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, 12/16/18) Song 438: Just Dropped In by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, written by Mickey Newbury. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Hits like this one would sometimes rattle the inner conflict I felt during my HS years between my personal obsession with the devil's music and my parents'/grandparents' condemnation of it. I would feel some guilt over my enjoyment of lines about tripping on a cloud and falling Eight Miles High (Song 435), but I never had any interest in actually experiencing drug-induced aeronautics - I could relish the entertaining way that the singer shared his adventure, but it never made me want to take that kind of ride. I couldn't imagine any pleasure in pushing my soul into a deep dark hole and then following it in, and I did not want to get so uptight that I couldn't unwind, but I could have fun listening to a singer share those moments in an intriguing musical way, so I Just Dropped In and got a kick out of what condition his condition was in.
(Sunday, 12/9/18) Song 437: Happy Little World by Chuck Brodsky, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Seven weeks after my previous personal friend song post, this track by my friend Chuck always makes me smile. We met during the final year or two of my decade in the Bay Area, and I learned one of his numbers which I truly relish entitled Blow 'em Away (Song 45). Though I seldom do covers while performing, I made an exception with that tune, and have sometimes included it in otherwise all-original sets. I would discover this cut back in the winter of 2017 when I decided to put together a Spotify playlist called Me and My Songwriter Friends (which you can hear by clicking on the title), and if you listen to that collection, I guarantee this piece will raise your spirits when it comes along. I keep in touch with Chuck, even though we haven't seen each other since a chance encounter at The Nameless Coffeehouse in Cambridge during the mid-1990s, and who's to say what's real, but the next time I contact him, I plan to tell him that he really did come up with a pearl when he decided to tell us about his Happy Little World.
(Sunday, 12/2/18) Song 436: Magic Man by Heart, written by Ann and Nancy Wilson. You can find a YouTube video of it here. As RnR essentially lost its artistic edge around the turn of the 1970s, Heart really lit up the airwaves in the middle of the decade as one of a handful of shining stars flying over a sea of dull commerciality. I well remember discussing the Wilson sisters' glittering new gem with a good friend during a local bus ride in Chicago (back before I owned a car). Of course, being a young guy in my 20s at the time, I fantasized about a woman of Ann's or Nancy's calibre looking at me, saying she Had never seen eyes so blue and then, soon becoming her Magic Man. I also smiled every time I heard the suggestive line about how He's got the magic hands! Looking back, Well, summer lover passed to fall, and now, inside the months of moon Never think of never Let this spell last forever - it has, after all, lasted over 4 decades so far, so Try try try to understand, if you can.
(Sunday, 11/25/18) Song 435: Eight Miles High by The Byrds, written by Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn and David Crosby. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I heard about the controversy over this 45 when it came out, but I don't think I actually heard the single at the time. Due to an accusation that the record encouraged drug usage, many radio stations refused to air it, and our local top-40 broadcaster may have numbered among the bunch taking that attitude. When, at the turn of the 1970s, I could begin collecting albums, I wanted to get Byrds LPs as soon as I could, and upon hearing this cut for the first time, I felt the group had exceeded my high expectations. The sound seemed to take some surprising turns, in light of their more well-known work, but I totally enjoyed the ride. I took note of both the jazz influence and the Indian classical leanings that shaped McGuinn's lead guitar riffs, and I relished the hints of Gregorian chant stylings in the vocal harmonies. I also knew, having flown to Europe in the summer of 1969 on a tour with my HS select choir, that airplanes crossing the Atlantic fly somewhere in the range of Eight Miles High (usually six or seven), so I understood the lyrics as a story of a tour to England, and I never gave much thought to the supposed druggie references in the lines. The intriguing musical innovations where The Byrds broke new ground in recordings like this one have inspired me to explore unusual harmonies and chord sequences, with one prime example of that influence being Marketplace - the Elder Street track which I posted as my September 2018 SoundCloud release, and which you can listen to by clicking on the title. So when you touch down, maybe you'll find that it's stranger than known, but maybe, in addition, you'll find that you like it that way - I know I did.
(Sunday, 11/18/18) Song 434: Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2, written by Bono, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen and David Howell (the four band members). You can find a YouTube video of it here. In the fall of 1983, my good friend Eddie Spitzer started a music store in the back of a record shop on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, so of course, I visited him a number of times there, and in doing so, I kept hearing this new LP by an Irish quartet, and what I heard sounded so good that soon enough, I walked out with my own copy. I liked every track on the album, and I had that 33 on the turntable a lot. This rocker clearly conveys the disturbing brutality that had tormented Northern Ireland for far too long, referencing a well-known massacre and painting an unsettling picture of its horrific aftermath. There's many lost, but tell me, who has won. Certainly, none of the common folk numbered among the winners in that bloodbath. During that era, just like this foursome, I saw no escape route from the violence in their neighborhood, and I would have echoed Bono when he sang, How long must we sing this song? However, The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 brought both sides together, and largely put an end to the casualties, although not completely. For the Irish, the sad story of mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart has mostly become a thing of the past, and perhaps the resolution of this conflict has some lessons to offer, and to apply to other battles where The trench is dug within our hearts. On a side note, 2 other cuts from Under a Blood Red Sky have appeared on this list - 11 O'Clock Tick Tock is Song 181, and Gloria is Song 362.
(Sunday, 11/11/18) Song 433: Hound Dog by Elvis Presley, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. You can find a YouTube video of it here. This early Elvis hit was the only one of his that I knew in my younger years. I had some awareness of the man's career and stardom, but had no contact with any of his output, other than hearing this single once on the radio. When the Fab Four rocked my world in the winter of 1964, they immediately got me hooked on RnR, but it surprised me, a few years later, to learn, from their official biography book, that Presley had been their original inspiration. I had guessed, from the sound of this record, that EP was some kind of hillbilly singer, but when the early 1970s unfolded a sort-of 1950s RnR revival, I got to know Elvis' music much better, and thereby, to appreciate his place among the early rocking musical pioneers. At some point in that era I acquired an LP of his greatest hits, which included this track along with a lot of other fun stuff, so that by the time he left the land of the living, I understood what a gem the music world had lost. Only in recent years did I learn that my best friend's mother has been a life-long Elvis fan - during our teenage years, living in a highly-religious home where the parents and grandparents despised the devil's music, I attended a church where the older generations expressed this same outlook, so it would have astounded me to learn that any of my friends' parents were actually fans of a rocker, let alone my closest buddy's mom. On my visits to his home, we would often listen to his Simon and Garfunkel collection, but I never got to witness his mother enjoying the music of Mr. Presley. I may very well get to share a meal with the two of them, plus some of their other family members, a week from Thursday, and if I do, I imagine that the topic of Elvis and his music might animate our conversations.