everclear

This song still makes me bleary eyed. Not teary, but bleary for sure. There was a time when I thought Art Alexakis was writing songs just for me. “Father of Mine” and “I Will Buy You a New Life” sounded just like this poor, small-town boy who never really knew his dad/drug addict/abusive/compulsive liar/hopefully dead person and who grew up on bologna sandwiches and Hamburger Helper. I have to say though, I feel sort of blessed to grow up in the time and place and how I did. There was lots of love from my mother and sister (and eventually, my brother) and I learned to not need much beyond that. It’s a good lesson for those trying to make a career out of music or anyone who feels like they are missing out because of a lack of money. It also makes it easier to appreciate the things I do have and that I have the ability to make music for a living. 12 year old Bradley never would have dreamed of making records, hearing those records on the radio and playing hundreds of shows to people who like his music. 12 year old Bradley couldn’t know the sense of honor and pride he would feel when a soldier returning from a tour of duty would tell him his music helped him, a true American hero, make it through the tough times. 12 year old Bradley couldn’t imagine how cool it would be to jump into the crowd and dance with a group of deaf people who liked the way his music made them feel so much they came to his rock n’ roll show to let loose and have a good time. Sometimes poor, rural kids can do great things, even if it doesn’t mean making tons of money. Money can’t buy those things. But I feel I appreciate them more because of how I was raised…

Wow, I’m way off topic now. But, there’s a line in “I Will Buy You a New Life” that goes “they have never been poor, they have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas” that always kills me. One of my favorite Christmas memories was the year we didn’t have much after moving to Horicon, WI (Marshmen for life! Just kidding…) and my sister and I made a board game as a family Christmas present. It was called “Race to the Presents” I think. I got a Bible with my name on it, which is one of the few things I’ve kept with me through all the moves over the years. Playing our homemade board game and cracking open that Bible for the first time are memories I will never forget. Store bought gifts come and go, but there’s an undeniable beauty in appreciating the things that matter so much more.

6) “My Own Prison” - Creed

I know what you’re thinking, “How the fuck can anyone listen to fucking Creed? Seriously, Bradley, fucking Creed?! Really?!” Well, let me explain. I had a friend growing up whose father was a pastor. He wasn’t allowed to listen to most music as it was the work of the devil. I vividly remember him telling me, once I had started playing music, that any music that wasn’t in praise of God (or Jesus, if that’s your bag) was the devil’s work. I can never erase the memory of him playing Pearl Jam’s cover of “Last Kiss” and basing a whole sermon on how it was poison for people and a great example of what music shouldn’t be. What the fuck?! At least use the Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers version for christ’s sake. Don’t blame Pearl Jam for a cover song they recorded for a fucking benefit CD for refugees. But, he did allow anything that was so-called “christian” so Third Eye Blind and Creed were OK. So, we spent a lot of time listening to that first Creed record and I learned to like it since it was the best we could do. Although, it is funny to note that when his parents would leave, we would instantly put on Dio’s “Holy Diver” album and blast it as loud as we wanted to; there was nothing but cornfields surrounding his house and sing along to every word. Not exactly christian music, but tell a teenager he can’t do something and he’ll probably do it the most extreme version possible…

OK, we can’t end on a fucking Creed song, so one more.

7) “Don’t Cry” - Guns N’ Roses

Setting apart the fact that the video is quite sexist and sometimes hard to watch, and that Axl has sang/said some pretty racist shit, this song murders. Guns N’ Roses was so fucking good. I was watching a David Bowie documentary earlier tonight and it’s amazing how many songs he released before finally having a hit. Guns N’ Roses started with fucking “Appetite for Destruction” (“Paradise City,” “Welcome to the Jungle” and fucking “Sweet Child O’ Mine” all from one album) and then made “Use Your Illusion” parts I and II which were both fucking fantastic. I’m not sure how they came out of the gate so strong but I imagine cocaine was involved. Cocaine’s a hell of a drug…

It’s approaching Elliott Smith time (aka 2:45 in the morning) as I took a short break for a snack and came back to writing this. I hope you enjoyed the random walk through Bradley’s mind. See you next week!

(dictated but not read)