Song 44, Thursday, 8/8/2013 -- Too Close to the Light by The Long Ryders, written by Stephen McCarthy, Sid Griffin, Tom Stevens and Greg Sowders. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is just a still of the album cover Native Sons, but you'll hear a really good song if you play the video, even if there isn't really much action on the visual side. My Eighties Favorites 3 cassette closes side 1 with Rebels, and opens side 2 with this song. In 1985, I made friends with a fellow musician who was a big fan of The Long Ryders. He made me a cassette of his favorite Long Ryders songs, and before long I was scounting the record stores for the LPs myself. Having loved The Byrds a couple of decades earlier, it wasn't surprising that I connected with the music of a group who also really loved The Byrds. This song comes from their first full-length LP, 1984's Native Sons, and though it's almost 30 years old, the lyric "Like a lawman checking your ID, first thing you know you're a little less free" applies even more today than it did when I first heard it.
Song 43, Wednesday, 8/7/2013 -- Rebels by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, written by Tom Petty. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is just a few stills, including one of the album cover Southern Accents, some shots of TP and the band including a live one, and TP on the cover of the Rolling Stone, but even though there's not a lot to look at, if you play the video you will hear a really good song. I heard Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on their first tour, opening for Elvis Costello in late 1977, and I thought the band sounded pretty good. I liked their early albums, and kept up with them for quite a few years. Southern Accents was their 6th album, and a fitting addition to their discography back in '85. I liked this song on first hearing, and got the LP not long after it appeared. As it turned out, I got to hear Mr. Petty on stage not long after getting the record -- my housemate Bob was working as a stage hand for Cal Performances in Berkeley, and he got me on the guest list for a few special shows, one of which was Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, and that was quite a show.
Song 41, Monday, 8/5/2013 -- Tried to Be True by The Indigo Girls, written by Amy Ray. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is a live performance of the song, because I couldn't find a video of the recorded version. On my Eighties Favorites 3 cassette, Born in the U.S.A. follows Even the Score, but I already included that song on Day 9 because it was the 4th of July and that seemed like an appropriate day for that song. About this Indigo Girls song, I liked just about all of their first record from my first time listening to it, but this one is probably my favorite track, not for any reason I could name exactly -- I just really like the song a lot.
Song 39, Saturday, 8/3/2013 -- Desire by U2, lyrics by Bono, music by U2. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. Back to my Eighties Favorites 3 cassette, I liked U2 from the first time I heard them, shortly after their Under a Blood Red Sky album appeared in May of '83. I collected their records, and I even got to see them at The Cow Palace (in San Francisco) in 1987. I picked up Rattle and Hum not long after its release, and enjoyed the accompanying film when I got around to seeing it a few years later. This song was the lead single from the album, and quickly became one of the band's biggest hits. 25 years later, it sounds as good to me as it did the first time I heard it, if not better.
Song 38, Friday, 8/2/2013 -- Winter and I by Carol Denney, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. Friday being Friends Day on my favorite songs playlist, I finally got around to putting a Carol Denney song on it. I first heard her one night in the early summer of 1979 at a little pizza place north of the U.C. Berkeley campus called LaVal's, which at the time had some ownership connection with a former member of CCR. I thought her set that night was amazing, though I was one of only maybe a dozen people listening. She did this song, along with quite a few others, some of which I thought were better than this one, but having heard it as many times as I have, especially since getting her 2001 CD The Rich Will Never Be Poor which contains the track, this song sounds at least as good if not better than it did a few decades ago.
Song 37, Thursday, 8/1/2013 -- Thing Called Love by Bonnie Raitt, written by John Hiatt. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. I knew about Bonnie Raitt in the early '70s, and I liked what I heard of her recordings, but I had a very long list of necessary records to get, before I got around to the ones that I just kind-of liked. I also felt that someday she would really connect on a recording, but she hadn't done that yet. The first time I heard this song, I felt that she'd finally created that very magical record that I'd always known she could do, and when I got the album (Nick of Time), it wasn't just this track -- all the songs on the album pretty much matched up to this quality, although this is probably the best one of the bunch. Even before I started playing slide guitar myself, I always enjoyed people who did it well, and around the time this record came out in 1989, I was just starting to explore what I could do with a slide and 6 strings, so Bonnie provided me with a bit of extra inspiration as well.
