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Ten Tunes About Balloons

List Of The Day

Some days just write themselves. You turn on the news and staring you in the face is a topic so real--or unreal--you can't turn away. Or you turn away and when you turn back, it's still there! I've been avoiding this whole "Balloon Boy" routine.

My secret hope is that most people go to jail so the traffic won't be so bad.

I don't know what this kid did. I don't know what his parents did. But if they can find a way to imprison these people, then maybe they can do something about Jon and Kate Plus Eight and that other hideous clan that's 19 And Counting or whatever it is. From a title standpoint, that show sounds like the worst De La Soul album ever. Like the album you make when you're on your fifth comeback and no one is paying attention. Poor Sly Stone has a handful of those.

Anyhow, never one to pass up a trend or offer up my opinion when I know nothing about the matter at hand, this here is a list of 10 tunes about balloons. By the time you get to the bottom of the list, the songs are actually pretty good. The rest? Sure, why not?  

10) Drunken Boat--"Balloon Song": Any band named after an Artie Rimbaud poem is sure to have tunes that stand the test of time. "Balloon Song" is from their second album, 1992's See Ruby Falls, an album that got lost as the music industry decided at that time only bands from Seattle could matter.

9) Men Without Pants--"My Balloon": On Vicious Circle Records from the Naturally album, "My Balloon" is probably a great song.

More importantly, the band name is Men Without Pants.

The Yahoo! bylaws were practically re-written to accommodate such a concept and certain folks are likely to feel their blood pump just a little more joyously knowing that others feel the same. Indie-rock fans will be excited to know that Russell Simins of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is involved alongside Dan "The Automator" Makamura from Handsome Boy Modeling School.

Men Without Pants! Not just for Fridays anymore!

8) Kathie Lee Gifford--"My Balloon": "My Balloon" is a song from Winnie The Pooh: Take My Hand, an album of various artists but none so illustrious and unjustly ignored by this column than the great Kathie Lee Gifford. No known relation to the tune by Men Without Pants, but wouldn't that be quite the duet?

7) Jaco Pastorius--"Balloon Song": Somehow I get the feeling that this "Balloon Song" wasn't the highlight of this legendary bassist's career. But if this column can feature Kathie Lee Gifford and Men Without Pants, surely it can find the room to fit Jaco Pastorius, who should be remembered for much more than this. He was in Weather Report, a band that was right about 50% of the time.

6) Mark Wills--"The Balloon Song": "The Balloon Song," written by Casey Beathard, is described as a "grand tear-jerker...about a boy who misses his mother who has passed away." Sometimes I wish country singers would stick to singing songs about beer, horses and trucks. Dead mother songs are so sad, they're almost wrong.

5) Ween--"Blue Balloon": From their 2007 La Cucaracha album, "Blue Balloon" is further proof that Dean and Gene Ween are on the pulsebeat of the American experience. With other tunes on the albums named "Friends" (big TV fans?), "Spirit Walker" and "The Fruit Man," it looks like the news is going to be filled with colorful characters in the future. I'm just surprised they don't already have a tune called "The Tea-Baggers." It's SO up their alley.

4) Tim Hardin--"Red Balloon": Considering how short and cryptic so many of Tim Hardin's tunes can be, it's no surprise to discover discussion boards attempting to dissect the work. Hardin was an incredible songwriter who also happened to be a bit of a drug addict. It's that bit that often drives the sorrow and the meaning behind the man's words. Trust me, you don't want this red balloon. Or where it most likely resides.

3) P.F. Sloan--"The Man Behind The Red Balloon": P.F. Sloan was the songwriter (or co-writer) behind such tunes as "Eve Of Destruction," "Secret Agent Man," "Sins Of A Family," "Where Were You When I Needed You" and "From A Distance." What is the meaning of the Red Balloon and who is the man behind it? You'll have to enroll in "Advanced '60s Song Semiotics" to find out for sure, taught at school with questionable curricula everywhere. 

2) Nena--"99 Luftballons"--"99 Red Balloons": The German singer Nena recorded this hit and was accorded "one hit wonder" status. According to one webpage: "Nena has released 29 albums, which includes 2 bootleg albums, 48 singles, which includes both solo and group songs, and has been a part of 8 films." If you think your accountant is good with numbers, try musicians and their fans!

1) Robyn Hitchcock--"Balloon Man": Some will try to better understand the works of Robin Hitchcock and find themselves more confused than when they started. Did this "Balloon Man" have anything to do with Robyn's wife or his dead wife? Is his uncle a man who invented himself? Will he one day bring Jewels for Sophia with the grace of a Mexican God? So many doctorial theses, so little time.

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