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, 4/11/21) Song 559: If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time by Lefty Frizzell, written by Lefty Frizzell and Jim Beck. You can find a YouTube video of it here. During my single-digit years in the 1950s, my family would go see the Ohio relatives every summer, and on those trips I got to hear a bunch of major country hits, thanks to my aunt and uncle having a truly impressive LP collection of classic C&W spinners. This cut rode the airwaves a year before I was born, so on those recurring visits, I quickly learned the gem, to the point where I could soon sing along, and I relished the chance to do so. Of course, growing up in a fundamentalist household, I'd never admit any intentions to dance, drink beer and wine, but as long as I didn't put a magnifying glass on those lines, they got no particular scorn. Also, living in a lightly-patriarchal circle, it did sound a bit strange to have the male expect the female to provide the monetary flow, but I could very well understand the compelling reason to start out tonight and to spread joy, since if you spread it right you have more fun, baby, all the way down the line.
(Sunday, 4/4/21) Song 558: Masters of War by Bob Dylan, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I started becoming a Dylan fan soon after Peter, Paul and Mary brought Blowin' in the Wind to everyone's attention. Over the following years, I kept seeing Bob's name on songs I really liked, such as Mr. Tambourine Man (Song 326) and It Ain't Me Babe, but I didn't get to hear his own voice until I arrived at Northwestern U. in September of 1969. On my first day at the dormitory, I met a fellow student named Smiley who played a BD 33 for me, and I initially didn't care for the sound of his voice, judging its quality as the reason that he had succeeded much more as a writer than a singer. Over the next year, though, I became a major fan, thanks in part to a roommate who would spin his first greatest hits LP quite a bit. At a certain point in that stretch, I added the Freewheelin' disc to my collection, and it soon became a favorite, making me appreciate Mr. Zimmerman even more. This cut graces that album, and before long, I had rated it as one of the best antiwar song of all time, and possibly THE BEST. That being the case, I decided to add it to the list now because today, 4/4/21, marks the 17th year commemoration of the death of Casey Sheehan in Iraq. I learned of his demise in July of 2005 when his mother Cindy shared the story on a podcast, and included a poem written about Casey by her daughter Carly. Hearing this moving story and poem inspired me to finish an antiwar song I had started, which became Song for Casey. I posted that Elder Statesman track on SoundCloud today, and you can hear it by clicking on the title. I offer my sympathy to Cindy, Carly, and the rest of their family, for their loss, and I'd say that all the money the Masters of War made from their Iraq destruction clearly will never buy back their souls.
(Sunday, 3/28/21) Song 557: Mississippi Queen by Mountain, written by Leslie West, Corky Laing, Felix Pappalardi and David Rea. You can find an entertaining YouTube video of it here. When this spinner hit the airwaves at the turn of the 1970s, my knowledge of the RnR landscape was greatly expanding, thanks in part to the amazing LP collection belonging to a guy named Hank Neuberger who lived in the room across the hall from me at the N.U. dormitory, and since I had so much catching up to do, I didn't always notice the latest chart toppers that came along in that era, but this cut got a lot of airplay over the next year or two, and at some point it did cross my radar, and I felt it deserved all of the attention that it had already accumulated. The quartet rightly got credit for playing a major role in creating the heavy metal sound that moved the rocking needle during that decade, so when guitarist, singer and group founding member Leslie West died in December of 2020, the hard rock scene lost one of its original leading lights. While not everyone has seen a Mississippi Queen, probably most of us have known at least one dancer who moved better on wine, and, if you know what I mean, that can be a gratifying way of gettin' your kicks.
(Sunday, 3/21/21) Song 556: The Phenomenology Sing-Along by Hugh Blumenfeld, 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 dive comes from another of my Fast Folk colleagues. He performed this chuckler during my era with the group, and I definitely would have found it quite amusing at the time, but I actually only came across it recently. That said, it quickly made me smile, as it obviously did for most, if not all, of the audience who got to participate in the live recording, which now commemorates a comical moment at the Postcrypt Coffeehouse in Colombia University on an evening in the early 1990s. I will confess that if Jean Paul Sartre did describe phenomenology and existentialism as nearly-parasitic ideologies of Marxism in his critique of dialectical reason, I don't know if he was serious or just teasing, but I can certainly agree with Hugh that it sounds like right on phenomenology.
(Sunday, 3/14/21) Song 555: Runnin' With the Devil by Van Halen, written by Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen and Eddie Van Halen. You can find a YouTube video of it here. When this rumbler came along in the late spring of 1978, I was getting ready to make a major move from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay Area, and so, when I jumped out on that road that summer, standing next to the pavement with my thumb pointed westward, I could have felt like I was Runnin' With the Devil, especially since, as an adult, I had embraced the devil's music that my parents and grandparents disparaged and condemned. I would at times parody their POV that evil Commies/Russians crafted the rock backbeat as a way to control the minds of America's youth, and supposedly got musicians from the lower levels of our society (a sly reference to those dark-skinned soul performers) to act as useful idiot puppets. I might sometimes playfully pretend to go evil in the name of RnR, but in reality, early on, I had concluded that the basic rock values of peace and love that enliven the form align more closely to that Jesus fellow than to the Lucifer guy. These days, we all know that the simple life ain't so simple, but we also don't hear much about folks living at a pace that kills.
