Arthur the AmeriNZ asks:
Over the years, you’ve mentioned songs and albums you loved, and you’ve shared various rankings, or, at least, lists. Do you have a personal “Top Ten” of songs, and is it static or ever-changing? Both songs and albums, by the way.
The easy part to answer is that the lists are ever-changing.
Let’s try the songs:
10. You Won’t See Me-The Beatles.
I realized in the last five years that it is the Mal Evans sustained chord on the Hammond organ throughout the last verse, last chorus, and outro that gives this McCartney song a special buzz.
9. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – Carole King
Featuring the Mitchell-Taylor Boy and Girl Chorus. This arrangement practically begs for a cappella singing. From Tapestry, which I played so much, I wore out the LP.
8. River – Joni Mitchell
For lots of reasons, this reminds me of my late friend Donna.
7. Neil Young – Harvest Moon
Dancing in the living room with someone I loved.
6. Crying- Roy Orbison And k.d lang
Better than Roy by himself. And reminds me of the same past love.
5. John Hiatt – Have a Little Faith in Me
A key song on a mixed tape I made for my now-wife.
4. Billy Joel-Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)
Lots of songs about loss here. I heard an a cappella version of this, which was lovely.
3. Roberta Flack – Gone Away.
This song, part of the group of songs I used to play when love went south, really builds after the 1:30 mark, with instruments (a painful guitar line, and is that a tuba?) plus mournful vocals that feature the late Donny Hathaway.
2. I Only Have Eyes For You – the Flamingoes
My first favorite song.
1. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
Brian and Carl Wilson pray together before the recording, and it’s almost palpable. The BBC version has only enhanced by feeling for the original.
Interesting that 7 of the 10 were in the Top 10 last time I did something like this, in 2008, and nine of the ten were in the Top 25.
Not sure I ever made an album list that crossed the decades, though. I had a 1950s list, 1960s list, and a later list or two. I’m reminded of the fact that the album lists I DID make were constrained by the fact that I couldn’t pick the greatest hits albums. No such problem now!
On the other hand, this list is suspect. I accept the albums ranking from the 1960s, which I evaluated thoroughly. The 1970s has so many GREAT albums that, if I bit the bullet and actually looked at a list, some might rank higher here; ditto the 1980s. But this is a blog, not a dissertation, so I shan’t sweat it much.
10. Jesus Christ Superstar (1970)
The source of a lot of theological discussions in my circle of friends.
9. Speaking in Tongues – Talking Heads (1983)
The album that came out around the time I saw them live.
8. Sly & the Family Stone – Greatest Hits (1970)
Features two or three songs that hadn’t been on an album to that point. A tremendous collection.
7. Who’s Next – The Who (1971)
Listened to this incessantly, even last decade.
6. Talking Book – Stevie Wonder (1972)
I could have picked any of those Stevie albums from this one through Songs In The Key of Life, but this one asserts his sonic independence.
5. Peter Gabriel (3 -Melt)- Peter Gabriel (1980)
The one with Games without Frontiers and Biko. When I thought of the top albums for 1971-1980, there were two sure things; this was one of them.
4. Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)
It’s pretty much perfect from beginning to end. Paul McCartney gave copies to all his children as an example of great music.
3. West Side Story soundtrack (1961)
Seeing this movie was transformational. But it wasn’t just the story, it was the music.
Prog rock. Are you a fan or not, and if so, which bands?
I’m not at all sure what constitutes progressive rock. Sure there’s Procol Harum, Yes, King Crimson, early Genesis, ELP. But I looked on the list and also found The Beatles, Todd Rundgren, Deep Purple, ELO, Queen, Renaissance, all of which I own, and none of which I would have thought of.
But yes, I like it, especially Yes and King Crimson, both of which belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.