The 10 Best Musical Rejections
Violent Femmes, “Kiss Off”: On the punk-minded Milwaukee folkies’ 1983 self-titled debut, front man Gordon Gano grows this sea monkey of resentment into a middle finger directed at the whole wide world: “One, one, one ’cause you left me/ Two, two, two for my family…” Add it up.
Steven Fromholz, “I Gave Her a Ring, She Gave Me the Finger”: The only man to ever be official Texas State Musician and poet laureate (also father of one of Rocks Off’s good friends) didn’t need to say much more than the title with this one. But he’s on a roll: “I said that’s the wrong one/ When she held out the long one.”
Hank Williams Sr., “I’m a Long Gone Daddy”: Luke the Drifter has a list of honky-tonk grievances longer than a Southern Pacific freight train on this No. 6 hit from 1948: “I’ll go find a gal that wants to treat me right/ You go get yourself a man that wants to fight”
Motley Crue, “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”: Somehow, Vince, Mick, Nikki and Tommy managed to pull themselves away from various powders and rolling fat, unconscious groupies to pay for said powders long enough to write this tender but firm power-ballad goodbye – sometimes referred to as “Home Sweet Home Pt. 2” – for 1989’s Dr. Feelgood. Rocks Off has a hunch that none of the four’s multitude of romantic entanglements has ever ended this cleanly.
Lush feat. Jarvis Cocker, “Ciao!”: Not just anyone can take on acid-tongued former Pulp front man Cocker in a verbal joust and live to tell the tale, but Lush’s Miki Berenyi is more than up to the task on this delightfully snide back-and-forth from the Britpop underachievers’ last (and best) album, 1996’s Lovelife: “It’s been a non-stop party since I flew the coop/ I can’t believe I fell for such a loser like you.” Sadly, the song’s title proved prophetic when drummer Chris Acland hung himself a few months after Lovelife came out.
Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”: After establishing himself as one of rock’s sharpest rejectors (“Positively 4th Street”) and sulkiest rejectees (“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”) in the ’60s, Dylan really outdid himself on this corker from 1975 “divorce album” Blood on the Tracks. Often cited as one of the most vitriolic songs in rock history (with good reason), “Idiot Wind” is almost eight minutes of lyrical jewels like “You’re an idiot babe/ It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.”
Biz Markie, “Just a Friend”: The plaintive piano and overweight would-be lover’s mewling “you… you got what I need…” have become something of a musical punchline since this Top 10 hit’s release on 1989’s The Biz Never Sleeps, but Biz’s bleeding heart is real. And live, “Just a Friend” will always kill.
Guns N’ Roses, “Used to Love Her”: Like Hank Williams and Bob Dylan before him, Axl Rose has a way with words. “Turn around bitch, I got a use for you” from “It’s So Easy” comes to mind, as does this Skynyrd knockoff from 1988’s G N’ R Lies: “I had to put her six feet under/ And I can still hear her complain.” Sorry, dude.
Joe Jackson, “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”: Joe Jackson gave New Wave a measure of George Gershwin and Cole Porter’s slinky, sophisticated pop, reaching its apex on 1982’s wonderfully adroit “Steppin’ Out.” On his first single to reach the Top 40, which climbed to No. 21 in 1979, it wasn’t nearly enough to deflect the palpable despair and disbelief in that sledgehammer of a chorus.
Wilco, “The Thanks I Get”: Originally Rocks Off was going to go with “Hate It Here” from the same album (2007’s Sky Blue Sky), which keeps growing on us three years after its release. But after listening to this one a few times, we have to agree – together, Jeff Tweedy and guitarist/co-pilot Nels Cline can make a shrug sound like a slap in the face, and vice versa.
Close Calls: AC/DC, “Shot Down In Flames”; Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Don’t Come Around Here No More”; Old 97’s, “Wish the Worst”; Ween, “Piss Up a Rope”; Z-Ro, “Lonely”; Rev. Horton Heat, “400 Bucks”.