Friday, December 18, 2015

Magical Mystery Tour vs. Flowers


Well, this was inevitable, wasn't it? One of the first Great Rock Fanboy/Critic Cliches, nice boy Beatles vs. those nasty greasers Stones, and we might as well indulge in it and get this business out of the way. Both long players are hodgepodge collections of singles and previously unavailable new tracks, released the same year (the summer of flower power), and given the nature of their origins, both consisting of tracks of wildly varying quality. Some consider Magical Mystery Tour to be the Beatles' true Summer of Love masterpiece, not Sgt. Pepper, and it's true that it's not only more adventurous but also a lot more fun than the more carefully planned and constructed Pepper's. The Beatles are throwing it away and taking a lot more risks in the studio, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Likewise, while the Stones LP isn't a self-conscious concept album in the vein of Their Satanic Majesties' Request, as a collection it better captures the snotty spirit of the Stones during their pretending to be hippies and convincing no one mid-60s phase. And as a collection of songs, it's arguably their British Invasion pop masterpiece, when they were fifth only behind the Beatles, Kinks, Who, and Hollies at that sort of thing. OK, so saying they were the fifth-best at British Invasion pop doesn't sound like high praise, but, um - yes, it damn sure is.

1. "Magical Mystery Tour" vs. "Ruby Tuesday" - The Stones track is one of their first baroque-pop ballads (well, baroque by Stones standards), the melody/countermelody a lovely blend of piano and recorder (thank you Mr. Jones; credited as always to Jagger/Richards, though it's actually a Jones/Richards composition).  The McCartney track is baroque-pop as well, but here he pulls out all the stops, layering the track with horns, massed harmony vocals, and assorted studio trickery.  Already on the first track, one key difference between the two bands at this point in their history is underscored: the Stones were still (mostly) tasteful and spare, while the Fabs were fully prepared to go over the top.  I'll give the slight edge to the Stones in this particular case.  Stones 1, Beatles zed.

2. "The Fool On The Hill" vs. "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?" - I'm going to indulge in yet another cliche and mention apples vs. oranges.  Both tracks are more or less equally strong lyrically and musically speaking, but in such totally different emotional and musical genres that picking one over the other completely depends upon one's particular taste or mood, and so I might as well just flip a coin (and indulge in yet another cliche).  Today I'm more in the mood for a punchy rocker that grittily sounds like it was mixed and recorded in the toilet stall on the cover of Beggars Banquet, as opposed to McCartney pop with a circular melody and squeaky recorder solo.  Stones 2, Beatles 0.

3. "Flying" vs. "Let's Spend The Night Together" - This is the most lopsided match up of this contest.  The Beatles jam (the first co-credited to the entire band) is just a pointless, go nowhere instrumental.  It's one of the very few Beatles songs that, even immediately after playing it, I instantly forget how the tune goes.  Mercifully, it's only slightly over two minutes long.  The Stones track is a classic, of course.  Instantly memorable chorus, driving piano riff, catchily blunt lyrics about sex. 3-0

4. "Blue Jay Way" vs. "Lady Jane" - Another no-brainer.  Harrison's psychedelic reverie wanders off into the smog of L.A., bereft much of an actual tune to hold onto.  While I've never been a real fan of the Stones song, feeling that the melody is bit too repetitive and basic (often a problem with the Stones), and Jagger's mannered vocalisms and even more mannered courtly medieval lyrics are smarmily insincere and off-putting (always a problem with him), at least it's memorable, despite being overrated as a "classic". And Brian Jones' experimental instrumentation (this time a dulcimer) once again provides a rather ordinary track with a crucial bit of extra musical spice.  4-0

5. "Your Mother Should Know" vs. "Out of Time" - While the chorus is certainly memorable, and the verses concerning an aging beauty queen an effectively biting bit of character assassination, the orchestral strings seem tacked on and superfluously unnecessary for this Stones track.  The bouncy McCartney tune is what you call a real sleeper - overlooked because of some of the mega-tracks it sits on the same album as, but it's one of the melodic highlights of Paul's career, a composition with multiple but fully integrated verse/chorus sections that's sheer fun.  4-1

To make the 11 track Beatles LP and 12 track Stones LP match up, I'm tossing out the Stones' karaoke "My Girl", which in no conceivable manner improves in any significant way over the Temptations, and you can easily live your life without ever hearing.

