Song 242, Sunday, 3/15/2015 -- Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac, written by Lindsey Buckingham. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. Fleetwood Mac had sounded pretty good to me the first time around with Buckingham and Nicks added to the mix, but I thought the next record they put together kicked it up a notch, and this track, as the first single from that LP, completely fulfilled the promises that their earlier efforts had hinted at. The match that lit the fire of anger in Buckingham's searing vocals and smoking leads on this cut came from the Rumours (U.K. spelling) of love entanglements swirling around the band. These whispers provided not only the title for their album but also the inspiration for the songs it contained, including one by all 5 band members. While I didn't often make it to major concerts back then, I did happen to catch the Mac on the Rumours tour, and they put on a very good show that summer, with each band member in turn showcasing their talents and creating a whole performance even greater than the sum of those very impressive parts. Lindsey B left the strongest mark, though, as he burned through the riffs of Oh, Well (an FM song that predated his membership in the band by about 6 years), deftly handling multiple guitar lines that the record version had needed at least 2 players to cover. My good friend and fellow music traveler Jeff Larson (who has appeared on this playlist a few times) recently visited the Record Plant in Sausalito, which is the place where FM began the Rumours recording and did much of the work. Jeff posted a picture on his Facebook page of himself standing at the door, but as he mentions in his post, it is sadly no longer a place where musicians craft magical recordings.
Song 241, Tuesday, 3/10/2015 -- Top of the World by Joe Canzano, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. Seven weeks after my last personal friend song post, this week's song is by my NJ friend and former neighbor Joe Canzano, also known as Happy Joe. I don't have much of a history with this one -- I actually only heard it for the first time 2 or 3 weeks ago, and I would guess that it's probably a fairly recent composition, but I also would rate it as one of his best. In fact, I'm obviously not the only one who thinks so -- the song made the short list as one of Cafe Improv's Best Performances of 2014. I know I'll be listening to this version quite a bit in the near future, and I look forward to a studio rendition when he gets around to it. Right now, though, Joe is otherwise occupied, promoting his first novel, called Magno Girl, and that will probably keep him busy for a while. I wish him luck on that enterprise, but I also want to include a small plug here for his most recent CD, Big Mouth, which comes rocking out of my iPod speakers on a regular basis -- it's definitely his best recording to date, and one I never get tired of hearing. You can find out more about Joe's CD, novel, live performances and other endeavors here.
Song 240, Sunday, 3/1/2015 -- That'll Be the Day by Buddy Holly & the Crickets, written by Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. I think I first heard of Buddy Holly from reading John Lennon's story about the origin of the Beatles name, which was inspired by the Crickets. At some point in my high school Beatlemania phase I also learned that my favorite musical quartet had covered a Holly song called Words of Love and I liked that cover quite a bit. I happened to hear Peggy Sue on the radio one summer night in 1965 and liked it, but didn't know that it was a BH golden oldie. Back then, I knew nothing about the day the music died, and in the early '70s when I started catching up on the '50s rockers that I had missed, I was saddened to learn about the plane crash that had cruelly cut short such a very promising career. The more I heard of Buddy's music, the more impressed I was about how much he had accomplished in so short a time, though for all the fine songs he wrote and recorded in that short time, I always liked his first hit (this one) the best. I recall hearing Dick Clark (American Bandstand) mention that he had heard the music of the Beatles initially described as Buddy Holly style guitar coupled with Everly Brothers style vocals, which seems accurate for their early recordings, and makes it clear how much this son of Lubbock, TX, influenced the English foursome that would become the most influential rock and roll ensemble of their era. It's sad that Buddy had to leave us as soon as he did, but that bad news on the doorstep on a chilly early February day in 1959 -- that would be the day that he died. Side note, added 3/10/15: When I posted this song on 3/1/15, I had no idea that 2 days later CBS would announce that the NTSB is considering reopening the investigation into that famous 1959 plane crash. For some reason, it just seemed like the right day to post the first Buddy Holly song to the list (well, maybe a bit late, at Song 240), so perhaps it's just that synchronicity thing kicking in.
Song 239, Sunday, 2/22/2015 -- Take It Back by Reba McEntire, written by Kristy Jackson. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. In the early '90s I listened to a lot of country radio, and heard a lot of new cuts that I liked, with this track being one. This one also very well illustrates the way so many of the New Country records of the era leaned far enough in the rock direction that you could have more accurately called much of it country rock. Although Reba didn't write the words, she clearly enjoyed delivering the lines that tell her cheating lover how she sees through his obvious lies and now she has decided to make him pay the consequences for playing around. The lyrics fit very well with Reba's image as a no-nonsense kind of country woman who, if she did happen to find herself on the receiving end of some nonsense, would soon see through it and quickly turn the tables on any man who thought he could fool her -- she was nobody's fool, and she was happy to let everyone know that. On a side note, this track is my fourth sly reference to the first verse of my own song As Long as Merle is Still Haggard, which begins with lines that mention Pam Tillis (Song 210), Johnny Cash (Song 218) and Randy Travis (Song 231), followed by the line does Reba McEntire-ly too much? You can find the As Long as Merle is Still Haggard video here.
Song 237, Sunday, 2/8/2015 -- Look Into the Future by Journey, written by Diane Valory and Gregg Rolie. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. When I saw Journey on the list of opening acts for the summer 1978 Rolling Stones show at Chicago's Soldier Field, the name didn't ring any bells, but when the band hit the stage and launched into their current hit, I groaned inwardly as I recognized a track that was currently dominating the airwaves and that I avoided whenever possible. If I had to pick one band as the embodiment of the phrase soulless commerciality to describe how rock and roll lost a large share of its magic in the 1970s, I could have chosen Journey as the perfect candidate, though they had plenty of competition for that dubious distinction. What I didn't realize at the time, though, was that Journey was also the band that had done this truly magical record that I had heard a few times on the radio but hadn't identified, and it took me a few years to finally make that connection. When I did so, I soon got a copy of the record, and I never got tired of hearing it, unlike so many of their other cuts. Listening to a song this musically imaginative, you might wonder about what this band could have achieved if they had picked a more challenging path than the one of undemanding commerciality, and if you had looked into the future by hearing this song when it was released in 1976, you probably would have pictured a much more interesting Journey than the one that came to pass.
Song 236, Sunday, 2/1/2015 -- Roll Over Beethoven by Chuck Berry, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. Somehow I got well past number 200 before getting a Chuck Berry record on the playlist, but now, here he is. Not long after the Beatles rocked my world in the winter of 1964, the second round of Beatles tracks hit the airwaves, including their cover of this song, which I liked just as much, or maybe even more, than all the others. At the time, I thought the Fab Four had invented rock and roll, and while round one had just been compositions by Lennon and McCartney, I also didn't know that round two included some tracks by other writers. I did pay attention to songwriting credits on records, though, and I began to notice the C. Berry name appearing on a number of cuts that I liked. In the early '70s, consolidation in the record business and the radio business quickly led to much shorter radio playlists, which dovetailed with a growing interest in the roots of rock and roll, so a lot of '50s records began returning to the airwaves. From the radio, and various articles in Rolling Stone, I got schooled in a short year or two about the earlier generation of rock and roll that I had previously missed. Before long I knew the basics about the early rockers, and Chuck Berry's place near the top of the list. In fact, I came to understand his role as an RnR pioneer so well that when a blues booking agent I worked with, around '75 or so, told me that his girlfriend hadn't heard of Chuck Berry, I couldn't understand it. When they first hit the airwaves, CB and his fellow top rockers created a sound that shook things up so much that Beethoven, the icon of classical music, must have been spinning in his grave, and that rock just kept on rolling, so Ludwig also had to tell Tchaikovsky the news.