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, 10/25/20) Song 535: How Many Horses by Terry Kitchen, 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 opus comes from my pal Mr. Kitchen. It appears on his 2020 release Next Time We Meet and he put together a fun video to accompany it. I had not heard the cut until recently, but when I did get to listen to it, it quickly made me smile. During my youngest years, visits to my grandmother's parents' place a few miles away would occasionally include a ride in a horse-drawn wagon or sleigh, so I met the horses a few times, though I never had the possibility of mounting one myself, which certainly was a good thing, because if I had, I too would probably have ended up on the ground. I also savored the TV westerns that I got to watch growing up, but I basically understood that I had no experience riding in a saddle, so if I had tried to climb up the stirrups, I too might have had to ask the question How many horses must I fall off of?
(Sunday, 10/18/20) Song 534: You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me by The Dixie Cups, written by Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. You can find a YouTube video of it here. At some point during the 1990s, I saw a clip of The Dixie Cups performing this track, and it immediately got my attention. I hadn't heard it back in 1964 when it came along as a followup to a pair of other well-known singles, and at the time, it barely made the top 40, in contrast to the other two hitting #1 and #12, but on first listen, I felt it deserved a lot more appreciation than what it got following its release. These days, in light of the current pandemic situation, it feels good to remember moments when there was starlight and moonlight and everything was right, since it sure does not seem that way now. On this cut, I also savor the coy lyrical reference to a special day when a person would wear something new, something old and borrowed and something blue - a particular day when both members of a couple would say I do.
(Sunday, 10/11/20) Song 533: Jump by Van Halen, written by Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Similar to last week, this week's choice came as a result of the sad news about Eddie's demise - he died on Tuesday, 10/6, of cancer - and it also marks the first appearance of Van Halen on the list. This 1984 hit soon became the quartet's most successful single, and it quickly got my attention not long after its release. The YT link here will take you to the official video for the cut, and during the MTV era when the crew put it together, many comparable segments hit the airwaves, showing a group performing a recording, although they are usually lip-synching and visually matching their recorded parts. No matter how good the record itself, such videos generally don't impress me that much, but on this one, I feel the 45 has a visual partner that grabs me as strongly as the audio. In light of Eddie's passing, I especially appreciate his entertaining animated moves. He actually crafted the foundational riff for the tune in 1981, and it took a few years for his bandmates to recognize the value of his inspired musical ramble, but when they did, once they got it on tape and let the public hear it, it really took off, so this seems like an apt way to memorialize him. Today we can be thankful that 36 years ago, he and his gang advised us to roll with the punches to get to what's real, which makes as much sense now as it did then, if not more so.
(Sunday, 10/4/20) Song 532: I Am Woman by Helen Reddy, written by Helen Reddy and Ray Burton. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Due to the sad news of Ms. Reddy's demise this past Tuesday, it seemed like an appropriate moment to highlight her signature recording as the SotW, also marking her first appearance on this list. When the anthem came across the airwaves in a very high tide in the summer of 1972, I generally liked the tune, but, having grown up in a conventional humdrum patriarchal environment, I didn't necessarily go along with all of the hit's feminist assertions. It actually took me a couple of decades to comprehend the depth of the negative consequences of patriarchy and recognize the necessity of feminine equality. In fact, late in 1973, well over a year after this cut's chart run, I had a conversation with a fellow who claimed that in a relationship, part of the male duty was to control and discipline the female partner, to the point where you might have to hit her upside the head if she didn't follow orders. At the time, in my early 20s, I went through an unfolding process of defining my moral values, and it took a year or two before concluding that I did not agree with that male supremacist POV. However, I had to get to my late 30s before I clearly understood how women had truly been down there on the floor, and to share the hope that no one's ever going to keep them down again. The more they spread their loving arms across the land, the better it is for everyone.
(Sunday, 9/27/20) Song 531: Cold Cold Heart by Hank Williams, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I got to hear and relish this CnW gem during my elementary school days, thanks to the country music collection that my father's Ohio relatives had compiled. On the yearly family summer visits in the late 1950s, my aunt and uncle gave me complete freedom to choose the LPs I wanted to listen to, and since they had a couple of greatest hits 33s that featured timeless classics like this cut, I'd spin those albums on the turntable a lot, and I quickly got to know and appreciate the resounding legacy of Hank Williams, who had died well before my second birthday. This marks his 6th appearance on this list, with Honky Tonkin' (Song 301) being the first, and Jambalaya (On the Bayou) (Song 471) being the most recent, previous to this one. At some point, as the 1960s unfurled, I got to see a TV movie about HW, which made me respect him even more. Last week's song was written by Tom Paxton, and in researching the piece I learned about his role in the singer/songwriter phenomenon which unfolded in the 1960s, but I also think Mr. Williams played a major part in laying the groundwork for that trend as well. I would say that now, almost 7 decades after this hit climbed the country charts, in the year of my birth, it's still true that if you run and hide from life, doing so just ain't smart, as Hank figured out a long time ago.