6. "I Am The Walrus" vs. "Backstreet Girl" - What an asshole.  The tune itself sounds like a gentle folky ballad and Mick tries to sing in a halfway sincerely romantic manner, but even a cursory listen to the lyrics curdle this pretty tune into whey.  Jagger doesn't want this peasant girl with crude manners to become part of his life, he's upfront about wanting her to know her place and be content to be someone he fucks now and then when he's slumming on the other side of the tracks.

The other tune is a masterpiece of psychedelic jabberwocky.  Goo goo goo joob!


7. "Hello Goodbye" vs. "Please Go Home" - The Paul tune has been unfairly trashed in some quarters, notably out of John's mouth, but c'mon - so the lyrics are silly.  Aren't a great deal of Beatles lyrics kind of silly?  The chorus is ridiculously catchy and it's simply great, fun, featherweight pop fluff - why object so strenuously to that?  I like the Stones track, too - it's their attempt to branch out and ape the Yardbirds with a hard-rock psychedelic freak-out.  Of course it's not as good as prime Yardbirds, but it's a highly enjoyable change of pace from the usual Stones sound.  But there's not a whole lot of actual tune going on there, hmm?  Just some fun riffs.  Gotta go with Paul.  4-3

8. "Strawberry Fields Forever" vs. "Mother's Little Helper" - If the Stones track had been placed in almost any other slot, Jagger's biting satire of middle-class hypocrisy regarding drugs would have a fighting chance.  The Stones are pulling a Kinks and Jagger almost outdoes Ray Davies in the social criticism sweepstakes.  But, but, but - it's up against what is many, many people's favorite Beatles song, a song that conjures visions of childhood bliss and innocence and hanging out in trees and living with eyes closed.  4-4

9. "Penny Lane" vs. "Take It Or Leave It" - Perhaps the only Stones song where I honestly prefer the Strokes song sharing the same name.  This is Goliath stomping all over a pygmy David.  It's not a bad song, considering.  It's not an exceptional or excellent or even better than pretty good song, either, and certainly not a great song.

Do I have to tell you about how or why the McCartney song is his masterpiece?  Do I remotely have anything interesting or original to add to the volumes of rock criticism concerning this song?


Beatles 5, Stones 4

10. "Baby, You're A Rich Man" vs. "Ride On, Baby" - Well, both have baby in their titles, and one is
friendly, the other is a put-down.  And no, I'm not referring to John's taunting Brian Epstein with the barely audible, "baby, you're a rich fag Jew".  I'm not really a fan of the Beatles tune, honestly, but not because of that - the chorus just seems charmless and forced, more of a shout than anything.  The Stones song is an obscure little gem, with a pleasingly cheesy'n'chintzy keyboard sound and terrific lyrics that once again put down some stupid girl.  If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that Mick has some sort of issues with women.  5-5

11. "All You Need Is Love" vs. "Sittin' On A Fence" - OK, so the accusations of misogyny are really making sense.  One song after another bitching about some of the sick things a girl does to a man - it's starting to get on my nerves.  I'm not easily offended, but the final track on this comp is the meanest and nastiest set of lyrical barbs yet.  Still, Mick swearing off marriage because women are all bitches is at least interesting.  The Beatles deliver their most overrated tune, a trite, overly simple and repetitive piece of naive fluff that clumsily attempts to serve as a universal anthem.  Yeah, I know that they weren't naive enough to actually believe the sentiments very deeply, but in its way, the shallow naivety is even more offensive.

So the final score tallies up to a close victory for the Stones, 6-5.  This was quite a tight and interesting race, and for once, I really didn't have the faintest idea which band would pull out ahead.  Perhaps if I pitted the very best Beatles tracks against the very best Stones tracks, the Beatles would pull ahead - because, after all, "Penny Lane", "Strawberry Fields", "I Am The Walrus", trounce "Ruby Tuesday", "Let's Spend The Night Together", "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby..." in any conceivable arrangement of match ups.  But the whims of track order hand this over to the Stones, by a petal.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Past Masters Volume One vs. Singles Going Steady


Boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets boy meets boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets girl meets boy meets girl Boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets boy meets boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets girl meets boy meets girl Boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets boy meets boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets girl meets boy meets girl Boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets boy meets boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets girl meets boy meets girl Boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets boy meets boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets girl meets boy meets girl Boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets boy meets boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets girl meets boy meets girl Boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets boy meets boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets girl meets boy meets girl Boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets boy meets boy meets girl meets boy meets girl meets girl meets boy meets girl, with the early Beatles concerning themselves with the sweet, swoony heterosexual side of the early '60s malt shop and the Buzzcocks with the sweet, wounded, vulnerable homosexual corner of the punk basement. These collections of early Beatles and Buzzcocks singles were recorded a decade apart and a few counties in geographical distance, but in spirit are hand-holding sweethearts.  Teenage love can hurt, early adult love can hurt, and no, it doesn't get better even as you approach middle age, and I bet it still hurts for swinging seniors carrying on clandestine romances in nursing homes.  And it soars the spirit to joyous heights as well, and every other emotion in between - as it should all go without saying.

