My life has followed my own unique path that began when I was 19 when I dropped out of college to enlist in the Army, the first step to living “my way” instead of what was expected of my generation. I threw the rulebook out the window and thumbed my nose at convention. Since then I’ve never wavered in my dedication to following my own path and fulfilling my own vision of how life should unfold. At 56 I feel as young as ever and I strive every day, mightily, to keep educated and wise, fit, healthy, and strong. I am not ready to get old.
I’ve neither married nor fathered children and don’t feel my lack of either has affected me negatively. I live well below my means by design, hell, I don’t even own a car and my income can afford me whatever I want should I desire one. But I don’t. I am happy riding my bicycle and walking everywhere. I live downtown in a huge city, with everything I need close to me, so I keep things simple and easy.
As I grow older I feel I’ve lost a great deal of the radical liberal idealism of my younger years, but I’m still a strong advocate of a European-styled social democracy, which, in these strange times in America, seems a distant dream as Middle America becomes more and more radicalized to right-wing, white supremacist madness and ultra-religious intolerance.
I have never believed in god nor do I think the white race holds any great advantage over any other, which probably puts me at odds with a large majority of white people in my country these days. I’ve quite often found far too many people to be irrational and petty—call me an intellectual elitist if that helps—but it certainly doesn’t make me wrong. Those who reject science due to religious or political beliefs that are contrary to scientific fact irritate the fuck out of me. And in the USA, far too many citizens reject science due to their nutty and irrational belief system.
Having said all this, I spend little time worrying about the state of global, national, and local politics or American culture. Nor do I think we live in times that are better or worse than any other era in my lifetime. The good old days were often bad, and the current times are often good but also bad. What I seek is a balance in my personal life but also with the world around me. It’s a difficult process to feel balanced in a world that is in constant turmoil, but at a personal level I can control my own life despite what’s going on around me, which is actually the best I can do. I can control my health and fitness and how I interact with my fellow citizens and the rest of humanity. That’s about it.
Old age brings wisdom but no more certainty than when I was younger. I still have grave doubts about everything around me. I remain skeptical of human intentions and the ambitions of others who wish to tread on my personal space. I remain an eternally optimistic person with a joy for living, my strongest quality and most cherished basis for all else about me. I still read voraciously and have a great curiosity to learn more today than what I knew yesterday. I work hard at keeping healthy and feeling younger than my years, indeed, I am 56 going on much younger.
All rise to hail a new generation of brave warriors, the lords of abject stupidity and pathetic hate and malice, the Involuntary Celibate (INCEL) Knights™!
Whether strapping on a suicide vest and blowing himself up in a crowd of innocents, or brandishing a military-grade assault rifle while mowing down lovely and vital folks in churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, or public squares, the key attribute of this cowardly, homicidal ass clown is his sad and furiously frustrating inability to put his penis into the vaginas of the women for whom he lusts after.
Oh, the humiliating agony of being categorically rejected by the fairer sex due to the fact all of these raging psychopathic assholes have zero skills at wooing the women they desire, moreover most are as ugly and physically misshapen as an anal wart. I am sure even bestiality is denied to INCEL Knights as cats and dogs and ferrets reject them with the same gusto as women. No, my dear, crazy, virgin INCEL Knight, even a copious dabbing of peanut butter on your cock won’t entice Mr. Whiskers or Rover to lick it. Getting rejected by women is humiliating enough; getting rejected by your cat must invoke a rage-filled insanity in your pathetic, low-IQ brains of an unimaginable magnitude. The horror!
Whether your name is John, Mohammed, Mortimer, Adolf or whatever, and regardless of your race, religion, national origin, or even your political ideology, what sets you apart, INCEL Knight, is the fact you’re a vicious, anti-social creep who can’t get laid. This leads, apparently, to a madness that somehow compels you, with your ineptly puerile and misguided minds, to lash out at humanity with malevolently murderous violence. Jacking off to Internet porn cannot even for a moment suppress the rage inside you. No shrink can guide you to the light. No pill alleviates the self-hatred. Moreover, apparently, hiring a hooker is beneath your lordly, lofty, and ridiculously holy self-image; in your sick fucking mind, women reject you because they are evil and not that you’re a toxic little vermin of a man, which you are.
