Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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92 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I bought the naughty song that Nine Inch Nails did on cd and was amazed to find that it had, like, EIGHT DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE SONG.

    And then I looked for more and found that, yeah, he tends to do that with his CD singles. It’s like he’s saying “you want to see snapshots of the creative process? Here are the 7 versions I didn’t put on the album.”Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      A friend of mine interviewed with Reznor, for a job basically providing textures and stuff (my friend apparently had some desirable and rare analogue gear). He didn’t get the job, but was very complimentary of Reznor as a person.

      Reznor asked my friend if he was a NIN fan, and my friend truthfully answered, “no, not really.” He said Reznor was very gracious, and said that he considered that a plus, he didn’t want someone to come in and do the same old stuff, the whole point was to bring in new ideas etc.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Also, I kinda like the new single “Came Back Haunted”.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Reznor asked my friend if he was a NIN fan, and my friend truthfully answered, “no, not really.”

        He must never have read Delta of Venus.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Hey, we’re talking about nice family-friendly entertainment here – like Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”, the only pop hit I am aware of to feature the chorus “I want to fish you like an animal” – not some SMUT from Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell!

        (that’s her birth name. I have a friend who was born to hippies that has one that’s at least that long, and far weirder).Report

  2. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I was probably a bit too late for B-sides.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Kids today…

      I know you like Belle & Sebastian – tell me you at least got their EP’s – that was some of their best work!Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Mentioning Belle and Sebastion reminds me that one the local radio shows here does a bit making fun of the local alternative station, in which they pretend to be a DJ on the station announcing the next songs. At first, they’d mention a few bands, but as the bit evolved, they’d just say, “And now for the new song from… Mumford and Sons. After the break, Mumford and Sons. Up next, Mumford and Sons. And that was… Mumford and Sons,” and each time they follow or precede the announcement with that one Mumford and Sons song (though it could be 10 different Mumford and Sons songs, really).

        I find this incredibly amusing.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I still have not heard Mumford, nor Mumford’s Sons, AFAIK.

        As far as I am concerned, it’s all about Sanford & Son, you big dummy.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Imagine a simple, boring song with inane lyrics. Add a banjo.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Hey, banjo can be good!

        Do they wear vests? The bandname sounds vest-intensive.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I have their EPs.

        I remember cassettes but I was never much of a single purchaser and by the time I was buying albums, it was all CDs.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        I feel the same way about most “classic” rock stations. Especially when they play and inordinate amount of Journey.

        I hate Journey just as much as I hate the Eagles.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Mumford is prone to vestishness. Also unadulterated earnestness of the very twee-est sort.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        BOOM. Google Image confirms my vest hunch. I’m like Sherlock, holmes.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I wore out Dog on Wheels and This is Just a Modern Rock Song.

        And “A Century of Fakers” is amazing.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        This whole conversation has had me chuckling, but this

        Mumford is prone to vestishness. Also unadulterated earnestness of the very twee-est sort.

        sent both my wife and I over the top. We’re still chuckling.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Journey was one of the first records I ever bought, either Escape or Frontiers (I def. had both, not sure which one I got first). Steve Perry was the last of the great feathered-hair rockers.

        I once made that same joke to a co-worker, not realizing she was not only the head of the local Journey fan club, but in fact knew Perry to some degree. Boy, did I feel like a jerk.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Also, the same friend who interviewed with Reznor was my old college roommate. We were listening to Madness one day in college and he asked me, since I had been raised in a religious household, what a “Sunday Vest” (as in, “Father wears his”) was. He had always misheard the lyric, and assumed it was an actual piece of religious/symbolic clothing.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Earnestness really is the best word for it. In fact, I think that whole genre, with its taking the song much more seriously than it deserves, particularly with yelling at some point (pretty much the opposite of that Cure song up there), could reasonably be called “Earnest Rock.”

        And banjos are fine unless the only remotely interesting thing about a song is the bare fact that it has a banjo in it.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        We were listening to Madness

        …takes its toll!

        Had to be said. (If this just seems completely random, you need more of this:


      • Avatar Chris says:

        Also, I find it impossible to dislike Journey, and I have tried.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I love Journey. No apologies.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        I assume you’ve seen the videos by Journey’s new singer from the Philippines, Arnel Pineda? CBS storyReport

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I first heard about Mumford and Sons on NPR. I enjoy their stuff… but they aren’t “alternative rock” as far as I’m concerned. They’re NPR rock.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        My issues with Mumford and Sons are these: 1) the earnestness doesn’t match the content (it feels affected) and 2) they feel gimmicky.

