The Artists You Love Doing The Song You Hate

Bob Dylan singing Christmas songs is the sort of thing you hope is done ironically.

November 5, 2019

(Photo by Will Byington)

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Cathy from Brookfield asks,

"Hey Lin, Are there any favorite bands that have a song that you just can’t stand?"

Infallibility falls to the few. The pursuit of perfection is vanity.

And our favorite rock bands face the inevitable lapse.

When you’ve written, We Won't Get Fooled Again

The descent to Squeeze Box is precipitous.

I know what you’re thinking. Surely, no song by The Rolling Stones rubs you the wrong way.

Several Stones albums compete for my desert island disc, but if this song is playing I will require immediate rescue.

There are songwriters who decide they will give their prodigious talent a vacation and will, instead, record a well-meaning cover.

Why?

People love them. Pearl Jam’s most successful single was a cover of “Last Kiss,” a teenage tragedy ballad.

Given a choice, I would kiss it goodbye.

My devotion to Bob Dylan was sanctified in high school where I went thru a period where the only songs I ever played on guitar were Bob Dylan songs. His sly sense of humor. His simple approach. His poetic ruminations.

All of this did not prepare me for his version of "The Boxer" on Self Portrait.

And Bob Dylan singing Christmas songs is the sort of thing you hope is done ironically.

Eric Clapton was nicknamed Slowhand and on some songs he was a little too slow.

I’ve been devoted to R.E.M. since I first saw them in 1983. And there are a million reasons I turned people on to their music.

So what is it about the chorus of Shiny Happy People

That saddens me.

Space Cowboy was a staple of my college radio days and Steve Miller’s Greatest Hits is one of the best-selling rock and roll albums in history, but that doesn’t prevent me from seeking a bomb shelter whenever I hear,

"Abra, Abracadabra. I wanna reach out and grab ya."

Shouldn’t we encourage recording artists to dare to be different, to try a bold new sound?

Not if it means 'easy listening' Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach.

These are difficult confessions because many of these songs are beloved. But just because a song made it to number one will not prevent some of from sputtering invective when we hear Elton John sing,

"Bennie, Bennie, Bennie, Bennie."

Consider the "Stairway to Heaven Syndrome" where the world’s most celebrated song will sour too long on the vine.

A sensation at age 11, Stevie Wonder released a stretch of albums in the 1970’s that defied comparison. A multi-instrumentalist who turned out masterpieces as effortlessly as most of us drool.

So how do we deal with

Or even more egregious, this duet with one of the Beatles.

Between the two of them, their legacy is beyond reproach, but that song is beyond repair.

This is Lin’s Bin on XRT.