Your urge to kill innocents randomly is what sets you apart from the peaceful gaggle of dorks who can’t get laid either. They just attend Marvel superhero movies and comic book conventions, or play online computer games, or engage in goofy cosplay, to ease all those endlessly sleepless, sexless nights. Only a select few psychopaths like you decide to take out your rage on others.
I appeal to every fucked-up shitheel like you, INCEL Knight, to consider something before you lock-and-load your AR-15 or strap on your suicide vest: JUST KILL YOURSELF if you get the urge to harm others because your dick can’t get sucked or fucked. Kill yourself with extreme prejudice, you pathetic can’t-get-laid fucknuts of a human being. Not a single soul deserves the fate you decide for them when you act out your self-hating malice with such wanton and mindless violence. Only you do. So off yourself, you creepy piece of shit. Leave the rest of humanity alone.
After the demise of Britain’s Punk explosion in 1976-77, bands who were influenced by Punk, or had started out as Punk bands, began making music that was more intelligent, experimental, and musically sophisticated than Punk. They successfully incorporated traditional rock music structures with a wide variety of underground sounds that were emerging in the British music scene of that era, creating music that was atmospheric, darker than “classic” rock, and highly introspective and introverted, but without sounding too experimental or obscure. Most Post-Punk bands experimented with sounds and lyrical structures but never lost their pop sense, so their music is extremely listenable, but at the same time there’s a veritable feast of amazingly new and cool elements to their music that set them apart from the rock & roll that came before them.
It was an exciting era for rock music, and while most of the best Post-Punk bands did not enjoy wide appeal or huge commercial success, their music was massively influential for what would be later known as “Alternative” rock.
Update 4-26-2019: Some record companies block embedding YouTube videos of their product, so fuck them, no free promotion here, as if obscure bands didn’t need more promotion, especially free promotion. Idiots. So a couple of links I had here were changed, goodbye The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen, hello Bauhuas and Pink Turns Blue, two bands who certainly deserve recognition as Post-Punk legends while the other two are still controlled by retarded record companies who have no idea how these here “Internets” work some 25 years into its creation.
1. The Chameleons – Up the Down Escalator (1983) A really hot Army girl stationed with me in ’84, who had just returned from a tour in Germany, used to play the album Script of the Bridge while we fucked. It was majestic music, anthemic and bold, what U2 tried make be but didn’t have the brains and verve that these lads from Manchester clearly presented across the entire record. I borrowed her album and burned it to a cassette that I played the fuck out of for many years afterwards. When I hear this I still think of her lying naked on my barracks room floor, a shit ton of lit candles surrounding her like an ancient religious fertility rite, and Script of the Bridge blaring out my speakers. A good fucking memory of a great girl. The song Second Skin is also brilliant, but I can only chose one on this list from each band.
2. The Sound – Skeletons (1983) The best band of the 1980s that no one has ever heard. Fuck me as to why this happened. Front man Adrian Borland was the Jim Morrison of his generation, a brilliant songwriter and post-modern poet, and his sparse but hugely danceable arrangements became mainstays at “Goth” clubs all over Europe. You wanted a dark, creepy mood along with great dance chops? Play The Sound. This song in particular is about as fucking great as any song from that dark, exciting, beautiful era. Only The Mission and Sisters of Mercy came close to this dark wave greatness, and they both fell short although they sold a shitload more records than this brilliant band. Like Ian Curtis of Joy Division, Borland took his own life at far too young an age.
