Tuesday, July 17, 2012

the mixologist's first 27 ...


A few years ago, my favorite “Big Brother” contestant ever (that would be Memphis), was introduced to the masses that watch this show.  (OK, fine, me and about ten other people.  Still.)

His given employment at that time?  Oh yeah, he worked as a “mixologist”.

What, you ask, is a “mixologist”?  Well, it’s a fancy term for a poorly paid, very overworked bartender. 

I mention this, because my role for Chiefs tailgating is as our resident “mixologist”.  I try to come up with a new alcoholic concoction for the home opener each year*.  And in addition to meeting all your bartending needs, both all summer long pool-side, as well as all fall long in the grassy lot just north of the G30 sign … I also serve as the “mixologist” who puts together the iPod playlist for each tailgate.

(*: how we’re topping last year’s bacon-infused vodka for the Bloody Mary’s, or the vodka-soaked watermelon slices from two years ago, or my personal favorite, the pineapple vodka concoction from 2009, I have absolutely no idea.  I just know that I have 50 some odd days to figure something out … and I WILL deliver, dammit!)

Believe it or not, I take the playlist very seriously.  For starters, the surest way to kill a potentially epic tailgate?  Is to play shitty music for four hours straight.  But also -- the surest way to inject life into a lifeless tailgate?  Is to pick the PERFECT song for the moment.

Take last December, for example.  The Chiefs have just lost to the raiders in overtime, which eliminated us from postseason consideration.  (As fate would have it, if Ryan Succup had hit either of his two field goals that were blocked in regulation, the Chiefs would have won the AFC West.  (sawyer voice) son of a bitch!)

The mood was pretty depressing afterwards – realizing your season is over, only its not actually “over” yet, because you’ve still got another week to play, a meaningless game* in denver that ultimately mattered not one bit to either squad, thanks to the raiders crapping their pants at home to a “just happy to be here” Chargers squad.

(*: meaningless to many people … but when it comes to the denver broncos, for me?  There is no such thing as a “meaningless” game.)

Anyways, we’re standing around afterwards, waiting for the traffic to clear out (hey, you try navigating a school bus into a rush hour type flow of traffic) … and as we’re commiserating, I fire up the iPod to get us some tunes, and wouldn’t you know it, I nailed it.

“It was all.  That I could do.  To keep from crying.”

Yup, “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” by the great David Allan Coe came on, and immediately, 20 plus people began singing along to every word.  It totally changed the mood, totally made the postgame wait worth it, and at least put a smile on everyone’s face for a couple minutes.

That’s the role the mixologist plays – he (or she) not only has to identify songs that appeal to people, but liven things up.  And when you’ve got the diversity our group has (ranging in age from “happily retired” to “for the first time this season, we aren’t buying for a minor!”), well, identifying a playlist that keeps everyone happy most of the time, is not an easy thing to do.

Which is today’s post.  It’s part preview, and part “help me out gang!”, because I have no problems asking for help when I’m in over my head. 

I have room on my old iPod for about 150 songs, give or take a couple.  By the time we finish tailgating, for five hours before the game and at least an hour afterwards?  We’ve pretty much exhausted the playlist. 

I think I did a decent job last year – at least for the raiders game anyways.  (The other game I nailed it – against Buffalo the year before.  Our tailgating neighbor Castro comes wandering over 90 minutes before kickoff with his multiple bottles of Patron on him, to offer up a round of shots, and wouldn’t you know it, just then, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” by Joe Nichols pops up.  I think I’m starting to get good at this whole “mixologist” thing.)

So, here below are my first 27 choices for the 2012 iPod Tailgating Playlist.  I’m asking you, the readers, many of you who will spend at least one game tailgating with me this fall, to send me some suggestions for the rest of the list.