For this matchup, I've had to do a minor bit of tweaking in order for the tracks to match up.  No worries - all I have done is eliminate the unnecessary "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand" and "Sie Liebt Dich", the German versions of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" respectively.  No tears for novelty records aimed at the Hamburg market.  I also originally considered rearranging the track order so that each Buzzcocks A-side would be pitted against a Beatles A-side, and likewise for the B-sides, because Side One of Singles Going Steady consists entirely of A-sides and Side Two entirely of B-sides.  So I figured the match would be unfairly lopsided.  However, I noticed that there are actually only five Beatles A-sides, with another four tracks consisting of the entirety of the Long Tall Sally EP, and the rest all B-sides.  So I'm keeping both in the original track order, minus the German-language versions.  In addition, I'm using the original 1979 edition of the Buzzcocks' collection, ignoring the later reissues that tack on several later-era singles as bonus tracks.

1. "She Loves You" vs. "Orgasm Addict" - OK, so the Buzzcocks' debut single may be bit of a crude novelty joke, but it's a fabulous and hysterically funny joke, and as they say, 90% of us do it, and the other 10% are liars.  The Beatles' debut single, on the other hand, has almost nothing to recommend it.  Eh, maybe the harmonica solo is decent.  But when the best part about a song is a harmonica solo, well....  Pretty easy call here.  Punks 1, Moptops zed.

2. "From Me To You" vs. "What Do I Get?" - Hey, the Beatles have drastically improved!  The harmonies on the "I've got arms that long to hold you..." chorus are particularly tasty.  And it gave them their first taste of American success, albeit via a Del Shannon cover.  It's sweet, it's nice, it's tuneful.  However, Pete Shelly at his best has a way of digging into your soul - haven't most people felt this way from time to time?  OK, maybe not everybody, but sometimes you don't have a best friend or lover and the sleepless nights of loneliness get to you.  Also, it was used in a cat food commercial.  Another easy sweep for the Buzzcocks, who now lead by 2 points.

3. "Thank You Girl" vs. "I Don't Mind" - Usually I have every song the Beatles ever released firmly committed to memory, but I had to look this one up to remember how it goes, which doesn't speak well.  It's OK but nothing beyond lightweight teenage pop.  Nice patented Lennon aluminum vocal on the straining chorus.  Did I mention that the first side of Singles Going Steady is almost a concept album?  Boy starts out discovering his blossoming sexuality via masturbation, then starts to pine for a girl, then gets a girl, then starts having problems with her, then breaks up, but it's OK because in the final track, "Harmony In My Head", he's found solace in music.  (And yeah, I know Shelley was into boys, not girls.  I just used that gender language because I'm a heteronormative conformist.)  At this point in the relationship he's becoming irritated with her, and sometimes even feels that he'd been better off staying at home when they go out.  Does not bode well for the future of this relationship.  It's a hyperkinetic, breathless rush of frustration that doesn't give you a chance to catch your bearings between verses to choruses, and was the first Buzzcocks song I truly developed a schoolboy crush on.  This does not bode well for the Beatles' future in this contest.  3-0

4. "I'll Get You" vs. "Love You More" - Technically the Beatles tune is superior in terms of dynamics, melody, and inventive hooks, with the Buzzcocks single a relatively straightforward and musically basic number that's noticeably inferior to the previous three.  But when has technical superiority had anything to do with love?  You don't necessarily fall in love with the best-looking or most charming person in the room.  And besides, John is being way too cocky.  It's off-putting.  4-0

5. "She Loves You" vs. "Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" - OK, maybe you do fall in love with the most beautiful woman in the room.  This is the first truly heartbreaking choice I've had to make in this contest.  Shelley's tortured lament of a gay man falling for a heterosexual friend is - beyond inarguably - the Buzzcocks' finest three minutes.  He's confused and in pain because he doesn't want to mess up their friendship by coming out with his true feelings and making an issue of it.  You don't have to be a gay person falling in love with a heterosexual friend to identify with the protagonist.  Haven't most of us been caught in the situation of falling for a wonderful friend who can't, for whatever reason, reciprocate the feelings?  Maybe she's dating your best friend, or is married, or a colleague that's off-limits, or lives several hundred miles away, or just plain doesn't have feelings for you that way - whatever the specifics, the vast majority of the human race have been there at some point (or will be).

