it takes brains to do that anyway


I confess I was reading the other day and so I’m stealing this totally awesome question: what song or video did you love SO MUCH that you played it like ten times consecutively, either as a child or an adult?

I can think of four off the bat:

1. “Free to Be, You and Me” (opening song), sometime in the ’70s

2. “The Message” – Grandmaster Flash (on cassette recorded off the radio), ’81

3. “Mayor of Simpleton” – XTC (spring ’89)

4. “Heaven or Las Vegas” – Cocteau Twins (mid-’90s)…

48 thoughts on “it takes brains to do that anyway

  1. CM

    The first time I heard “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” I had to keep playing it over and over so I could get used to it and not keep tearing up. I don’t know why; it was almost too good. I heard it on the radio when I was about 20 for the first time (can’t help it, I grew up with ’80s music so Dylan stuff came later for me), taped it in the middle, and kept having to replay it.

  2. Salem's Little Sister

    Cecelia by Simon and Garfunkel when I was in 9th grade. Great dancing by yourself music. I don’t think a song had ever made me happy before.
    Paul Revere by The Beastie Boys in 8th grade because I was determined to learn all of the words which I still remember.
    Recently, anything from GLEE is on constant rotation in my house and on my running playlist. Vampire weekend’s new song “Horchata” is up there too.

  3. mom

    Ian, you forgot “Love is Blue”… 1969. Somewhere there is a picture of you, age 2, wearing giant headphones and listening to it over and over. (The headphones were to spare the rest of us hearing it for the 2873th time.)
    For my part, it would have to be the 2nd movement of Beethoven seventh symphony.
    Or the whole album of Peter Gabriel’s “So” which I wore out in the 80s. And I still like it.

  4. LFMD

    I tell you this, aware that Non-Dog People may think I am ridiculous. Anyway, in May, we made the decision to put my beagle Jack down. Right after his 13th birthday, he got very sick, very quickly. It was hard on all of us, and I was the one who had to make all the hard decisions. I was the one who took him to the vet, watched as he was euthanized, drove him back home, and buried him in our backyard. I did all of this alone.
    I LOVED THAT DOG. I miss him every day.
    One day, I listened to Weezer’s “Island in the Sun.” It made me think of Jack, his fun/quirky beagle personality, and the fact that he is not in pain anymore.
    On an Island in the Sun, We’ll be playing and having fun, and it makes me feel so fine I can’t control my brain.
    We’ll run away together
    We’ll spend some time forever
    We’ll never feel bad anymore
    I play this song ALL THE TIME. Whenever I feel blue, miss Jack, etc. It makes me happy.

  5. jersey

    “Freedom” by George Michael.
    Not only a terrific song, but oh dear God, the girls in that video were ALL in their prime.
    Naomi strutting through the hallway, Linda and Co. providing the Milli Vanilli lip synching, and Cindy in the tub, tossing 100 mph fastballs.
    The pyrotechnics are pretty cool, too.
    It came out when I was a freshman in college, and it is still awesome:

  6. Tessa

    Weird that we’ve never talked about this before Linda – 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 7th is my favorite piece of music ever.
    And thanks to you (again Linda), I tracked down my favorite hymn/carol from childhood… Personent Hodie
    Loved Mary Gauthier’s MERCY NOW. Came out around the Bush II election and I felt so broken. It’s a little on the nose but it’s written by a woman who has clearly seem some tough days. I also really appreciate the production and arrangement – all the things I can love about country and folk without any of the stuff I hate.
    TAINTED LOVE when I was in 7th Grade. Oh, and LOVE CATS. I walked around in my OP shorts with a walkman all summer.
    All of De La Soul’s first album.
    When my mother made mixed tapes and she would put her favorite songs on it three of four times. I remember driving to Denver and WE ARE FAMILY (Sister Sledge) coming on every third song. It was totally cute.
    And Lee and I played EXPRESS YOURSELF until the tape broke before she was about to sooo not express herself. She can fill in the details, if she wishes….
    There are far too many to name actually. The pieces of music that stitch you back together or shape the feelings about a time in your life.
    Today’s repeat play – IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER as arranged by the Camilli String Quartet [actually BLEAK AND THE CHILL WIND arr. by the Camilli String Quartet – ed.]

