I tell ya – this modern society a select few have built has got me jerkin’ back and forth between thinking “Maaaan, what a beautiful world” and “we’re all deep into de-evolution, everything is controlled by morons.” Well, once again, I’m back in the crate of the Not-By 30-Day Music Challenge monster I created toward the beginning of the COVID era, and yet again it is my birthday month. So, prepare yourselves to get sloppy while fighting that uncontrollable urge with the…
I had another idea that I may unveil this coming summer provided the usual suspects I know are still engaged with these song-a-day challenges then. But for now, go ahead and download this, share it with your friends, and hashtag it #NotByDEVO to guarantee good times.
If you’re curious, someone on the internet there’s a photo of me dressed up as Mark Mothersbaugh (or Bob, or Gerry, or Alan, technically) for Halloween in 2010. I even made my own energy dome. My best friend dressed up as Thor (bear in mind this was a year before the first Marvel movie for that character came out), and that January we put on a variety show called ‘Ragnarok’ where I hosted one segment in character as Mothersbaugh. Five years later, my friend hit me up, practically freaking out when they announced that the music for Thor! Ragnarok (2017) would be done by Mark Mothersbaugh. Life imitates art imitates full circles, sometimes.
Happy November, everyone. To many, that means we’ve just passed another Halloween celebration. Also to many, that means that Dia de los Muertos is fast approaching. To infinitely fewer, that means a new Song-a-Day challenge from Sonic Geography.
I should elaborate; I retired from building these things months ago. A pair of my friends from DC who began a supportive Facebook group during the pandemic shutdown in 2020 gladly took over delegating the responsibility once I told them I was stepping down from the monthly task. But, never content to let sleeping dogs lie, I decided to reverse my “retirement” for a month. This is hardly a Jordan/Hašek/Eminem/Jay-Z move on my part; I merely had another set of Not-By song cues ready to go last year that I never got around to building into a full month.
With no further ado, I give you: THE NOT-BY-THE CURE song-a-day challenge for November!
There’s no real November connection I can ascertain for The Cure. Robert Smith was born in April, and Faith came out in April 1981, so it’s not like there’s a major anniversary here. Why can’t we just use November to celebrate the existence of one of the greatest and most unique British rock bands of the past fifty years, anyway?
So, please do download the image to your phone, play along, use the hashtag #NotbytheCure, and just try to see in the dark. Just try to make it work.
Happy Saturday and Happy Mayday, everybody! It’s the end of the semester for me, so that means a deluge of grading and then a deluge of new posts (currently gathering dust in the drafts folder) for this site!
Thank you profusely to those of you who enjoyed the #NotbyBlur challenge for April. I regret not posting my full list this time around, but there are so many lists on the way that even I may get sick of them. For now, enjoy the song challenge for May: (NOT BY) FLEETWOOD MAC.
One of my co-creators, Matt Gever, already claimed the June challenge for his own nefarious purposes, and I will be grateful for the month off. But he and Marissa reached out to me recently, and we realized the May challenge should be a female artist or at least a band with prominent female membership. Of course, the eternally relevant (more than five decades!) and endlessly dramatic Fleetwood Mac fit the bill, so hopefully this strikes a chord across generations of music fans. It sure would for Nathan Apodaca and all the lucky music academics with whom I got to participate in the Rumours livetweet party back in February.
So, I would imagine you all know the drill by this point. Download, share, have fun on whichever platform suits your fancy, and don’t forget to hashtag it #NotByFleetwoodMac.
If you wanna scream, SCREAM WITH ME. In honor of Glenn, Jerry, Doyle, Bobby, and the various other players who composed New Jersey’s greatest horror-punk export (Michale Graves excepted), this month’s challenge issues 30 days of pure, uncut horror business with a side of brains (which can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or brunch).
I should probably explain where I’ve been.
Living, mainly. As I mentioned last month, I got somewhat burned out and decided to let some other maniacs take the wheel. In my stead, my internet-friend Matt (who I met through a Facebook group of DC-diaspora friends who really took to these song-a-day challenges) stepped in and filled the gap for February with his excellent Not-by-ABBA challenge. Like a man after my own heart, Matt turned right around from one of the glitziest, poppiest pop groups in history and suggested “Misfits March.” The result is what you see up there.
