Wednesday, August 25, 2010

                                             Another List

     A few years ago I made a list of the top 100 songs I liked the first time I heard them. These are the songs that would make me most happy if they suddenly came on the radio. Here’s the top 20 in order.

20. Baba O’Riley (Teenage Wasteland)

19. Sweet Home Alabama

18. Whipping Post

17. The Loco-motion

16. Breakdown (Tom Petty)

15. Do You Believe In Magic

14. White Rabbit

13. Daydream Believer

12. That’ll Be The Day

11. That Thing You Do

10. Rockin’ In The Free World

9. I’m Into Something Good (Herman’s Hermits)

8. American Girl

7. I Want To Hold Your Hand

6. Hey Ya

5. Smells Like Teen Spirit

4. Like A Rolling Stone

3. I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)

2. Satisfaction

1. We Can Work It Out

Monday, August 23, 2010

                               Some Thoughts on Senator Byrd

     Recently, Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia died. Serving 57 years in the Senate, he was an American of great stature, the third American Bird in stature in fact, behind Larry and Big.

     And who would win a jump ball between Larry and Big? (Robert could throw the ball up cept he dead). Big has those skinny legs, apparently no knees to bend and really short arms, but he is 8 foot 2 and Larry’s getting older. At any rate there’d be some trash talking.

          Larry: Dodo. Bird brain. Chicken shit.

          Big: You are one of the whitest, ugliest men I’ve ever seen.

     Which leads us to the first and last annual Bird Awards.

          Best Bird Song: Tie. Free Bird and Blackbird

          Worst Bird Song: Bluebird. McCartney at his sappiest

          Jailbird Award: The Birdman of Alcatraz

          Worst Bird in Oil: Louisiana pelican

          Best Bird in Oil: KFC

          Best Bird Lisp Award: Tie. Daffy Duck and Tweety

          Bird Brain Award: Dan Quayle

          Best Basketball Bird Name: Meadowlark Lemon

          Evil Bird Activity Award: Cardinal sins

          Avian Altitude Award: The Birds, “Eight Miles High”

          Worst Bird Dog: Wile E. Coyote

          Eats Like a Bird Award: Karen Carpenter
                                             For Rose

     A friend of mine recently asked me to tell her what I thought were the twenty best songs ever. Her only proviso was that there could only be one song per artist, and while she said they could come from any genre, I assume she meant the broad umbrella of “popular" music since I can’t very well compare the merits of “Positively Fourth Street” and Tschaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto.

     By “best” I mean the twenty I think are best as opposed to the twenty I like the best, thus “We Can Work It Out” and “American Girl” came off my list in favor of “A Day in the Life” and “Refugee.” I also didn’t list songs because I thought they were “influential,” something the Rolling Stone top 500 list of a few years back seemed to me to do. For example, in its top 20 are “Hound Dog,” What’d I Say” (Ray Charles), and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” all important songs but not the best song by the artist in question. (I wouldn’t put “Blowin’ in the Wind” in Dylan’s top fifty).

     You can see the RS list at It was compiled as I recall by averaging the rankings of a large group of musicians and other “experts.” Their list doesn’t have Rose’s one artist limitation, so there are five Beatles/Lennon songs in its top twenty, two each by Dylan and Chuck Berry. Even so, while I agree that “Like a Rolling Stone” is the best rock song ever, only four of my top twenty are in the RS top twenty, and nine of my picks don’t make their top 100.

     I have some serious objections to the RS list: “In My Life” is better than “A Day in the Life”? At girl scout camp maybe.

     Anyway, here’s my list in no particular order. And yeah, I know there are twenty-one, but I couldn’t bring myself to give any one of them the axe.

Like a Rolling Stone

A Day in the Life



(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding (Costello version)

Heroin (Velvet Underground)

Your Cheatin’ Heart

Heartbreak Hotel

Peggy Sue

Thunder Road

Once in a Lifetime

Rockin’ In the Free World

Stairway to Heaven

Free Bird

Carey (Joni Mitchell)

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Rosa Parks

Good Vibrations

I Will Survive

Try a Little Tenderness

Layla (Derek and the Dominos)