        I’m not really a Decemberists fan (but I don’t hate them with the white hot heat of a thousand suns like some people), but I never feel like their earnestness is affected.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        NPR gets some grief, but they do feature a lot of interesting and rockin’ music.

        For ex., they are advance-streaming the new No Age now, and they did the same for the last Deerhunter, both of which are (or can be) fairly noisy art-punk bands.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        My first experience with the Decemberists was that THEY SPELLED THEIR NAME WRONG.

        No politics.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      I’m Down, which was the B-side of Help, and is my second-favorite obscure Beatles song of all time.

      You left out one other use of the B-side, which occurs on some of the early Kinks singles. The producer has them record some crappy thing he wrote himself (often a public domain tune with some new lyrics) so he can get composer royalties.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:

        How can you laugh when you know I’m down?

        While “I’m Down” is a true B side in that it was never on a 45 until 1976, I disagree that it is obscure; Paul led off his set in the Concert for New York City with it. Plus, Aerosmith covered it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I think you mean “never on an LP”. LPs were 12-inch 33 RPM albums, with a half-hour or so of music on each side. A single was a 7-inch 45 RPM record with a big hole in the middle, and usually just one song on a side. (There’s another term gone from the lexicon: sides. ) I’m Down was first released on a 45, and wasn’t on an LP until years later.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        In 80’s – 90’s dance music at least, 12-inch singles (at either 45 or 33) were common. Better sound quality, and easier for DJ’s to manipulate, than 7-inches.

        [Please place all jokes about “DJ’s manipulating their 7-inches” here]Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I remember when I used to hear bands talking about releasing a 7″, and now I feel old.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        There’s a whole slew of them now doing cassette releases! Crazy!

        But yeah, 7-inches were cheap to make – and if you were a punk band (or GbV) you could get an album’s worth of short songs on them.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:


        Yes, you are correct. I meant to say 33 in that spot.

        ScarletNumber regrets the error.

        But my point still holds that “I’m Down” isn’t obscure.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Obscure for a Beatles song, which is different from obscure in any absolute sense. Compared to Help, or A Hard Day’s Night, or Let it Be, or Something, or Please Please Me, or Hey Jude, or Eight Days a Week, or While My Guitar Softly Weeps, or All My Loving, or I Wanna Hold Your Hand, or You Never Give Me Your Money, or Ballad of John and Yoko, or I Saw Her Standing There, or I Should Have Known Better, or Ticket to Ride, or Yellow Submarine, or Revolution, or I am the Walrus, or All You Need is Love, or The Long and Winding Road, or Across the Universe, it’s obscure.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumber says:

      1) The line in “I Am the Walrus” is “Goo goo g’joob”, while the line in “Mrs. Robinson” is “Koo-koo-ka-choo”.

      2) I realize that “I Am the Walrus” was on Magical Mystery Tour, but those B sides that were NOT on a 45 were compiled and re-released in the US as Past Masters in 1988.

      3) Much like B side has left the lexicon, so has B movie.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “Much like B side has left the lexicon, so has B movie.”

        But not the niche; now they call it ‘direct to video’. Though it will be interesting if streaming changes the dynamic. (though the On Demand menu is still filled with these kind of offerings)Report

      • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

        But not the niche; now they call it ‘direct to video’.

        Or SyFy Original.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:

        As I did here, I meant to say 33.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        The original meaning of B movie is much like B side: a movie intended to be the second half of a double feature. They were not only low-budget, but relatively short (an hour or so.)Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      The Beatles probably have the most incredible B-side line-up in rock history. Looking through that list it seems like they were specifically not using B-sides to put out ods and sods but rather to pick the best “deep” song on the album to complement the pop candy A-side. Of course, my favorite happens to be the exception to this that is “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” especially given how absolutely incongruous it is to to the A-side “Let It Be”. The Past Masters vol. 2 album which ended up collecting many of these B-sides for American release also happens to be the first compact disc I ever bought.

