Good Songs with Long Titles: A Quarantine Playlist with Bonus Light Reading

As COVID cases in the county seem to be spiking again, you can while away your renewed — or sustained — hibernation by reading a good song

click to enlarge PHOTO: GOTAFLI
Photo: Gotafli

After a brief hiatus, it's time to revisit the Quarantine Playlist (especially as Hamilton, Butler and Clermont counties are all listed as Level 3: Red alert counties under Gov. DeWine's new COVID system, with Hamilton and Butler approaching purple; once you hit purple, the Ohio Department of Health says people should only leave home if it's necessary) and this edition explores the intersection between two of my favorite pastimes: reading and listening to music. Sort of. Kind of. With an asterisk. OK — it's a bit of a stretch, but aren't we all just a little loopy at this point?

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I've always been a voracious reader, going back to elementary school. At the regular book fairs, my grandmother would indulge me by purchasing two or three volumes of the How and Why Wonder Books series; my faves were on dinosaurs and the solar system, but they were all fascinating.

By the time junior high rolled around, I was reading book reviews in Life and Look magazines and buying things I recognized through the Arrow and Scholastic book services. My ninth grade English teacher would look at my inventory and say, “I always look forward to your orders, Brian. I guarantee no one else is buying the books you are.”

At around the same time, I was expanding my exposure to all kinds of music by checking out various and sundry college FM radio stations. One of my favorite shows was Audio Aftermath, which was a weeknight feature on WKAR, the public radio outlet of Michigan State University, and it became one of the biggest influences on my blossoming record collection.

AA was where I first heard Bruce Springsteen, Roxy Music, Genesis, Man, The Move, Nick Drake (that's a good story for another time) and dozens of other artists that still occupy a fair amount of real estate in my music archive. I would tape songs on my crappy cassette recorder and make meticulous set lists of what was on each crappy cassette. Well into adulthood I would use those set lists as buying guides in used record stores.

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One of the songs that I had recorded from AA and could never locate on album was by a '60s Folk singer named Jaime Brockett. The lead song on his 1968 debut album, Remember the Wind and the Rain, was a crazy Bob-Dylan-meets-Arlo-Guthrie ramble called “Talkin' Green Beret New Super Yellow Hydraulic Banana Teeny Bopper Blues;” it was the only Jaime Brockett song I ever heard played on AA. It took me three passes on the tape to get the name written down correctly for my set list, but it was well worth the effort.

In tribute to those thrilling days of radio discovery in my bedroom, this installment of the Quarantine Playlist is dedicated to song titles that almost read like little short stories — long enough to be a challenge for ADD-standard bearers such as myself.

[Related: A Film Track-Inspired Quarantine Playlist]

In fact, I'm leading the playlist with Mr. Brockett's masterpiece, because it's accessible on YouTube now. So grab your glasses (if need be) and check out this playlist that's as much fun to read as it is to hear.