Top 12 Songs I Either Missed Entirely, or Didn’t Fully Appreciate at the Time

This started out as a Top Five List, but there were just too many, even for a Top Ten. Maybe I should have split it into two lists (or  even three) or simply been more selective. But I did none of those things. To carry on…

There are gaps in my musical memory.

For instance, there’s the late ’70s, when I was too busy starting a family and launching my late lamented newspaper career. Popular music of that time was in the very distant background for me, so I didn’t discover the Clash, or even Elvis Costello (just about my all-time favorite), until years later.

Music videos pulled me back in in the early ’80s — first TBS’ Night Tracks on the weekends, then later MTV. I loved the medium. Video may have killed the radio star, but it turned me on to so much music I would otherwise have missed. Madness, for instance. For a time, I told everyone, in all honesty, that if I could figure out how to become a director of music videos, I would give up newspapers for that.

Then, in the early to mid-’90s, MTV quit showing videos. Or at least, quit showing them all the time (video killed the radio star, and reality TV killed MTV). I had this routine in which I’d go down to the basement gym at The State and turn the tube onto MTV and watch videos while I worked out. This kept me current up to Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, but then all of a sudden, the videos disappeared and I lost touch.

Consequently, I missed a lot of great stuff by Radiohead and Weezer and Green Day and Death Cab for Cutie and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Adele, to mention a few of those I’ve been listening to on Pandora or Spotify or YouTube lately. (At first, I was put off by Pandora’s way of refusing to play the song I asked for, and playing other things like it, but that has introduced or reintroduced me to a lot of great stuff I would not consciously have sought out).

Then, there are songs that came out at a time when I thought I was paying attention to music, but that went right by me — either because I was listening to the wrong stations, or my tastes hadn’t matured to the point that I fully appreciated them.

Here’s a list that just gives a sample of the stuff I find myself appreciating lately, and wondering how they got past me the first time (by the way, I’m not ranking these 1-12; I’m not sure I could. But I don’t mind naming these as, more or less, the top 12 in the category):