3. Joy Division – Shadowplay (1979) Dark, sparse, moody, cool, utterly brilliant. Punk was working-class stupidness at times, especially American Hardcore, but what emerged after Punk died in the UK in 1978 was amazing. I loved The Clash, who got better when they transitioned from Punk to more diverse rock sounds on London Calling and beyond, but I think, in retrospect, Joy Division was the greatest band to emerge from the ashes of Punk, even if we only have two albums by the band to measure its greatness. Ian Curtis was Rimbaud to Joe Strummer’s Lord Byron, when you think about it. Joe was a hopeless romantic with many socio-political axes to grind, and we loved him because he gave a fuck so passionately, with anger and rebellion in his heart like any romantic. Ian, on the other hand, was a massively depressed nihilist who veered too close to the dark side and fell victim to his own worst tendencies, and his music reflected this abjectly morose excursion into madness and retrospection. Plus, holy fuck, Peter Hook was an amazing bassist who could carry a song by his sheer athleticism on the instrument. When Ian died the remaining members created a whole new band, New Order, with a completely different sound, and that band too was great, but just not this great.
4. Comsat Angels – Independence Day (1981) Another amazing but sadly obscure band from an exciting era in musical experimentalism and “dare to be different” Post-Punk cool. Joy Division opened the door for all these young bands to express their darker thoughts and feelings, and while only The Cure and Bauhaus are well remembered today, there were other fine bands from that period who made great music. This is one of them. Like all great Post-Punk bands, the C-S Angels delved into the darker regions of consciousness, with pounding beats and a minimalist sound that was equally beautiful and sad, and of course one could dance to the band’s songs with great gusto.
5. Killing Joke – Wardance (1980) These motherfuckers were crazy, I mean batshit crazy, but in a good way. Nihilists, sure, and doomsday believers of the nuttiest sort, but they put down on record all these insane thoughts and ideas with some powerful and crushing music, foot-stomping hard rock without the silly macho posing of the Heavy Metal boys in Metallica or Iron Maiden, who explored the same dark themes, the only difference being that Killing Joke was essentially a Punk band and not Metal. But they rocked like one. Wardance is, to me, a scary, superbly powerful, driving anthem of unequaled greatness. Doomsday never had a better theme song. Fed Astaire cheerfully dancing on the casualties of nuclear Armageddon? Best cover art ever, if you ask me. Fuck yeah, this is rock & roll at its darkest, creepiest, nihilistic best. Put on your Doc Martens and stomp dance as we blow ourselves to smithereens, motherfuckers.
6. PiL – Public Image (1979) John Lydon left the Pistols and had a little Punk left in him with this kick-ass song and its Jah Wobble killer bass line and Keith Levene’s simple yet powerful guitar licks. Meanwhile Mr. Rotten gets to purge all his angst and anger with his usual sneeringly accusatory excellence, deriding his old band and all his detractors with a barrage of fuck you, spittle-spewing eloquence as only Johnny can muster. This is, simply put, a great fucking Punk tune. Johnny was a villainous cunt, sure, but we loved joining the bad guys when their message was right. He would cease being this cool in the years to follow, but from ’76-’80 Rotten was a goddamn sage. No one today is rebelling with such beautiful bile and cogently precise articulation. Anarchy indeed.
7. Bauhaus – The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1981) Stylish Brit boys who combined Punk sensibilities with their fascination with Creature Feature horror films. Goth was born here, for better or worse. Peter Murphy was Ziggy Stardust meets Dracula, and it was kind of cool in the brief moments Bauhaus made great music, though I think they underperformed mostly, and yet their influence was immense.
8. Pink Turns Blue – Your Master is Calling (1986) “Dark Wave” bands like The Mission and Sisters of Mercy churned out tunes like this in droves, but this obscure German band may have created the best of the lot here, obviously influenced by Joy Division and The Mission, and yet, damn, it’s just a great song. I heard it in a club in Germany in 1988 and sprinted to the DJ to find out who it was, and to my surprise it was a German band, not an English one.
9. Sad Lovers & Giants – Imagination (1981) Another sadly obscure band that made vital and cool music, only to be buried beneath the deluge of more pop-influenced New Wave and Synth Pop that engulfed England in the early 80s. Sure, Gary Numan, Spandau Ballet, Japan and the like were fun and cool, but so was this. Oh well. Just enjoy.