  7. emma

    Someone Saved my LIfe Tonight – 1977 or 1978 – Elton John.
    Don’t Bring me Down – ELO – 1979 or 1980 – my first 45.
    She Blinded me with Science – Thomas Dolby – 1983 ish
    Fetish – Gravity’s Pull – 1990ish
    Here It Goes Again – OK Go – 2007 to today

  8. GFWD

    I’ll add my songs later after I have time to give it some thought. I just wanted to say that my mom knew I loved that entire Free To Be You And Me album so much (and I even performed to Rosey Grier’s “It’s Alright To Cry” for a PTA meeting one night) that she bought it for my kids and I had eerie deja vu playing the songs for my kids.
    “Every boy in this land grows to be his own man . . .”

  9. Big Scott

    Variety is the key to my musical life — more than 100,000 tracks at last count of everything from Miles to Johnny Cash to Venezuelan funk. There are a few songs that have made it into heavy rotation in my life:
    Secret World (the live version) — Peter Gabriel
    Cold — Annie Lennox
    Who the Cap Fit — Bob Marley
    Last but not least, I drove my parents crazy with the entire Raising Hell record by Run DMC. It’s still awesome even after I totally wore out three separate cassette tapes of it. “Now Peter Piper picked peppers while Run rocked rhymes . . .”

  10. jason savage

    i can remember burning a hole in the “Eat a Peach” cd about 1989. Still can’t hear “blue sky” without getting just a little happier.

  11. craighill

    cold rain and snow – (winterland ’74) – dead
    trilogy – allgood music company ’93
    just a little bit – indecision ’86

  12. Julie

    Forever Young by Alphaville
    It’s the End of the World by REM (wanted to be able to sing all the words)
    Darker Days by The Connells
    Shaking the Trees by Peter Gabriel (my theme song for many years post college)
    Just Like Heaven by The Cure
    Somebody by Depeche Mode
    More recently Boston by Emmet Swimming – beautiful tone but somber, almost melancholy, lyrics

  13. ally

    So many, too many to list. And I still do it.Some early ones were Dreams by Fleetwood Mac around 1977, Call Me by Blondie, and Tainted Love in in the early 80s.
    I was thinking about this song by The Style Council the other day, Paris Match featuring Tracy Thorn. It was my own private torch song for awhile there in high school. It’s amazing the power these songs have to take you right back to a certain time or place.

  14. Annie H.

    My Monkees Greatest Hits album springs to mind, which I would play on my little red-and-white-checked record player. There was a fisheye effect on the checks, some swelled up into huge squares, some tapering down into tee-tiny little ones. The memories of quietly crying to “I Wanna Be Free” and this field of red & white fisheyed squares are forever interlocked for me.
    Also, not sure if Greg remembers this, but I remember one of his pivotal compulsive re-play records: the 45 of Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty.” The song emanated from his room for weeks on end somewhere around 1980.
    Finally, I publicly announce (and thus render myself answerable to said announcement from this point forward) that I am committing to the 2010 Jartacular.

  15. Salem's Little Sister

    LFMD AKA my sister I have yet to meet- Please get a dog!!! Somewhere there is a sweet bundle of fur just waiting for you to love it! I know you guys agreed to a year, but you need some puppy love now. I say this out of love, as always. There, I’ve said my piece and I’ll let it rest. SWAK!

  16. Piglet

    “Getting Better”, “Good Morning/Good Morning” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”–The Beatles
    “Reach Out/I’ll Be There”–The 4 Tops
    “Happy Together”–The Turtles
    “Pinball Wizard”–the Elton John version. Also “Philadelphia Freedom”
    “Born in the USA”–Bruce
    “And She Was” and “Road to Nowhere”–Talking Heads
    “Turning Japanese”–???
    “For the Wings of a Dove”–Madness (I think that was their name. the same guys who did “Our House in the Middle of the Street”)
    “I have the Touch”–Peter Gabriel
    “Rock Lobster”–B-52s
    “Exercise”–Wall of Voodoo
    “Wayward Sisters/Ding Dong” and “Rubberband Laser”–Klaus Nomi
    “For Shame of Doing Wrong”–Richard Thompson
    “Six String Love”–Vixy & Tony

