Song 138, Sunday, 11/10/2013 -- Song for Adam by Jackson Browne, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video visual is just a still of The Very Best of Jackson Browne album cover and a few other stills of JB, but if you play the video, the song will probably move you even if the visual part doesn't. Back in the winter of 1972, I already knew about the songwriter Jackson Browne from a few Tom Rush covers of his songs, and I also knew that he had an album in the works, but when I heard this song on the radio one day, I really liked it a lot but I didn't know it was JB. When I found out, then I knew I really needed to get that new record. I didn't know the details behind the song, but I was certain that the songwriter was telling a true story, because I didn't think you could write a song like this just from your imagination -- I felt pretty sure that I couldn't. I understood what Jackson meant when he spoke about a friend who he thought was stronger than him, but who then may very well have taken his own life. I also understood Jackson's words about the candle that gets shorter every hour as it reaches for the day.
Song 136, Friday, 11/8/2013 -- Bean Boogie by Bob Nichols, who also wrote the song. There is no YouTube video of this tune, but you can hear it here. Friday being Friends' Day, I've posted another song by Bob Nichols, my old Berkeley housemate from the 1980s. During that era, Bob wrote and recorded a bunch of really good songs, and I still listen to those recordings a lot today. Sadly, Bob died before YouTube become a reality, so you'll find no YouTube videos of Bob Nichols songs, but at least you can hear a few of them here. I remember how excited Bob was when he met the guitar player who did the slide parts on this song, and I wish I knew the slide player's name, so I could give him some credit for all the fine leads he played on this track. I have no way to find an answer to that question, though, because my old friend who sings Babe, why d'you leave so soon? on this song, he was the one who actually left too soon.
Song 135, Thursday, 11/7/2013 -- Bargain by The Who, written by Pete Townshend. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is a still of the Who's Next cover, but though the visual might not move you, the song should get you moving in one way or other. In early 1971, fans of the Who, myself included, wondered if they would try to top Tommy, their most recent studio album, with an even more ambitious concept follow-up, and apparently Pete Townshend nearly slipped off the edge trying to do just that. Still, when Who's Next showed up at the end of the summer, no one complained that it was not some lofty concept record but just a really good album with some fine songs. I will admit that at first I missed the real message of this tune, about giving up material goods in the search for enlightenment, but the song always sounded really good to me, long before I understood the real meaning of the words.
Song 133, Tuesday, 11/5/2013 -- You'd Better Think Twice by Poco, written by Jim Messina. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is just a still of the cover of The Very Best of Poco, but if you play the video, you might not see much but you will hear a really good song. This tune comes from Poco's second album, simply called Poco. Shortly after that album's release, I knew a few people who had it, so I got to know it by sight from its cool cover, but I didn't hear them play it. Then one day I heard this song on the radio, and it sounded so good that I soon connected it with the album that it came from, and it proved to me that the album was more than just a pretty cover.
Song 131, Sunday, 11/3/2013 -- Indian Sunset by Elton John, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is just a still of the Madman Across the Water cover, but if you play the video you'll hear an amazing song even if you won't see a whole lot. Before Elton John started dressing in a duck costume and singing about Crocodile Rock, he did some really good songs that I liked a lot better than most of his big pop hits. This song is definitely my favorite EJ track, and it influenced me more than a little in writing my song Vanishing Point. My grandfather said to me, more than a few times, that "it was shameful what the white people in this country did to the native Americans" (he called them the Indians, as everyone in those days did). Of course, the bad treatment of native Americans didn't end with Wounded Knee, and it continues to this day, but this song, and mine, both deal with the era that was truly the most shameful.
