Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1, 2009

I'm not about to provide you with a list of the best of 2008. I couldn't if I tried.

So instead here is a random list of 10 records that I am especially partial to. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe I'll do again in a month...

Count Me In - Gary Lewis & The Playboys

Gary Lewis couldn’t really sing his way out of a paper bag, but put him together with Glen Hardin, and Snuffy Garrett, and whoever else helped on this…
Listen to how the piano plays against the ting ting ting thing. Listen to the drum rolls between lines in the verse, the syncopated piano, whatever it is that zings, and you will not get a more heartfelt expression of devotion.

Flying On The Ground Is Wrong - The Guess Who

This song was written by Neil Young, and Buffalo Springfield put it on their first album, with Ritchie Furay singing, and it’s beautiful, though nobody ever seemed to realize it, the song not having been included on any BS compliation.

But then fellow Winnipegger Burton Cummings thought that it wouldn’t be a bad single. And so the pre-famous Guess Who recorded it, back in 1967, and it’s one of those songs that I sang to each one of my kids when they were babies, and I still sing it, and I will sing it to my grandchildren. And how those lines take on a new meaning: “I wish I could have met you in a place where we both belonged..”

The Night Has A Thousand Eyes - Bobby Vee

I learned this from the first Gary Lewis & The Playboys album, and I didn’t hear the original until I was an adult. Bobby Vee was one of those teen idols, and his songs could be silly, and this one is silly too, but in a transcendent kind of way.

The tune is beautiful, Bobby sings it well, and the tinkling on the cymbal on the chorus perfectly reflects those nighttime musings...

One More Heartache by Marvin Gaye

Gold Park is just a playground really, and it was a night in September, 2006, and I was walking thru there and my Walkman was playing this song, the version by The Butterfield Blues Band, and I just got into that bass riff, and where my personal life was at right about then, the song found a deep place to live.

So I think of Gold Park, and scraps of my life, and where I’m headed, and the way Marvin Gaye sings of heartache, it’s almost physical pain we hear, and that groove…

Forget Him by Bobby Rydell

I learned this from the same Gary Lewis album. The song is so darn sad, so pleading, and so real.

Reason To Believe - Rod Stewart

Tim Hardin wrote this, and he recorded it with a typically low-key arrangement. And everyone had a crack at it: The Youngbloods, Cher, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Bobby Darin, Peter, Paul & Mary, The Carpenters, etc.

Rod Stewart came along and blew all the competition out of the water. “If I listen long enough to you” he sings while the piano pounds the truth behind him. “I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true.” The electric violin provides the beauty, the serenity, the poetry, and Rod’s voice provides the heartache, the pain, the reality, his heroic efforts to sing the a capella notes on key mirrored by the efforts to believe in the lie, to make something out of something other.

Midnight Train To Georgia by Gladys Knight & The Pips

tap tap tap tap tap …tap
It’s those six taps on the drum that make this a great record. That and the bass.

Lover's Cross by Jim Croce

I’ve been a Croce fan since the time I bought his first two albums from The Record Club Of Canada, just before it disappeared off the face of the earth. I could probably pick any of 2 dozen songs for this list, and undoubtedly I will. This is for anybody who has been in a relationship where the expectations were too high.

Castles In The Air by Don McLean

Don McLean did this on his first album, which was called Tapestry, and he redid it later, but the remake sucks. But the original, McLean delivers it with such elegance and beauty and honesty that it’s easy to miss the “I’m a lowlife” message in the lyrics.

Hooked On A Feeling by B. J. Thomas

Another one where all the elements meld – the tune, the lyrics, the sitar, the percussion, B.J.’s great baritone…

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