After a few weeks of jumbo-sized Alphabet Soup columns, somewhat predictably, The Letter X is a short one. We’re a bit punk rock this week.
The Letter X
1. X-Girlfriend – Bush
After a backwards howl from Gavin Rossdale’s dog Winston and counting to four in German, this song is less than a minute long and contains one line repeated over a punk riff: “You only call me when you’re down.” Whenever I see writing exercises that ask you to tell a story in one sentence, I think of this song. I’ve heard an alternate version that adds at the end, “You only call me cos I’m rich / You only call me cos you’re a…” and then the guitar riff winds down into one final drumbeat, filling in the obvious blank. My only complaint is that the song is a bit of a jarring close to the album, after the six and a half minute “Alien,” but maybe they felt they needed to finish with the loud note on which they arrived.
2. Xmas Cake – Rilo Kiley
Honestly, it’s not one of my favorite Rilo Kiley songs, but how many other songs can you think of that start with the letter X? The song is sort of the anti-Christmas song, where everything has gone wrong, everything is an obligation, and “The cold war is on between you and me.” Jenny Lewis sings slow and with melancholy until one last thrash closes the whole thing. It’s a New Yorker short story contained within five and a half minutes, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend listening to it if you’re feeling at all depressed this coming winter.
3. Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon
All right, a bit of a cheater here, what with the Xmas being the second word, but surely we can break our self-imposed rules for John Lennon?
The thing about John Lennon I find both frustrating and fascinating is that he was clearly a brilliant musician and had this overall great worldview regarding pacifism, but he could be personally such a jerk. I know, I know, for someone who goes on and on about loving Oasis, it seems a bit contradictory for me to say that. The difference, to me, is that the brothers Gallagher appear to take their family life seriously, and that it does not often come at the expense of their music. Now, ask Cynthia and Julian Lennon how John could be. Yeah. I am curious to know how he would have evolved, had he lived past forty.
Anyway, I do like this song as a protest song and as a holiday tune. I love that he and Yoko bought that giant WAR IS OVER billboard in New York to make their point. I wonder what he would’ve thought about artists like Banksy?
So that’s all I have for The Letter X, and I suppose the challenge for you is to remind me of any other songs I’m not remembering, whether you only mildly enjoy them or not. Feel free to talk about any bands that start with The Letter X as well – Xecutioners, X-Ray Specs and X come to mind. In fact, let’s have Exene Cervenka and company play us out after this amusing interview with David Letterman: