Friday, September 24, 2010

653. About those songs . . . .

(It occurs to be that trips down memory lane shouldn't be taken after three or four glasses of wine. Nostalgia can honestly be depressing.)

By the way, this is a very long entry.

A few entries back was a list of the music my friends Lisa Tanner and Lauren Ingram recorded for me to play at the Birthday Celebration last Sunday. Thirty-eight of my thirty-nine favorite songs are listed, if you take into account that the list doesn't include any patriotic or religious songs, or Broadway musical numbers, which would extend the list by several more. Such songs would include America The Beautiful (especially as sung by Ray Charles), The Prayer of Saint Francis, and I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady.

Of the 38 listed of my 39 favorites, the 39th which isn't, is Puff The Magic Dragon, easily the first song I remember from childhood. I can still see that little red 45-RPM record going round and round on my Hi-Fi Record Player. For those of you under 30, you'll have to google it to get the image.

Music is said to be a or the universal language. It certainly allows one to relive memories, re-taste certain foods, re-smell certains aromas, and frankly revisit people and relationships no longer present - some of which are gone forver.

On this first Friday of the Second Century of my life, I've been thinking long and hard about people and events which got me from 1960 to 2010. It has been, as I am sure it is for everyone, quite a journey. Below are some thoughts next to the titles recorded on the CD. Some have deep personal meaning, others are quite simple and unimportant. Nonetheless, these are the songs which have been the music to which I've lived my life thus far. So after the title will be a short note or name which comes to mind when listening to that particular song.

To wit:

You’re Sixteen, Ringo Starr - Cheryl Eadens was the younger sister of a girl in my class, Glenda. I had a huge crush on Cheryl. I wonder what became of her.

Hotel California, The Eagles - just a song from high school. It came out my senior year at Durrett.

Piano Man, Billy Joel - Murphy's on Main Street, which had a piano room to the left. I enjoyed hanging out there requesting certain songs. As a piano player, although not a very good one, I konw many of the songs on this list are piano-based.

Free For All, Ted Nugent - another song from high school. It came out during my sophomore year, the most difficult of my life. Both of my grandmothers had died while I was 15. This was also the first year of court-ordered bussing in Jefferson County. A very tumultuous time. My brother was a Ted Nugent fan as well.

Undercover Angel, Alan O’ Day - no one or no thing in particular. This song and Chevy Van, which could have made the list alongside this one, just seem like fun songs.

Garden Party, Ricky Nelson - There comes a time when you feel more like a loner than a joiner - breaking away from the norms expected of you. This is what Ricky Nelson is singing about and I can easily identify. Like Puff the Magic Dragon, I think I've known this song most of my life.

Running On Empty, Jackson Browne - Jackson Browne is my favorite singer. I've liked this song since it came out in 1977. Another piano-based recording, it was released the very day I began my freshman year at the University of Kentucky. It is part of several songs which became standards for me and Mary-John Celletti in our visits back-and-forth between Lexington, Frankfort, and Louisville in our Young Democrat days.

Build Me Up Buttercup, The Foundations - This song, and a few others, remind me of my friend Rob. Next July Rob will have been gone 20 years.

American Pie, Don McLean - My dad turned me on to this song while he lived in Torrance, California, which was also home to the writer and singer Mr. Mclean. I first heard this song over the telephone played by my father on a guitar. I was ten years old at the time. At over eight minutes long, it is one of the longest songs on the playlist.

I’ll Be There, Jackson Five - I wrote last summer on the passing of Michael Jackson. He sang the lead in this song early in the career of the Jackson Five. I love the words and the passion with which he sang it in those early years. As an aside, my friend Keith, who now lives in Brooklyn, is a dead ringer for Jackson from the early years.

I Just Called To Say I Love You, Stevie Wonder - just a neat, simple song, seemingly played on a Hammond Organ as opposed to a piano. It mentions a Libra Sun. I suppose such is related to an Autumnal Equinox/Harvest Moon, which regular readers know got me excited a few nights ago. Erroneously, Wonder mentions an August Harvest Moon. I don't think that is possible.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Queen - Who, from the my age, doesn't like Queen?

Lyin’ Eyes, The Eagles - This song, and the next two following (and a few later in the list), reminds me of Janice Platt, a young lady I adored from the first moment I saw her when I was in 9th grade and she was in 7th. It was #264 on the jukebox at the old Busch's Tavern on Poplar Level Road.

My Eyes Adored You, Frankie Valli - The second in the series. If when riding in the car with my mother this song comes on the radio, Mom knows to end whatever conversation we are in, to be quiet, and listen.

Mandy, Barry Manilow - The third of three. I like a lot of Manilow. This one begins with the mellow keys of a piano. I like how his songs typically built up to a great crescendo, then played out.

Boys Of Summer, Don Henley - Another song which appears for no reason other than I like it.

We Are The World, Michael Jackson and others - This collaboration from the 1980s is one of the greatest collections of voices anywhere to be found on vinyl. Lionel Ritchie plays the piano in my favorite version.

Killing Me Softly, Roberta Flack - While this song was first recorded in 1971 (and 1973 by Flack, a renowned pianist) and has been a favorite of mine for many years, it took on new meaning in February 2003 when I met Migael Dickerson. Migael is an excellent classical pianist and shortly after meeting him and learning of his musical ability, one snowy afternoon we visited the 851 Mansion, part of the old house within Spalding University's Administration Building. In the parlor of the house is a grand piano which Migael played for nearly two hours, completely mesmerizing me, a spell which remains to this day. If you watched the You Tube videos from the Birthday Celebration, Migael is the interviewer/videographer.

