Band names you love…and the ones you hate
I was listening to a song this morning and started to think about the lyrics. If you recall, a few months ago I admitted to rarely ever listening to them, so it was an achievement of sorts that I paid attention. The song was “Bakersfield Bound” written by Chris Hillman and Steve Hill and it started off like this:
I was the youngest boy in a family of four
We lived in Oklahoma, the wind whistled through our door
We scratched out a living in the dirt and the clay
I never will forget it until my dying day
Pretty simple and straight forward, but it hooked me into listening carefully even though I know the story of the dust bowl migration and I’ve heard this particular song at least a hundred times before. Performed by Chris and his longtime partner Herb Pedersen under their own names instead of the Desert Rose Band, my mind started to wander and wonder.
Does anyone here recall a British sort-of-progressive rock band called Barclay James Harvest? I had three or four of their albums in the seventies and I bought them not so much for the music but because I loved the name of the band and thought that the album cover art was very tasteful. They did a clever (or so it seemed to be at the time) song called “Titles” where the lyrics came from Beatle songs. Went something like this:
The long and winding road that leads to your door
Here comes the sun it’s alright people shout for more
But were you trying to deceive telling me
All you need is love to succeed
Across the universe one after nine ‘o’ nine
I got a feeling for you blue and I feel fine
I tried so hard to make believe that I’d see
All you need is love to succeed
Lady Madonna let it be
Something in the way you moved me yesterday
All you need is love so they say
So not exactly the greatest thing in the world, but along with the melody, instrumentation and harmonies it was different enough to make you want to check it out. And given the seventies, it wasn’t disco or Styx, so it stood out on FM (remember that?) radio. The other thing is…the band had a great name.
It seems that within this particular genre of music called Americana we could use some help coming up with better names. Does anyone have any idea how many bands have the word “brothers” in it? From the Louvins to the Burritos to Hacienda and Avett. And of course there are “boys”, “sisters” and “family” that also seem a bit overused. I know there’s a tradition and all, but in this modern world don’t we want to get just a tiny bit more creative?
As I peruse the iTunes folder, it seems like the best names these days go to indie artists with a gentle sound. For example, Red Heart The Ticker sounds so pretty to my ears as does Eighteenth Day of May and eastmountainsouth. And I like any names that tie into nature…like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Matt Joe Gow and The Dead Leaves or The Pines. Play-on-words are fun…such as the Wailin’ Jennys or the Little Willies (although I don’t think I’d much want to play in the latter one).
I think Barclay James Harvest would have made a great name for an Americana band today. Or maybe some of the other seventies bands like McGuiness Flint or McKendree Spring for instance. Lothar and The Hand People has a good home made acoustic feel to it and I always liked Albion Country Band as a name, but it was not about this country but that other one over there. And Rowan and Grisman’s Earth Opera should never have been retired because it too, along with Sea Train, sounds pretty salt of the earth to my ears.
So that’s what’s on my mind this morning…band names. Got a favorite one to share? Or one you absolutely hate?
I’ll start it off with a few of my own:
Like: Wrinkle Neck Mules, Among The Ashes and Oak, Autumn Defense, Winterpills, Sun Kil Moon, Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Be Good Tanyas.
Don’t like much: Anything with “string band” in the name or just the artist’s name preceded by “the” and followed by “band”, single words that evoke nothing about the music (Gourds, Sadies, Thorns) and any name using a predatory bird such as a hawk or an eagle.