A few “mixologist” rules up front, to set the parameters …

* Any song is eligible, save for one exception coming up below.  I listen to all types of music, save for rap … and even then, there’s two rap songs on the First 27 for 2012.
* Language is no issue … usually.  We tailgate with and around minorities, so I tend to avoid songs with gratuitous use of the "N-bomb" ... but there's one of the First 27 that gratuitously uses said "N-bomb".
* The exception?  Under no circumstance, other than “someone steals my laptop and iPod at gunpoint, downloads their shitty music onto my iTunes, then puts it on the iPod”, will ANYTHING by the WORST band in recorded human history EVER blast off my iPod.  That band?  Would be the Black Eyed Peas.  Do NOT tempt me with this – I hate those people more than I hate Barack Obama, and let’s just say, I’m not a fan of Mr. Obama’s.
* Those are your ground rules.

Here then, are the First 27 going onto the iPod for the preseason home opener*, exactly 24 days from today!!!

(*: I put in for the PTO today, for two reasons.  (1) The worst tailgating experience imaginable, still trumps a day at the office (and I know that’s a Stevo Rule) … and (2) Gary Lezak is projecting that the second week of August will be the hottest in this city’s history, and that our all-time record high of 113 is going down by the middle of the month.  113! Pinch me!  No really, pinch me!  Because if THAT doesn’t kill off every allergent in the air, NOTHING will!!!  My God, 113!  I might not be a walking zombie thanks to popping 6 Benadryl a day anymore!!!)

27. “Secret Lovers” by Atlantic Starr.  For a couple reasons.  First, we tailgate in Lot G, and as Deadspin noted last year, there’s always at least two Craigslist “casual encounters” ads that post during gameday for trysts in Lot G.  Also, I LOVE this song.  Even if I think actual cheaters should have their balls cut off.  Uum, not that I’ve ever been cheated on.  Let’s move on.

26. “Piano Man”.  I’m just not certain whose version – Billy Joel’s classic … or Colton Dixon’s incredible cover on “Idol” this year.  Gotta admit – I’m leaning Colton.

25. “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg.  No doubt about it.  Great song.  Along with the only other true “rap” song guaranteed to appear …

24. “Regulate” by Nate Dogg and Warren to the G.  Come on – how can you NOT get all geeked up when you hear “REGULATORS!!!!  Mount up!!!!”?

23. “Down With the Sickness” by Disturbed.  As long as I draw breath on this earth, this song WILL play at least once during a tailgate.  One of the great all-time “get you fired up” tunes.   Along with …

22. “Innocent” by Our Lady Peace.  It’s my favorite song of all time.  Of COURSE it’s on the playlist.  Plus, it’s what I listen to on the walk into the stadium to get me in the proper mood.

21. “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” by Joe Nichols.  A guaranteed 20-plus person sing-along.  Especially when Castro wanders over with his Bud Light case filled with various flavors of Patron to sample.

20. “Sweet Love” by the Commodores.  It’s their finest hour.  And speaking of greatness from Alabama …

19. “Dancing on the Ceiling” by Lionel Richie.  It is the official victory song, after all.  All is right in the world if, when I finally make it back to the Bus after a game, this song starts playing.  Because any Chiefs win is cause to dance on the proverbial ceiling.  Plus, I’m the world’s worst karaoke artist – I suck.  As evidenced by

18. “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.  Did this live at Larry and Karen’s annual Halloween bash two years ago, dressed like Sweet Daddy Williams from “Good Times”.  Let’s just say, I brought the house down … with fits of laughter at how ridiculous my version was.  I have a few “finest hours” I’m proud of.  Taking the stage with KC Prime to perform this classic … is NOT one of those “finest hours”.  (But anytime it pops up on the playlist, you start belting it out like you’re alone in the shower right?)  Hell yes I do …

17. “Bottoms Up” by Trey Songs and Nicki Minaj.  Come on, EVERYONE loves this song.  Christ, even I love this song, and as I have pointed out constantly for the last twenty years, “you can’t spell the word “crap” without “rap”.  Also, I wave the “no N-bomb” rule for this song.  It’s that good.

16. “F*ck Her Gently” by Tenacious D.  This song actually offends one person in our tailgate … but sometimes?  You gotta make some love, and f*cking give her some smooches too.  Sometimes?  You gotta squeeze.  Sometimes?  You gotta say please.  And sometimes?  You gotta say, ay, ay … I’m gonna f*ck you, softly!  I’m gonna screw you gently!  I’m gonna hump you sweetly, I’m gonna ball you discreetly! 

(it’s ok – sing along!)