Song 130, Saturday, 11/2/2013 -- Had to Cry Today by Blind Faith, written by Steve Winwood. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. Cream was around just long enough to create a whole lot of excitement, and 3 really good albums, and then suddenly Cream broke up. They were gone long enough to miss them and wish they hadn't broken up, but then, just as suddenly, 2/3 of Cream was back, with a different bass player, plus Steve Winwood handling vocals and lots of other things, like keyboards, guitar, bass and a major share of the songwriting. This SW song opens the Blind Faith record, and from the first time I heard it I couldn't get enough of it, rocking out for almost 9 minutes, and maintaining the intensity for the entire ride. This song, and the entire Blind Faith album, seemed like the fulfillment of the initial promise of Cream, and it was sad that Blind Faith didn't do a second album, but most former Cream fans were probably just grateful for the one record they did make -- I know I was.
Song 129, Friday, 11/1/2013 -- Hand Me Down by Jeff Larson, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of the song here.The YT video visual is just a still of the Swimming in the Make Believe cover, but if you play the video you'll hear a very good song even if you won't see a whole lot. Friday being Friend's Day, today's song is by my friend Jeff Larson, and the longer this playlist gets, the more often Jeff will show up on it -- his songs are that good, and I listen to his music a lot. I first heard this song a long time ago, not long after he wrote it, and I thought it sounded pretty good with just his voice and his guitar. Add in those background harmonies that Jeff does so well, along with some keyboard textures, a tight rhythm section and some catchy leads, and the recording ends up sounding even better, or, to put it another way, it doesn't sound like a hand-me-down, it sounds like a really good original song.
Song 128, Thursday, 10/31/2013 -- Last Ride In by Green Day, written by the band. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. My iPod '90s Favorites playlist follows up all the intensity of Rooster by finishing with this Green Day instrumental, as a way of ending on a more relaxed note. I first heard this track the first time I played through a freshly-purchased copy of Nimrod, and I liked it at least as well as the songs I already knew from the CD. Though most instrumentals sound to me like they're missing a vocal track, once in a while I hear one that sounds good enough to stand on its own without a singer and some words pulling it along, and I think this one does that just fine.
Song 127, Wednesday, 10/30/2013 -- Rooster by Alice in Chains, written by Jerry Cantrell. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. Thinking that the YT video for Monday's song was not that good, I was then amazed to find the video for this song, which is one of the best I've ever seen. This song had been around for years before I first heard it, but when I did hear it, I really liked it a lot, though at the time I had no idea how deep the commotion swirling around below the surface of the lyrics actually goes. The songwriter wrote this song after talking with his father about the older man's experiences in Viet Nam, and the song that came out of those conversations conveys an undeniable power even when you don't know the context of the words, but then echoes in a much stronger way when you get a glance at just a small part of the reality that the rooster lived through in that war.
Song 125, Monday, 10/28/2013 -- Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden, written by Chris Cornell. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. I try not to offer too many judgements of the videos for the songs, as some are not bad, a few seem really good and plenty of them don't move my meter much in either direction, but in this case, I feel like it's a shame such a good song has to have such an awful video. Anyway, about the song, before I owned a Soundgarden CD, this was the only tune I knew by them, and I really liked it from the first time I heard it. During the sessions for my Country Drivin' CD, the main engineer for those sessions, named Chris (interestingly enough), was a big fan of Soundgarden, and at breaks during the recording, he would sometimes play one of his Soundgarden CDs. I liked what I heard, most of which was new to me, although this one wasn't, but hearing it again reminded me about how much I liked the song, and before too long I had a copy of this one at home so I could listen to it whenever I wanted.
Song 124, Sunday, 10/27/2013 -- Glycerine by Bush, written by Gavin Rossdale. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. I missed this song the first time around, when it created a lot of buzz as a single, but a couple of years later when I got the CD Sixteen Stone I liked this track a lot, as well as most of the rest of the album. The singer plays with perceptions of reality as the lyrics move from one point of view to another in a very engaging way, and while I've heard criticism of these words as being the product of drug-fueled inspiration, I don't care what moved the songwriter on his way to the resulting word play, because I really enjoy the ride. I also feel that at some point we as a culture would do well to move away from a judgmental attitude about creative people using drugs to alter their brain chemistry, and to a greater understanding of why they so often feel the need or desire to do so.