Theme Songs, Episode 5: Secretly Inappropriate

Our theme this week: songs that, despite their popularity, were secretly (and sometimes) wildly inappropriate. Dave and Steel are joined by Steel’s old friend Katie and play shockers by Benny Mardones, Bob Seger, Lour Reed, The Police, Dave Matthews Band, and Clarence Carter. The lesson of this episode in case you didn’t already know it: all the creepiest, skeeziest characters in music (life?) are men. Watch out, everybody, and stay safe.

Here’s a gallery of some of the men whose music is featured on today’s show.

Featured image by Piano Piano!

Theme Songs, Episode 4: Story Songs

Crane Wife art by Carson Ellis

This week’s theme: “Story Songs,” featuring songs that tell a story and tell it well. This week Dave and Steel were joined by their old friend Alan and share miniature gems from The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie, Cat Power, Jens Lekman, Bishop Allen, and Steve Earle.

Featured image: art from The Crane Wife by Carson Ellis

Theme Songs 3: Desert + Island = Desert Island

This week’s theme was Desert + Island = Desert Island. Steel and Dave discuss and play desert music, island music, and pick their ‘desert island’ songs. The episode features music by U2, Steve Reich, Tinariwen, The Mantles, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, The Silver Jews and Otis Redding.

Dave’s pick for his “Desert Island” song, “Random Rules” by the Silver Jews isn’t available on Spotify. Here it is on Youtube, however

Featured image by MacBeales

Theme Songs, Episode 2: “That Wasn’t What I Was Expecting”

This week’s theme was ‘That Wasn’t What I Was Expecting’ and we featured songs by bands whose musical sound doesn’t match their name. On this week’s episode Dave & Steel are joined by their old friend Spencer to play music from bands with misleading names, including Los Campesinos!, The Final Solution, Yo La Tengo, Dr. Dog, Chinese Man, and St. Paul & The Broken Bones.

Featured image: The faces of the three folks calling themselves “Yo La Tengo.” That feeling you’re experiencing? That’s called cognitive dissonance.

Theme Songs, Episode 1: Firsts!

This week Dave and Steel present the first episode of their new podcast Theme Songs. This week the theme is “Firsts!” and they play groundbreaking music by Kono Michi, Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), Bill Haley & His Comets, Harry Belafonte, Bruce Springsteen, Domenico Modugno, Beck, Patty Griffin, and the Rolling Stones.

We hope you enjoy the new format. If you want to suggest a theme for a future episode of Theme Song, drop us a line at themesongspodcast AT gmail DOT com.

Featured image: super awkwardly-posed image of Bill Haley and his Comets from the mid-1950s.

Episode 77: The Last One

We’ve got some bittersweet news. The sweet part: Spencer and Jordan rejoined us for another terrific episode. The bitter part: it’s our last ever Off the Chain. This week, our old friends and frequent guests Spencer and Jordan come back for one last ride, in which we give some pro-level small talk advice (including, for the first time ever, a list of topics to avoid), do a segment of Lost the Plot with the classic rom-com Death Race 2050, answer questions from our beloved listeners, and play conclusion worthy music by Beck, Blue, The Beatles, Tom Brosseau, and Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.

Our deepest thanks for following us over the past few years, everyone. We’ll be back soon with a new podcast, which we’re planning to call Theme Song.


Small Talk

Topics to Avoid

  • ‘My kid has lice’
  • ‘So, it turns out it wasn’t a mole it was a tick’
  • ‘So, let me guess that person’s ethnicity or country of origin’
  • ‘How do you feel about your mother?’
  • ‘Make America great again’
  • ‘Your teenage daughter is very attractive’

Topics to Address

Unchained Melodies — Songs about things coming to an end

Book Wisdom

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

–James P. McCartney

Featured image: Dave and Spencer in the Santa Cruz Mountains earlier this summer.

Episode 76: Physics Hair

This week Dave and Steel are joined by Dave’s physicist friend Jason. Together the three of them discuss proton therapy, Jason’s top three physicists of all time, describe the new “Physics Hair” calendar they’re working on, answer Dave’s questions about fringe physics concepts, give parenting tips, play science-themed music from The Flaming Lips, Elton John, They Might Be Giants, Modest Mouse, Coldplay, and William Onyeabor, and share a classic story from Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.


Great Physics Hair Gallery


Episode 75: Ken, Yakov, and an Ornamental Hermit Walk Into a Bar …

Cartoon by Sigrid Peterson

This week Dave and Steel are joined by Steel’s friend Sigrid. Together the three of them discuss transportation options for families with tons of kids, Dave and Sig’s shared loved of drawing and illustration, play a few rounds of Indie Band Name Balderdash, present another edition of Small Talk, share great nighttime driving music by De La Soul, Lisa Hannigan, The War on Drugs, Phil Collins, R.L. Burnside, and Phosphorescent, and drop some book wisdom from the late, great David Rakoff.


Small Talk

Unchained Melodies: Music for a Long Drive at Night

Book Wisdom

Sig shared a passage from David Rakoff’s novel (in verse!) Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish .

Featured image by Sigrid Peterson

Episode 74: Lawyer Up

This week Dave and Steel by Dave’s high-rent lawyer friend Grayson. Together the three of them discuss quick favorites from this year’s NBA playoffs, do a special legal-themed edition of Ask OTC, rank the on/off chainness of various categories of things, play angsty music from Bleached, Fugazi, The Misfits, The Hotelier, PJ Harvey, and Teenage Bottlerocket, and share some immortal book wisdom from JD Salinger’s much beloved Holden Caulfield.


Unchained Melodies: Angsty Edition

Book Wisdom

This week Dave shared a brief passage from J.D. Salinger’s classic coming-of-age novel The Catcher in the Rye.

Episode 73: Mark Davis’ “Rube Do”

Mark Davis

This week Dave and Steel were joined by Jack Bangerter to talk about the best haircuts and best names of the year, share spring musical memories from 2007 and 1997 by Okkervil River, Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, Rihanna, Wyclef Jean, Ben Folds Five, and Soul Coughing, and share a moving springtime poem by William Carlos Williams.


Name of the Year

Unchained Melodies: Embarrassing Spring Jams from 2007 and 1997

Book Wisdom

Steel read the first section from William Carlos Williams’ 1923 book Spring & All.