Monday, January 20, 2014

One Hundred Songs (and a few more)

Me as Elvis in 1957 with my Sears Roebuck cardboard guitar

The only musical talent I have ever manifested is a life-long appreciation of many types of music.  When I was nine years old I remember watching Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show and I wrote him a nice letter asking him to come and play at my next birthday party in the back yard.  His people sent me an autographed 5x7 color photo which my mother later threw away before the Bishop came to visit.  I remember buying my first 45 when I was twelve ("My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" by Ricky Nelson) and my shortly thereafter, my first mono LP - by Edd "Kookie" Burns.  I bought "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by the Tokens and returned it to the store because the hole had been punched off center and it would not play.  I had to make the guy at the store (it was a furniture store) try to play it himself before he believed me and gave me a new copy.  I bought new 45's as they came out and handfuls of old ones (3/$1) at Grants Department Store in downtown Buffalo.

Radio was (and still is) my lifeline.  I listened to late night disc jockeys on my turquoise blue brick sized transistor radio - George "The Hound Dog" Lorenz, Dick Summer, Cousin Brucie, Tom Shannon - they furthered my desires for more, more, and still more records.  Later along came Danny and Joey and the Royal Order of the Purple Candle.  My interests advanced from my parents' collection of Broadway albums ("Flower Drum Song", "Carousel", "Oklahoma!", all the way to "Bye Bye Birdie") and then along came the Great Folk Music Scare with Peter, Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Limelighters, etc.  Next came The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez - well, what can anyone say about the music of the sixties that has not already been said?

Once I began going to concerts and festivals my music collection widened further.  I remember anxiously waiting what seemed like years for Arlo Guthrie to come out with "Alice's Restaurant" on vinyl after hearing him debut it at Newport.  I witnessed Bob Dylan "go electric" at the Newport Folk Festival, I went to Woodstock.  I bought recordings at Mariposa and Summerfolk for decades - and I still bring cash to concerts so I can buy merch directly from the artist.

This list of my top one hundred favorite songs was both fun and time-consuming to compile.  You will notice that after some songs I have added in parentheses other titles by the same artist - I mean, it is simply not possible for me to choose just one song by writers like John Prine or Leonard Cohen or Dylan.  I did cheat however and put covers by other artists into the list so I could squeeze in more of my favorites.  I do not generally approve of covers - but the ones I have listed are so stellar they have always been right up there with the originals.

Looking over this list I find it very interesting that as a dyed-in-the-wool homebody, I have a lot of songs about trains, truckers, wanderers and gypsies.  The preacher's kid in me has always been drawn to songs about spirituality and religion.  I love songs with clever lyrics and unexpected rhymes, songs with resonant harmonies and songs with soaring fiddles.  I love rounds.  I love songs with stories in them and stories behind them.  I once heard Roberta Flack say that the day she recorded "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" her beloved cat had just died and she was remembering the kitty as she sang.  And some songs take me to scenes in movies or TV shows where they so perfectly complemented the scenes ("Worst Day Since Yesterday", for instance, on Stargate Universe and "Nights in White Satin" at the end of the Sonny Steelgrave arc on Wiseguy).

Anyways, here is my list - let me know if you want me to make you a mix-tape.

