Friday, March 16, 2012

100 Songs That Move Me

Borrowed from Kwizgiver, here are 100 songs that have particular meaning for me. I began this on Sunday, March 11, 2012, and it took me till the following Friday to rank and link to 100 songs.

Remember, I'm a Baby Boomer and this list reflects that. Very little music from this millennium is represented. I apologize for my rampaging non-hipness! But I'm like Kevin Kline's Harold in The Big Chill. When asked if he could play any other music, he says, "There is no other music."

1) September by Earth, Wind and Fire. I have never been so sad that hearing this song hasn't lifted in spirits. I remember a moment in Fall 2004 when I was so blue that, when racing across a busy street against traffic, a driver honked at me and I flipped him off and kept going. I was so wounded and so angry at the world that I was willing to go mano-a-mano with a car! And then, when I got to the curb, this song came unexpectedly through my headphones. I smiled. It was my first sincere, spontaneous smile in days.


2) All My Loving by The Beatles. "Close your eyes and I'll kiss you, tomorrow I'll miss you, remember I'll always be true." The lyrics of this song, as well as Paul's voice and the look on his face as he sang it to me on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, defined romantic love for me when I was 6 years old. And you know what? It's still the way I wish romance was and hope it will be for me. Sweet, tender, lovely and "true."

3) I Will by The Beatles. My grown-up equivalent of #2. "Who knows how long I've loved you? You know I love you still. Shall I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will." I heard Sir Paul sing this to me at my beloved Wrigley Field in Summer 2011 and it was perfect.


4) Tears Dry on Their Own by Amy Winehouse. Oh Amy, Amy, Amy! How I wished she had more time to write more songs like this. Her voice is pretty, the Motown-inspired arrangement is lush, and the lyrics are just so raw and honest! When I fall in love, I go blind and deaf to reason and forget to, as she ruefully reminds me, "be my own best friend and not fuck myself in the head with stupid men."

5) Stoney End by Barbra Streisand. I have actually devoted blog posts to this song, because after listening to it for decades, "Stoney End" has become an actual place for me. When the pain hurts so much it feels my heart can no longer contain -- "when the fury of the broken thunder comes to match my raging soul" -- this is where my spirit goes. I let Babs do my raging for me. The fact that she is, by all accounts, happy and healthy at nearly 70 makes me feel it's safe to visit Stoney End. After all, she did, and she's survived. My oldest friend has an unhealthy fixation on Michael Jackson, and relating too closely to all that weakness and weirdness would scare me. But Babs is a survivor. She's a sturdy receptacle and a  powerful role model.

6) She Loves You by the Beatles. This song sounds so happy! And it's got the signature "yeah-yeah-yeah" chorus and falsetto "woo." But the lyrics are cool, too. For it's a third person narrative. You don't hear that in songs often. John and Paul were ambitious, cheeky little songwriters back in the day, weren't they? Not that the audience (a 1963, pre-US tour London crowd) could hear a moment of it

7) Revolution by The Beatles. I love this so! It's not every day you see Sir Paul scream his heart out. Plus, for me, this is the moment where John's activism and art came together perfectly. His passionate but commonsense approach to changing the world from within the system was a major influence on me then and speaks to me still. Oh yeah, and it's great rock and roll.

8) Peaceful by Helen Reddy. You don't know this song, do you? It seems no one does. While her big hits were, by and large, awful, Helen Reddy did record some little gems in the 1970s, including this one. I often long for a peaceful place where there's "no one bending over my shoulder, nobody breathing in my ear." This song is about the desire that drives me to unplug and run away to a spa, by myself, every spring.


9) Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. The most romantic song I have ever heard. Sigh. The Boss melts me with this every time. I'm still looking for a hero to rise from these streets.

10) I Want You Back by the Jackson 5. One of Motown's finest. Hell, one of the finest 3 minutes in recorded sound.

11) Sunday Morning by Maroon 5. "Come and rest your bones with me." What a sweet and sexy invitation!

12) Quiet, Please by Dusty Springfield. Peter Allen wrote this song for his onetime mother-in-law, Judy Garland. But it applies to Dusty, too. I love her performance. Her connection to the material and the audience makes me feel more connected to, and grateful to, her.

13) Saturday in the Park by Chicago. The ultimate summer song by hometown band.

14) Don't Rain on My Parade by Barbra Streisand. What a voice! What a performance! My favorite moment comes at 2:20 when she wills the tugboat to catch up with the oceanliner. I admit I have listened to this to reinforce myself when own spirit sags and my resolve slides.

