Nothing quite embodies the wild world of Dixieland jazz like a group of geriatric, white Shriners at a funeral.
Look at them. The liveliest one of the bunch is the dude in the coffin. The rest exude the kind of excitement and joy you'd only see in a urologist's waiting room. (Please insert your own "eight balls" joke here.)
I'd always thought jazz was all about free flowing music and improvisation, but these guys look about as spontaneous as the Nixon Library. Mr. Magoo on the left can't even find the photographer, so how's he supposed to find the rhythm? Welcome to Squaresville, baby. Population: You.
Anyway, the appearance of the mighty mighty Eight Balls can only mean that once again it's time for the Friday Random Ten. You know the drill, so let's do this thing.
1. Hank Williams, "No No Joe" -- A great little bit of Cold War country, this is Williams' ode to Joseph Stalin. "The Kaiser tried it and Hitler tried it / Mussolini tried it, too / Now they're all sittin' around a fire and did you know something? / They're saving a place for you." Man, I bet Stalin cried like a Trotskyite when he heard that part. 7/10
2. The Flaming Lips, "Pilot Can at the Queer of God" -- I have absolutely no idea what this song's about, and I say that having read the lyrics. Whatever. It's still a nice chunky rocker. 8/10
3. Fishbone, "Subliminal Fascism" -- Once upon a time, these guys seemed to be at the forefront of a great fusion of punk rock, funk, and hiphop, with a sharp political edge. Of course, once upon a time, the Commodore 64 seemed to be at the forefront of home computing, too. 3/10
4. Wolf Parade, "Shine a Light" -- I just scored tickets to see these guys in concert and I am, as the kids say, psyched. Apologies to the Queen Mary is an amazing debut album, and they're supposed to be absofuckinglutely phenomenal live. Here's hoping. 8/10
5. Elvis Presley, "It's Now or Never" -- I have a soft spot for the cheesier songs in the King's repertoire, and this one certainly qualifies, what with the mariachi sounds and the "Five Neat Guys" making an appearance on backing vocals. Still, I suppose this isn't even remotely cool. 2/10
6. Curtis Mayfield, "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue" -- I pretty much love everything Curtis Mayfield ever recorded, but this is a bit of a sprawling Black Power anthem, moving through soul lyrics to congo drums to funk groove to a harp interlude (?) and back again. Not great, but I refuse to give Mayfield anything less than a 5/10.
7. De La Soul, "I. C. Y'All" -- A pretty solid collaboration with Busta Rhymes from Art Official Intelligence. This song has more bottom end than Louie Anderson. Oh, that's right. I went there. 8/10
8. Parliament, "Flash Light" -- The gold standard of funk. I made this my cellphone's ring tone last summer, and ever since, I haven't been able to hear the original without wanting to check the caller I.D. 7/10
9. João Gilberto, "Falsa Baiana" -- A nice bit of classic bossa nova from one of the masters. I may not understand a single word, but my body is still always possessed by the power of Latin rhythms. 6/10
10. Stereolab, "The Seeming and the Meaning" -- One of the most inventive and unique bands around, here with one of my favorites, a tune from the Peng! album. Scorching and sweet at the same time, this is Stereolab at its finest. 10/10
Alright, that gives me an underwhelming 6.4 on the coolness scale. It seems that I, as part of the MTV Generation, really can feel neither highs nor lows. What's that feel like? Eh.
Let's see what you've got. Break out your iPod (or steal a friend's), give us the first ten songs that pop up, and, if you damn well feel like it, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.