(Sunday, 9/20/20) Song 530: What Did You Learn In School Today? by The Chad Mitchell Trio, written by Tom Paxton. You can find a YouTube video of it here. When I heard this track for the first time today featured on a podcast, I quickly decided it belonged on this list, and I plan to listen to it a lot more in the near future. This also marks the first appearance of both The Chad Mitchell Trio and Tom Paxton on this list. I had known a few TP songs, like Bottle of Wine (which I intend to add one of these days), but I learned quite a bit more about him today, and it greatly increased my respect for him. Dave Van Ronk said that while Bob Dylan became the most visible standard-bearer of the new song movement that began in the 1960s, he credits Paxton as the one who started the whole thing. Hearing this cut, I can certainly believe that characterization. Trump recently expressed the idea that U.S. public schools propagandize American kids with liberal ideas, but in reality, the lessons that have routinely come their way have a strong militaristic angle. When this record came out in 1964, I was in junior high, and of course I didn't hear it, but I learned that war is not so bad, I learned about the great ones we had had, that we fought in Germany and in France and that someday I might get my chance. In addition, I learned that Washington never told a lie, and I learned that soldiers seldom die. Not only that, but I learned our government must be strong because it's always right and never wrong, and we can be thankful that our leaders are the finest men, which is why we elect them again and again. These lyrics from 56 years ago resonate more strongly in the present moment than possibly any other tune I could suggest.
(Sunday, 9/13/20) Song 529: The Cover of Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show, written by Sheldon Silverstein. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Given how many times I've mentioned my subscription to Rolling Stone in this blog, and how much information I got from the publication in the early 1970s, it makes sense to finally get around to including this hit on the list. When it came across the airwaves in late 1972, I had already read the magazine regularly for 3 years and felt highly enlightened about RnR due to that source, plus, it also filled in some of the space on politics as well. I always savored the tongue-in-cheek mood of the lyrics on this cut, even though I'm not the type who would take all kinds of pills to get all kinds of thrills, but I would definitely relish the thrill I've never known which is the thrill that'll get ya when you get your picture on The Cover of the Rolling Stone. Sadly, I wouldn't wanna buy five copies for my mother because she died back in 2010, but I have plenty of other folks I could send copies to, and I would truly enjoy it if I got to see my smilin' face on the the cover of the Rolling Stone.
(Sunday, 9/6/20) Song 528: Smashed Up Cadillac by Joe Canzano (AKA Happy Joe), 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 opus comes from my NJ buddy. I lived in his neighborhood when I released Elder Street in 2009, and not long after, in 2010, he released Big Mouth, which features this track, along with a number of other standouts, like Song for the Next War (Song 10) and Workers (Song 444). I soon added the CD to my iPod, and it quickly became one of my favorites. Ironically, Joe had once said to me that musicians' friends usually don't listen to the personal acquaintance CDs given to them, and that might often be true, but I know that I have listened to Big Mouth a lot over the last decade, and I really appreciate the record. This cut outlines a nefarious character who has million-dollar donors, who drives an expensive big car and who can't wait to run over all your stuff. Joe told me that Dick Cheney inspired the driver image, although these days, I guess he'd agree with me that the U.S. political stage has a number of others who could fit the description of someone having bodies scattered across his hood while he himself is feeling like a man who's sure that acts of his are always pure. Can you think of someone besides Cheney who has got flags and bumper stickers and a God who's on his side as he puts a whole town in terror? I would bet you probably can.
(Sunday, 8/30/20) Song 527: Train Kept A Rollin' by Aerosmith, written by Tiny Bradshaw, Howard Kay and Lois Mann. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Doing research for last week's track, I learned that when The Left Banke recorded their second album (the LP that followed the one which featured Song 526), Steven Tyler did backup vocals on a few cuts, so it seemed appropriate to have his band Aerosmith come next on the list. After the band got a lot of attention with their first 33 in 1972, their second one, which came along two years later, also got plenty of airplay, including this cover of a 1950s and 1960s blues and rock classic. I might have already known the Yardbirds version, but I felt the Tyler and Co. rendition deserved the awareness that it generated. With the current pandemic situation, I have no idea when I might find myself walkin' down that old fair lane again, but whenever I do, if I meet a sweet little woman, I could gladly encourage her to get along on her way.