(Sunday, 3/7/21) Song 554: Stop! In The Name Of Love by The Supremes, written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Mary Wilson, who performed as a member of this trio back when they released this hit in the winter of 1965, would have celebrated her 75th birthday yesterday if she hadn't left the land of the living back in February, so it seemed like an appropriate moment to add this chart topper to the list. I don't remember exactly when this cut first got my attention, but it definitely enlivened my HS days, and I quickly learned the lines well enough to sing along whenever it came to my ears. Now, in the era of social distancing, we find ourselves having to Stop! In The Name Of Love rather than visit those we care about to share our love and affection, leading to many more secluded nights for lots of folks. Even big city dwellers see a lot less people walk down the street these days. How will this end? I won't claim to have an answer - my advice is just to think it over. Think it over!
(Sunday, 2/28/21) Song 553: Watch Me by Lorrie Morgan, written by Tom Shapiro and Gary Burr. You can find a really entertaining YouTube video of it here. In the early 1990s, the NYC country music radio station introduced me to Ms. Morgan's rambles, and I soon added to my collection the LP that glowed with this hit as its title track. That vinyl disc became a regular spinner on my turntable, and this marks her second appearance on this list, with her follow-up single What Part of No (which also shows up on that 33) shining as Song 499, and you can find the blog about that cut here. Both of these jaunts express an assertive POV that Lorrie conveys in a strongly convincing and amusing way - need I say more? Unfortunately, in the current pandemic situation, there are probably a lot of people who might want to say, The more I needed, the less you gave, I guess you thought that it worked that way. Hopefully we'll reach a point in the near future where the major issues get resolved in a positive way - please don't tell me that it can't be done.
(Sunday, 2/21/21) Song 552: Don't Be Cruel by Elvis Presley, written by Otis Blackwell. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Last week I again shared the story about how The Beatles rocked my world in February of 1964, as they did for so many other folks, although in my case it occurred a week later than it did for most fans. The Fab Four stayed at the top of my rocker list through my junior high and high school stretch, and in my senior year a biography of the group came along which I relished, but which also had some surprising revelations for me. It astonished me to read how all four initially got their rock inspiration from Mr. Presley. At the time, the only spinner of his that I knew was Hound Dog (Song 433), which happened to be the A side of the single that had this gem on its B side. I knew nothing about EP's contributions to the RnR scene until the early 1970s, when a 1950s revival came across the rocking radio air waves and my Rolling Stone subscription filled in the blanks. In response, I soon acquired a Presley greatest hits LP, and I treasured that 33. It got plenty of spins on my turntable, and I clearly understood by the time of his 1977 demise what the music world lost at that sad moment. These days, as the pandemic question marks continue to hang in the air, some of us might feel like asking why should we be apart? We still don't have the answer, but perhaps at some point not too far down the road, we'll see that the future looks bright ahead.
(Sunday, 2/14/21) Song 551: I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. You can find a YouTube video of it here. A lot of people saw something amazing on The Ed Sullivan Show on the second Sunday night of February, 1964, but that evening (2/9), my family and I knew nothing about it. Over the next few days, at the junior high, I heard a bunch of fellow students speaking about Beatles, and I wondered whether a new insect infestation was predicted, or if a popular new VW model had just hit the road. When I finally asked a friend what everyone was referring to, he laughed at how the neighborhood wise guy could be so clueless about the current cultural moment. He did tell me the story, though, and then my whole family gathered by the TV on the next Sunday night to find out what we had missed. My younger brother and I felt we had never seen anything as captivating as the Fab Four, but only a couple minutes into the appearance, my older brother said, "This is just junk. Let's turn this off!" The parents and grandparents agreed with him, but younger brother and I insisted on seeing the complete segment, and we got the other five to comply with our wishes. The performance included this tune, which I truly relished, and in the following weeks, now that JPG&R had rocked my world, for fun, my good friend Brian Johnson and I crafted a parody of the lyrics: Well, she was just 48 and a bit overweight and the way she looked was way beyond repair. I'd rather dance with a stumbler when I saw her lurking there. This being 2/14, it seemed like an appropriate time to add a love song by the quartet that created the finest collection of RnR love songs ever, and who have not yet been outdone, over 5 decades after they disbanded. Happy V Day! You know what I mean.
(Sunday, 2/7/21) Song 550: Back Stabbers by The O'Jays, written by Leon Huff, Gene McFadden and John Whitehead. You can find a YouTube video of it here. This sparkler quickly lit up the airwaves when it arrived in the dog days of the summer of 1972, during an era when my female companion and I resided in an apartment in Music City, USA (AKA Nashville, TN) which we shared with my childhood best friend, who found that place while serving in the U.S. military nearby. At that point, just as I neared my 21st birthday, I already had seen plenty of guys who smile in your face all the time they want to take your place. I understood the personal romantic angle, and the appeal of that perspective, but though I might have met a couple of those Back Stabbers, the phrase always resonated more for me as a description of the grifter jerks who want to get their hands on your wallet, not your lover's waistline. As I put it in my anthem Same Old Change, which appears on my recent CD release Elder Statesman, They say they respect the working man as they stab him in the back. Clicking on the track title will take you to the Amazon page where you can get the MP3 of it, clicking on the CD title will take you to the Amazon page where you can get a copy of that, and clicking on Same Old Change here will take you to the lyric page on this website where you can read the words of that ramble.
(Sunday, 1/31/21) Song 549: One More Midnight by John Sonntag, 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 captivating mover comes from another NJ folkie singer/songwriter buddy, and back in the 1990s we often hung out and performed on the same stages, to the point where we even discussed forming a musical partnership. This particular opus became the title track for a CD he crafted during that era, and while, unlike a few other rambles from that collection, such as Daddy Turned Grey (Song 297), I had not actually heard this one until recently, I can easily understand why he gave it that distinction. It does, after all, share the observance of the lonely light on the block, and after hearing the tick tock tick tock, like me, you also might decide that you're going to stay in and witness a new day begin - just wait 'til the light plus one more midnight.