·       Euphonious Whale – Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks
·       If Venice is Sinking – Spirit of the West
·       Heroes – David Bowie
·       Dancing on My Own Ground – Lawrence Gowan
·       Worst Day Since Yesterday – Flogging Molly
·       Crying – Roy Orbison
·       Runaround Sue – Dion and the Belmonts
·       Fairytale of New York – The Pogues (I’m a Man you Don’t Meet Every Day) (Dirty Old Town)
·       The Drinking Song – Moxy Fruvous (King of Spain, live version)
·       Onward and Upward – Beverly Glen Copeland
·       Ride Forever – Paul Gross  (32 Down on the Robert Mackenzie)
·       Heaven – Talking Heads (Wild Wild Life)(Life During Wartime)
·       Losing My Religion – REM
·       City of New Orleans – Steve Goodman (I Can’t Sleep)
·       The Dutchman – Michael Smith
·       White Rose - Fred Eaglesmith (Indiana Road)
·       Girl Power – Electroman
·       Wicked and Weird – Buck 65
·       Boxes - Road Dog Divas
·       Me Llaman Calle - Manu Chao
·       Cause – Sixto Rodriguez
·       Land – Patti Smith
·       The Crystal Ship – The Doors  (The End)
·       Time Has Come Today – The Chambers Brothers
·       The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Rheostatics (Northern Wish)
·       Saskatchewan – Red Box
·       Gypsy Solitaire - Fraser and DeBolt
·     Memories – Leonard Cohen (Take this Waltz) (So Long Marianne) (Iodine) (Dance Me to the End of Love) (Gypsy Wife)
·       The Urge for Going – Tom Rush (Circle Game)
·       High School Confidential – Rough Trade
·       She Belongs to Me – Bob Dylan (Isis) (Forever Young)(Like a Rolling Stone)
·       Diamonds and Rust – Joan Baez
·       Rust Never Sleeps – Neil Young
·       Picture My Face – Teenage Head
·       Ashes to Ashes - Danny Michel  (Would you Buy a Frame?)
·       Babooshka – Kate Bush (Wuthering Heights, Man with the Child in his Eyes)
·       Sweeping the Spotlight Away – Murray Maclaughin (Out Past the Timberline)(You Need a New Lover Now)
·       Simple Twist of Fate – Tim Curry (I Do the Rock) (Paradise Garage)
·       Navajo Rug – Ian Tyson
·       Brownsville/Mockingbird – Joy of Cooking
·       Temagimi Round – Marie-Lynn Hammond
·       Dance and Celebrate – Bourne and MacLeod
·       Witch of the Westmorland – Stan Rogers  (The Mary Ellen Carter) (45 years)
·       Brothers in Arms – Dire Straits
·       Buxton – Tanglefoot
·       Celluloid Heroes – The Kinks (Come Dancing) (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy)
·       Atlantis – Donovan (Catch the Wind)
·       Tinker’s Knife – Morgan LeFay
·       Panther in Michigan – Trout Fishing in America
·       Highwayman – The Highwaymen
·       Some Velvet Morning – Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra
·       Nights in White Satin – Moody Blues
·       The Mummers’ Dance – Loreena McKennitt (Night Ride Across The Caucasus) (The Mystic's Dream) (The Highwayman)
·       Blackjack Davy – The Incredible String Band
·       I Want You Around – The Ramones (Rock ‘n’ Roll High School)
·       Anthem – The Once
·       Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
·       Silver Tongue Devil – Kris Kristofferson
·       Safety Dance – Men Without Hats
·       Rock, Salt and Nails – Tracy Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Earl Scruggs Revue
·       Passing Through – Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen, Buffy Saint-Marie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot
·       Life’s Railway to Heaven – Amazing Rhythm Aces
·       Orange Blossom Special – Seatrain
·       Turn Your Face to the Sun – Cathy Carfagna
·       Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard -John Prine (Mexican Home) (Christmas in Prison) (The Accident) (It’s a Big Old Goofy World) (Hello in There)(That’s the Way that the World Goes Round)
·       Matapedia – Kate and Anna McGarrigle
·       Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine – Country Joe and the Fish
·       You’ll Have Time - William Shatner (Common People)
·       Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota – Weird Al Yankovic
·       Huron Carole – Tom Jackson
·       Ain’t Life a Brook – Ferron
·       I’m Checking Out (of this Heartbreak Hotel) – Meryl Streep and Blue Rodeo from “Postcards from the Edge”
·       God is Alive Magic is Afoot – Buffy Sainte-Marie (Piney Wood Hills)(Starwalker)(Until It’s Time For You To Go)(Codine)
·       Galaxy Song – Eric Idle
·       Bird of Paradise – Tony Bird
·       Scatterlings – Johnny Clegg and Juluka
·       Henry Martin – Pamela Morgan and Figgy Duff
·       Canadian Railroad Trilogy – Gordon Lightfoot (Home From the Forest)
·       Robbie’s Song for Jesus – John Allen Cameron (Lord of the Dance)
·       Plea from a Cat Named Virtute – The Weakerthans
·       Now – Dave Carroll
·       Little Red Riding Hood – Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
·       Jumble Sale – Jake Thackary (Ulysses)
·       God’s Own Drunk – Jimmy Buffet
·       When the River Meets the Sea – Paul Williams from “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas”
·       Pounded on a Rock – The Bobs
·       Oreos – Free Hot Lunch
·       Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
·       Paradise by the Dashboard Light – Meat Loaf
·       Old Home Filler-Up and Keep on Truckin’ CafĂ© – C.W. McCall
·       We Rise Again – The Rankin Family
·       Petite Fleur – Kaleidoscope (Cuckoo)
·       The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack
·       Mull of Kintyre - Paul McCartney and Wings
·       Time After Time - Cindy Lauper
·       Caravan – Dulcimer (with narration by Richard Todd)
·       Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole
·       Heaven – Psychedelic Furs
·       All The Horses Running – Stringband (Daddy Was a Ballplayer) (Look What’s Become of Me) (I Don’t Sleep With Strangers Anymore)
·       You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Rolling Stones (Sympathy for the Devil) (Shattered)