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, 8/12/18) Song 420: I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You) by Hank Williams, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. The Ohio relatives' extensive country music collection introduced me to Hank, as well as other classic artists of the 1950s and 1960s, and I found Mr. Williams quite impressive. At some point in the 1960s, I watched a move about Hank on TV, and that film contains a very entertaining story about him writing this song in a record company executive's office during the man's lunch break. It makes for a fun tale, and a memorable movie scene, but I would bet the flick writers spun it out of whole cloth. However mundane the tune's actual genesis might have been, though, in contrast to its theatrical promotion, the piece itself still stands out as one of Hank's best. Whenever I hear it, a picture from the past comes slowly stealing, giving me that old time feeling, and I Can't Help It (If I Still Love this one).
(Sunday, 8/5/18) Song 419: Finest Worksong by R.E.M., written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe. You can find a YouTube video of it here. I thought R.E.M. sounded pretty good the night my band Victims of Technology opened for them and the Lloyds at The Stone in San Francisco (6/22/83), but when Document came along 4 years later, I thought they have moved up to a whole new level. The album became a regular spinner for me, and it would also find a sweet spot on my iPod not long after that shiny mp3 player arrived, so over the years the record has enlivened many moments, including through ear buds on NYC subway rides and blasting from a portable speaker set while driving along interstate highways. This cut opens the LP with a bang, and sets a very high-energy tone for the ride. Three decades after its release, I would say an even greater share of workers feel that What we want and what we need Has been confused, been confused, but hearing this track can also impart the feeling of being in Your finest hour and believing that Another chance has been engaged.
(Sunday, 7/29/18) Song 418: Li'l Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, written by Ron Blackwell. You can find a YouTube video of it here. After hearing about Little Things last week, this week's playlist track centers on a specific little one, in a very entertaining way. During the stretch when this novelty number graced the airwaves in the summer of 1966, my family did our warm-weather visit to the Ohio relatives, which during that decade had changed from the yearly routine it had been in the 1950s to being an even-numbered-year outing. Our stay in 1966 included my cousin treating me to my first motorcycle ride, and also him spinning If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears for me and my brothers in a sparkling bedroom of the uncle's newly-completed house - the family had previously lived in the building's basement for at least ten years. Then one sunny afternoon, a bunch of us played miniature golf at a nearby course that featured background music courtesy of the local Top-40 station, and hearing this hit made the game even more fun. I always savored the word play about the wolf wearing his sheep suit, and the way the singer ends by making a wolf sound followed by a sheep sound. Since he had such a big heart, the better to love her with, perhaps she (Red) really would have seen things his way before they got to grandma's place.
(Sunday, 7/22/18) Song 417: Little Things by Bush, written by Gavin Rossdale. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Bush first got my attention when Everything Zen (Song 89) made a big noise on the airwaves in the winter of 1995, and soon enough, after hearing a couple of other tracks from the album, I added Sixteen Stone to my collection. This cut from the record vividly portrays, in both music and words, the all-too-common life experience of small annoyances quickly adding up to much greater difficulties and defying attempts at resolution, along with the feeling of being pulled strongly in 2 polar opposite directions. Like songwriter Rossdale, I too can claim a talent that might make me best at forget, but his word play on the lines Here comes a lie/We will always be true never fails to make me smile. I would guess, though, that Gavin is probably not Loaded on wrong when he suggests Going up when coming down/Scratch away - that might actually be good advice.
(Sunday, 7/15/18) Song 416: Laundromat Girl by Carol Denney, 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 track comes from my good friend and former Berkeley housemate Carol. I had heard her do this cut live at least once, and I didn't really get it the first time around. When I got to hear it as the opening track of The Rich Will Never Be Poor, though, I did get it right away, and I liked it a lot more than I would have expected, given my initial reaction to it. Soon enough, I had The Rich Will Never Be Poor loaded onto my iPod, and over the last decade I have listened to the record a lot, with this opening tune setting the mood for the listening experience. Having lived in the Bay Area for about a decade, it's possible that I might have met the Laundromat Girl sketched here, but since I cannot claim her interest, it may not matter. Similarly, I would not know how to tell if something's wrong with that girl, but whether there is or not, Carol sure makes her sound intriguing. When I got the CD back in 2010, I still lived in Highland Park, NJ, and when I would head over to do laundry, I would hear this chorus in my head while looking at the woman behind the counter, because, even though I knew she was not the original subject of the piece, at that moment, she was the Laundromat Girl in my life.