15) The Boss by Diana Ross.  Miss Ross is a glorious diva and I love her sound on this song. But even better, I like the message. So little of the music popular during those disco days is even worth hearing, much less remembering. But this one -- about love having a thing or two to show each of us -- is one.

16) Badlands by Bruce Springsteen. Thinking of hard lessons that need to be learned, Bruce preaches about what really matters, and he's so right.

17) Hang Fire by the Rolling Stones. I'm not a Stones fan but I loooove this cut. It's barely 2 mins. of highly concentrated bad attitude. "Having money is a full time job. I don't need the aggravation, I'm a lazy slob!" Mick proudly proclaims.


18) Somebody's Baby by Jackson Brown. I know, I know. Jackson Browne is a serious lyricist and this is not the fluff he should be remembered for. But it's adorable and it makes me happy.


19) Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Fleetwood Mac. Clinton-Gore 1992. When we were all young and still hopeful.


20) Gentle on My Mind by Glen Campbell. I love the lyrics to this country oldie. I am enchanted by the notion that people can be together and stay together, not because of religious vows or social convention but just because they love one another.


21) You Don't Know Me by Jann Arden. There are so many versions of this song because it's such a heartbreaker. But this understated rendition is my favorite.


22) I Don't Break Easily by Barbra Streisand. Babs combines bravado and diffidence so perfectly. Oh, I'm moving on. I'll be so fine without you. But then, "the key's still there and I left the door unchained."


23) In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning by Frank Sinatra. No one expresses loneliness and ache like Frank. His voice is so sincere and intimate. Do you doubt for a minute that he lived this?

24) God Bless the Child by Diana Ross.Yeah, I know the Billie Holliday version is considered definitive. But I was introduced to Lady Day through Miss Ross back when I was still in high school, and it's her voice singing this that stays with me. "Them that's got shall get, them that's not shall lose." Truer words were never sung.

25) Real Love by The Doobie Brothers. Michael McDonald's vocals against the relentless beat about how life and hurt can grind away "the secret part of you." Still, I'd trade it all right now for just one minute of real love.

26) I Eat Dinner by Rufus Wainwright. After he's gone, you still have to do things alone that you once did together. Like eat dinner. This song is a poignant portrait of how life goes on, but the memories persist.
 
27) I Say a Little Prayer by Dionne Warwick. This is how it feels when you wake up in the morning and you're in love.


28) Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley. The quintessential Elvis ballad: On the one hand, very corny and syrupy. On the other hand, so sincere and true. "Darling so it goes, some things are meant to be." I came dangerously close to matrimony once and this would have been our first dance.

29) You Send Me by Aretha Franklin. Lady Soul's version of this song charmed me.

30) I'll Know by Barbra Streisand. Written for the musical Guys and Dolls, this song has been covered by dozens of performers. But it's Babs' I love. "Am I right, am I wise, am I smart?" She doesn't have to ask, because when she finally finds her true love, it will no longer matter.


31) No Surrender by Bruce Springsteen. An anthem about being true to oneself, as only Bruce can sing it. I still dream of going to "sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover's bed, with a wide open country in my eyes and these romantic dreams in my head."

32) Penny Lane by The Beatles. I remember that when I first saw this video, I was so shocked by all the Beatle facial hair that I didn't notice Paul was singing the story of my people. Life under blue suburban skies did make me feel as though I was in a play. It's a tender, melodic indictment of smalltown life, with a beautiful horn solo. So very Paul


33) I Could Have Been a Sailor by Peter Allen. Ah, the path not taken! I love this song because it reminds me of my best friend, and the struggle between his secret dreams and his real life.


34) Pleasant Valley Sunday by The Monkees. The scathing portrait of "life in status symbol land" came out when I was living it. I was too young to realize it at the time, but I feel it all now. I had to get out of my parents' hometown and their lifestyle, and this is why. Carole King's song is less ambiguous, less ambitious than Sir Paul's (#31), but also important to me.


35) Nothing Ever Happens by Del Amitri. Another look at soul numbing life choices. These songs resonate with me because of what I saw growing up.

36) Money Changes Everything by Cyndi Lauper. I love when Cyndi rocks. Now, decades after I first heard it, the lyrics proved prophetic: "We think we know what we're doing, but we don't know a thing."

37) Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross. If only I could sing, this is how and what I would sing!

38) So Emotional by Whitney Houston. "I don't know why I like it, I just do." and "When you talk, I just watch your mouth." In just a little over four minutes, this song captures exactly how lust feels.

