I don’t have a whole lot of time to write at the moment, but with 2022 finally here, I’m going have a whole bunch of new essays and announcements in the upcoming months. December has been quite busy, to say the least.
Anyway, no sooner had I come out of retirement with the Not-by-the-Cure challenge had I already written half of the clues about Weezer. I owe a tip of the hat to the Wizard and the Bruiser, who did a great episode of their podcast recently that put me into a more positive frame of mind about Rivers Cuomo and his compatriots. Also, Jake Young referred to Matt Sharp (who I long considered the band’s secret weapon early on) as an “alpha-Chad,” and I haven’t been able to think of anything else regarding Weezer since.
Here you go! Tell a friend, make sure to hashtag it #NotByWeezer, spread some New Years’ cheer with power-chords and songs about nerd stuff, and never forget to bring home the turkey if they bring home the bacon.
Depending on your age, Britpop acumen, knowledge of my musical preferences, and awareness of Blur’s early, commendable but not quite brilliant debut album Leisure, you may have immediately known what April’s challenge was going to be when you saw the word “bang” in yesterday’s post. Either way, nobody involved in these challenges could possibly have thought they’d make it out of the pandemic year without a tribute to the collective works of Damon, Alex, Dave, and (most of the time) Graham.
Despite how Gorillaz has now technically been a longer-going concern for (genius) Albarn, making goat cheese is a bigger priority for Alex James than plucking the bass strings or hosting BBC documentaries about cocaine, and Graham Coxon has made more solo albums than Blur records, the Essex foursome will always be at the fore for me. So, in the interest of celebrating my birthday in the only obnoxious, ostentatious way I will ever bring myself to, it’s the Not-by-Blur song challenge!
Per usual, there’s only one rule (Gorillaz and other Albarn material are fair game). Make sure to share, have fun, and hashtag it with #NotbyBlur. Also, on the 9th, don’t hesitate to message or tweet at me with your pick! Or, any other day I suppose, but especially on that day. The mind gets short-y as you get closer to forty.
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.
Back at the beginning of the pandemic “lockdown” (as much it can be called that in the United States), when I put together a matrix for the #SonicGeographySongChallenge, I didn’t imagine my idea for the following month, #NotbyBillyJoel, would lead to a new challenge every remaining month in 2020. Over the New Year, I decided to take January off. I had a couple of ideas in the works for February, but before I could follow through, I got contacted by [NAME REDACTED] of a (mainly DC expats) Facebook group I’m in asking if he could use my matrix for his own idea. I gladly said yes and sent the Photoshop file over to Matt… uh, I mean [redacted].
Imagine my surprise when I logged into Facebook on Monday morning and saw not only the #NotbyAbbaChallenge, but also two others: one by Paul, a teacher down in Miami, and another by my friend Mike and his buddy challenging people to NOT post love songs all month.
I would be remiss if I didn’t post them all here. I should have done that yesterday, but the day got away from me for various reasons. Anyway, enjoy the “Not by ABBA” Challenge, the “Not a Love Song” challenge, and the “Not by Queen” challenge, all to keep your February filled with music in its 28 days.
In case anybody is wondering, my Day-1 choices for all three challenges were Refused songs. If you can guess which three, then more power to you.
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.