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, 8/9/20) Song 524: Lucky Day by Rank and File, written by Chip Kinman and Tony Kinman. You can find a YouTube video of it here. In the early 1980s, my friend Eddie Spitzer started his music instrument business in the back of a record store on Telegraph Ave., and I spent a lot of time there with him, which meant that I got to hear some records that I might otherwise not have heard, with Sundown by Rand and File being a prime example. I really liked their cowpunk thing, and I soon purchased my own copy of their initial LP, which then got a lot of spins on the turntable. This marks the 4th appearance of a Sundown cut on this list, with the title track being Song 377, Coyote being Song 279, and The Conductor Wore Black being Song 180. These days, with the unfolding pandemic situation, I would never know if today was going to be my lucky day, but regardless, I would clearly understand that if love slipped away, it meant so much.
(Sunday, 8/2/20) Song 523: Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) by The Monkees, written by Neil Diamond. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I quickly became a Monkees fan soon after they came along, and I watched the TV show whenever I could. While I couldn't own LPs back in my HS years, a few good friends had More of the Monkees and so I got to hear it quite a bit, and got to know the tracks very well. This was the first time Neil Diamond showed up on my radar - at some point, hanging out with a friend who played the album, I looked at the label to find out who wrote this tune. He actually got a lot more attention for writing the 33's hit single I'm a Believer, and I liked that piece too, but not nearly as much as this one. I remember doing a field trip to NYC with an HS class in the spring of 1968, and hearing someone's radio playing this cut during the Catskill Mountain segment of the ride. At that moment, I felt it might apply to a romantic dilemma unfolding in my life, though, as it turned out, I had viewed the situation more optimistically than it warranted, but still, hearing this recording felt truly magical then, just as recalling that scene does now. Of course, with so many question marks lingering in the air due to the pandemic, we all might have a reason to sing Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow), though an amorous complication seems quaint compared to the current calamity, but, as I have said from the very beginning of it, what we really know about the COVID-19 story is . . . WE DON'T KNOW.
(Sunday, 7/26/20) Song 522: Shakedown Street by The Grateful Dead, written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I hitch-hiked from Chicago to northern CA in the summer of 1978, and in the fall of that year, a new GD album came along. I don't remember how it happened exactly, but I did get to hear this title track a number of times, and I enjoyed it, even though it supposedly embodied the band's sellout to the disco trend, which did not interest me at all. Fast forward four decades, and as the current pandemic situation has unfolded, a number of times it has looked like there was nothin' shakin' on Shakedown Street, which used to be the heart of town, but don't tell me this town ain't got no heart because honestly, you just gotta poke around. The virus scene might make it appear as if the sunny side of the street is dark, but well, you can never tell, and so, don't tell me this town ain't got no heart when I can hear it beat out loud, and personally, I like the sound of that beat.
(Sunday, 7/19/20) Song 521: We Are Each Other's Angels 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 week's absorbing composition comes from an old Bay Area buddy. I hung out with a Berkeley, CA, singer-songwriter circle for about 10 years, from the late summer of 1978 to the late summer of 1988, and Chuck joined that group during the latter half of my era there, around 1984 or 1985. This particular tune got everyone's attention when we all first heard it, and rightly so, I thought, though he also had another one called Blow 'em Away (Song 45) that quickly moved my needle as well. In light of the current pandemic situation, I'd say this piece fits the present moment quite appropriately. Sometimes you'll stumble, whereas, sometimes you'll just lie down, and then, sometimes you'll get lonely, even with all these people around. Seeing the big question mark on the horizon, You might shiver when the wind blows, and possibly, you might get blown away, but truly, We are each other's angels, we meet when it is time. Doing so, we keep each other going and we show each other signs. We will get through this troubling scene, and we will do so together.