39) A Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin. This is where lust meets love, and it's powerful.


40) I Hear a Symphony by Diana Ross and the Supremes. This is a pure representation of Motown.

41) Silly Love Songs by Wings. This is the merriest "fuck you" in the history of recorded sound. It's Paul justifying his light hits to the critics who preferred John's heavier creative efforts. And Paul, being Paul, made his third finger salute into yet another light and bouncy hit. Don't you just love the horns?


42) Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest. Like Earth, Wind and Fire's "September," this song means nothing but good times to me.

43) The Right Thing to Do by Carly Simon. I love the lyrics to this song: "Hold me in your hands like a bunch of flowers, set me moving to your sweetest song ..." There's a grown-up overlay to this romantic fairy tale. "You're with me now and as long as you stay." Carly knows it may not last forever. One of the most credible, adult love songs ever.


44) Daydream Believer by The Monkees. "Cheer up, Sleepy Jean," and "how much, Baby, do we really need?" Davy's vocals sail and I never want this song to end.


45) Shameless by Garth Brooks. Billy Joel may have written it, but Garth hits it out of the park. Unfortunately, I can't give you a link because Garth doesn't allow downloads. So here are my favorite lyrics, about the sweet surrender that comes with love:
I have never let anything have this much control over me
I work too hard to call my life my own
And I've made myself a world and it's worked so perfectly
But it's your world now I can't refuse
I've never had so much to lose
Oh I'm shameless

46) Sweet Blindness by the Fifth Dimension. Another Laura Nyro composition (she also wrote "Stoney End"). Has getting drunk and getting laid ever sounded so wholesome and fun? "Don't let Daddy hear it/he don't believe in the gin mill spirit ..."

47) It's Over by Boz Scaggs. I love how silky Boz makes his frustration sound. If you don't pay attention to the lyrics ("Why can't you just get it through your head? It's over! It's over now!") and just hear the sound, you'd think it's a love song, not a lack of love song.

48) Think by Aretha Franklin. Most people would give this slot to "Respect," but that song is just sooooo over done. That's why I prefer this commonsense plea for personal responsibility.


49) Piece of My Heart by Janis Joplin. "Come on, come on, come on, come on, TAKE IT!" Janis practically reaches through the speakers and grabs her man by the throat with urgency. Yes, I agree that the masochism is disturbing. But the Big Brother sound is so distinctive and intense and Janis is so ... Janis. It's compulsively listenable, even if emotionally unhealthy.


50) I'm On Fire by Bruce Springsteen. Oh, I know this feeling! You know the one: like someone took a knife, edgy and dull and cut a 6" valley through the middle of my skull. And yes, I've woke up with the sheet soaking wet and a freight train running through the middle of my head. There's nothing as intense as wanting, wanting, wanting someone you can't have.

51) Here You Come Again by Dolly Parton. "Lookin' better than a body has a right to." Who would think, to look at Dolly and me, that we had anything in common? And yet we have both found ourselves weak kneed by male pulchritude.

52) Go All the Way by the Raspberries. A ridiculous teenybopper ode to sex. Reminds me of how I thought sex would be back when I was an idealistic virgin. No, really!


53) Don't Do Me Like That by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I love this song. I don't care what anyone says! For some reason, I have had to defend my affection for this particular cut and I don't know why. I even love the "don't don't don't don't's." Now "Free Fallin'," I can totally see being annoyed by that. But this is great Tom Petty.

54) (Just Like) Starting Over by John Lennon. The first cut of Double Fantasy was so mellow, so friendly, so hopeful. I not only appreciate this as a love song on its own merits, I like thinking this represented how John was feeling about his life.


55) Julie, Do 'Ya Love Me by Bobby Sherman. How I loved this in junior high! And you know what? I still enjoy hearing it. The horns are great fun and the hook is irresistible. And Bobby's vocals are downright adequate. On some songs it's obvious that, let's face it, he couldn't hit a note if it was painted on the side of a barn. (He had such beautiful hair that he didn't have to sing.) But he sounds fine here. And even if I no longer insist my friends call me "Julie," I still love it.

56) Ooooh, Child by The Five Stairsteps. I always loved this song, ever since I was a kid. It has special meaning to me as an adult because it's one of my best friend's favorite songs, too. We quote it to each other when life gets to be a bit much. "Oooh, child, things are gonna be easier ..."


57) You're Gonna Lose that Girl by the Beatles. I just love the harmonies. So much is made of the Lads as composers and innovators that it's easy to forget how well they sang together. Plus this clip reminds me that Sir Paul has a perfectly straight nose. (I love him, you know.)