10. The Damned – Life Goes On (1983) These old original Punks reformed and kept making good music, and despite Captain Sensible’s strange run as a UK pop star in the early 80s, with his old Punk band he still had a few great tunes left in him, such as here, a song with a bass line and chord progression that’s been copied not once, but TWICE, first in Killing Joke’s song Eighties, and then Nirvana’s epic Come as You Are. The Captain was in form here, no doubt about it, writing a truly sad and brilliant song about how to live life after losing a loved one. Hard to imagine this was the same band that made New Rose, a nihilistically joyful Punk anthem if ever there was one, and yet, here they are, still fucking great, going all “Goth” in their later years. All hail the real Punks of old. This is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest songs from the 1980s, obscure, yes, but so sublime and touching, so goddamn good I wish everyone gave it one listen to find out why I champion it with such gusto. Of course I have weird and shitty taste in this strange mélange of borrowed and stolen styles, but that’s me, Mr. Pastiche, lover of goofy, often obscure shit that apparently only appealed to me.
Game of Thrones is one of the most violent television shows ever aired, with insanely macabre and hyper-violent depictions of murder, torture, rape, and mutilation. The blood and guts and body parts fly around on this show in such great amounts that its audience has become desensitized to all this horrific and inhuman carnage.
But many in America have expressed extreme outrage when the 22-year-old English actress Maisie Williams, who plays the character Arya Stark, got a little naked in a love scene in the latest episode. Williams was originally cast when she was 11 but has literally grown up on the show. She’s no child and freely allowed herself to be filmed in the buff. Apparently the outraged fans considered this to be borderline pedophilia, as her character should be around 17 years old or so in the show’s timeline. It’s called acting, folks. Maisie is an adult in real life.
You’re fine with heads and extremities getting chopped off with almost flippant abandon, but a young woman’s titts being exposed is too much to bear.
What a fucking weird country we are, truly. Violence is okie dokie, yet a little flash of nudity is a cause for hysterical overreaction. Get it?
Was there a criminal conspiracy? Probably, but more like a clown car being driven by someone too drunk to drive.
Was there collusion—a term that actually has little or no specific legal context—between the Trump campaign and Russia? Sure, but apparently there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove it in a way that could bring treason charges against Trump and this idiotic minions.
My take on all this is simply that we have an insane, overgrown child as our POTUS, a raging idiot of a narcissist who proves the danger of inherited wealth, that even a complete moron like this man, backed by the money he inherited from his daddy, can rise to spectacular heights without being particularly successful at anything but self-promotion, of course facilitated by the pile of wealth daddy left in his trust fund.
Trump is a gigantic shit stain on our democracy. That is a given. The millions of morons who voted for this festering ass boil of a human being are as reprehensible as the man they champion.
Stupidity is obviously in abundance in the good old USA. Nothing shocking there, right?
But that’s America, folks. As rich, powerful and amazing as our great nation has been, we’re also peopled with tens of millions of idiotic, half-literate dingbats who seem to wander around destructively and stupidly, destroying not only the self-interest of those they hate, but their own too. It’s a self-immolating madness that I suspect every successful civilization suffers from in the history of humankind. We just cannot behave with too much reason and common sense, we humans. We’re the agents of our own destruction. No one can destroy us but ourselves.
Some day in the future we’ll look back on this era and maybe have a laugh. Despite the fact we’ve got this bloated, bloviating, bigoted psychopathic turd of a man as our POTUS, America is just fine, thank you very much. Tens of millions of Americans show up for work every day, tend to their families, and work hard to make their communities amazing places to live. We’ll survive just fine.
Take a deep breath and vote this idiot out of office in 2020. That, my friends, is what makes democracy so great. We the people can right a horrible wrong, even if some 46% of us have lost their fucking minds.
