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Dave Elder's Favorite Songs Playlist

What's my favorite song? That's a tough question, and this playlist is my answer. I don't know that I could ever pick just one song. These are the cuts that I listen to, and that mean something to me. I have lots of memories and stories tied up with them, and I share a portion of those tales on this list. Surely you will recognize some of the tracks here, but probably you'll find some that you don't, and hopefully I can help you discover some good music. You might notice that some numbers are missing, including number 1, and that's because the linked videos are no longer available, so those songs have been removed from the list.

This page only includes a few recent bits. If you'd like to read some older ones, the previous link below will take you to the post before the last one, on my Blogspot runway, which has links to earlier writings. The Master List page has links to all of the playlist Blogspot articles. However, my earliest playlist rambles, before Song 185, only live on this website, since I didn't start posting on Blogspot until February of 2014.


Recent Songs

(Sunday, 7/7/24) Song 727: Black Day in July by Gordon Lightfoot, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I don't think I even knew who Mr. GL was when the album that included this ballad came along during the winter months of my junior HS year in 1968, but a couple of years later, as I expanded my knowledge and collection of fellow singer/songwriter types, I soon got to know a bunch of Gordon's melodies and messages, and this one came across quite strongly. I had known some of the details when Motor City madness had touched the countryside, but by the time I had a copy of the 33 that included this gem, I understood a lot more about the abuse that the sons and daughters of the fathers who were carried to this land had had to endure and unfortunately still continue to face all too often. Why can't we live in peace? Probably because a small group of very wealthy puppeteers have a stronger grip as long as the hands of the have-nots keep falling out of reach.

(Sunday, 6/30/24) Song 726: You Are the Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. As we roll into the brighter moments of the northern hemisphere's warmest season, the clarity might remind some of us about a sparkly illumination that we got to hear 51 years ago, actually beginning a few months earlier, just as the temperatures began to rise. My wife and I had found a very comfortable and affordable apartment along the south end of Evanston during the previous fall season, and as the Windy City area got shinier, we expanded our enjoyment of our community and liked hearing about Mr. Wonder's amorous admiration for his twinkling romantic partner. I appreciated the presence of the one who had become the apple of my eye, but I also felt haunted by a weird sense of something missing in the relationship, and that would eventually trigger me to not stay around her.

(Sunday, 6/23/24) Song 725: Roses Are Red by Bobby Vinton, written by Paul Evans and Al Byron. You can find a YouTube video of it here. With graduation day arriving this week in my hometown, many of us living in somewhat rural areas have recently gotten reminded that roses are red and violets are blue. I had learned that colorful phrase during my single-digit years, and in the spring of my first double-digit year, a musical characterization of that flowery idea started regularly flying across the airwaves. While I don't remember any specific moment in the 1962 warm months when I heard Bobby's blooming anthem, it probably came across a lot of transistor radio speakers in places where I hung out with friends and played sports games, since I quickly got to know the tune's melody and lyrics. I did not have a romantic partner at that point, but I had met someone around that time who lit my fuse, and I hoped to soon connect with her and tell her, Sugar is sweet, My Love, But not as sweet as you. On a side note, as I mention in my book Expecting the Broken Brain to Do Mental Pushups, back when I lived in Berkeley, CA, during the 1980s, my singer/songwriter friend Jim Bruno said to me, "Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm a little schizzed and so am I." I chuckled at his joke but I didn't tell him that schizophrenics do not have multiple personality disorder, though people commonly did confuse the two conditions at the time. I had not yet come close to understanding my mother, but I did know that she heard voices in her head. It would take a couple more decades for me to finally realize that she had aural hallucinations.

(Sunday, 6/16/24) Song 724: The Fool's Last Mile by Richard Meyer, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Seven weeks after my previous personal friend song post, this week's entertaining excursion comes from another one of my Fast Folk colleagues. I have a vague memory of meeting Richard in the late summer of 1987 during a brief visit to NYC, and finding out then that he worked as the editor of the monthly Fast Folk magazine. A year later, I moved from Berkeley, CA, to Brooklyn, NY, and I soon began mingling with the FF crowd, particularly during their weekly gatherings at Jack Hardy's apartment where everyone got to share a new tune with the group. I liked a lot of what I heard coming from Richard, including this amusing lift. Along that stretch, I did a certain amount of work for FF, but I decided to move on in late 1993. However, a couple of years later I ended up doing the digital designs for the final FF issues, including Issue 8 of Volume 8 which is the collection of songs recorded at a show at The Bottom Line in Manhattan on January 27, 1996. That CD includes this ride, in which Mr. Meyer told us he had learned one of life's hard lessons. Sadly, he learned other hard lessons in the 21st century, including one that put him in pain and ended his life in 2012.