(Sunday, 7/12/20) Song 520: Hurt Me Bad (In a Real Good Way) by Patty Loveless, written by Deborah Allen and Rafe Van Hoy. You can find a YouTube video of it here. At the turn of the 1990s, listening to a NYC country station soon introduced me to the music of Ms. Loveless, and when her greatest hits album came out in the middle of 1993, I quickly added it to my collection, making it a regular spinner on the CD player. I always enjoyed the ironic lyrical twist on this cut, which appears just before the record closer Jealous Bone (Song 277). I too can remember having someone hurt me bad in a real good way when she opened my eyes to a world beyond that impossible dream I was livin' on, so with my feet on the hard ground of the real world, I would later find out how the river of tears that flowed from my eyes was only moving me on to a different paradise. On a side note, here's an interesting question: Should Patty Loveless? I actually ask that question at the beginning of verse 2 of my song As Long as Merle is Still Haggard, and you can find the YouTube video of that tune by clicking on the title.
(Sunday, 7/5/20) Song 519: Trouble Child by Joni Mitchell, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I had already developed an appreciation of JM's music by the time Court and Spark came along in early 1974, and that LP seemed to add a whole new level to my admiration for her. While I never had any deep attraction to jazz, I thought Joni made a very interesting move in that direction with C&S, adding jazz to the singer-songwriter mix in a unique and captivating way. During the first few spins on the turntable, this track, which appears just before the closer on side 2, soon got my attention. Having grown up in a family where my mother was the Trouble Child, the lines really resonated with me, though at the time, I could not have pictured Ms. Mitchell as referring to herself. I did know that she had hooked up with James Taylor for a while, and I also knew that he had issues with heroin, so I thought perhaps the words pointed towards him, although I also thought it possible that she had a family member similar to mine. I saw my mother go through something like this - They open and close you. Then they talk like they know you. They don't know you. As well-meaning as they might wish to be, They're friends and they're foes too - so sang the Trouble Child about a point where she had been breaking like the waves of Malibu. I referenced this song's lyrical message in chapter 7 of the first edition of Expecting the Broken Brain to Do Mental Pushups, and in the second edition, which I hope to release shortly, I expand on what I learned from Joni and other creative types, both known and unknown, about a particular condition that has plagued this special Trouble Child.
(Sunday, 6/28/20) Song 518: Every Little Thing She Does is Magic by The Police, written by Sting. You can find a YouTube video of it here. A few months before this tune hit the airwaves near the end of 1981, I had moved over from a place in Oakland, CA, into a friend's house in Berkeley. During that stretch, I had a romantic obsession with another Berkeley resident, which had begun two years earlier and would continue for about another year, so the lyrics of this hit sounded like an appropriate expression of my own personal emotions at the time. My buddy and new housemate had had his own short-lived affair with the woman who had lit my flame, and when I told him about my feelings for her, he advised me to disregard them, but I did not follow his advice. Back then, I felt like Every little thing she did was magic, Everything she did just turned me on, and my love for her would go on, even though I couldn't exactly identify the mysterious quality that made her so special. Well, about seven years ago, I finally pinpointed the match that lit her charisma (and plenty of others), and when I release the second edition of my book shortly, its subtitle will have an added third term. In the first edition of Expecting the Broken Brain to Do Mental Pushups, I focused on the psychiatric conditions of schizophrenia and depression, but in the updated volume, I also outline a third one which I now see much more clearly - bipolar disorder.
(Sunday, 6/21/20) Song 517: Poison Ivy by The Coasters, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I don't actually recall which version of this tune first came across my radar, and exactly when, but at some point after The Beatles rocked my world during the winter of my 7th grade year, I did get to hear it, and I relished the suggestive message in the playful lyrics. The rendition that enticed my ears could have come from The Dave Clark Five, The Hollies, The Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann or The Kingsmen (who got their first appearance on this list with song 507 which was Louie, Louie), but regardless of who crafted the one I heard in my HS years, as the 1970s arrived and unrolled, I got to know this original hit, as I did so many other first generation RnR recordings, and I appreciated the musical texture created by the originators. The track does also seem to fit the first week of summer quite well, as I strongly suspect I have some genuine Toxicodendron radicans growing in at least one or two spots on my property. Now most of us know that Measles make you bumpy and mumps'll make you lumpy, and plenty of us learned the hard way that chicken pox'll make you jump and twitch. In addition, The common cold'll fool you, and whoopin' cough will cool ya, But even worse, Poison Ivy, Lawd, will make you itch! In the warmer weather months in the northeastern states, be careful where you step and don't scratch too much.