Anyone who knew me from 1982-85 knows how much I loved the English 2-Tone Ska band The (English) Beat. I played their records relentlessly and found so much joy from their wildly danceable and peppy tunes. Roger was just a couple months older than I am when he passed yesterday, and losing one of my favorite music stars from my youth is of course hard to take, but especially for this eternally-positive frontman for one of my all-time favorite bands. The Beat brought me so much pure fun in my youth. Sad to see you pass, dear Roger, you were such an icon of style and unpretentious cool in the early 80s. I bought my first porkpie hat and wraparound Ray-bans after seeing Roger on MTV. Ranking Full Stop indeed, mate. Rest in peace.
Valencia, Spain There’s not much to report these days except that I’m happily enjoying my time in Valencia, where I spend my days riding bicycles, reading from a large list of books I have wanted to read for ages, practicing my conversational Spanish, eating great food, and socializing with my new friends here. I’ve been off Facebook for a year now and I can say with great certainty that I shall not return to it. I have to return home soon, but my time here in Spain has greatly improved my physical and mental well being, something I needed desperately after a hectic fall and winter work schedule back in the USA. I wish everyone the best and you can reach me through email if you know it.
I quit Facebook ten months ago, plus I’ve taken my life as private as one can these days of rampant privacy invasion, social media, etc. No bother.
I’m 55 years old and as healthy as I have been in a long, long time due to a rigorous exercise and diet campaign since last February. Work is going well, we just finished our second largest project, a superb automated warehouse for Kroger and Vitacost. I’ve met a few deliciously gorgeous women in Las Vegas, Cincinnati, and here in Philly. Of course, nothing serious, just lots of fun. Perhaps some day I’ll settle down with just one. I’m off to Spain for a couple of months as soon as I can get away.
My atheism has been the easiest intellectual decision of my life, a view I’ve held since I began forming conscious memories as a child; indeed, I honestly have no recollection of ever seriously believing in god. After all these years of non-belief, and not once wavering, I’d say I’m just not wired for belief in god, gods, religion, or “spirituality,” whatever that means or entails. I’ll be even more honest in saying that it has required little or no contentious thought, or intellectual effort, to be atheistic. I just am.
However, atheism is also difficult intellectually because, in denying the power of god, gods, and religion, and all the intellectual certainty that comes from such belief systems, doubt plays a much heavier role in how atheists view everything. But, to be honest, I welcome the doubts as one of the greatest gifts of pure freedom we humans possess, but are mostly afraid to confront.
Atheism is neither a “religion” nor school of thought. It simply means not believing in god, or gods, or a spiritual existence of any kind. Moreover, I don’t belong to any kind of organization, movement, or group associated with atheism, nor do I follow any leaders or gurus. On this matter I am completely and wholly on my own, a free-thinking, free-living individual, alone in my (non)belief system, willing to stand on my own two feet and face the world on my own intellectual terms.
Ever since the Age of Enlightenment, and especially since the formation of the United States of America, with its brilliant First Amendment Establishment and Free Exercise clauses (which have made the USA a secular nation by law), organized religion has slowly lost its ability to coerce belief from a position of power and authority, and eventually more and more people have slipped through the cracks of the religious majority. With each new generation the number of non-believers grows, and with each new generation the oppression, abuse, and denial of rights by the religious majority upon the non-believers has been reduced through countless challenges to, and victories over, unconstitutional laws that supported the religious majority.
To me, atheism is simply the last—and most important—step to complete freedom and liberty. The formation of the USA was the first step in creating a democratic republic free from the rule and power of the Ancien Régime that lorded over Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire and enslaved a vast majority of the people.However, in the last 200 years the USA, while ridding itself of kings, princes, dukes, and other hereditary rulers, could not quite become the secular state it intended itself to be by its founders. Religion, though not formally sanctioned by the government, still found ways to exert its power over the people simply because a vast majority of American citizens supported religious authority over the supposedly secular institutions and power structures of American government.
Luckily, a brave few have challenged religious authority in American governance by appealing to our excellent check against majority power, which is the judicial branch of our government, and it has been in the courts where religious authority and power over the secular government has been defeated and denied. America is not a theocracy ruled by the Christian majority, and although secularism was the original intent of its founders, it didn’t truly come to pass until late in the 20th Century after many contentious court battles and judgments, many of which were extremely unpopular with the Christian majority.