On the other hand, "She Loves You" is, again inarguably, one of the finest stumbles of pure joyous rush in rock history, with a chorus that punches into the ears and guts, and the Fabs' first truly great lyric. Between the lines, John is telling his friend, "If you don't come to your senses and go for that girl, man, I will."  Sorry Shelley, but once again someone has to break your sweet, sensitive heart.  4-1

Oops.  I just looked it up and realized that I screwed up the track order - "She Loves You" is #4 and "I'll Get You" should be at #5.  So I should rewrite it all.  However, I like those little mini-essays I just wrote.  And besides, with "She Loves You" trouncing "Love You More" by a vast, vast margin, and "Ever Fallen In Love" likewise to "I'll Get You", the score remains the same.

6. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" vs. "Promises" -  A peerless Buzzcocks A-side as the singles roll on steadily.  At this point in the relationship, Shelley is feeling bitter and betrayed and has decided to break up with his partner.  Against almost any other band, this punchy steamroll would easily win.  Against the song that literally changed the face of modern pop music overnight,  And the switches between the chorus and the "and when I kiss you..." verses are simply magical.  And Bob Dylan misinterpreting "I can't hide!" as "I get high!" led him to turning the Beatles onto pot, which led to Rubber Soul.  4-2

7. "This Boy" vs. "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" - It's nice but it's never been one of my favorite Pete Shelley songs, and is clearly one of the weaker tunes on Singles despite the fine falsetto chorus and chiming little guitar hook on the verses.  I've always had a fondness for the Beatles tune, a melancholy '50s style ballad with a typically aching, soulful vocal from Lennon on the ascending chorus.  Pretty easy call all concerned.  4-3

Skipping right over the songs for the frauleins...

8. "Long Tall Sally" vs. "Harmony In My Head" - Look, I like Little Richard as much as anyone, and this is a good cover.  But it doesn't compete with the original.  The first Steve Diggle song to make its appearance is easily the peak achievement of Shelley's second-in-command.  It's another smitten love song, of course, but not directed at another person - it's one in a long line of great rock songs about rock'n'roll and how the power of music can save your life, and its title gave the Buzzcocks an anthem that sums up their aesthetic.  Musically, as well - the contrast between the raging punk guitars and shouted vocals in the verses with the wistful melody on the chorus exemplifies the term "power pop".  It's got punk power, but it's pure pop that you can hum along with.  5-3

9. "I Call Your Name" vs. "Whatever Happened To?" - And on Side 2, we delve into the Buzzcocks' trove of B-sides.  The flip of their debut single is a speedy toss-off litany of nostalgiac name-droppings, driven by a hooky bassline and Shelley's affectedly rushed vocals.  The Beatles number is likewise a bit of an overlooked obscurity, originally tossed as a bone to Billy Kramer & the Dakotas, where it languished as the B-side to a flop single.  So Lennon insisted on doing it justice and seeing the light of day by having the Beatles record their own version.  Never having heard the Dakotas version, I can say that the odd tempo shifts make it one of the Beatles' more distinctive early rockers.  It's got a weirdly black-leather jacket clad urgency that reminds you that these former Quarrymen started out playing gigs for drunken sailors and strippers in a Hamburg night club.  Plus - more cowbell!  5-4

10. "Slow Down" vs. "Oh Shit!" - The Larry Williams cover is kind of perfunctory and the 'Cocks raveup doesn't get much beyond the obscene chorus and the guitar hook.  I'll take a generic punk raveup over generic rockabilly on this particular day.  Besides, the guitar hook is pretty fun.  Dum dum dum Dum dum da dum dum.  Dancing about architecture - I can't hum to you across the page.  6-4

11. "Matchbox" vs. "Autonomy" - Ringo's Carl Perkins cover is OK, but it's no "Honey Don't".  I have very little to say about it one way or the other.  Steve Diggle's first recorded Buzzcocks song is an excellent first effort, a bit weak on the verses but the chorus section, "I want you-oo / Autonomy" is extremely memorable.  The tension of wanting to get involved with someone but also needing your personal space, because inevitably as part of a couple you do tend to lose at least a bit of your individual identity.  7-4