(Sunday, 6/9/24) Song 723: Sunshine on My Shoulders by John Denver, written by John Denver, Dick Kniss and Mike Taylor. You can find a YouTube video of it here. In early 1974 my wife and I left the chilly Windy City area and found a nice place to reside in Atlanta, GA, and so I soon got to enjoy feeling the Sunshine on My Shoulders as I sat on our house's porch, often with my guitar in hand. As Mr. Denver's hit climbed the charts, I felt it fit our situation very well and I would frequently harmonize with his vocal as it rode the airwaves. I got a job at a nearby pizza joint and became their featured pianist, though I didn't get paid to do any lead vocals myself. In that era, as the nefarious War on Drugs unfolded, I often felt relieved that Sunshine almost always makes me high, so I didn't have to rely on Mary Jane. A few years earlier I had shared a joint in Atlanta with a friend, and he told me that it made him wonderfully high, which surprised me because I felt no noticable lift at all from the smoke. I did not condemn him or others for their attraction to weed - in fact, I had a lot of respect for him, regardless of what made him feel good, and I'm sure we would have agreed that Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.

(Sunday, 6/2/24) Song 722: With God on Our Side by Bob Dylan, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I learned Mr. Dylan's name soon after Peter, Paul and Mary got us riding along with Blowin' in the Wind, and then, by the time of my HS phase, I had noticed that moniker appearing on a bunch of other tunes I really relished, but I didn't actually hear his own versions until I got to college in the fall of 1969. I had a roommate change after the December recess, and with my new roommate being a big BD fan, I got to hear a lot of Bob's impressive lifts, and he quickly became possibly my top lyrical style inspiration. I added a few of his LPs to my collection, including the one that featured this hymn, and they all got plenty of spins on the turntable. In my years growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I had also learned to hate the Russians, and I believed that the Germans had God on their side, though I later found out that during WWII, the soldiers saluting the swastika regularly wore belt buckles that had the phrase Gott Mit Uns on them, and I don't think they actually had God on their side then. Understanding that for the last 6 decades the U.S., Russia and China have all had large nuclear weapons arsenals, and that the use of too big a portion of just one of those stockpiles could potentially end human civilization on our planet, I strongly agree with Bob that if God's on our side he'll stop the next war!

(Sunday, 5/26/24) Song 721: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by Joan Baez, written by Robbie Robertson. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Tonight I highlight a ballad about an event that occurred 159 years ago on this evening. I think I first became aware of Joan Baez during my junior HS year when I heard a warning given to my religious group about a bunch of commies and Soviet puppets who had infiltrated our Top 40 airwaves, with Pete Seeger and Ms. Joan ranking as major adversarial agents. A couple of years later, as I increased my personal knowledge and collection of modern music, I soon learned a lot more about a certain Bob guy and how JB played a big role in expanding his audience. As I got to appreciate him more and more, I also added her 33s to my stack, including the one that featured this melodic tale soon after it came along in the summer of 1971, and it got plenty of spins on the turntable in that era. I had spent that summer in Atlanta, GA, which was the first time I lived in a southern state. Previously, during my years growing up in upstate NY, I actually had an interest in the history of the U.S. Civil War, so I could certainly have imagined when the bells were ringing on a particular night and all the people were singing.

(Sunday, 5/19/24) Song 720: Rockin' Robin by Bobby Day, written by Leon Rene (second e accented). You can find a YouTube video of it here. Before the Beatles rocked my world in early 1964, I paid little attention to most of the music on the radio, with a couple of exceptions, so I probably knew nothing about this tune when it arrived in 1958. I may very well have heard it after I started listening to RnR, but I also would not have known about it being a Golden Oldie unless it got that label when it got played. In the early 1970s, when, as a young adult, I expanded my knowledge of, and collections of, the music I liked to listen to, I also learned a lot about the earlier phase of the rockers, mainly from my Rolling Stone subscription. However, at least one Chicago-area radio station at the time did a revival of rock's founders, and so I got to enjoy hearing about how a certain flying character rocks in the tree-top all the day long, particularly around the time Michael Jackson got his version riding the airwaves. In doing so, I felt especially impressed by a winger who out-bopped the buzzard and the oriole.

(Sunday, 5/12/24) Song 719: Black Water by The Doobie Brothers, written by Patrick Simmons. You can find a YouTube video of it here. As the early spring of 1975 started to unfold, this aquatic anthem hit the top of the charts. I had found an affordable place to live in south Evanston, only a few blocks from the Lake Michigan beach, and sometimes when driving in my neighborhood, I got to hear the song on the radio while also seeing a part of the lake nearby, although the waves from that body of water had a turquoise tone, not an inky one. I enjoyed the tune's lyric flow, and I had a vague thought about someday crafting a similar message about a dark tide. What I ended up doing, three decades later, was writing a ballad about the Blackwater Boys and you can see a lyric video of that song about the 2005 New Orleans situation by clicking on the title. Back during the era when I went rollin' along with this ride's waves, I did not like the Windy City's snowy season, but during the warmer months, I felt that if it rains, I don't care - that would make no difference to me.

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