      Though no longer in “singles” territory, my favorite Side A to Side B transition has to be The Velvet Underground self-titled album which ends side A with the gorgeously pleading “Jesus” and beings side B with the sneering jangle of “Beginning to See the Light”, capturing an entire rock-bottom to relapse cycle with amazing economy. In my naive college days we joked that this song-set soundtracks the transition from Saturday morning hang-over (I’ll never drink again) to Saturday evening boozing (one drink won’t kill me, or two) though I imagine Lou Reed was writing about something other than Dubra Vodka. Squash those two songs together on a single side and the economy becomes calculating, the honesty of “Jesus” immediately dispelled. But force the listener to realize the side is over, get up, flip the record, and reset the needle and both songs retain their individual integrity while also being a statement together.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:


        RE: flipping the records.

        I love Chromatics’ most recent full-length (Kill for Love) but I found on CD that it really blurred together (it’s LONG).

        I picked up the 2xLP vinyl, and realized he must have always intended the album to be split into 4 “suites” or movements – the whole thing just snapped into focus with the “breaks” in the right spots.

        I went from thinking “this is really good, but maybe not as good as the last one” to “this is genius“.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:


        I also thought Kill for Love was overwrought and will have to check it out in the way you advise. I would love to find a Spotify track that just has the (needle reset, record flip, needle down) sound effect and just insert one or three of those into a custom playlist to simulate the process.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @trizzlor hey, that’s a good idea. You should sell that to them!

        The other internet function I would like is some way to do an album listening party online. I’ve been pondering it – Google hangout, and everybody presses “play” on the Youtube video at the same time? But what happens when somebody’s connection hangs? Maybe Spotify would be better, it hasn’t hung on me yet, except I am unsure if everyone would get interrupted by the ads at the same time – and I assume paying customers wouldn’t get interrupted by ads at all. It’s perhaps irrationally-important to me that everyone stays in sync.


      • Avatar trizzlor says:


        Have you checked out They allow you to create a room and assign DJ’s that take turns queuing up a single track and everyone in the “room” hears the track. They have a very large library of music (not sure from where) and they also allow you to upload mp3s seamlessly. There’s chat and song ratings as well.

        Alternatively, I believe Google Hangouts has a YouTube plug-in that automatically stays in sync for everyone if the initiator hits play/pause. This is how my friends and I watched the presidential debates allowing us to pause the stream and toss in a charming bon mot.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Thanks, I will definitely check those out. I thought it might be a fun thing to do one of these Friday nights (no, I have no life – why do you ask?)Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    I used to grab a lot of good live versions off of b sides and eps back in my college radio days. That was the only reason to keep the singles and other odd releases around.Report

  4. Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

    I inherited a stack of ’45s from my brother that I used to listen to as a kid (this was in the ’60s). My favorite B-side was the other side of Paul McCartney and Wings “Band on the Run”, a song called “2525”. Still like it better than the A-side.Report

  5. Avatar Krogerfoot says:

    I should probably be laughed out of the comments for this, but you know who was a great band for B-sides? U2. The B-side of “Desire” was a gem with Billy Preston playing organ and singing called “Hallelujah Here She Comes.” I don’t remember whether “Spanish Eyes” was a B-side, and it got AirPlay aplenty on late 80s/early 90s rock radio in Texas, but I doubt it was an album track, and it was a great rocknroll song. U2 put everything they had into being a “great” band, but produced some of their best stuff when they weren’t swinging for the fences.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      I don’t know when or why U2 became such a band people felt they needed to apologize for, but you’ll get no guff from me. Up through Zooropa they were rarely less than interesting. I don’t know why, but I am far more inclined to forgive “pretentious” in UK or European rockers than I am American ones. I liked the B-side for “One”:

      These weren’t technically “B-sides”, since they were on the Wide Awake in America EP, but I liked “Three Sunrises” and “Love Comes Tumbling” (though they WERE on its B-side, and I think other versions of the latter song have appeared as single B-sides):

      “Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl” was the b-side to “A Celebration” (whose embarrassing video I won’t link – hmmmm…maybe THAT’S why people feel they must apologize for U2):


      • Avatar krogerfoot says:

        “I don’t know when or why U2 became such a band people felt they needed to apologize for, but you’ll get no guff from me. Up through Zooropa they were rarely less than interesting.”