  17. LFMD

    Salem’s Little Sister – Sister! I will give you my husband’s phone number, and you can work your charm on him. . . he won’t give in to my dog demands, and we are at a stalemate. I am trying to respect his viewpoints but GODDAMNIT I WANT TO ADOPT A DOG. Ah, the give and take of MARRIAGE.
    As far as I can tell, my mother is a Barry Manilow fan to the exclusion of all other music. My brother and I always teased her about it. When Brian got married 2 years ago, he surprised us all and picked Barry’s “I Am Your Child” for his dance with Mom. We were all in tears! Such a beautiful song! I can’t listen to it without thinking of my daughter and bawling. Barry is definitely underrated.
    I am your child.
    Wherever you go, you take me too
    Whatever I know, I learned from you
    Whatever I do, you taught me to do . . .
    Whatever will come, will come from me
    Tomorrow is won by winning me
    Whatever I am, you taught me to be
    I am your hope
    I am your chance
    I am your child!
    I dare you parents to listen to that song and not let out a sob.

  18. littlerattyratratrat

    Too many old tunes to mention, and nostalgia makes me bilious. Most recently:
    “Cain and Abel” by Interference
    “Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World” by Izrael Kamakawiwo’ole
    “Surbahar” by Hellborg/Lane/Selvaganesh
    (See the Youtube vid: if you’ve never heard Selvaganesh on kanjira, you’ve missed an incredible drummer.)
    “Whitewash” by Buckethead, instrumental ballad, live, on Youtube:

  19. Ben

    1. “Adult Education” & “One on One” – Hall and Oates
    2. “Daybreak” – Ravel, from Daphnis et Chloe
    3. “Friday, I’m in Love” – The Cure
    4. “Cool like dat” – Digable Planets
    5. “My Favorite Things” – John Coltrane

  20. LFMD

    Damn Claudia! You sound like my nosey Aunt Gladys.
    And, in case Aunt Gladys is a xtcian reader, NO, I am not planning to have more human children, just as many FUR children as I can get my husband to agree to.

  21. tregen

    Neon Moon – Brooks & Dunn
    Here I go again – White Snake (hard to admit that one)
    Shout at the Devil – Motley Crew -(another hard one to own up to)
    Shakin – Eddie Money
    Cover of the Rolling Stone – Dr. Hook
    Given to Fly – Pearl Jam – God, I love this song, but then again, Pearl Jam despite their last album or two, are still the BEST live band on the planet at this moment.

  22. tregen

    Sorry, two more:
    Mistal Gagnant – Renaud
    Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd – The entire album – start to finish.

  23. Jes

    Since I was old enough to work my Dad’s reel-to-reel tape deck, I’ve been playing songs over and over. My top 10:
    1. Bad Reputation – Freedy Johnston (to this day, my old college roommate gets hives when he hears this song)
    2. A Good Idea – Sugar
    3. The Kids are Alright – The Who
    4. Respectable Street – XTC
    5. Stretch Out and Wait – The Smiths
    6. Hi Scorpia – Silversun
    7. Most People are DJs – The Hold Steady
    8. Yes Impossible – Frisbie (a great, great, great band that never got the fame they deserved)
    9. Time Travel Is Lonely – John Vanderslice
    10. PJ Harvey – Kamikaze

  24. Salem

    Alphabet Song – Big Bird, Sesame Street
    Mr. Postman- The Carpenters
    ABC- Jackson 5
    Mercy Mercy Me- Marvin Gaye
    Billy Jean- MJ
    September- Earth Wind & Fire
    My Old School- Steely Dan
    King of Rock- Run DMC
    Old School Yard- Cat Stevens
    All Day and All of the Night- The Kinks
    You Really Got Me- Van Halen
    Back in Black- ACDC whole album
    California Uber Alles- Dead Kennedys
    Pump It Up- Elvis Costello
    See A Little Light- Bob Mould
    Hounds of Winter- Sting
    TuTu- Miles Davis
    Feeling Good- Nina Simone
    Gotta Be- Morgan Heritage
    Lillie-Anne rocks the chorus)
    Lieutenant Kije Suite, Op.60 Romance- Prokofiev
    (Found it because Linda would not have named her family dog “Kije” without good reason. It doesn’t matter how many times I listen, the emotion consumes me. Like a fine wine that introduces you to taste buds you didn’t know you had, but better.