I’m excited to have a new song-a-day challenge up here of my own co-creation. Per usual, download it, share it, tell a friend (or foe), and remember there’s only one rule. Don’t forget to hashtag it #NotByTheMisfits!
BONUS CHALLENGE My friend Marissa, who has been running similar photo challenges on her pandemic Facebook group, has once again collaborated with the Not-By theme for this month. It is the Misfits-based photo challenge! No photos of any of the Misfits necessary.
Grab your $29, fill your jockey full of bourbon, and clap hands while whistling through the graveyard, it’s the NOT-BY-TOM-WAITS SONG-A-DAY CHALLENGE!
As I hinted yesterday, for most Tom Waits fans, the mere mention of Little Anthony and the Imperials elicits thoughts of “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis,” one of the truly saddest and funniest and most beautiful songs ever written. It’s also not the only Minneapolis song I drew directly from for this challenge; “9th and Hennepin,” a standout track from ‘Rain Dogs,’ gave me an excuse to ask everyone for songs about intersections (the topic of one of the first episodes of The Casual Geographer). Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out his songwriting (and life) partner Kathleen Brennan, since she co-wrote or inspired many of these alluded classics.
In honor of Mr. Waits’ birthday on the 7th of the final month of a year in which we all felt, at points, like the Earth was dying screaming, I couldn’t resist this. DIG IN:
Per usual, there is only one rule, and it’s self-explanatory. Be careful with this one, though; Tom is all over pop culture in places you may not expect. Download the matrix, have fun, don’t forget to tag it #NotByTomWaits, and keep asking around regarding where Mr. Knickerbocker’s at (even if nobody’s sure).
I try to refrain from using profanity on this site, but as your special treat for this unveiling, enjoy my favorite Tom Waits Letterman interview, which is probably the funniest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.
Thanks again to Courtney for coming up with the vast majority of these! I’m so glad to be able to collaborate with her, even from afar. Since I’m hardly a Broadway expert, I wasn’t at all tempted to break this month’s rule, but it also sent me down a musicological path where I started wondering “what IS a showtune?” Because you could make arguments that certain pop songs that were never technically in stage musicals are still showtunes in the sense that ‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas movie.
Anyway, here is the matrix, for reference, and my list, below:
Spinal Tap – “Gimme Some Money”
Airiel – “In Your Room”
The Coup / Dead Prez – “Get Up”
Leadbelly – “The Bourgeois Blues”
Richard Marx – “Endless Summer Nights”
Carl Douglas – “Dance the Kung Fu” (the little-remembered miiiiilking-it follow-up to his legendary one hit wonder)
American Steel – “Maria” (this song is so good, I’ll go out of my way to link it here)
The Stone Roses – “I Wanna be Adored”
The Field Mice – “Emma’s House”
Rob Zombie – “Dragula”
ABBA – “Mamma Mia”
Scissor Sisters – “Take Your Mama”
The Zombies – “Beechwood Park”
Steve Martin – “Late for School”
The Chicks – “Gaslighter”
The Queers – “Everything’s OK”
Gang of Four – “Guns or Butter”
Red City Radio – “Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Roads”
The Pietasters – “Girl Take It Easy”
A.C. Newman – “Drink to Me Babe Then”
Groovie Ghoulies – “Hair of Gold (and Skin of Blue)”
The Hextalls – “I’m the Best (in Bed)”
Fountains of Wayne – “Valley Winter Song” (RIP Adam Schlesinger)
Jens Lekman – “I Know What Love Isn’t” (feat. Busman’s Holiday!)
Jaya the Cat – “Shit Jobs for Rock”
The Get Up Kids – “I’m a Loner, Dottie, a Rebel”
Lungfish – “Put Your Hand in my Hand” (I had to go with Moss Icon on Instagram, since Dischord’s catalog isn’t on there)
New Order – “Touched by the Hand of God”
Poison – “Talk Dirty to Me”
Jets to Brazil – “Cat Heaven”
Thanks for playing and your continued support, everybody. The December Song Challenge will go up here tomorrow at 8am ET. Here is a clue to your December theme, below. It’s a bad clue, because almost everybody who loves the featured artist will immediately get it, but a clue nonetheless. NO (public) GUESSES.