58) Tupelo Honey by Dusty Springfield. Van the Man wrote this, but I love Dusty's tender, romantic vocal.

59) Rene and Georgette Magritte and Their Dog After the War by Paul Simon. Another of my favorite long songs. I am captivated by the thought of these two, after decades together, after all they saw and shared, still so into each other. And how many love songs feature a dog?


60) You're Sixteen by Ringo Starr. The biggest hit from Ringo's biggest solo album. I have nothing but happy memories associated with this song. And that's quite a trick, since I pretty much hated every freaking moment of high school.

61) One Toke Over the Line by Brewer and Shipley. Like "Sweet Blindness" (#43), this ode to getting impaired features heavenly harmonies.

62) Wouldn't It Be Nice? by The Beach Boys. 99% of the time I loathe the Beach Boys. But then there's this song. "Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true ..." C'mon, how unutterably dear is that?

63) Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu bay Johnny Rivers. Johnny is an underrated vocalist and oh, how I love the piano on this one!


64) Quarter to Three by Gary US Bonds. Bruce Springsteen and I agree that this is one of the great 45s EVER! You can hear Gary's influence on many of Bruce's old-school rockers, and I like going back to the source.

65) Lady Madonna by The Beatles. When I was a kid, this was both scandalous and titillating (pun intended) because Paul sings "breast." But now I love it for so many other reasons. Paul's vocals are fluid and his piano is terrific and his paean to womanhood is sincere and much appreciated by this woman. (Hey! You know this McCartney kid is pretty good. He should stick with the music thing.)
 
66) She's Gone by Hall and Oates. Love can quite a toll on us, can't it? Who among us hasn't considered a deal with the devil, just to undo a breakup?


67) You've Got a Friend by James Taylor. Few relationships are as important as friendships, and yet there aren't that many songs about them. That's part of why this one means so much to me. "Winter, spring, summer and fall -- all you got to do is call." A simple but powerful and timeless message. James' unadorned performance gives it even greater impact.


68) A Hard Day's Night by the Beatles. From the moment you hear that opening chord, you know this is going to be fun. I love the way the boys, John and Paul, trade off on the lead vocals. John, being John, is complaining about how much he works, and how under-appreciated he feels. Paul, being Paul, reports that everything is all right as long as his woman's arms are holding him tight.

69) Mary's Place by Bruce Springsteen. "That black hole on the horizon ..." To me this, song is all about 9/11 and the Twin Towers. It's about the redemptive power of music, how it can mend the broken hearted. "Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up ..." If the music is loud enough and our hearts stay open, we will feel better. We will.

70) One Night a Day by Garth Brooks. Damn you, Garth Brooks, and your aversion to online music sharing! I just want people to hear you sing this exceptional song.
There's not a lot of things to do I wouldn't rather do with you
Guess I'm funny that way …
I'm calling every friend I've had, wake 'em up and make 'em mad
To let them know that I'm OK
I used to sit and talk to you
They're all just a substitute
To get through one night a day
One night a day, one step away
From leaving you behind 


71) Heat Wave by Linda Ronstadt. "Whenever he calls my name, soft, low, sweet and plain ..." I love her rocking vocals and the blistering guitars. "Don't pass up this chance. This time it's a true romance."


72) Tempted by Squeeze. So naughty. So forbidden. So civilized. So veddy, veddy British.

73) I Could Never Miss You by Lulu. Why isn't Lulu a bigger star stateside?


74) Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw? by Jimmy Buffett. It's not high art, but it's fun. I love that the song starts with, "I really do appreciate the fact that you're sitting here." There's something nice about candor.


75) Jump by Van Halen. Eddie and Diamond Dave! Life was so much fun when this song was popular. That organ riff at the beginning is as evocative as there is.


76) Little Red Corvette by Prince. I love everything about this song. I love the sexy sound of it. I love the witty, suggestive lyrics. Prince, like Garth Brooks, doesn't cooperate with online music sharing. So you'll just have to be satisfied remembering how he sounds singing, "Move over, Baby, gimme the keys. I'm gonna try to tame your little red love machine."


77) Stuff Like That There by Bette Midler. The Divine Miss M performs this WWII-vintage number fabulously as if it was written for her. Some prefer the more famous "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," but I love this one. Kelly Clarkson did a good job, too, during that long-ago first Idol season.

