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, 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 clock, and after hearing the tick tock tick tock, like me, you also might decide that you're going to stay and then witness a new day begin - just wait 'til the light plus one more midnight.
(Sunday, 1/24/21) Song 548: I Can't Stop Loving You by Kitty Wells, written by Don Gibson. You can find a YouTube video of it here. This marks the second appearance of Ms. Wells on the list - her first hit It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels (Song 406) had quickly become a favorite and a highlight of the summer visits to my Bowling Green, OH, family relatives during my single-digit years. At some point in that era, I also learned Kitty's second chart topper - this tune - and her version remained the only one of this famous masterpiece that I had even heard until well into the 1970s, when I did eventually hear the Elvis one, the Ray Charles one and a few others, so prior to that, I just thought of this gem as belonging to her. They say that time heals a broken heart but for many months now it feels like time has stood still and I can't yet speculate as to when those happy hours that we once knew might return, but for now, I understand why some might want to just live a life in dreams of yesterday.
(Sunday, 1/17/21) Song 547: Pride (In The Name Of Love) by U2, who also wrote the song (all four band members). You can find a YouTube video of it here. Friday would have been Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 92nd birthday, and tomorrow will be the yearly day that commemorates his legacy, so this seems like an appropriate moment to feature a track that honors him, particularly when the White-Supremacist-in-Chief is about to leave office, to be replaced by a nicer and more crafty white supremacist. Well over a year before the album that included this cut came along at the end of the summer in 1984, I had already become a major U2 fan, and the new record took my appreciation for the quartet to an even higher level. At a point where many rockers seemed to lack drive, these four had a very strong message wrapped in both their lyrics and their music. They obviously understood the implications of early morning, April 4, when a shot rings out in the Memphis sky. Dr. King was, ironically, free at last when racists took his life, but they could not take his pride, and they could not squash the movement that he had worked for in the name of love.
(Sunday, 1/10/21) Song 546: Diamonds And Rust by Joan Baez, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I decided to add a Joan recording this week when I found out that 1/9/21 (yesterday) marked her 80th birthday. I also realized that I had gotten close to number 550 before her first appearance on the list, so I will need to make up for that negligence by including a few of her other gems in the coming months. I knew a little bit about her during my HS years, but I soon learned a lot more about her contributions after becoming a big fan of Bob Dylan, shortly after I turned 19 and began my second year in college. She played a major role in his story, as he did in hers, both artistically and romantically, and I felt certain, when this title track came along in the spring of 1975, that he inspired the rhymes. Those of us who live in the northeast region know that walking outside during this season, our breath often comes out white clouds, mingles and hangs in the air, sometimes with brown leaves falling around and snow in our hair, but with the current unresolved pandemic question mark hanging over our heads, we can appreciate even more someone so good with words and at keeping things vague because we could use some of that vagueness now.
(Sunday, 1/3/21) Song 545: Five O'clock World by The Vogues, written by Allen Reynolds. You can find a YouTube video of it here. For the opening week of 2021, I figured this hit deserved to get added to the list. When it first appeared around the time 1965 turned into 1966, it didn't show up on my radar - if I did hear it, I did not remember it. However, a few years later, the woman I hooked up with in the early 1970s soon shared it with me - it was one of her favorites, and she quickly turned it into one of mine as well. The lyrics perfectly embody the working person's daily difficulties and inherent conflicts, as they occur during more conventional times. Even in the era when this cut rode the charts, despite a booming economy and greater overall economic resilience, workers still often struggled to make it through the day, and in the six decades that have followed, things have generally gotten harder for the majority of employees, as the US ruling class elites have moved increasing piles of wealth from the bottom half to the top 1 percent. Then the pandemic situation unfolded in 2020, and now, for most workers, a return to the Five O'clock World seems at this point like it would make 2021 a better year than the last one - it would be nice to know the reason someone can still go on when every other reason is gone.
(Sunday, 12/27/20) Song 544: Kiss an Angel Good Mornin' by Charley Pride, written by Ben Peters. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I don't remember if I heard this hit when it first came out in late 1971, or if I got to know it later in the decade, but at some point it became quite familiar, and it pleased me to learn that the performer had the distinction of being the most prominent African-American country singer, given that there aren't very many black members of the country club. I decided to add a Pride cut to the list this week because, sadly, he left the land of the living earlier this month, on 12/12/20. Back in the 1990s, I included him in my song As Long as Merle is Still Haggard - the second line of the chorus is As long as Charley still has his Pride, and you can hear that tune and check out the YouTube video of it by clicking on the title. Many people may try to guess the secret of happiness but some of them never learn it's a simple thing, though during a pandemic scenario, it might not seem so simple, but it still sounds like fine advice to, if you can, kiss an angel good mornin' and love her like a devil when you get back home.