Everyone worth his salt has a private pantheon of classics that can only be fully appreciated “performed” on air guitar into his bedroom mirror. Maybe you didn’t need a mirror; I did–I was building myself, sometimes confronting myself. Maybe you lip-synched; I sang myself hoarse. I’m sure we can tell from a long, hard, cold-eyed look at our BMAG Top 10 more about ourselves than we’d really like to know, but I’m gonna roll out mine and cogitate.
1) Manfred Mann: “Pretty Flamingo” (see above)–I related to the yearning in Paul Jones’ singing, the hopelessness of the lyric (in the face of pulchritude), and the slashing, ultra-miked rhythm guitar…perfect for the mirror!
2) Cher: “Half-Breed”–As the result of atrocities committed by my sixth-grade teacher, I had a sensitivity to social justice as a young man. And I had a crush on Cher. In the mirror, I always felt like I was singing to her, not with her. Plus: that husky voice, which has some edge on it here, was perfect for a dude like me.
3) Richard Hell & The Voidoids: “Love Comes in Spurts”–Why couldn’t Hell and Quine be one person, and I be that person? It’s fascinating to observe what the mirror does. This comes out of the gate like Little Richard, and though I now know the facts, it still cuts like an axe.
4) Gary Stewart: “Single Again”–Really, any Stewart classic. Oh, to be able to sell a song this undeniably. What a great actor, or was he?
5) The Ramones: “Questioningly”–Again, a great rhythm guitar song is a great air guitar song for the mirror. Also, it’s great FUN to try to match all of Joey’s wonderful nuances; this is truly a great singer’s greatest singing performance. “Looked at huh cluss / Fahssed huh into view.”
6) Howard Tate: “Get It While You Can”–I wanna be black…let’s see. Mr. Tate was always a top-shelf mask, and the lyric always suited my philosophical disposition.
7) Joe Tex: “Hold What You Got”–Along the same lines, but a guy can get lost in an arrangement and a singing performance of such delicacy. You have to pay close attention to hang in with Jimmy Johnson’s guitar; you can’t forget the bell chimes on “1-2-3”; you have to nail Joe’s sublime falsetto flight. Mirror difficulty level a 10.
8) Richard and Linda Thompson: “When I Get to The Border”–There’s that rhythm guitar again (plus some other impressive stringed instruments). And a fine, fine outlook–for those days when you want to resign from the human race. Or lift a pint or two (I often had when I stepped to the broom handle).
9) Hüsker Dü: “Eight Miles High”–Face it, you didn’t know The Byrds’ words anyway (likely, neither did Mould); just look forward, as we often do, to screaming bloody murder. And dreaming of playing guitar this way.
10) Lou Reed: “Turn to Me”–Perhaps it’s strange that a Reed fan as serious as I am would choose this one to simulate, but, note: the rhythm guitar (I’ve always thought I could play it, maybe that’s it), the humor, the lyrics…and the warmth. Oh yes: the bass playing!
What are your Top 10 songs for yelling and strumming into the mirror?