And then you say “hey I brought you flowers!”  And then you say “wait a minute Sally!  I think I got something in my teeth, could you get it out for me?  (wait for it …) Cause that’s f*cking teamwork!!!”

I mean, how can you NOT love this classic?  Along with one of the most underrated songs of all time …

15. “I Don’t Remember Last Night” by Sunny Ledfurd.  How this song was not a gigantic national smash hit, I have no idea.  Because really, is it possible to have a better ending than the chorus to this song, for a Chiefs game*?

“I don’t remember last night!
Did I fall in love, or did I get in a fight?
I don’t remember last night –
Not a god d*mned thing!!!!”

(*: it is possible to have a better beginning though!  The Ravens game in 2006, my phone started going crazy about 2:30am on GameDay.  I was like “what the f*ck?”  Turns out, the lovely Jennifer was horny as holy hell, and was drunk-texting me what she wanted to do with me, up to and including a text I made sure was saved until my phone bit the dust four years later: “I want to use your body as a f*cking jungle gym!”  Let’s just say, I was FIRED UP for tailgating later that morning … except that she “didn’t remember last night – not a god d*mned thing” until I showed her the drunk texts.  Sadly, I did not get my body used as a jungle gym that day.  I know, stunning – on the Stevo-Shock-o-Meter, it lands somewhere between “Stevo is drinking right now” and “Stevo is ditching work Thursday to go to a day Royals game” – aka “not even remotely surprising”.)

14. “Stand” by Rascal Flatts.  I am pretty much guaranteed to haul out this song’s lyrics for the defining “must win game of the season” predictions email / post –

“Cause when push comes to shove?
You taste what you’re made of.
You might bend til you break,
Cause it’s all you can take.
On your knees?  You look up.
Decide you’ve had enough.
You get mad, you get strong,
Wipe your hand, shake it off –
Then you stand.
(pause)
Then you stand.”

Never finer than against denver in 2005, a play so epically awesome that to this day in my close circle of friends, all you have to say is “The Stand”, and instantly you flash back seven years to that freezing cold December evening at Arrowhead, the last gasp of the Vermeil era Chiefs, when the remnants of the “32 Defense” made its stand on 4th and 2 against the donkeys.

“Then you stand.”  You’re god d*mned right we stood!

13. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.  Is it possible to have a tailgate mix list WITHOUT at least a couple MJ songs on it?  I say no.

12. “Electric Feel” by MGMT.  Is it possible to have a tailgate mix list WITHOUT at least a couple MGMT songs on it?  I say hell no.

11. “Shots!” by Lil Jon and LMFAO.  Let’s just say, I “duck for cover” every time this pops up, it offends enough people that are present.  Having said that?  How can ANYONE hate this song?  (And as a side note: if you think I’m a horrific dancer?  You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Dusty try to “dance” to the “shots!” montage in each chorus.  NEVER fails to bring the house down.)

10. “One Step Closer” by Linkin Park.  That white guy at the first preseason game (when it’s pushing 113!!!) with no shirt in sight, and clearly intoxicated, head bobbing to this song while screaming every word of it?  That will be me.

“Cause I’m one step closer to the edge – and I’m about to break!!!!”

9. “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” by David Allan Coe.  Hey, we actually have a tailgater who was conceived at a David Allan Coe concert.  How sweet is that!  Plus, the “third verse” to make it the “perfect country and western song”, never fails to make me laugh.

8. “Word Up”.  Usually rotates between Korn’s awesome cover, and Cameo’s original.  I’m down for either.  Word (up).

7. “I Got a Name” by Jim Croce.  Yeah, it’s a throw-away to the prior generation … but come on, this song is EPICALLY good.  NOTHING put out today by anyone not named “Matt Nathanson” or “Ben Harper” can even APPROACH this song.

Personally?  I cannot WAIT until the third verse plays after the Chiefs have finally done what they’ve failed to do in my lifetime, and fulfill that wet dream of bringing Lamar’s Trophy home:

“Like the fool I am and I’ll always be?
I’ve got a dream.  I’ve got a dream!
They can change their minds,
But they can’t change me!
I’ve got a dream.  I’ve got a dream!

