Certain Songs #1133: Michael Jackson – “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough”

Album: Off The Wall
Year: 1979

In 1979, after taking some time off from his waning post-Jackson Five solo career, Michael Jackson got away from the Motown machine, hired Quincy Jones as his producer, and completely reinvented himself with a revolutionary blend of disco, pop and funk.

It was, of course, a complete failure, and like what happened with renowned session man Jimmy Page after he abandoned The Yardbirds to form his own band, Jackson was never heard from again.

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Certain Songs #1132: MGMT – “Kids”

Album: Oracular Spectacular
Year: 2007

So I only listen to commercial radio during for a couple of hours in the morning, mostly when I’m getting ready for and driving to work. The Kevin & Bean show on KROQ, to be exact. (Thanks to early exposure to Dean & Don’s Breakfast Club on KKDJ in the late 70s, I have a lifelong weakness for morning radio.) Given that the draw of Kevin & Bean is the comedy, they play — at the most — five, maybe six songs per hour.

And yet, while I do my best to play my own playlists while they’re on commercial breaks and/or playing what is usually the fucking Red Hot Chili Pepper, it seems like in the past decade, I’ve heard “Kids” a million times.

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Certain Songs #1131: Merle Haggard – “Huntsville”

Album: Someday, We’ll Look Back
Year: 1971

Sure, on one hand, this yet another one of Merle Haggard’s prison songs. But on the other hand, it’s so fucking cool on every single level.

The story of the hardest of hard cases, they’ve got him bound in leg irons, because they know – and he knows they know — that the second he has even the tiniest of chances, he’s gonna make a run for his freedom.

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Certain Songs #1130: Merle Haggard – “Mama Tried”

Album: Mama Tried
Year: 1968

Coming down squarely on the “nature” side of the nature vs. nurture debate, Merle Haggard’s timeless classic “Mama Tried” is a semi-autobiographical apology to his mother for his behavior as a young man, which culminated in a stint in San Quentin for armed robbery.

A stint that was eventually wiped away in 1972 when the Governor of California, Ronald Reagan, gave him a full and unconditional pardon, pretty much for writing songs as great as “Mama Tried.”

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Certain Songs #1129: Merle Haggard – “Skid Row”

Album: Down Every Road
Year: 1962

Merle Haggard is another one of those artists where I spent years and years figuring that I’d get around to him eventually, but it took his death a couple of years ago for me to finally dig out the Down Every Road box set and see what I’d been missing all these years.

Turns out, quite a lot, and honestly, I’m still working my way through it, but it was clear that Merle Haggard pretty much had his thing in mind from the very start.

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