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.
(Sunday, 10/21/18) Song 430: Hats by Jeff Wilkinson, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Seven weeks after my previous post about a personal friend, this week my old buddy Jeff Wilkinson makes his first appearance on this list. Back around the turn of the 1990s, he and I together created what we called The Camptown Coffeehouse in Brooklyn where we presented shows at a church on 7th Ave. of our favorite fellow singer-songwriters. While we have not been in touch for a couple of decades, I always respected his talent, and I think this cut from his 2005 CD Landscapes showcases all of them pretty well. During the era when we ran the coffeehouse, one night at the weekly Jack Hardy songwriter gathering in lower Manhattan, someone put forth a challenge for the following week to write a song about hats. I responded, but I didn't consider my hat tune anything special, and I soon rewrote the lyrics, turning it into a tale about AIDS called Fire in the Blood. I don't recall whether Jeff attended those two songwriter gatherings, but if he did, and this piece was the result, then I'd have to say that he rose to the challenge better than anyone else. Like him, I know how it feels to figuratively have too many hats, but at this point in my life, the phrase has come to have a literal meaning as well, and I wonder if that also might have happened to him. Maybe one of these days we'll reconnect, and I will get to ask him.
(Sunday, 10/14/18) Song 429: Angel of the Morning by Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts, written by Chip Taylor. You can find a YouTube video of it here. This 45 topped my own personal chart not long after it appeared in the summer between my HS junior and senior years, and at some point during that season my best friend and I had a conversation that referenced the tune. Two years earlier, I had given up resisting my obsession with the Devil's music, and this particular discussion circled around the idea that we didn't let our religious morality interfere with our listening pleasure. My friend mentioned that the couple in this saga are obviously not married, and after spending a romantic night together, are apparently about to split up, which ran counter to our foundational ethics, but that never moved us to turn down the dial when the radio played the single. A few years later, during the spring of my sophomore year at NU, I had an intense but short-lived romance with a young woman who I had met in a religious context, and had come to know mainly through letters we exchanged over a couple of years. We were just friends until we were suddenly more than that, and just as suddenly we were just friends again. After the romance ended, we still kept in touch by mail for another couple of years, and at some point, I wrote something about how much I relished this recording. Her next reply expressed surprise at my enjoyment of Merrilee's hit, and made clear that she shared my delight. So for all three of us, If morning's echo says we've sinned by savoring this track, Well, it was what I wanted now, and it was what we all wanted 50 years ago. On a side note, that stormy romance from early 1971 inspired a stack of songs, with Stormy Winds being perhaps the best of the bunch, and you can find a YouTube lyric video of it by clicking on the title. On a second side note, this marks at least the third appearance on this list of a composition by Chip Taylor - Wild Thing is Song 187 and Try (just a little bit harder) is Song 333.
(Sunday, 10/7/18) Song 428: Running Out Of Time by Joan Osborne, written by Joan Osborne and Louie Perez. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I picked up a copy of Joan's then-current CD Righteous Love not long after catching her performance on a TV show back around the turn of the millennium, and from the first spin, I felt I had made a pretty good investment. A few years later, when a friend gave me an iPod for Christmas, RL numbered among the favorites that I soon added to that player. This cut, which opens the album, marks the 3rd appearance on this list of a track from that disc - If I Was Your Man is Song 274 and Righteous Love (the title track) is Song 342. I don't hear very much melody in modern music these days, and so I have always appreciated the melodic quality of Osborne's work, both in her lead vocals and in the accompanying riffs, with this recording providing a prime example of each. Any time this woman feels like bouncing anyone a message off the night sky, hopefully we'll all get it in a while.