Oh I know I could share it if you want me to –
And if you’re going my way?
I’ll go with you …”

Rest in peace sir.  Rest in peace.

6. “Breakaway”.  It’s on there because (a) I LOVE this song, (b) I LOVE this song, and (c) I LOVE this song.  The advantage of being the mixologist – you pick the playlist, and live or die on its merits.  What I DON’T know yet … is what version appears – Kelly Clarkson’s awesome original … or Megan Hilty’s incredible cover on “Smash” last spring.  This one might come down to a coin flip, heads Clarkson, tails Hilty …

5. “Summer Love” by Justin Timberlake.  Just have to remember to hit fast forward once it devolves into “Set the Mood”.  Awesome effort by (arguably) the most talented artist of my generation.  Along with an “always classic” his former band put out:

4. “Bye, Bye, Bye” by NSYNC.  To be fair, this is the ONLY song I can even semi-competently dance to.  (Hell yes, I still remember every dance move from the music video!)  Also to be fair?  It’s me, a 35 year old white guy born and raised in Johnson County, doing said dance moves*.  Let the hilarity ensue!

(*: yes, I just re-watched that entire video, and re-enacted the dance moves while listening.  I'm sure my neighbors downstairs just LOVED the foot stomping over the last four minutes.  My God, is this song REALLY twelve years old?!?!  I mean, this was the first song I ever downloaded on Napster for Christ's sake ... it's THAT old?!?!?!?!?!)

(And look it, I love dancing.  I mean, “Footloose” is one of my 5 favorite movies of all time, I love it that much.  (Along with “Saturday Night Fever”, “Greedy”, “The Devil’s Advocate”, and “500 Days of Summer”, which gets better every time I watch it.) 

I just SUCK at it.  No, really – I CANNOT dance.  I’m worse than Willard before Ren gets ahold of him.  Still, I can do one thing well – the “ain’t no lie / Bye, Bye, Bye!” fist pumps / shark bites maneuver. 

Plus, this actually isn’t a half-bad song.  It’s not as good as “I Want It That Way” … but it’s not half bad ...)

3. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.  If you think this is on there solely and completely because “The Crush” had this as her ringtone for as long as I can remember?  Bango!  (Also, as a die-hard Sopranos fan, this song can’t help but make me smile.)

2. “Shining Star” by the Manhattans.  The ultimate give-away to the previous generation of tailgaters … only, it’s so damned good, I usually wind up rewinding this at least twice.  How this song failed to hit number one (it peaked at 5) is beyond me*. 

(*: no seriously -- click on the link, and you tell me how this song never hit number one.  If you aren't tapping your foot within the first thirty seconds, I'd be stunned, this song is that good**.  The lift into the final chorus?  Epic.  The entire song?  Epic.  But especially the last minute.  How did our parents never send this one to number one, other than the usual "they were drunk, stoned, or both" rebuttal?!?!?!)

(**: yes, another video I watched straight through.  Modern music outside of Matt Nathanson, Ben Harper, Gavin DeGraw, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, occasionally Dierks Bentley and Blake Shelton, and even more rarely an up-and-coming alt band like Foster the People?  SUCKS.)

But number one, guaranteed to appear?  Come on, how obvious can it be:

1. “Drink In My Hand” by Eric Church.  Well, no sh*t Sherlock, that’s how I go through life.  As much as I love “Springsteen”, “Sinners Like Me”, “Over When It’s Over”, “Homeboy”, “I’m Getting Stoned”, “Two Pink Lines”, “Creepin”, and God knows at least six other songs by Mr. Church … THIS is the one guaranteed to play at least once on a GameDay Tailgate. 

So there’s the start.  Now it’s up to you, readers and fellow Chiefs fans, to fill out the list.  There’s at least 100 slots left to fill.  And I passed on a TON of obvious “hell yes, play this!” classics.  As much as I hate it?  We do currently live in Barack Obama’s America, so please – do my job for me!!!

And give me the playlist any mixologist would be proud to call his own …

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also, apologies on the layout ...

Something went bat sh*t crazy when I tried to upload the previous post.  I'll work on fixing it Tuesday.  I didn't change a thing; t...