Song 35, Tuesday, 7/30/2013 -- I Should Be the One by The Del Fuegos, written by Dan Zanes, Warren Zanes and Tom Lloyd. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of a record cover (The Best of The Del Fuegos), but play the video and you will hear a really good song. In the early 1980s The Del Fuegos were supposed to be the new Rolling Stones, and they never quite lived up to that level of hype, but they did have a few very good songs, and this is one. It appeared on their first LP The Longest Day in 1984, and maybe it's not quite Satisfaction or Jumpin' Jack Flash but it's still a pretty good rockin' tune.
Song 34, Monday, 7/29/2013 -- Crazy for You by Madonna, written by John Bettis and Jon Lind. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. I wouldn't call myself a major Madonna fan, but she has done a few recordings that have surprised and impressed me, and this is one. I read a critic who used the phrase "Minnie Mouse on helium" to describe the sound of Madonna's voice on her recordings, but even so, on this song Minnie manages to convey some depth and genuine emotion through that helium -- she makes you believe that if you're the guy she's singing to, you really will know how she feels if you just touch her once.
Song 33, Sunday, 7/28/2013 -- Union Square by Tom Waits, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. When I first heard Tom Waits, I didn't think I was going to like him, but a couple of years later, around the time he did Small Change, I got completely pulled into his orbit. I actually got to see him live in early 1980, and he was even better than I thought he'd be. He has continued to make albums that sound like noone else, expanding his artistic vision and taking us, the listeners, to a lot of interesting places we never expected to go. This song comes from his 1985 release Rain Dogs and along with lyrics that tell a story in a way noone else would, he rocks out on this one, with some guitar help from Keith Richards.
Song 31, Friday, 7/26/2013 -- Backroad Driver by Gregg Cagno, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. Friday being Friends Day on my favorite songs playlist, I think I first heard Gregg on an open mic night at Godfrey Daniels coffeehouse in Bethlehem, PA (which is a really cool venue, by the way) some time in late '88 or early '89, and by May of '91, when we headed to the Kerrville Folk Festival in my old Dodge van, we were already good old friends. This song, which is the title track from his first CD release (from 1994), was always one of my favorite Cagno tunes, from the first time I heard him do it, on a live stage somewhere, I no longer remember where. Maybe one reason I like the song is that I've often been a backroad driver myself. I haven't made it back to Kerrville yet, though the first time around helped inspire a song, called Texas Rain (click here for the lyrics and a link to the rough cut video), but Gregg did get back in more recent years as a finalist in the New Folk competition.
Song 28, Tuesday, 7/23/2013 -- Fresh Garbage by Spirit, written by Jay Ferguson. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is just a still of the front cover of the first Spirit album, simply called Spirit, but it's an interesting montage of the faces of the band, so it's something intriguing to look at while you listen to a very good song. At the beginning of the 1970s there were a few really good radio stations in the Chicago area, although things degenerated pretty quickly, but for a couple of years you could hear all kinds of great stuff on the airwaves, and that included a few Spirit tracks. I knew of the band in a kind of distant way, and knew a couple of their songs, but then in mid-'74 one of my friends made a point to introduce me to the Dr. Sardonicus LP, and after that I had to not only acquire that record, but their earlier ones as well. This is the opening track on their first album, and what a fine beginning it was! I caught up to it 6 years after its release, but it became an instant favorite, and since then I've more than made up for lost time in listening to this song. In fact, I will admit that Jay Ferguson's line "The world's a can for your fresh garbage" might have had something to do with the line "For all the world is his garbage can" in my song Mark on the Land.
Song 27, Monday, 7/22/2013 -- Rock 'n' Roll Stew by Traffic, written by Ric Grech and Jim Gordon. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys cover, but if you play the video, you will at least hear a really good song. This tune was all over the radio in the fall of 1971, along with a couple of other tracks from the album, and justifiably so. 4 decades later, and hundreds if not thousands of listens later, it sounds just as good as it did the first time. Lots of musicians have written songs about being on the road with a rock band, some of them pretty good and some not, but this might be the best one of the bunch, and it makes sense for a band that called itself Traffic to have a hit song about the road.