(Sunday, 9/30/18) Song 427: Lazy Music by Captain Beefheart, written by Don Van Vliet, Jan Van Vliet and Andy DiMartino (note: Don Van Vliet was Beefheart's legal name, and Jan was his wife). You can find a YouTube video of it here. Back in June of 1974, my car radio surprised me one day with Sugar Bowl (Song 148), and I liked that cut so much I added Unconditionally Guaranteed to my collection not long after. The LP became a regular spinner on my turntable, and almost every track left a deep impression, to the point that this marks my 4th UG blog - Upon the My-O-My is Song 265 and Magic Be is Song 350. The Captain had established an earlier reputation as an experimenter in the fusion of rock and jazz, but what I had heard of his previous work hadn't really grabbed me, whereas his spring 1974 offering immediately got my attention. Evidently critics did not applaud Beefheart's move towards more conventional songwriting and recording, but I personally would echo the Sounds reviewer Steve Peacock, who wrote in the 4/6/74 edition, "Something very strong does glow through what would otherwise be an unexceptional album, but it's something that I feel rather than can identify." When writing the Song 265 blog a few years ago, it surprised me to learn that less than a year after UG's release, the band members and the band leader all disowned the 33, but that hasn't changed the way I hear it - for me, Lazy Music still makes the whole thing keep going round and round.
(Sunday, 9/23/18) Song 426: Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks, written by Dewayne Blackwell and Earl Bud Lee. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Around the turn of the 1990s, Garth Brooks emerged as one of the fresh faces lighting up the New Country scene, as it was called by the NYC country station that I listened to a lot during that stretch, and this hit stood out as one of his most entertaining releases. I had to smile at a guy who could ruin a black-tie affair just because he showed up in boots, especially when he didn't mean to cause a big scene. In researching this piece, I learned that Garth cites James Taylor as a major musical influence, as do I, and though I didn't previously know it, it doesn't surprise me - I can sense the JT echoes in Brook's performance. While he may not be big on social graces, I'm sure he'll be okay because he does have those friends in low places. On a side note, this track is the third sly reference to the final verse of my own song As Long as Merle is Still Haggard, which begins with the line So I think Aaron's been Tippin a few and Garth is one for the Brooks. You can find the Merle video by clicking on the title.
(Sunday, 9/16/18) Song 425: Highway to Hell by AC/DC, written by Bon Scott, Angus Young and Malcolm Young. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I had heard a few of AC/DC's earlier efforts, and I thought they showed some potential, but when this hit came along in the summer of 1979, it really made me smile, especially in light of my early struggles as a teenager to reconcile my obsession with the devil's music that my fundamentalist religious parents and grandparents reviled. Having left that youthful guilt behind by a decade, I too could wave to Satan while Paying my dues, being on the way to the promised land. Then again, Taking everything in stride, maybe I sometimes Don't need reason, but I often feel like I do need rhyme. In addition, I'll admit that I do pay attention to stop signs and speed limit, which might have helped me get past the kind of sudden ending that AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott sadly came to about seven months after this single got released.
(Sunday, 9/9/18) Song 424: The City Never Sleeps At Night by Nancy Sinatra, written by Lee Hazlewood. You can find a YouTube video of it here. At some point not too long after the record's release, I added These Boots Are Made for Walking (Song 352) to my singles collection, and it came with this shining B-side gem. I obviously wasn't the only one in my neighborhood enjoying the flip side of the hit - one day when delivering the newspaper to the restaurant/bar a few lots away from my parent's home, I heard it playing on the jukebox, which meant that one of the customers had invested some pocket change to relish this musical ride. The lyrics paint engaging pictures that, back then, looked like Manhattan to me, and mostly still do, though the moving images could fit a number of other lively nocturnal urban settings as well. The words and the music clearly portray the Big hellos and goodbyes while along the way Not a single ho-hum appears, which might actually answer the question of How come the city it never sleeps at night.
(Sunday, 9/2/18) Song 423: Double Standards by Patti Rothberg, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Once again, seven weeks have passed since my last personal friend song post. I met Patti in the studio one night in 2003 while she was working on her third album, and this is the title track for that project. At the time, I was working on the Elder Street cut Marketplace, which I just posted yesterday as my September 2018 SoundCloud release. Anyway, I quickly got acquainted with her music, and immediately became a big fan. I had the pleasure of hearing a number of DS pieces before the official release, including this one, and I liked them all. I even considered jokingly suggesting to Patti that she could run for president as a way to promote her release, since presidential candidates very often say one thing and then do another and that fact would easily highlight her song and her CD. While I didn't actually mention the idea to her, I still think it might have made for a very entertaining record promotion campaign, and of course, her little piece of advice about Don't you even try To make sense of all you see applies to the current moment quite a bit more than it did 10 years ago.