12. "I Feel Fine" vs. "Noise Annoys" - One annoying thing about the Beatles is that sometimes their vaunted innovation can be so tepid.  The slight bit of feedback at the beginning has to be the weakest and mildest use of it by a major band in rock history, as if they were excessively afraid of offending radio programmers - it's nothing compared to the early Who's use of it, from whom they borrowed the idea.  Nevertheless, a fun, joyous, lightweight little ditty - as infectious as a bad case of puppy love.  Aww.  The Buzzcocks B-side is a decent novelty tune, but rather silly, isn't it?  The noise parts are better than the sing-songy "pretty girls, pretty boys" verse parts.  7-5  This race is getting tighter!

13. "She's a Woman" vs. "Just Lust" - I know that it's Paul's attempt penning a Little Richard number, but doesn't it come out as more Ray Charles, at least to my ears?  It's simple in style, with an unusually basic melody by McCartney-pop standards, and that's fine - she rolls, baby, she rolls.  Too many rock bands forget the roll.  The Shelley tune carries itself mostly on the strength of its bitter lyrical insightfulness - "There's love in your eyes but not a bit of trust / Just lust" - but musically doesn't offer a lot.  It's still a decent song, but this time, the Beatles do basic and simple better.  7-6

14. "Bad Boy" vs. "Lipstick" - Another Larry Williams cover, but I actually this one a lot better, mainly because the lyrics are actually kind of fun, and John puts some real energy into his vocal performance.  But it's still just a rockabilly novelty tune.  The Shelley/Devoto tune was amicably split between their two bands, with Magazine taking the riff for "Shot By Both Sides" and the Buzzcocks employing it here.  While I prefer the Magazine song somewhat, the Buzzcocks' song easily could've been an A-side.  "In your dreams does your lover have my face?" Good question.  8-6

15. "Yes It Is" vs. "Why Can't I Touch It?" - A very easy call.  John's achingly heartfelt vocal have long made it a sentimental favorite, and easily in my top 10 or 20 Beatles songs - which, of course, is saying a lot.  It's also one of the rare examples of the Beatles tackling slow, barbershop quartet '50s balladry, and the harmonies are peerless.  The Buzzcocks track - it's slow as well, and for these Mancunian speedsters, that's not a particularly good thing (at least in this case).  It's got a nice rhythmic bass hook, but really, this is by no means a contest.  8-7

16. "I'm Down" vs. "Something's Gone Wrong Again" - The McCartney track is allegedly a parody of Lennon's "Help!", and it's a frantic, raucous rocker, with Paul doing a mean Little Richard vocal, yelling at the top of his lungs while the band tries to keep up.  It's fun, but it's trying a bit too hard, you know?  Paul is trying to impress us with how hard he can rock out, and he comes across as slightly less than convincing.  Slightly, but that fraction matters.  The Shelley tune is a Ray Davies-esque critique of the frustrations of modern society, with a repetitive krautrock motorik beat urgency.  It's not A-side level Buzzcocks, just strong album track level Buzzcocks.  So it's got the slight edge and the final score tallies to 9 for Manchester, 7 for Liverpool.

That the Buzzcocks won should not be that much of an upset.  After all, these A/B-sides are Shelley & Diggle caught at their peak, and is unquestionably one of the greatest singles collections in rock history.  Past Masters sometimes catches the Beatles at their best - you know which 3 or 4 tracks I'm talking about - but a great deal of it is clearly B-level Fabs.  So in conclusion, you should shut off the computer, head down to the sock hop or all-ages punk show, and meet some girls.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Smiths - Louder Than Bombs

Louder Than Bombs (1986) ****

This 72 minute double LP (single CD, single long Youtube video or whatever streaming venue of your choice) tosses an assortment of A & B sides not available on regular issue albums.  It was released specifically for the U.S. market, where none of these songs had previously been available; there's a shorter U.K.-market comp entitled The World Won't Listen, consisting of non-LP A/B-sides.  Discographical confusions aside, what we have here is simple:  the Smiths at their best and worst, because it is as a singles, not album, band that their legacy shall rest upon.  Sides 1 & 2 (on vinyl; it's the A-side of my old cassette copy) is an easy five-star classic, one brilliant, breathless rush of gem after gem (except for "London", more of a riff than fully fleshed song).  Alas, flipping my cassette over, I find that after the unusually bouncy & upbeat piece of fluffy jangle (hiya, Kirsty Maccoll!  Maybe I'll review that lass' work someday), the B-sides on Sides 3 & 4 offer little new or compelling or memorable.  Well, that is -- half of the tracks on the second side of the cassette were already available in superior form on Hatful of Hollow, and of the previously unheard B-sides, "Rubber Ring", the instrumental "Oscillate Wildly", and the cover of Twinkle's "Golden Lights" rank as three of the worst-ever Smithstunes.  "Unloveable" is a keeper, but that's about it.  But oh!, those first dozen tracks!  I have two great loves and flipping a slab of vinyl like a coin would be the only way to settle the issue of which one is the true one:  the dreary mope-ballad "Half a Person" which speaks to my adolescent morbidity and alienation, or the anthemic "Panic" which speaks to my alienation from my peers and their shitty taste in music.