        May God bless and keep you for your correctness here. In fact, Zooropa is a great record.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I’ve defended Zooropa around these parts before, and will do so again. A far stranger and better record than its reputation as an odds-and-ends suggests. They were never again so daring, and it’s got a real mood to it.

        I won’t say Zooropa‘s quite in this league, but you know another odds-and-ends album that’s better than most other bands’ real albums? Sticky Fingers. Hell, it’s better than most other STONES albums, and yes, I include Exile in that statement.Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot says:

        Absofuckinglutely. “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” for god’s sake. Get out of here.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I like how it turns into a Santana song at the end. That whole album is amazing.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber says:

        I’m not an especially big fan of U2, but from what I understand Zooropa comes up short mostly because it followed Achtung Baby, which was a masterpiece.

        Their next great album, IMHO, was All That You Can’t Leave Behind which was almost 9 years after Achtung Baby.

        Speaking of Achtung Baby I was shocked that they didn’t have a number 1 off of that album in the US. Anyone want to guess what song peaked at number 9?

        In fact, U2 hasn’t has a number 1 song in the US since “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” on Aug8 1987. This didn’t come as a big suprise, but looking at the numbers it is obvious that U2 is MUCH more popular in the Commonwealth than they are in the US.

        FunFact: The video for “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” was filmed in the Astrodome, at a time when it had no football tenants, either pro or college.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      you know another odds-and-ends album that’s better than most other bands’ real albums?

      The Who’s Odds and Sods.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    I don’t know if it was a B-side or not since I didn’t buy music when i was young, and when I did start, CDs were pretty much the norm, but I loved the Cure’s Distintigration-all of it, but especially Facination Street, Prayers for Rain, and The same deep waters as you. Frickin’ awesome.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      It’s a lot to wade through, but if you like the band, Cure was often really great on B-sides – they were just really prolific and varied. The “Just Like Heaven” cassingle had two terrific B-sides: “Breathe” and “A Chain of Flowers” (which was also on “Catch”):

      The second side of the cassette version of the Standing on a Beach singles compilation collected B-sides; while I imagine you can’t find that any more (and may not have a tape player if you did) they are also collected on the 4-disc (!) Join The Dots B-sides/rarities comp, of which the first 2 discs are very worthwhile, and the last two (IMO) not as much.Report

  7. Avatar Krogerfoot says:

    American Music Club has pursued a nightmarish career path* while putting out wonderfully overwrought music (late example here, ignoring the overly earnest fan video), had great B-sides with epic titles, like “In My Role As The Most Hated Singer In The Local Underground Music Scene.”

    * Truthfully, they fell at the first hurdle when they picked that name.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      That title is kind of Morrissey- or Merritt-esque.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Speaking of Morrissey, “Jeane” was a great B-side (though it does feature some of his most Morrissey-esque singing…so if you hate that, you know, don’t click):

        But the drums and guitar and lyrics (“there’s ice on the sink where we bathe / so how can you call this a home, when you know it’s a grave?”) are great.Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot says:

        Oh man, Stephen Merritt ought to be in jail. Does that guy even know what a B-side is? He puts out triple albums every year, every song being awesome.

        Say, that reminds me. Guided By Voices. Absolutely insane prolificity coupled with uniformly high quality. They put out 30-song albums, then toss out B-sides like “I’ll Name You The Flame That Cries”, a two-and-a-half minute song that seems as involved as “Bohemian Rhapsody.”Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Sweet. I am putting the finishing touches on a GbV primer, and now I know at least one person besides me will read it when it goes up.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Although – and I LOVE GbV, don’t get me wrong – but “uniformly high quality” is, to say the least, pushing the boundaries of what words mean.Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot says:

        The kind of people who don’t like Morrissey’s singing are the kind of people who think “Desperado” is a better movie than “The Three Amigos.” You know, people that think they know what they’re talking about, but are generally full of shit.

        Actually, I’m listening to “Jeane” now, and you are a kinder man than I for your warning. That is very Morrissey, and I say that as a fella that has sung “Hairdresser On Fire” in its entirety, under a hail of flashlight blows.Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot says:

        Well, I compiled my Guided By Voices collection the old-fashioned way, by scouring record shops and buying everything I could afford (and with GBV, it was very affordable). Everything they committed to vinyl or glittering factory-pressed CD, I’d put dick-to-dick against any band. I’ve yet to wade through the other several-thousand GBV songs I’d need to download to assess properly. There’s only so many hours in the day, and I’m almost out of beer.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Always good to meet a fellow GbV addict. I’d put myself in the “recovering” category – I no longer feel compelled to get absolutely everything (I don’t even have English Little League yet).

