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Music that Matters

Music is so culturally centered: what is hot in one place or time is not in another. What gets in our heads when young becomes what we want to hear later in life, or so it seems. That's why I would never make a list of the "ten best songs," but I would make a list of the tens songs (or more) that make a difference. Why do they make a difference? Because for some reason, words or music, a performance, a particular context, they change things.

Make me shudder

When you write HTML, you have to make decisions, like whether to use an "ordered list" (<ol>) or an unordered list (<ul>). This is an ordered list because this is number one that makes a chill go down my spine:

  1. "Gimme Shelter"

    Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

    This song has been covered by by dozens of fine performers, including background singer on the original track Merry Clayton. But the most haunting version is the one done by Meatloaf on his "Three Bats Live" tour (search for it on YouTube): without the redeeming verse of "Love, sister..." we see the true vision of the apocalypse.

  2. From the album Crosby, Stills, and Nash

    "Long Time Gone"

    "Wooden Ships"

    Crosby, Stills, and Nash

    There was just something happening in the late 1960s that produced words of such outrage and despair.

The Blues

The true roots of Rock: how about the great blues men of the 20th Century: Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Howl'n Wolf, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy (still going in the 21st), just to name five.

Fly me to the moon

No, not Frank Sinatra (nor Tony Bennett)

Is there a soul so bereft of feeling that it does not stir during the the Pan Am space-plane's flight up from Earth to the space station? Could Strauss have ever imagined?

Rock the Beach

A delightful, and in most places, unknown genre, an author at Wikipedia has contributed a fine critique of beach music: listen to Bill Deal (by visiting his family's tribute web site to him), and then go exploring at your leisure

The emotional swirl of loss

Not a dry eye in the house.

And does anybody notice that in Harry Potter/Half Blood Prince that Ginnie Weasley really does bend down to "tie the laces of [his] shoe"?

Bodies of Work

Steely Dan

Anything really, but let's make special mention of

From the tragic to the rollicking.

Neal Young

Anything really (didn't I just say that?), but let's make special mention of

Bob Dylan

Anything really (didn't I just say that? And so did the Nobel committee!), but, in addition to the above, let's make special mention of

Crosby, Stills, and Nash

And sometimes "Young" as well. There is just something magic in their harmonies.

Frank Zappa

I saw Frank Zappa at what I believe was opening night of his last tour, February 1st at the Palace in Albany, 1988. He was registering voters; at the end, maybe an encore, he did "Stairway to Heaven," a transcendental experience in itself.

Bob Marley

Imagine creating a genre of music. Imagine having the world play it. A number of years ago I was sitting at a cafe on a small island off the Australian coast, listening to a Bob Marley album playing, and I realized I knew the order of the songs: it was the Legend album. I laughed: "wrong ocean!"

An interesting note: Bob Marley's wonderful "Buffalo Soldiers" is about the former slaves in the United States Calvary on the Western Frontier. John Ford's Sargent Rutledge is about those very same buffalo soldiers, and calls them by that name.

More fine tunes

Stepping out

Bluesing out

Burning out

Anti-Heros

Make my head swirl

One-Hit Wonders

More songs that make me stop what I'm doing to listen

So there are a few that seem to mean something: no, not the world's top ten, but still pretty good all told.


revised 2 July 2017 [ TOP ]

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