(Sunday, 7/8/18) Song 415: Us And Them by Pink Floyd, written by Roger Waters and Richard Wright. You can find a YouTube video of it here. Warren James, as my first dorm roommate at NU, introduced me to the music of Pink Floyd because he really liked them, but what I heard didn't interest me at the time. When Dark Side of the Moon came along a few years later, though, it did grab me, and I felt it deserved all of the attention it got. This particular epoch paints a very clear picture of the simplistic, fearful authoritarian mindset that fuels all large-scale violent conflicts, up to and including major wars. The lyrics also make the point that theft underpins the us vs. them mentality. While this kind of hostile rhetoric never disappeared, lately it has gotten a lot louder, which makes this cut all the more meaningful for the present moment. Us? We're always the good ones, even if we start wars for oil. Them? They're always the bad ones, even when they feed the hungry. Listen, son, said the man with the gun, there's room for you inside. Well, If I Was You, I wouldn't go inside the war machine - better to recognize that at the core of the divisive Us And Them phrase lies a strategy as old as the Roman Empire: Divide and Conquer. If you don't want to be conquered, tune out the authoritarians sowing the division. On a side note, you can now find the If I Was You song video pinned to the top of my FB musician page if you just click on the title.
(Sunday, 7/1/18) Song 414: Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport by Rolf Harris, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of it here. During the summer of 1963, I heard this novelty tune coming out of transistor radios at least a few times while hanging out at the nearby park down the road where kids gathered to play games like chess and checkers and to do simple, fun, crafty stuff. I really liked the catchy chorus, although at the age of 11 I didn't have any clue as to the nature of the story, other than that it obviously referred to the kangaroo country Australia. When, as a young adult a decade later, I added this hit to my record collection, I learned the lyrics and understood the basic context of the extended joke. Even then, though, I did not know what the Abos were - I pictured some sort of horse/donkey type of animal, but only recently did I learn that Abos referred to Aborigines, meaning that the singer had enslaved a group of Australian indigenous people. If I had known that, even as an 11-year-old, it might have clouded my pleasure in the cut, but this one isn't meant to be taken seriously anyway, so maybe they tanned his hide when he died, Clyde, and that's it a-hangin' on the shed, but I can still smile about it.
(Sunday, 6/24/18) Song 413: Songbird by Fleetwood Mac, written by Christine McVie. You can find a YouTube video of it here. When the duo of Buckingham and Nicks replaced Bob Welch as the front performers for Fleetwood Mac, they helped to take the band to a new level, both artistically and in terms of commercial success, in the summer of 1975. A little over a year-and-a-half later, Rumours came along, and I heartily agreed with the critics who asserted that it sounded even better than its predecessor. I always believed that the title slyly referenced the whispers of romantic dalliances between band members. The McVies had divorced, while the Buckingham and Nicks romance flickered on and off, and at the time I suspected both Buckingham and Nicks of a McVie hookup, though I don't now recall what fueled that speculation. I pictured the stirring ballad that concludes the LP's side one as a statement of renewed dedication, though in real life, maybe it didn't work out that way. About a year-and-a-half after the release of Rumours, I relished my first visit to the city where FM had recorded the album, and having just moved to the Bay Area, Sausalito seemed like a truly inspiring place. During the 7 years I lived in Berkeley, though, I don't think I ever realized that Songbird had been recorded at U.C. Berkeley's Zellerbach Auditorium, though I always appreciated the cut's concert hall ambience. To this day, I savor hearing a certain Songbird singing about how she loves her lover Like never before.