Doctor My Eyes, Jackson Browne - Another from California rocker Jackson Browne, this from his first album in 1972. And like so many songs herein, underlain by a piano - this one very, very upbeat. Like many songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, there is an interior verse or two which is strictly instrumental, something of a jam session and something which writers/singers no longer do. I miss jam sessions between the second and third verses of songs.

Take It To The Limit, The Eagles - Belinda Holloman was another girl from high school. She lived in Audubon Park and I spent many afternoons there. I haven't seen her in years but she come to mind everytime I hear this song. I know her mother Bonnie passed away recently.

1999, Prince - An anthem for my generation.

One More Try (Teacher), George Michael - This song came out in 1988. Several from George Michael sound alike but this is easily my favorite. Very mystical due to what sounds like a pipe organ, it reminds me of, really, nobody in particular, other than maybe Keith in Brooklyn.

Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody, David Lee Roth - This is just a very, very fun song, a remake of a big-band era (1929) less-than-fun song based on World War I life in Austria. David Lee Roth, the former and present lead man for Van Halen, hails from nearby Bloomington, Indiana.

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Guns ’n’ Roses - Bob Dylan wrote this song in 1973 and it was later popularized by Billy Rose/GnR. It is another song bringing to mind my late friend Rob. He covered this on guitar. I like the music, Rose's rough voice (which my friend Keith mocks in a perfect impression), and the lengthy jam session, which is heavily laden with piano playing on the far right end of the 88 keys. It is a great song.

Load Out/Stay, Jackson Browne - the culminating song from the 1977 Running on Empty album, it is another of the long songs in the playlist. The falsetto from the Stay part of the song is memorable for many. And like so many of my favorites, it is played on the piano, starting from the fresh dark notes to the rollouts toward the end. It was the closing song for most of Browne's concerts.

Patience, Guns ’n’ Roses - This was the song for Rob and his girlfriend Tiffany, who lived over by Bowman Field. And, again, I'm an Axl Rose fan.

Black Water, The Doobie Brothers - I remember listening to this song over at my friend Janice's house on East Manslick Road when I was in the 9th or 10th grade. I used to ride my bike from my house to her's, a distance of exactly three miles.

Dream On, Aerosmith - Another high school fave.

Ben, Michael Jackson - What can I say? I loved the early sounds of a young Michael Jackson.

All Summer Long, Kid Rock - This is a very recent song, compared to all the others, debuting in the United States in April 2008, a crossover rock/country song. Admittedly, I'm not a Kid Rock fan but this is his greatest hit to date. I am a fan of the southern rock genre although very few songs on this list fit that category. Like Doctor My Eyes, many southern rock songs have an interior instrumental jam session. This song is an homage to Lynard Skynard and others from that era. I really like it.

It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday, Boyz II Men - This a capella version of a 1975 Rhythm and Blues song was released in August 1991, a few very short weeks after the death of my friend Rob. "And I'll take with me the memories, To be my sunshine after the rain, It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday."

Seasons In The Sun, Terry Jacks - This is a song from my early teen years, reminding me of my friends up and down Whippoorwill Road, especially Susan LaCour and Debbie Bischoff. We spent a lot of time at Susan's, whose room - I remember to this day - was decorated in many shades of purple.

Same Old Lang Syne, Dan Fogelburg - Janice Platt, again. Will it ever end?

I’ll Be Missing You, Sean Combs/Faith Evans - This HipHop ballad/homage to the late Notorious Big (about whom I know nothing) is a very moving song blending words from The Police's 1983 Every Breath You Take, and a line from the gospel song I'll Fly Away. It placed #1 on music charts all around the world following its release in 1997. Who among isn't missing a friend who we hope, as the lyrics say,"In the future, can't wait to see, If you open up the gates for me." Indeed.

Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd - I don't remember when, but at some point in 2004 or 2005, my aforementioned friend Migael took off to Cleveland. This song, which I've known forever, took on new meaning as I wondered if he would ever return to Louisville. He did.

For Once In My Life, Stevie Wonder - What is there not to like about Stevie Wonder? This song is a lot of fun.

Good Bye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John - No repertoire of songs for a 50 year old would be complete without an Elton John or two. Crocodile Rock was an early favorite of mine, a song my friend Glen Shumate played for hours on end at his house on South Park Road. GBYBR is my favorite Elton John recording.

Free Bird, Lynard Skynard - Hell, yeah. At 9 minutes, 6 seconds, it is the longest song on my list, or probably anyone else's. Free Bird is the quintessential southern rock anthem. It is the quintessential anthem for a generation or two of Americans, especially those in the Old South, for which Louisville (just barely) qualifies. It is a song that irrespective of the weather, if you are driving, you are prone to roll down the windows, turn up the volume, and sing along. I've been doing that since I first started driving in 1976, cruising around in my 1967 Chevy II Nova. I miss it. I miss it all.


Well, that's it. Thanks for reading. What are your favorites? Why? And, how many of these have you been humming along with?


Anonymous said...

But Jeff, where is "My Way" by Frank? You used to sing that one constantly back in Bill Moorman's and/or Brenda Risner's class... Love the list! What a trip down Memory Lane!

Thomas McAdam said...

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be...

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.