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, 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.
(Sunday, 12/20/20) Song 543: Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. 40 years ago, in early December of 1980, a murderer who claimed to have been a John Lennon fan shot and killed him. At the time, my good friend and singer/songwriter colleague Jeff Larson still lived with his parents in Fremont, CA, while I resided in Oakland, and I would regularly take the BART train down to his neighborhood so we could share our fresh musical ideas. On the early evening of 12/8/80, when he picked me up at the station, he told me the tragic news about Lennon. A recent reminder of that sad memory made it seem appropriate to feature this particular cut for Christmas week this year. And so Happy Christmas for black and for white, for yellow and red ones, let's stop all the fight. John's surviving widow Yoko recently tweeted that if we truly want war to be over, we should all toss our pebbles in that direction, and if enough of us do, a large-enough wave could end the fight. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let's hope it's a good one without any fear. I will admit that John's holiday opus played a role in convincing me that I needed to also craft one of my own, and when Jeff did his Yuletide anthem Home for the Holidays, it really moved me to put all the pieces together for Commoner's Carole, which appears on my Holiday Card CD, and you can check out the lyric video of that by clicking on the title.
(Sunday, 12/13/20) Song 542: Tree by Ilene Weiss, 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 holiday gift comes from a Brooklyn folkie colleague. One night in 1987, on a brief visit to NYC while I still resided in CA, I saw her do a set at Folk City, and I instantly became an IW fan. About a year later, I moved to Brooklyn and soon joined the local singer/songwriter circle that included her. I recently discovered this shining 1990s ornament that tells a very typical December green tree story - if they could talk to us, this is probably what most of them would say. Interestingly enough, in January of this year I learned that evidently trees do talk to each other, though they don't talk to us. Regardless of how the evergreens feel about our treatment of them, I basically agree with the assertion that real Christmas trees are better for the environment than artificial ones (here's a blog about that). Ah, but what's that I hear? You knocked me down, then you dressed me up for the pictures that you posed me in and you looked at me so adoringly 'til you knocked me down again.
(Sunday, 12/6/20) Song 541: Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin, written by Don Covay. You can find a YouTube video of it here. This hit arrived around this time of the year back in 1967, shortly before the Christmas break in my junior year of HS, and I felt like I also had become a link in a particular young woman's Chain of Fools, so I quickly felt I could sing along and I knew exactly what Aretha meant when she gave voice to these pointed sentiments. In fact, it felt like I had gotten an early gift on the airwaves without having to write a letter to Santa, receiving a musical reward for being a good boy, though of course, at the time I would have preferred a romantic present, but that did not come my way. Currently, with big question marks hanging in the air, it does seem like one of these mornings the chain is gonna break but up until the day I'm gonna take all I can take, knowing that every chain has got a weak link, and you never know what might give you strength.
(Sunday, 11/29/20) Song 540: Heartaches By The Number by Ray Price, written by Harlan Howard. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I got to know this hit and a bunch of additional country classics thanks to the extensive LP collection of the Ohio relatives that my family visited every summer in the 1950s, and every even-numbered summer in the 1960s. Like a lot of other songs, I soon learned the chorus on this one well enough that I could sing along with it as it spun on the turntable, and I would also occasionally vocalize it by myself during moments of isolation. Sadly, due to the current pandemic situation, way too many people these days have heartaches by the number and troubles by the score, though romantic entanglements have little if anything to do with the vast majority of the problems. The disease can easily make someone feel that they can't win, but hopefully the day people can stop counting their heartaches and troubles will not be the day the world will end.
(Sunday, 11/22/20) Song 539: Dance Tonight by Paul McCartney, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Similar to last week's post, I did not know this tune when it first came along in 2007, but a few weeks ago, one day I saw some music videos on Facebook that someone had sent me links for, and I liked a lot of what I saw and heard, including this one and the one from last week. Growing up as a Fab Four fan in the 1960s, I of course have an interest in any Paul music I haven't heard, and this ride definitely fits in quite well with his repertoire. As someone who also has a mandolin in my instrument collection, and has periodically cruised up and down its keyboard, I truly enjoyed the opening video sequence of the instrument delivery. Though I can't say when it might happen, I do hope that we can get beyond this pandemic situation at some point in the near future, and then everybody's gonna dance around, everybody's gonna hit the ground, everybody's gonna stamp their feet, everybody's gonna feel the beat, everybody's gonna jump and shout, everybody's gonna sing it out. I look forward to the moment when we can know that everybody's gonna dance tonight.