  25. caveman

    Voices Carry – Till Tuesday
    Groove is in the Heart – Deee-lite
    Windfall – Son Volt
    Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – Nina Simone (going to listen to this one again right now – haunting)

  26. Salem

    Oh, damn.
    Chevy Van -Sammy Kershaw cover
    I can’t explain why this song hooks me. The lyrics are horrible. The story is dumb. It’s basically about stranger groupie sex, and a sentimental recollection of steering problems while getting a blow job.
    Love it.

  27. xuxE

    i still do this to all songs i like, i just don’t even know where to begin this list. but @LMFD i will say that when my dog died i listened to the entire Burial album Untrue on repeat for weeks. it helped, sort of. not really :(
    so here’s my twist – here’s a bunch my 7 & 10 year old listen to over and over:
    imogen heap: hide and seek
    cab calloway: minnie the moocher
    fishbone: ugly
    eartha kitt: c’mon a my house
    no doubt: just a girl
    taylor swift: you belong with me
    flight of the conchords: the humans are dead
    kid kreole: endicott
    vampire weekend: A-Punk
    and the whole album “the mosaic project” which is in my opinion the best successor to free to be you and me.
    i am really digging/encouraging their fledgeling ska interest so for xmas they are getting tons of ska.
    thinking also of getting them little skinny black ties and kid size docs…

  28. Sean

    Groove Is In The Heart
    Freedom – George Michael
    Crazy – Seal
    Sticky Jazz – Shriekback
    Too many by The Beatles, but “I’m A Loser”, “Paperback Writer” and “Day Tripper” come to mind as songs I played the SHIT out of.
    The Russian Dance From The Nutcracker – From Barnaby

  29. xuxe

    OMG shriekback.
    @LFMD oh but please do listen to samples first, it is very beautiful but also very dark and moody dubstep. like cathartic uptempo dirges, good for crying and running at the same time.

  30. ginat

    I Wanna Hold Your Hand , The Beatles and
    Hang on Sloopy, The McCoys – 1974
    I literally listened to these two singles thousands of times on my little white and orange General Electric record player.
    Close to You, The Carpenters – 1976
    Hotel California, The Eagles – 1981
    Rock the Casbah, The Clash
    Burning Down the House, Talking Heads
    Just Can’t Get Enough, Depeche Mode – 1982
    Black Celebration, Depeche Mode – 1986
    Whole album — All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, Pete Townsend
    Begin the Begin, REM – 1986
    All of Living Colour’s Vivid – 1988
    Wishing Well, Terrence Trent D’Arby – 1988
    Karma Tsunami, Fishbone – 2000?
    Steady as She Goes, The Raconteurs – 2007
    I’m sure there were tons of others over the years, but the ones I was obsessed with as a primary grader still stick with me! I go through Foo Fighter, No Doubt and REM phases on a semi-regular basis, too.
    Cool question.

  31. Ian

    These are all amazing, but extra props for “Shakin'” by Eddie Money and “Paris Match” by the Style Council. The video where that girl… well, “shakes”… for about 30 seconds in front of Eddie Money’s car is almost Dada in its delivery:
    And that Style Council album kept me going through my (1st) senior year at UNC, even though it had been out for almost a decade. The slow piano version of “My Ever Changing Moods” is also completely engrossing.

  32. Bud

    I’ve got more than anyone could possibly want to hear about, so I’ll just highlight three.
    ELO – “Livin’ Thing”
    This prompted my first “acting” because my friend Wes and I both loved the song and, neither of us owning the record, the only way for us to hear it was to pester the local radio DJs incessantly to play it. For a few days, we took turns calling the station, using fake voices sometimes after a couple of DJs asked us to stop calling so much. Our campaign worked. At least once, the two local stations played it almost back to back and more than once, a DJ led into it with “We’ve been getting a TON of requests for this one…”
    ABBA – “Does Your Mother Know”
    I never had an allowance. My main source of income before I started working was the 15 cents my dad gave me each school day for milk money. I’d save it for a few weeks and then usually buy a record with it. The very first record I ever bought was the Wings’ Greatest Hits album. Shortly afterward, I bought this single and literally wore it out until it was more scratches than music.
    Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti (album)
    When I was 15, an adult friend loaned me this record. I taped it and then listened to it over 50 times in a row. I still love the music and it always puts me right back in that time and place.

