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, 5/9/21) Song 563: Crazy Horse by Josh Joffen, 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 one of my Fast Folk colleagues. When I moved from CA to Brooklyn at the end of the summer in 1988, I soon got to know him, and since we lived fairly close to each other, I think we made a few gig trips side by side in my van. I still recall one particular excursion we did during the warmer months of 1989 when we headed for a club in New England, and we got slowed down a bit by the jams on Bushwick Ave. While I did get to hear and savor a few of Josh's jewels, I had never heard this shining gem until today, but it quickly got my attention the first time around. Not only do I relish and admire the subject of its lines, which show appreciation for a striking indigenous warrior, but the lyrical and musical styles employed to express those deep thoughts remind me of the way I often put my pieces together. Though I had not previously considered it in this manner, I can now clearly see how a man carves a man out of a mountain and a mountain draws a mountain from the man. In addition, If our time should come to pass that our kind is gone at last, I can picture how Crazy Horse (or actually a carved-out statue of him) will stand as a reminder to the spirit of a man.
(Sunday, 5/2/21) Song 562: All I Want by Toad the Wet Sprocket, written by Todd Nichols, Glen Phillips, Dean Dinning and Randy Guss. You can find an entertaining YouTube video of it here. I don't recall exactly when the Toad crew first crossed my radar, but as the 1990s unfolded, soon enough, so did my interest in this bunch, although I will readily admit that I did not know until earlier today how the group evidently got its name from a Monty Python bit - I learned that entertaining twist thanks to a Facebook post featuring the Monty Python folks. This marks the third Toad appearance on this list, following Something's Always Wrong at #102 and I Will Not Take These Things For Granted at #118. The latter of those two enlivened the Toad CD Fear which also included tonight's track. As someone who has focused on sound for much of life, I can confirm that nothing's so loud as hearing when we lie and I can verify the fact that the truth is not kind. However, I additionally understand that nothing's so cold as closing the heart when all we need is to free the soul. While a lot of question marks still hang in the air regarding the current pandemic, whatever happens will be, and though the air speaks of all we'll never be, hopefully it won't trouble me.
(Sunday, 4/25/21) Song 561: Spinning Wheel by Blood Sweat and Tears, written by David Clayton-Thomas. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Following last week's bit featuring Even Dozen Jug Band luminary Maria Muldaur, this week's track comes from a group that included fellow Jug Band mate Steve Katz. I didn't necessarily enjoy the various RnR genres that emerged in the closing years of the 1960s, including the jazz-rock style that B, S & T embodied, but this 45 got my hoops turning quite rapidly when it lit up the airwaves around the time I graduated HS, in June of 1969. Less than 2 years later, during the winter of 1971, as a sophomore at Northwestern U., I got a ticket to watch the band perform live at the college auditorium, and I definitely relished hearing the horns that night. Having grown up in an area that prizes carousels, and that still champions them, I understood at a young age that what goes up must come down and a spinning wheel has got to go round, so it always felt good to ride a painted pony and let the spinning wheel spin. Regarding the bad times currently percolating, I think it makes sense to drop all your troubles by the riverside, ride a painted pony and let the spinning wheel fly, if and when the chance comes along.
(Sunday, 4/18/21) Song 560: Midnight at the Oasis by Maria Muldaur, written by David Nichtern. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Around the time my companion and I fled the fierce Chicago winter, moving to Atlanta, GA, in February of 1974, this single got a lot of attention as it climbed the charts, and for good reason. Back then I knew a bit about the history of the Even Dozen Jug Band, but I only learned of Maria's membership in that group a few years ago, mainly thanks to Wikipedia, so at the point when this hit stirred the airwaves, I did not have a clue about the dues MM had paid to set the stage for her stardom. Regardless of how she arrived, though, this jangle quickly got a bunch of us singing along, and according to what she hears from fans at her concerts in recent years, during its chart excursion, the piece inspired plenty of sexual encounters, loss of virginity, and pregnancy. Understandably, when we see heaven's holding a half-moon shining just for us, we might want to slip off to a sand dune real soon and kick up a little dust. Despite the current pandemic situation, at least some of us can still get to the place where we've got shadows painting our faces and traces of romance in our heads.
(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.