Atheism, however, goes one step beyond that in establishing freedom for individuals. Ultimately, religious belief is an individual intellectual choice. In choosing to believe in religions, individuals subjugate and submit themselves willingly to a higher power and authority, whether spiritual or temporal, or both. Whether religious people will admit it or not, this subjugation to a higher power and authority begins to strip them of their intellectual freedom and individuality, creating for them a “safe” belief system free from doubt and filled with absolute certainty egged on by false hope, group think and coercion, and phony religious fables, hotly writ, and folklore masked as dogma and, to a lesser extend, philosophy.
Atheism frees an individual from subjugation and submission to any and all authority, spiritual and temporal. For me, this choice was made easier simply because my not believing in god, gods, religion, or spirituality was never challenged by much internal intellectual debate or contentious thought. For me it was more or less inherently embedded in my intellect that I do not believe. All the evidence presented in my life trying to change my mind and coerce me to believe was rejected as easily as my mind rejects fairy tales, folklore, and phony or fallacious philosophies. I have little room for sophistry in my intellectual world, especially religious sophistry.
Pardon me for sounding arrogant here, but maybe the next step in the evolution of the human mind begins with the rational mind gaining better control over the irrational. Maybe that’s why religion, god, gods, and spirituality—or, for that matter, any kind of superstition or supernatural thinking—have never gained even a weak foothold in my intellectual being. Maybe my mind is less encumbered, by design, with irrationality and illogical thinking. I think more and more humans will be wired this way in the future. I’m one of the lucky ones who got it early in the curve.
Here’s what I have difficulty expressing to the believers out there: It’s not just that I don’t believe, it’s also that I don’t, even for one millisecond, understand your religious beliefs at any intellectual level. It makes absolutely no sense to me. It never did. Moreover, while I certainly respect your right to believe whatever you want, the truth is I do not, and never will, respect your beliefs. But I also agree true freedom means you are more than welcome to worship and believe as you want. Moreover I am not like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, or the late Christopher Hitches, public intellectuals who expended great energy and bluster in public forums and in print denouncing and debunking religious belief rather contentiously. I do not feel the need to tell you how good or bad, or right or wrong, your beliefs may be. I just simply say, whatever you believe, go for it; I shall leave you alone to your beliefs and faith. Just leave me alone because I have no religion or religious beliefs or faith in such things. Deal?
I will state this very clearly: do not trample on my Constitutional rights, or try to force me by law to adhere to or follow your beliefs. Do not try to establish a theocracy in the USA. In fact, make no attempt to even evangelize or proselytize your faith to me; rest assured I will never believe what you believe no matter how hard you try to convince or compel me. If you do not heed my warnings to not intrude in my free life with your religions and faiths, you will regret that deeply, I assure you.
This isn’t an essay about morality, right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, or even the primacy of belief vs. non-belief in the shaping of a culture or society. I am merely declaring, as simply as I can state it, my non-belief. I don’t have great certainty about much in this universe in which I live, especially about the existence of god, or gods, or spiritual beings, I am just certain I don’t believe in them, nor has anything in my 55 years of living done much to change that view. And I refuse to take leaps of faith that violate my logic and reason.
Tommy perfected the art of the AM-radio-friendly 3-minute pop song like few others from the 60s. His songs were masterpieces of musical simplicity and endearingly groovy melodies that were finger-snapping cool, energetically sexy, and dance-friendly, helping to get the girls on the dance floor and smiling. Hippies, greasers, jocks, and goody-two-shoes all loved these songs. And the chicks, forget about it: Tommy’s tunes moistened a whole generation of female underpants.
Moreover, every cover of a Tommy James song turned out to be cool too for the 80s generation, by such artists as Joan Jett and Billy idol; even Tiffany’s cheesy-peppy-dorky teen mall rat cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now” was annoyingly decent, though you’d have never admitted it to your hipster indie rock friends. But you know you secretly wiggled your butt to it. I wiggled my bootie to it, you pretentious motherfuckers, though mainly because the German hottie I was dating the summer of ’87 loved it. You should have seen Tanya dancing around my apartment in her panties while Tiffany’s version played on the French radio station I frequently blasted on my stereo. Magic, pure magic. Sue me, bitches.