78) Get Happy by Judy Garland. The last musical number Garland filmed at MGM is my favorite. She's in great voice, her legs look a mile long, and that hat is the perfect prop for her fidgety hands. Rumor has it Judy's private life was sinking toward a suicidal low around this time (1950). If it's true, then she's an even greater genius than I thought. Whenever anyone asks what the fuss was about Judy Garland, I direct them to this number.

79) Crazy by Patsy Cline. No one sounded quite like Patsy. Her voice moves effortlessly up and down like an oboe. But she was too classy, too controlled, too much the artist to ever let her vocal gymnastics overwhelm the song. Her performance is perfect.

80) More than You Know by Barbra Streisand. This is Babs in Funny Lady, a disappointing movie with a stellar soundtrack. A zillion people have recorded this song, but Streisand's version is best. There's a defiance mixed with her tenderness, and her range is awesome. One of my favorite love songs.

81) Someone to Watch Over Me by Frank Sinatra. This clip is from Young at Heart. It's a corny movie that is beloved by no one but me. Listen to Frank sing. Watch Doris fall in love with him. Like "More than You Know," the song is wonderful and has been covered countless times. But I always come back to Francis Albert's version.


82) Lose Again by Linda Ronstadt. I relate to the vulnerability of these lyrics and the openness with which Linda sings them. "When the heart calls, the mind obeys." Ain't that just the truth?

83) A Nice Dream by Dusty Springfield. This song is the best thing about a clunker of a movie called Kiss Me Goodbye. I recognized my girl Dusty's vocals over the closing credits. It's about that moment when "the future becomes the past." I love it.

84) River by James Taylor. I love this song, all year around. It captures the regret I sometimes (ok ... often) feel when I push things too far.

85) Come In from the Rain by Diana Ross. "Well, hello, good old friend of mine." Beautiful lyrics, knowingly delivered. Whatever he was dealing with, he got through it. And Miss Ross was wisely waiting there, welcoming him with an open door to keep him from the rain.


86) Every Road Leads Back to You by Bette Midler. A love song about friendship, a celebration of shared history. How powerful is that?


87) Heart and Soul by Marcia Ball. My best friend turned me on to Marcia Ball, and this is my favorite cut. It's fun and sexy.

My Heart and Soul


88) I Only Want to Be with You by Dusty Springfield. It's one of her biggest hits, and it belongs on everyone's list of 100 songs.


89) I Can Help by Billy Swan. Isn't the organ fabulous? And I love that lyric -- "It would sure do me good to do you good."

90) Move Over by Janis Joplin. I love her righteous indignation. And Janis is sooo on to him! "I do believe you're toying with my affections, Honey." I never get tired of her.


91) Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight and the Pips. Does anyone not love this song? This is my best friend's signature karaoke song. My uncle loved it, too. When I hear it, it reminds me of those two very dear men.


92) Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle. I love the sleepy quality to her voice on this.

93) If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher. Solo Cher. 'Nuff said.


94) The One You Love by Glenn Frey. I lived this song. I gave up the one who loved me to go back to the one I loved. It wasn't a wise move, in retrospect, but as framed by this song, I had no choice.


95) Wedding Bell Blues by The Fifth Dimension. Another Laura Nyro song. I just loved her. I wish more people were familiar with her work. So versatile, so smart. In addition to "Sweet Blindness" and "Stoney End," she wrote Three Dog Nite's "Eli's Coming" and "Celebrate."

96) Just to See Her by Smokey Robinson. What a perfect meld of voice and lyric! When Smokey says he "would do anything" to see her again, I believe him!


97) A Brand New Me by Dusty Springfield. A happy, 60s-era ode to the transformative power of love.


98) Kentucky Rain by Elvis Presley. An old boyfriend used to rib me about my unreasonable affection for this record. "Can you imagine Elvis, in that white jumpsuit and cape and huge belt buckle, hitchhiking through the cold Kentucky rain?" Yeah, whatever. Make fun. I still love it.


99) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. A party anthem if ever there was one! Girls night out, anyone?


100) The End of the Innocence by Don Henley. These lyrics take my breath away. This song is downright Bruce-worthy! Every time I hear it, it touches me anew.



3 comments:

  1. I love love love this! You didn't just name the songs, you told us why. This is one of a gazillion reasons why I love you so!

    And it's inspired me to do my own list (with healthy doses of my not-so-damn-sekrit BF). Great idea done well.

    Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great list! It took me almost two weeks to put my list together. There were just too many great songs.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great idea! I'll have to try this... though I don't know when I'll finally get it done.

    ReplyDelete

Sorry about adding Comment Moderation, folks. But look at the bright side, at least I've gotten rid of word verification!