Certain Songs #1326: New York Dolls – “Frankenstein (Orig.)”

Album: New York Dolls
Year: 1973

You could never ever get away with a song like “Frankenstein (Orig.)” today.

Not because it’s particularly offensive or dirty, but rather in the past few decades, we’ve all come to understand that “Frankenstein” was the doctor (and pronounced “fron-ken-steen” as well) and referring to the monster as “Frankenstein” is just inaccurate, and even borderline offensive. Monsters have feelings too!!


Certain Songs #1325: New York Dolls – “Personality Crisis”

Album: New York Dolls
Year: 1973

I’m not really sure what it means that there were only a handful of bands in the early 1970s willing to take on the Rolling Stones in the ragged-but-rough roots rock category. The Faces, of course. Aerosmith, maybe. And, of course, the New York Dolls, whose debut album was a critical link between the Stones and the punk rock that followed.

Like all of the aforementioned bands, the Dolls were built upon the tension between the flashy lead singer who wanted everybody to love them and the crack guitarist who provided licks, riffs and occasional vocals, to boot.


Certain Songs #1324: The New Pornographers – “Brill Bruisers”

Album: Brill Bruisers
Year: 2014

And so, every few years The New Pornographers would gather together and release a new album of weird-ass indie pop music, some of which I liked more than others, and as the first decade of the century gave way to the second, I kind of figured that I’d probably never like another one of their songs as much as I did “Letter From an Occupant,” “The Bleeding Heart Show” or even “The Laws Have Changed.”

And then I heard the title track from 2014’s Brill Bruisers on The Late Show With David Letterman, and it blew me away from the opening notes, a full-group chant that goes a little something like this:


Certain Songs #1323: The New Pornographers – “The Bleeding Heart Show”

Album: Twin Cinema
Year: 2005

So, a little bit of inside baseball. A massive project like Certain Songs obviously needs some kind of process: as you can probably imagine, I don’t just wake up every morning and decide which song to post about that day. When things are going well, there’s usually at least a week or two between when I write a post and when you see it.

But even before that, there’s research: nearly every morning I’m watching videos of potential future songs in order to figure out what might make the cut. So for example, while I’m writing about “The Bleeding Heart Show” on September 7th, what was actually posted on September 7th was New Order’s “Your Silent Face,” and this morning I was watching videos by Oasis, even though you won’t see any Oasis posts for at least a month. And so it goes.


Certain Songs #1322: The New Pornographers – “Letter From an Occupant”

Album: Mass Romantic
Year: 2000

It always cracked me up when The New Pornographers were referred to as a “Canadian Indie Rock Supergroup,” as if that phrase wasn’t a complete oxymoron. It might have been less funny when Mass Romantic came out in 2000, but with the exception of Neko Case, it’s not like any of these people have carved out a huge career outside of the context of The New Pornographers, which might be part of the reason that they’re still putting out albums every few years.

In any event, Mass Romantic was incredibly well-received by critics when it came out, as the pop-music stew that head pornos Carl Newman & Dan Bejar came up with was truly unique, chalk full of musical asides, layered vocals, shifting tempos and hook after hook after hook.