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wonders never cease Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7th, 2009 play list of the week: mad as a hatter

[caption id="attachment_2031" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="click to listen"]click to listen[/caption]In honor of yesterday’s Mad Hatter Day, so chosen because the card in the Hatter’s hatband reads 10/6, we provide a play list with songs about madness, songs about hats, and songs about trips down rabbit holes. We hope this tides you over until the March release of Tim Burton’s latest project starring Johnny Depp, a remake of Alice in Wonderland. Enjoy:

1. “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” – Elton John Early Elton, written by Bernie Taupin, and one of John’s favorites. The song was written at least partly as a response to Ben E King’s hit song “A Spanish Rose in Harlem” after a traumatic night in a Manhattan hotel, with Taupin writing “"Now I know Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say. I thought I knew, but now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City." We feel like we’ve stayed in that hotel, Bernie. Hell’s kitchen, right?
2. “White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane Acid rock pioneers plumb the depths of the rabbit hole for psychedelic material. Grace Slick tells us to “Remember what the dormouse said. Feed your head.” In the book, the Mad Hatter is actually the one asked to remember what the dormouse said while on trial, and he replies that he can’t remember.
3. “If You Want to Wear a Hat” – The Apples in Stereo Sunny pop from the founders of the Elephant Six Collective. We love a song that opens with “If you want to wear a hat, you'd better get one that looks better than that. Or on second thought, the hat upon your head would look good with a feather instead. Then you need to ask a bird, which is more complicated than you have heard. For the birdie will not cooperate unless you guarantee the going rate.” It’s funny because it’s true.
4. “Crazy Baldhead/Who the Cap Fit” – Bob Marley From the album that bears the standard for roots reggae, Rastaman Vibration, which was Marley’s biggest selling US release. These two songs are the first two tracks on the second side, and since they both happen to be play list topics, we couldn’t pass them up. Here’s something you might not know - on the inside of the original album jacket, to the right, reads a message stating "This album jacket is great for cleaning herb." While we’re sure we don’t know what that means, it’s probably funny because it’s true.
5. “Crazy” – Willie Nelson An up-and-coming young songwriter pens a tune in 1961 that’s bought by country superstar Patsy Cline, and helps to launch a career that is still going strong. An American icon, Willie has been boosting Visine sales, cranking out bio-diesel, helping the needy, aggravating the IRS and slowly bringing down the glaucoma rate for bus drivers coast-to-coast. We wonder if the Red Headed Stranger keeps the Rastaman Vibration LP on his tour bus?
6. “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” – Charles Mingus An elegy to brilliant Jazz saxophonist Lester Young after his death in 1959, this is Mingus at his heart wrenching best. Both mournful and hopeful, it embodied the subtle yet elegant craftsmanship that Mingus applied to his work. If jazz isn’t your thing, guitar maestro Jeff Beck covers this song beautifully, and Joni Mitchell puts nice lyrics to it on a collaboration album with Mingus months before his death.
7. “Dude, Yr So Crazy” – Le Tigre Riot grrrls laying down lo-fi beats and stream of consciousness lyrics worthy of Kerouac’s Neal Cassady on their brilliant debut album, 1999’s self titled Le Tigre.
8. “Don’t Touch My Hat” – Lyle Lovett You think you’re crazy for hats? Lovett’s got you topped, no pun intended. “I wear a seven and you’re out of order, ‘cause I can tell from here that you’re a seven and a quarter. If it’s her you want, I don’t care about that. You can have my girl, but don’t touch my hat.” Perhaps he’s a bit sensitive about his hair.
9. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” – Tom Petty The video opens with song co writer Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics (who originally wrote the song for and about Stevie Nicks) appearing as the hookah smoking caterpillar and sending Alice on her way to Wonderland. With Petty as the Mad Hatter, and the Heartbreakers helping to host the tea party, Alice has a blast. Until the end, when the band takes the cake.
10. “Let’s Go Crazy” – Prince and the Revolution The artist who was formerly known as The Artist Who Was Formerly Known As Prince is back to his old name. He was always Prince to us, and he told us “in this life, things are much harder than in the afterworld. This life, you’re on your own. And if the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy! Punch a higher floor.” Prince gives out pretty good advice with awesome guitar hooks. Apparently Symbol just needed a few more Princes in his life.
11. "You Can Leave Your Hat On" – Randy Newman A classic song from one of the greatest American songwriters, with guitar legend Ry Cooder on guitar. Like many of Newman’s songs, it was brought into the mainstream by another performer. It was a big hit for Joe Cocker after it was featured in 9 1/2 Weeks, and Tom Jones also scored with it on the soundtrack to the movie The Full Monty.
12. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen This list may be overloaded with classic rock staples, but we just couldn’t pass up the chance to work in Freddie Mercury’s Queen. You see, many hat makers suffered from mercury poisoning as a result of the mercury used in felt making (until the late 19th century). Erratic, flamboyant behavior was one of the most evident alterations caused by mercury, hence the phrase “mad as a hatter.”


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