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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.

-Dave

Recent Songs

(Sunday, 3/29/20) Song 505: Paradise by John Prine, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. After highlighting a song about a train ride 2 weeks ago, followed by a tune about a train wreck last week, this week's track rides on the sad (and true) story about how a big coal company's train carried the black diamonds away from a formerly-beautiful riverside town in KY after the company had destroyed the place. Locomotives also used to run on coal, but the real reason to feature this cut now is that the dirty coal plant which had left its burn mark on a particular heavenly spot has now closed its doors for good, so those who value the beauty of nature can celebrate its demise. I learned this piece from a fellow folkie back in the middle of the 1970s, not long after Prine released it, and I vaguely recall performing it with her at some sort of protest event. Decades ago the coal company came with the worlds largest shovel and they tortured the timber and stripped all the land. Next, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken, then they wrote it all down as the progress of man. These days, it has become increasingly clear that genuine progress involves leaving fossil fuels behind, and this recent plant closure represents a significant step in the right direction.

(Sunday, 3/22/20) Song 504: Wreck of the 809 by The Long Ryders, written by Stephen McCarthy and Tom Stevens. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I had heard a bit about The Long Ryders but then quickly became a major fan after being handed a cassette with a bunch of their songs on it. The guy who gave me the cassette led a quartet that I briefly played bass for back in the middle of the 1980s, and we shared an appreciation for the folk-rock style of 1960s acts like The Byrds and Simon and Garfunkel who obviously influenced the Ryder crew. On a side note, last week's track took us on a train ride, and the singer Hank Snow also did a record called The Wreck of the Old 97 so I guess this cut about a train wreck makes an appropriate follow-up. As the current pandemic situation unfolded, I couldn't believe what was happening before my eyes, though fortunately, so far I haven't heard people screaming or seen a fire lighting up the sky, but sadly, some people won't be coming back home today. Hopefully we can get a handle on this virus thing one day soon.

(Sunday, 3/15/20) Song 503: I'm Moving On by Hank Snow, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. During my single-digit years, my family visited the Ohio relatives every summer, and by the turn of the 1960s, as I approached my first double-digit year, I had gotten to know many of country music's biggest hits of that era and earlier, thanks to the impressive LP collection owned by my aunt and uncle. They let me and my older brother choose the spinners for their turntable, and we played this cut many times, since it appeared on one of their 33s of top country movers. Not long after the turn of the 1970s, Steppenwolf lead singer John Kay released a solo album called Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes that included his version of this tune, and it brought back some cherished memories from a decade or so earlier. I always had an interest in trains, due at least in part to the railroad line that ran close to the house I grew up in, so I had often seen That big eight-wheeler rollin' down the track and I had often heard That big loud whistle as it blew and blew. My aunt and uncle lived about as close to the B & O tracks as my own family did to the Lackawanna ones, and we all agreed that train sounds, even when they momentarily disturbed your sleep, invariably had a deeply-relaxing effect, so yes, Mr. Engineer take that throttle in hand.

(Sunday, 3/8/20) Song 502: Spoonful by Cream, written by Willie Dixon. You can find a YouTube video of it here. A few weeks ago, I picked the original Howlin' Wolf version of this tune for Song 498, and I mentioned that the Cream recording of the piece was the first one that grabbed my ears, so now, here it is. Not long after this trio started hitting the airwaves in the middle of my sophomore year at HS, they quickly developed a reputation for doing lengthy instrumental forays at their live shows, and at first I wasn't sure if I liked the idea of an RnR studio jewel flying into the 6 or 7 minute range, even if the band could really cook onstage, but by the time I actually heard this gem a couple of years later, I had come around to truly appreciating tracks that could keep the listener riveted for such an extended spin, and I felt this one worked quite well. You could fill spoons full of coffee, you could fill spoons full of tea, but in this case, just a Spoonful of Cream will satisfy my soul.

(Sunday, 3/1/20) Song 501: More Than a Feeling by Boston, written by Tom Scholz. You can find a YouTube video of it here. As the 1970s unfolded, I grew more and more disappointed with the current state of RnR as the excitement generated by 1960s artists seemed to gradually sink below a rising tide of bland commercialism. However, some bright lights did appear in the haze, including Boston. That band got a lot of attention just as the summer of 1976 turned into fall, with this cut leading the charge as their opening single. The tune actually took Tom 5 years to write, but I would say the result certainly justified all the effort. When I hear that old song they used to play, and I begin dreaming, I feel grateful for the way it brightened my days and nights 4 decades ago, and how it can still enliven the modern moment - it's more than a feeling.

(Sunday, 2/23/20) Song 500: Eggshells by Patti Rothberg, 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 enticing ride comes from my singer-songwriter colleague PR. My studio partner David Seitz introduced me to her and her music back around 2003, and her work greatly impressed me after only a couple of spins. I soon found that I liked every track, which, given my critical tendencies, does not happen all that often. This cut showcases her melodic talent - an all-too rare quality of modern music - coupled with her clever lyrical word plays that enliven most, if not all, of her recordings. While many times I catch the layered meanings of her lines, she has personally alerted me to at least one or two that I missed, which ended up making them sound even better. If you've never heard this piece, after one listen you'll probably realize that in the world of eggs there is a general malaise, some of us would be mummies (although not me, of course, being a male) and some of us mayonaise. Of course, even the first time around, you'll in all likelihood understand that chorus advice - Don't talk, don't even walk on eggshells.

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