Here are some of his gems:
Crystal Blue Persuasion (1969) The Summer of 1969; I was 6. My family was visiting my Uncle Don’s lake house near Sturgis, Michigan, every day at this glorious locale spent swimming and sunning, then at night we had sumptuous cookouts and lots of fun family time, Uncle Don often reminiscing fantastically epic stories of his and my Dad’s youth in South-side Chicago during the Great Depression. I have vivid memories of seeing horrible reports on TV news about the battle for Hamburger Hill in ‘Nam, then watching the Apollo 11 Moon landing, which was one of the greatest experiences of my life. This song was on the radio that magical summer like a guiding beautiful light passing through all the good and bad, uniting life into a glorious sonic cacophony and visual kaleidoscope of psycadelic technicolor perfection. Some memories are better than others.
Mony Mony (1968)
Even now, 50 years later, I still can picture in my mind groovy hippie chicks in mini skirts and knee-length go-go boots dancing lasciviously to this hip little ditty with it’s snappy snare-and-handclaps beat and the tamborurine-led magic of its bridge. And Tommy wailing with his blue-eyed soulful pipes, not quite as badass as Otis Redding or Marvin Gaye or James Brown, but not bad for a whiteboy from southern Michigan. Back in the day you played this at a party to get the gang pepped up and dancing like fools. Billy Idol’s cover of this in the 80s was a sing-along staple in bars and pubs worldwide, with “Drink, get laid, get drunk, get FUCKED!” added by the singing-along crowd during each vocal-less guitar break, and of course “FUCKING BULLSHIT!” sung between the pauses in the chorus instead of “Mony Mony.” Good times.
Hanky Panky (1966)
Along with Louie, Louie, this was the epitome of lo-fi American garage rock. How many kegs were tapped at 1960s frat parties while this was blasting out of cheap record players as frolicking girls twisted and wiggled to its snappy beat? LOTS. The song was naughty in a clean-cut, white-bread way, and yet I am sure the evangelical Jesus freaks swore this was the opening salvo of Babylon taking hold of American hippie youth. Sure, the evangelicals knew black folk had been dirty dancing to their satanic R&B for a decade, but now the white kids were shaking their asses like those dirty negroes, ergo culture was collapsing. Bravo.
I Think We’re Alone Now (1966)
Bubblegum pop perfection. That goddamn bass line just ROCKS, and even an idiot can learn the one-finger organ line in about five minutes. There’s nothing fancy here, just a driving 4/4 beat and cool pop magic that made Tommy the master of AM radio. I stole this 45 from one of my sisters and played the crap out of it on our family’s hi-fi console when I was about 5, dancing around the house like a demon. So maybe in a small way I am channeling that little kid’s memory some 50 years later.
Crimson and Clover (1968)
The Summer of Love was dominated by San Francisco psychedelia-crazy hippies who made great music but were also pretentious douchebags. Tommy took that LSD-driven imagery and placed it into an AM-friendly format that proved he could be as cool as those silly San Fran fucks but without all the annoyingly tedious pretense. The result was some great music, such as this song and the wonderful Crystal Blue Persuasion, two great hippie songs if ever that really meant anything. Even the wankers from The Dead and Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape probably smiled every time this song played on the radio, and at the end they all muttered, “Well played, Mr. James, well played!”
Draggin’ the Line (1971)
By the early 70s AM and FM radio were polar opposites, culturally; FM was where the cool kids played while AM was the home to Country and bad, corny Pop. Tommy James, who was brilliant in both formats, had one last great tune to unleash on the airwaves of both with this snappy, groovy little pop song that rode up the charts merely because it’s awesome. He proved that, despite the popularity of LP albums and 18-minute Yes songs with ponderously boring instrument solos that dragged on forever, there was still a place for the 3-minute pop song, especially cool ones—Tommy James’s forte.