  33. ginat

    This gets me thinking — I wonder if my seven-year-old son will remember the songs he loves right now. Livin’ on a Prayer, Band on the Run, The Joker (Steve Miller Band). And kid artist offerings like Randy Kaplan’s “No Nothing.” And lots of They Might Be Giants.
    And the ones he loved when he was even younger like, Sweet Caroline….

  34. Bud

    Oh, and LFMD, your story of Jack and Weezer touches me because I nicknamed my lab Sage after the band. I got Sage in September 1994 at 6 weeks and Weezer had just released “Undone (The Sweater Song) and “Buddy Holly.”
    Sage was wiggling around, Weezer was on the radio and I told my friend Caleb, who’d just observed he was a wiggly little ball of fur, that Sage was, in fact, a little weezer. I seldom used his name after that. He became “the Weezer” for the next 14 years of his happy life.
    I sure miss him….

  35. T.J.

    Safety Dance-Men Without Hats (while playing AD&D on Fridays with three or four friends)
    Magical Mystery Tour and The White Album (the entire albums)-The Beatles (After my parents divorced, my dad got half The Beatles albums. When I’d visit him during the summer and he was at work, I’d play these over and over again)
    Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (the entire album)-Wilco (trying to find the same set of notes in every song)
    The Love Below (the entire album)-OutKast/Andre 3000

  36. T.J.

    Oh, and:
    Led Zeppelin II-Led Zeppelin. I finally became a Zep fan the summer before my sophomore year at UNC, 1988. I played “Whole Lotta Love” so many times, I thought my roommate was going to kill me.

  37. Caitlin

    Tessa, no way — Personent Hodie is one of my faves too. My mom and I always sing the organ part between the verses, bomp bomp bomp bomp BOMMPP.
    Cheeseburger in Paradise – Jimmy Buffet (at age 12)
    Mrs. Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel
    Once in A Lifetime – Talking Heads
    Nightswimming – REM
    Ontario, Quebec, and Me – Billy Bragg
    Common People – Pulp
    all of Elephant – White Stripes

  38. Neva

    I realize I am late to this party but I LOVE this question.
    First there was my Captain and Tennille phase with the continuous move of the needle back to the beginning of the 45 “Love will Keep us together”. Still have that one in the collection.
    Then, there was the entire soundtrack of Grease.
    Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield was up there – even bought the piano music so I could bang it out on the keys.
    Moving into the angst of junior high welcomed Depeche Mode and like ginat above I enjoyed Black Celebration but my favorite one for playing over and over was Fly on the Windscreen.
    NCSSM introduced me to Pink Floyd and Violent Femmes and there was much to be gained in loudly playing Comfortably Numb and Kiss Off out the window over and over at my on again off again love.
    Then the REM years took over and there are too many “songs on repeat” to name there.
    Now, I have moved onto to inspiring the next generation of the pop obsessed and am singing along with my kid’s Taylor Swift You Belong to Me as well as the entire soundtrack of Phantom of the Opera over and over and over lately.

  39. jersey

    1) Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
    2) Bad – U2
    3) Sweet Child of Mine – Guns N Roses
    4) Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
    5) Interstate Love Song – Stone Temple Pilots
    6) Champagne Supernova – Oasis
    7) Time Of Your Life – Greenday
    8) Sex and Candy – Marcy Playground
    9) Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
    10) Lazyeye – Silversun Pickups

  40. Bruce

    Wow, great question.
    My all-time #1: Crash, by Dave Matthews. Yeah, I know it’s kinda lame. I was 22, working 100 hours a week as an Investment Banking Analyst and hadn’t been on a date since I’d graduated 3-4 months before. This song was for me that night the epitomy of longing, lost, and lust that had seemingly overnight disappeared from my life. I was with one of my best friends and he was a very good sport about it.
    A couple of earlier posts bring certain things to mind:
    * ELO – Don’t Bring Me Down. My name is Bruce and I’m aware that it was originally a nonsense “Roos” before they changed it. When I was pledging Chi Psi I was locked in a room with some other pledges with this song on repeat until we polished off a keg. That took many plays… but many fewer than it probably should have.
    * Brooks and Dunn – Neon Moon. Wow. My first ever breakup from a real (year plus) relationship. That song still gets me. At the beach with two friends and the night turned maudlin.
    * REM – Nightswimming. In Arizona for my 2nd Morehead summer listened to this one over and over. Great song.
    I guess I’ll start drinking now.


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