        But like any addict…there are relapses.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Also, I want to hear this “hail of flashlight blows” story.


        Slumber party or summer camp gone awry?Report

  8. Avatar krogerfoot says:

    Hemingway woulda been a great B-sider, if he’d been a band. I haven’t listened to A Farewell to Arms in years, and remember just nodding along to “Indian Camp,” “Hills Like White Elephants,” and “Big Two-Hearted River,” but then I put “A Way You’ll Never Be” on and had to spend the rest of the day under the coffee table.Report

  9. Avatar NewDealer says:


    Dog on Wheels is excellent but Lazy Line Painter Jane, I’m Waking Up to Us, and Jonathon David are probably my favorite songs from the EPs.


    I’m not much of a Mumford fan but I don’t see what is wrong with earnestness. Then again, I love Belle and Sebastian and the Decemberists.

    Journey just seems so corny and kitschy and I have generally dislike camp and kitsch. The genes for appreciating things for their kitsch and camp value escaped me.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Belle & Sebastian aren’t what I think of when I think of “earnest” – there’s a healthy dose of wit there. “String Bean Jean”!

      “Earnest” can definitely be a warning sign for me in pop music. It was exactly that word that I used to use to disparage Eddie Vedder, who I am sure is a perfectly nice human being, but…well.

      I fall more on the Morrissey/B&S/Oscar Wilde side, and not the BRUUUUCE!, side of that divide.

      Give me irony, sly humor, playfulness, eccentricity.

      Hell, even U2 learned it – there’s no excuse for anybody else not to.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        For that matter, if there’s one word that would describe why I’ve become somewhat disenchanted with Radiohead, “earnest” wouldn’t be bad.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I think there’s a way to do earnestness in popular music, I just don’t think it’s easy. You have to be really good to pull it off (Bowie or Cash in their more serious moments, e.g.). Generally, playfulness and not taking yourself too seriously make for better pop art, though.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        That may be the modern disease infecting us. Earnest worked pretty well for a bunch of decades in a row there.

        It’s only now that someone gets up to a Karaoke machine and picks “Heroes” and turns it, on the fly, into a song about dolphin furries. At the time that it was released? Such an act would be unthinkable.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        This is what happens when earnestness becomes a sort of fetish:

        I apologize for the earworm you’ve just received.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Hey, you loved that song for the first week as much as anybody!Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The best thing I ever heard on that song was from my brother, who said, “Everyone hates that song, but when it comes on in the car, everyone sings along earnestly.”Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Bowie pretended to be a SPACE ALIEN. That doesn’t scream “earnest” to me.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        And I think that maybe proves my point. Show me that you can be playful, and I will swallow the serious stuff much more easily.

        If Bowie had always been po-faced, he’d be Radiohead.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        There is space alien Bowie, and there is Bowie on Bing Crosby’s Christmas special.

        Or there is transgressive Bowie, and there is Bowie on that version of “Comfortably Numb.”

        Or there is Bowie with Jagger, and there is Bowie after he’d heard NiN.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        RE: Bowie with Jagger

        I HATE Family Guy, passionately, but a friend told me at one point Peter Griffin was watching (or remembering/flashbacking to) the “Dancing In The Street” video, and he darkly mutters something like “That HAPPENED…and we LET it happen.”

        We now use that line, whenever reminiscing about any personal or pop-cultural embarrassment.Report

  10. Avatar NewDealer says:

    @ Chris

    Fair point. How about Stars? I love Stars


    • Avatar Chris says:

      That song’s not bad. I’ll have to try it again later, ’cause I’ve been listening to trip hop and house all morning, which leaves me in precisely the wrong headspace for something that subdued.Report

  11. Avatar NewDealer says:


    Belle and Sebastian can be ironic but I think they can also be rather sincere in a way that is alien in most popular music.

    My tastes seem to flee in the opposite direction from what is big now. Belle and Sebastian are pretty big for an indie rock band but they will never fill Madison Square Garden.Report