Anyhow, expository section of review thus ended.  With 24 songs, a track by track review is ridiculous, and it's the Smiths - they jingle, they jangle, Morrissey pouts and you never know how seriously he's taking the joke or if it is indeed all a put-on.  Let me guide my psyche through some of Moz's lyrical bon mots for a glimpse into his (and my) soul.

"I was bored before I even began" - Sometimes I do get bored when I start writing some of these reviews, not so much that I don't enjoy doing it, but more like: is it worth the bother?  Why am I churning out this drivel for an obscure blog that barely a handful of people ever actually read?  Why do I waste valuable time on people who don't care whether I live or I die?

"I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside" - Actually, I don't care for my fashion sense.  I'm an aging punk that takes his fashion cues from another aging punk, Mark E. Smith, in that I just toss on whatever I feel like and don't give a toss what other people think.  And what could be more punk than that?  P.S. I actually used that line recently on a girl dressed in black (hey, I'm enough of a geek that when I saw the opportunity, I couldn't resist).  Naturally, she had no clue what I was talking about.

"Shoplifters of the world unite and take over!" - I haven't shoplifted since I was a teenager.  It's like vandalism and drunkenly peeing in public, one of those petty crimes that everybody does as a kid that seem would look really, really silly on you as an adult past a certain age in your life (like, say, after college when you've got an adult job in the real world).  Or alternately, a desperate hobo living on food stamps, which I should never rule out the possibility at some point in my future.

"Shyness is nice and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to" - People who knew me in high school and college generally express shock when they find out what kind of person I've become these days.  I've actually developed halfway decent social skills; I'm social, period.  Sometimes I even date girls.  It's been a long, slow, painful process pushing myself into a relatively normal, socially well-adjusted person.  My biggest regret is having spent so many years as a shy, confused, emotionally tormented, angry and alienated loner - and what should've been the best years of my life, my youth.  Now I'm bored and old.

"16, clumsy and shy, that's the story of my life" - See above.  Have I really adjusted that well?  Because there are times when that still sums up exactly how I feel.  In my average, everyday life when I engage with friends and encounter strangers & aquaintances, I generally have no problems, at least no more than any ordinary person.  Romantic situations - I'm a complete trainwreck.  It's an area of my life that in my younger days I had little experience with (see above, again) and learning how to navigate these tricky waters at such a late stage -- it confuses and (to be honest) terrifies me to an extent.  Well, I suppose these are normal feelings for almost anyone.

"The music that they constantly play, it says nothing to me about my life" - One thing that I hate about dance music is that it's dance music.  There are all kinds of music that you can dance to, yet if you go a club all they will play is electronic dance music, which is a very narrow and narrow-minded genre that is OK in small doses but it's not the only kind of music out there.  Check out clips from the '60s, mods were disco dancing to "Autumn Almanac" of all things!  Tired of the tango?  Bored with the beguine?  Had your fill of quadrilles?  I always hated the hair metal and grunge crap that kids my age were listening to back in the '90s.  Kids and teenagers in general have shitty taste in music because they don't know any better, but unfortunately they drive the market by being the top consumers of manufactured Top 40 and dance pop and whatever testosterone-poisoned variant of metal is thumping its chest, so mainstream crap is what we shall eternally get in the mainstream.  So change the damn station.

"When all I ever wanted in life was to be famous" - Can't identify with this line at all.  Never had much of a craving for the spotlight.  That's one reason why I never seriously tried to become a musician, despite my obvious appreciation for music (that, and I have no talent for any instrument whatsoever).  Putting myself on stage just seems, not frightening, not at all, but just silly.  It makes me feel goofy and self-conscious.  Especially if I were trying to soulfully pour my heart out on fruity love songs - no, just no, not me at all.