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March 1st, 2013

Hall of Songs, Outer Circle: Part 4

Previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

"Best of You," Foo Fighters




Attentive readers will note that this song is out of order. As already discussed, songs in the Outer Circle can very easily change based on the time of year that I am thinking about the list, and sometime shortly after I posted Part 3, I decided that one of the songs in the fringe of the Outer Circle (one that had not yet been posted) needed to disappear. With that one now out, "Best of You" moved in. However, that doesn't necessarily make this song #120 -- the fact is that I like it better than a few of the songs I have already discussed, and truth be told, I can't say why it wasn't originally in the list. On the chance that the other song later makes it back in, for the time being I'm not going to mention which one it is.

"Hackensack," Fountains of Wayne



Second entry for the boys from North Jersey. Off of the same album containing their smash hit "Stacy's Mom," "Hackensack" is about an old high school flame that the protagonist still has feelings for. However the old flame is now a big star while our narrator is still stuck in their hometown. If there's another song that contains a reference to Christopher Walken (no, even though Walken appears in Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" video, that doesn't count), I've never heard it.

Oh, I stated this on Facebook when I first encountered it, but the fact bears repeating: Katie Perry's cover stinks.

"Happier," Guster



The first of four songs by Guster on this list. As much as I normally gravitate towards lyrics, the harmonies and two different voices simultaneously working with and against each other initially drew me to this song. Truth be told, I didn't actually pay much attention to the lyrics until it was time for me to write about the song. Now that I have -- just, wow. The song is about the conflicting feelings that arise when you have to cut somebody out of your life, for your own good, and the melody, harmonies and two sets of lyrics sung over-top each other beautifully combine in an manner that properly conveys how those feelings simultaneously exist.

"Happy Ending," Randy Newman

No videos available online. Click here to listen to song on Spotify.

The last track of off Newman's Faust album. As the title suggests, tt's a concept album that is basically a modern-day telling of the Faust tale (it then became the basis of a musical that never made it to Broadway). The Happy Ending here is that the devil travels to Las Vegas to recover from yet another defeat. I just love the idea that despite all the times the Devil loses when he makes bets with God, he has one place on earth that he can go, find solace, and feel good again. We all need a place like that -- "You can have your desert. God, damn it, give me mine!"

"Hazy Shade of Winter," The Bangles



Another instance where I absolutely prefer the cover. Maybe I'd feel differently if I was familiar with the Simon & Garfunkle original before hearing The Bangles version, but to me Simon & Garfunkle's track feels hollow in comparison. The song is better served by the faster tempo and fuller electric guitar sound -- an arrangement made necessary by the fact it was recorded for the Less Than Zero soundtrack. Having said that, it almost seems hard to believe that when this song came out, Robert Downey, Jr. was a young up-and-coming actor with years of drug abuse and career missteps ahead of him.

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