July 11, 2000
10 Worst Songs of All Time!


Are you ready for this? It turns out that Jocelyn, our new corporate librarian ... is a Celine Dion fan.

I am not kidding.

To make things worse, her office is located directly next to mine. For the past two days, Ms. Dion and her overblown vocal chords have been in more-or-less constant rotation on the library boombox ... most notably, the ghastly theme from "Titanic." I've heard it four times already today, wafting down the hallway from her office to mine, like deadly invisible odorless nerve gas.

And it's only 10 a.m.

Unfortunately Jocelyn is still new, and she seems very sweet and very competent, and she hasn't been polluted by all of the Totem Pole nonsense yet. Plus she covered for me while I was in TicTac, and she didn'terase my collection of naughty voicemail messages while I was gone.  I'm going to have to wait another couple of weeks before I can go into the library and beat her up.

In the meantime ... I'll just keep my door closed.

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This reminds me, in a not-so-roundabout way, of something they're doing on the message boards this week ... an ongoing discussion about the worst and best songs of all time.

David is loving it, of course. This stuff is right up his alley. He called me at the office late in the afternoon, bursting with excitement over the post he's creating for the boards. His Best and Worst lists include John Lennon, Sibelius, Harry Chapin and John Cougar Mellencamp.

"I'm gonna call it 'I Hear Dead People,' " he said.

(Is it any wonder I'm mad about this guy?!?)

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You didn't ask, of course ... but here is *my* list of Ten Worst Songs of All Time:

  • "Midnight at the Oasis" by Maria Muldaur; "Loving You" by Minnie Ripperton; anything by Olivia Newton John/Anne Murray/Rita Coolidge.

    This was the stuff that passed for "chick music" during my high school/college years. Is it any wonder that it would be two decades before I began taking female recording artists seriously?
  • "Last Kiss," Pearl Jam.

    I thought they were kidding! I swear to god!!
  • "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "Circle of Life," Elton John; "You'll Be In My Heart," Phil Collins.

    What IS the deal with balding, over-the-hill pop stars discarding all remaining *dignity molecules* in order to jump on the Disney soundtrack gravy train?

    And who's next?

    Peter Gabriel, providing the groovy soundtrack to "Curious George: The Movie?" 

    Billy Joel, warbling *instantly timeless classics* from "Hello God? It's Me, Margaret?"

    Michael Bolton, sprinting to the podium to collect his Oscar for "The Lion King VIII: Yeah, We Made Another Pointless Sequel (So Sue Us Whydontchoo?)" ... ?

    It's enough to make poor Mr. Disney spin in his grave. (And if he isn't spinning, remind me when I'm dead and I'll do it FOR him.)

  • "Lovefool," The Cardigans.

    This song makes my teeth hurt. Literally. It's worse than wooden popsicle sticks, tinfoil, fingernails on a chalkboard and an ice cream headache, put together.
  • Anything by Kenny G. or Michael Bolton.

    I once attended a wedding where the bride and her entourage marched down the aisle to a Kenny G. "song."

    It was one of his really slow, screechy numbers that just goes on and on forever, with no discernible melody ... just endless meandering whiney sax, until you think your head is simply going to explode, right there in the pew.

    (Oh wait: they're all like that.)

    To make matters even worse the tape was slightly warped, and whoever was in charge of pushing the "Stop" and "Start" buttons on the tape recorder had obviously been dipping into the Framboise de Bourgogne punch when no one was looking.  The bridesmaids kept stopping right in the middle of the aisle, standing in nervous giggling little clumps, looking behind them at the bride to see if it was OK to keep moving forward, even when there was no music to move forward TO.  The bride just looked like she wanted to kill everybody totally dead, right there on the spot. (Including Kenny G.) It was the most excruciatingly awkward, inelegant, cringe-worthy wedding procession in the history of wedding processions.

    As for Mr. Bolton ... I firmly believe that there is a very special place reserved in hell for anyone who desecrates a classic Bee Gees song ... especially when it's a song that Young Secra loved and revered and secretly practiced slow-dancing to, alone in her bedroom when nobody was looking.

    (Shut up.)

  • "Sometimes When We Touch," Dan Hill.

    Yes, I know ... this one makes everybody's Worst Songs of All Time list. But it belongs on *my* list for two reasons:

    1.) I actually saw Mr. Hill perform this song live in concert in 1979, during the last thirty seconds of his fifteen minutes of fame: he was the opening act for Dan Fogelberg, and

    2.) I actually LIKED this song for some of those fifteen minutes. But then again, I actually liked Dan Fogelberg, too. Plus I was on drugs.
  • Everything by Bob Dylan EXCEPT for "Jokerman."

    I'm sorry. I realize that I am laying my life  --  and any future Kentucky Derby Care Packages from Loo-uh-ville  --  on the line here. Not only is the Other 50% of the Population a devout Dylan fan, so are two of my best friends on the planet. Over the years they have collectively attempted to convert me to the "Bob Dylan: Voice of a Generation" way of thinking.

    It isn't working.

    I still hear his voice and I automatically think: goat stuck in a fence.

  • "Chick-A-Boom" by Daddy Dewdrop; "Troglodyte (Cave Man)" by The Jimmy Castor Bunch; "Spill the Wine" by Eric Burdon & War.

    Yeah, I'm lumping them all into one group. They're all the same song anyway. These are the songs my little brother and his revolting friends would walk around singing on the playground, in that smutty, smirky, "I know-it's-about-sex (but I'm too-young-to-do-anything-but-SMIRK-about-it)" eleven- and twelve- and thirteen-year-old boy way, until I just wanted to sneak upstairs to his bedroom when he wasn't home and yank the contraband Penthouse out from under his mattress and leave it sitting on the kitchen table on top of his math book for Grandma to find.
  • "All I Wanna Do," Sheryl Crow.

    It took me a long time to come around to Sheryl Crow. This song almost fudked it up permanently.
  • "This Diamond Ring," Gary Lewis & The Playboys.

    I get in trouble every time I include this song on a "All-Time Worst" list. Somebody invariably springs up out of nowhere and writes me long, mewling e-mail all about how it's a classic, and how it shot up to #1 overnight and the pressing plants ran 24 hours a day but couldn't keep up with the demand for the record, and how in 1965 Gary was Cash Box magazine's "Male Vocalist Of The Year," winning the honor over other nominees Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

    The truth is, I don't hate this song so much as I resist liking it.

    And I think what I'm resisting, whenever I list this song on a Ten Worst List, is the whole "Good Time Oldies" radio station mentality ... the idea that you can go anywhere in the country, whether it's TicTac ("KBSG! Seattle's Good Time Oldies Station!"), or Oregon ["KISN! Portland's Good Time Oldies Station!"), or the Bay Area ["KFRC! San Francisco's Good Time Oldies Station!") ... turn on the radio ...

    ... and THIS stoopid song will be playing. Every. Fudking. Time.

  • "[Pa] Ubu Dance Party," Pere Ubu.

    David played this for me one afternoon when we were sitting around The Castle, thinking I might find it "interesting." But then again David is always playing records for me, thinking I might find them "interesting."
    A lot of the time I just sort of tune it out. 

    (I'm sorry, honey. But when you've heard one Dwight Twilley song, you've heard twenty-five Dwight Twilley songs.)

    Once in a while something he plays reaches out and grabs me instantly. The Nico stuff was like that. So was Laurie Anderson ("O Superman") ... Translator ("Everywhere That I'm Not" and "Necessary Spinning") ... Wreckless Eric ("Whole Wide World") ... and of course the post-Avengers Penelope Houston stuff. Most recently I've been investigating his old Big Star records, after he played me a couple of introductory songs. 

    And then again, once in a while something he plays reaches out and bashes me repeatedly about the skull with a dull meat cleaver. 

    Pere Ubu was like that.

    My official comment? "Do not, under any circumstances, ever play that record again." Unless I'm in France. Or deaf. Or dead. In which case I'll be too busy spinning in my grave on behalf of Mr. Disney to care.

  • "American Pie," Madonna.

    I like Madonna once in a while -- see: "Ray of Light" -- but this tepid and uninspired remake did not warrant all the hoopla it generated. In fact, the only really good thing that came out of the whole thing was Don McLean's classy and politely horny comments about the remake. "I have heard her version and I think it is sensual and mystical," he said. "I have received many gifts from God but this is the first time I have ever received a gift from a goddess."

  • "Marrakesh Express" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

    Of course I have to include the Dreaded Bad Luck Song in the list.

    Enough time has gone by that I have forgotten precisely why  --  or how, or WHEN  --  this song became the Dreaded Bad Luck Song. I dimly recall hearing it on the radio and thinking it sounded "evil." (Then again, twelve year old Secra was a born-again Christian of the holiest-roller variety: she thought BURL IVES sounded "evil.") I think what happened is that I got into the habit of automatically snapping the radio off, every time the song began to play, just because I didn't like the creepy feeling it gave me. Eventually this morphed into one of those good luck/bad luck things.

    (Most Ridiculous *Marrakesh Express* Moment: Thirtysomething-year-old Secra dashes out of the grocery store, clutching her newborn son in her arms and dragging both bewildered daughters along behind her, because "M.E." began to play over the sound system while she was weighing tomatoes.)

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So there you go. My list, such as it is. You'll note I have not included any Celine Dion. That's because she is, as we all know, retired now. (Which is why we are actually SEEING and HEARING more about her, right now, than at any time in the past ten years. But that's another story for another day.)

And yes I know: I've listed more than ten songs in my *Ten Worst Songs of All Time* list.

So sue me.

One of these days -- when I'm hard up for a journal entry again -- I'll try listing my *Ten Best Songs of All Time* list. That oughta keep us all entertained for about a month.

throw a rock