I’ve gone on the record, more than once, that I’m not a big fan of musicals. I especially dislike those “Oh, but you’ll like THIS musical, Tyler” musicals. The only musical I genuinely love is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Otherwise, there are a handful I will tolerate because people close to me love them, but even then I will still periodically wince when the belting begins. God, I hate when singers belt, especially with those assembly line vocal styles that the Andrew Lloyd Webbers of the world have forced us to agree are “good.”
But, I digress. This is why, among other reasons, that this month is a collaboration! My great friend Courtney, who lives in the DC area with her husband, small son, and slightly smaller dog, happens to be a Broadway fanatic. In fact, the last time we collaborated on anything, it was in the DC theatre scene, notably the 2008 Hexagon show (for which she did plenty of the heavy vocal lifting, and I hid in the chorus with my mic turned down).
Anyway, ye grande lockdown(e) of 2020 gave us an excuse to collaborate once again. Her sister Marissa (also a DC friend, with whom I bonded over Sunny Day Real Estate and the Dismemberment Plan) started a Facebook group in which these song-a-day challenges have assumed a whole new life. It only made sense that Courtney draw from her musical theatre past and create a 30-day-challenge. Also, it was her birthday this past Thursday, so…
Download this, share it with your friends, make sure to hashtag #NotAShowtune, and wish Courtney a Happy Belated Birthday! Her Instagram handle is next to mine under the title.
The only rule is… just as obvious in the past few months. And yes, musicals that became more famous as movies count, too. You theatre nerds should know!
Happy Halloween to everyone, and Happy Birthday to Larry Mullen, Jr.
Here are my Hashtag-Not-By-U2 Song Challenge installments, which varied (per usual) depending on the curious (and often highly unfortunate) omissions from Instagram’s music catalog. Here is the matrix:
The Lawrence Arms – “October Blood”
Kendrick Lamar – “Backseat Freestyle”
The Gregory Brothers feat. Antoine Dodson – “Bed Intruder Song”
Blur – “Sunday Sunday”
Lou Reed – “Perfect Day”
Avail – “Nameless”
Mineral – “Gloria”
Oppenheimer – “Fireworks are Illegal in the State of New Jersey” (Northern Ireland got a ton of love across social media on this one)
Blur – “Look Inside America”
The Dismemberment Plan – “You are Invited”
Rammstein – “Der Meister” (The same six guys for 25 years, which is more impressive than ZZ Top being the same 3 for 50. And I love ZZ Top).
Black Flag – “Spray Paint”
Eric B. and Rakim – “Follow the Leader”
The Lillingtons – “I Don’t Think She Cares”
Clinic – “Walking with Thee”
100 Gecs – “Stupid Horse”
Ella Fitzgerald – “Drop Me off in Harlem”
Camera Obscura – “Happy New Year”
The Dead Milkmen – “Going to Graceland”
Roy Orbison – “Crying”
Jimmy Eat World – “23”
Aphex Twin – “Flim”
The Magnetic Fields – “Strange Powers”
The Replacements – “Kiss Me on the Bus”
Girls Against Boys – “Super-fire”
Yazoo – “Don’t Go”
Rancid – “Up to No Good”
David Lee Roth – “Yankee Rose (Spanish Version)” (never forget there is a whole album of this)
The Dollyrots – “Jackie Chan”
Goo Goo Dolls – “On Your Side” (It’s so easy to forget these guys were so good, they were worthy of the title “poor man’s Replacements”).
If you participated, thanks for participating! If you just stopped by to read this and see what songs I picked while half-asleep each day, thanks for stopping by. Watch a great spooky movie tonight, and come back TOMORROW AT 9AM for your November song-a-day challenge.
October. And kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall. But you go on and on…
Especially if, convinced that people are still demanding these song-a-day challenges, you keep on going and draw up an admittedly semi-obvious choice for October. But as Bono sang in 1981, “The trees are stripped bare, of all they wear [and] what do I care?”
This month’s challenge goes out to everyone’s favorite member of U2, Larry Mullen Jr, who was born in Dublin on Halloween 1961. Did Bono write “October” as a partial tribute to his bandmate? No, it was actually just a metaphor, if Niall Stokes’ book is to be trusted.
Anyway, download, re-post, like, and share this image, and have a great time. Apologies to any fans of U2’s more recent work, but and I don’t feel bad about the way I feel about “Songs of Innocence,” and they have billions of dollars.