REWIND: Celebrate the writer’s birthday with some of his favorites

Skee-Lo I Wish, Skee-Lo

Daniel J Willis is actually two Skee-Los tall.

We took a break from music last week, but now I’m back with our regularly scheduled nonsense.

This past Thursday was my birthday, which means it’s time for my annual self-indulgent column of songs I like with no regard for theme or consistency! [Gokhman note: Basically, like every week]. Not gonna listen to the haters (by which I mean our illustrious editor Gokhman) [Gokhman note: That was actually in there before I added my comment] complaining about derivative columns with the same songs I’ve got on loop on Spotify. No rules!

Well… OK, one rule. I’ve decided to try not to repeat songs from last year. I like enough songs [Gokhman note: we have fact-checked this statement, and it is false] I should be able to do a unique five, right? [Gokhman note: Good question].

George Michael — “Careless Whisper”

Apparently I’m so stubborn that I won’t even follow my own rules. [Gokhman note: Question answered].

Why do I love “Careless Whisper” so much? No idea. It’s an inherently cheesy song with a completely unnecessary saxophone. But it’s so good. Cheers me up every time I hear it. And, despite the favorable election result, the plague is worse than ever so I need cheering up.

And if you disagree you’re never gonna dance again, ’cause guilty feet have got no rhythm.

Metallica — “Creeping Death”

I used “One” last year so I had to go with a different Metallica song. Second favorite is tough and changes by the day, but at the moment I’m going with “Creeping Death” from Ride the Lightning.

This song came about because the band was watching The Ten Commandments, the 1956 Charlton Heston movie, which I imagine most young heavy metal bands do all the time. After the scene where the Angel of Death kills off all the first-born sons, Cliff Burton said, “Whoa, it’s like creeping death.” They thought that sounded cool and wrote a classic heavy metal song from the perspective of Death.

It’s amazing how much real life is like an episode of “Metalocalypse.”

Gordon Lightfoot — “Carefree Highway”

Any list of songs I love is required to have one Metallica song and one Gordon Lightfoot song. I’d say at least one, but if I let myself have multiples it would be all Metallica and Gordon Lightfoot.

Anyway, since I did “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” last time so I’ve gotta switch it up now. I’ve also gotta avoid the obvious choices since everyone already knows “Sundown” and “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and if you don’t know those get out of my face, you’re dead to me. [Gokhman note: Moody much? You age seven years for every year around the sun].

Given those qualifications, I’m going for “Carefree Highway” because the opening lines always get me. The line, “Pickin’ up the pieces of my sweet shattered dream” is such a perfect piece of writing. I don’t think I’ve written a better single sentence in my life. [Gokhman note: We have fact-checked this claim and it is true].

Have more respect for Gordon Lightfoot you philistines!

Andrew W.K. — “Party Hard”

It may surprise you since I’ve only done three interviews, two concert reviews, and an album review, but I kinda really love Andrew W.K. as a musician and as a person.

Despite his King of Partying reputation—which is of course well-earned—he’s a remarkably deep, thoughtful, intelligent man. He’s also incredibly kind, even to some idiot reporter while doing what was probably his 30th interview of the week, putting genuine thought into his answers and showing an interest in what was being said. That’s rare!

Also, this song is an all-time classic. Who doesn’t love this song? Legendary stuff.

Skee-Lo — “I Wish”

OK, so it’s not exactly a towering monument to the power of golden age hip-hop. [Fact check: partly true]. But that’s kinda why I love it so much.

There’s not a ton of hip-hop that really speaks to me. I didn’t exactly go to the best or wealthiest schools, but I also wasn’t in a gang and nobody assumed I wouldn’t survive to adulthood. I didn’t have the endless money and women rappers bragged about. But I did wish I was like 6-foot-9 so I could get with Leoshi (or equivalent) because she didn’t know me but, yo, she was really fine. I also had a hatchback, specifically an ’87 Corolla, and everywhere I went I certainly got laughed at. It was all extremely real. [Gokhman note: Aren’t you like 7-foot-2? Also, this isn’t even the first appearance of this song.]

It’s not easy for nerds to find relatable music that’s not exploitative nonsense. It’s pretty much this song and Jonathan Coulton.

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