  1. Love and Happiness,” Al Green.Al Green I could just as well have named “Tired of Being Alone,” or “Let’s Stay Together.” I was actually living in Memphis at the time that he was recording these classics, but was too focused on The Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Elton John, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, The Band and other international stars to pick up on the richness that was right there at my feet. I choose “Love and Happiness” because I actually heard it recently and thought, I’ve heard that forever and never appreciated how awesome it is, and even thought, who is that?, before realizing a split-second later that of course, of course, it was the Rev. Al. And kicking myself.
  2. Creep,” Radiohead. I had half-heard this many times before really listening to it once and realizing how good it was, how it qualified as rock in a way that so little other new music I’d heard in recent years did. This was two or three years ago. Then, when we visited Oxford and stayed on Abingdon Road, I somehow became aware that Radiohead was from Abingdon, and resolved to look into them further. Much later, I did, and now listen to my Radiohead “station” on Pandora as much as any other. Best bit: When the soft opening is first interrupted by the stuttering “CHA-chunk, CHA-chunk” of distorted guitar, and the whole nature of the song changes.
  3. You Can’t Hurry Love,” The Supremes. supremes Or almost any of their greatest hits, really. In the couple of years after I returned to this country in 1965 (after 2.5 years in South America), when I just could not get enough of American popular culture, the Supremes were always there — on the Sullivan show, everywhere. But I wasn’t into them. I was the stereotypical little white boy, into English guitar bands and Americans who imitated English guitar bands, with an occasional side trek into Herb Alpert or whatever. I just wasn’t that into those three elegant black women dressed like old people going to a formal affair. It was decades later before I realized how deeply they had imprinted their sound into my fondest memories of the period. Maybe it was Phil Collins’ special-effects tribute to this particular song in the early, exciting days of MTV that made me look back and consciously realize how amazing the Supremes were. Or the effective way “China Beach” used “Reflections” to, well, reflect the era. (I never actually watched the show, but I can remember pausing the channel long enough to list to the intro a number of times.)
  4. Life on Mars?” David Bowie. I could swear to you that this song did not exist before I first watched, on DVD, the British time-travel-cop show of the same name (sans question mark). I had zero memory of it. Of course, I wasn’t at all into Bowie in his initial iteration, but still — I had heard and enjoyed “A Space Oddity” and heard other songs of his in the background. But I had completely missed this. Even now, I’m not sure if it’s just that the song itself is so great (which it may be; a critic in The Telegraph listed it as the single greatest song of all time, with “Let it Be,” one of my personal favorites, in second place) or it’s just the way it shaped the wonderful opening scene in which the protagonist of the TV show is transported back to 1973 that imprinted it so favorably on my mind. (Wonderful touch — the song begins the scene playing on the character’s early iPod, which itself now looks dated, then ends up on an 8-track.) In any case, I listen to it a lot now. Oh, a word in your shell-like: Don’t bother putting the American series based on this into your Netflix queue (despite the presence of Harvey Keitel in the cast); just watch the original. (Best bit: 37 seconds into this clip, as the character “wakes up” into 1973 and the music reaches its climax.)
  5. Say It Ain’t So,” Weezer. In this position I could put Green Day’s “Basket Case,” or any one of a number of super-catchy way-post-punk, post-grunge tunes. But I’ll just pick this one, because I’ve been listening to my new Weezer station on Pandora a lot the last couple of weeks. I got into them through their relatively recent hit, “I Want You To,” which has everything a pop song should have, despite the feckless theme of the lyrics (assuming it’s up to a girl to make the first move — although, when you see Weezer, you understand this better).
  6. I Want You to Want Me,” Cheap Trick. cheaptrickNot much to say about this except that the title of Weezer’s “I Want You To,” got me to thinking about it, and wondering who had played it — because I assure you, I had never been a Cheap Trick fan (I was way too busy in 1975). But I finally recognized it as a very well-crafted pop song, which has a classic feel to it after all these years. It’s sort of anthem-y. After all, doesn’t the title rather economically state what most pop songs are about?
  7. Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen. I wrote about this before, wondering at the alchemy that made it so hypnotically beautiful. Ever since I was quite young, I had known that cool people were supposed to be into Cohen — it was more of a measure of coolness even than being into Jeff Beck. But I was aware that I was not cool, and was satisfied not even to try to listen to him. It was the use of this in the love scene of “Watchmen” that made me focus on this song finally (which followed on a cover effectively used in “Shrek”), and I’m glad I did.
  8. Such Great Heights,” The Postal Service. First, I heard the cover by Iron and Wine, which was on a copy of the soundtrack of “Garden State” belonging to my daughter. She referred to it as “that Postal Service song,” and later she persuaded me to spend a gift certificate for Best Buy on “Give Up” — which is probably the last complete album that I have bought and really, completely gotten into, to the point of listening to it scores of times they way I did, say, with Abbey Road in 1969.
  9. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now),” Otis Redding.OtisatWhiskey66-1-TH How did I live all the way through the 1960s thinking that Otis Redding was just that guy who had sung “Dock of the Bay”? Yes, that was a magnificent song, and no one could have done it better, but it wasn’t even really representative of what he did. I didn’t learn how wrong I was until I borrowed a greatest-hits CD from my brother (which I fear I never returned). This song moved me more than any other, but I could just as well have chosen “Try a Little Tenderness,” “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” or “Mr. Pitiful.” One weekend recently, my wife and I were walking up St. Philip Street in Charleston, and heard the echoing sound of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” coming out of one of the old Charleston-style houses turned into apartments. It made my day, and made me think highly of the tastes of the person (probably a very young person, since everyone in that neighborhood seemed to be about 24 — in which case, it’s someone who is much more hip to what’s good than I was at that age) who lived in that apartment.
  10. Bring It On Home to Me,” the Animals. After what I said about the Supremes, I guess I shouldn’t pick the version of this by a white guitar group, but hey, Eric Burdon wanted to be black more than any other white boy ever to come out of Newcastle. And this version is pretty soulful, I think. I think I like it better than the Sam Cooke version (which, I hate to say, seems to have most of the soul bleached out of it, in the deliberate effort to create a “crossover” hit). Anyway, I didn’t get into it until I bought an Animals greatest hits compilation on CD, sometime in the past decade. Eventually, I put the song on the playlist of my band — you know, for when I get around to starting a band.
  11. Goin’ Down,” The Monkees.the-monkees-goin-down-colgems I’ve mentioned this before. It’s sort of a special category. I thought it was cool when it came out (I had the album), but as I got older peer pressure brainwashed me into thinking that nothing by the Monkees could possibly be cool. Then it was used as background for a frantic meth-cooking montage on “Breaking Bad,” and I couldn’t place it for a moment, then recognized it. At first, I thought it was maybe someone else doing it, not Mickey Dolenz, it was just so good. Finally, I realized I had been right the first time, when I was 13 years old — it was a great song, very well done. And the “Pre-Fab Four” should probably get more respect than they did. (Oh, and yes, I know that The Rutles actually called themselves the Prefab Four, but the sobriquet was applied to the Monkees first, intended as an insult.)
  12. Mais que Nada,” Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66. So yes, I heard this at the time, but it was in the background, and I never could have named it, the way I could have Mendes’ covers of Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel tunes. After I’d seen “Austin Powers” — which uses the song very effectively to evoke the period — several times, I set out to learn what that signature Brasil ’66 song was called. (It’s interesting to me how a Sergio Mendes or Herb Alpert or Petula Clark song, played in a background, can evoke the 60s more effectively than a Beatles or Rolling Stones song can do.) Once I figured it out, I’ve listened to it a lot.


88 thoughts on “Top 12 Songs I Either Missed Entirely, or Didn’t Fully Appreciate at the Time

  1. Bryan Caskey

    Great post.

    Pandora has exposed me to songs that I wouldn’t normally listen to in the same way that you described. For that reason alone, it’s my music platform of choice. Pandora plays songs in a musical neighborhood, and it takes you down certain streets that you normally wouldn’t venture down, so you discovery beautiful new back alleys that are off the beaten path.

    For my overlooked music, country music in the late 80’s and 90’s was not something I listened to growing up. Now I’m rediscovering some great songs from George Strait, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, et al. Heck, I’ve even started going back to Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings.

    As much as we’re defined by what we identify with, we’re defined by what we pass by. But maybe our lives are always subject to some editing. I hope so, anyway.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’m glad you liked it, Bryan. If I had included a country song, it would have been something by Patsy Cline, whom I didn’t appreciate until several decades later.

      I should have included some country. After all, I employed affirmative action of a sort with this list, just to get a little musical diversity in there. That’s definitely how Cheap Trick got onto the list. I just felt like something from that generation of hair bands that I essentially ignored at the time — AC/DC, Aerosmith, Kiss — should be represented. And as I said, I really did get to thinking about that song recently, and wondering who did it…

      I haven’t had that experience for awhile with country…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        … although I did recently look up “Goodnight Irene,” thinking it was a Hank Williams song. Which it most definitely was not…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Just realized why I had thought that was Hank Williams — because Leon Russell included it on his “Hank Wilson’s Back,” an album which as I recall introduced Leon (favorably) to my parents. Before that, to them, he was just one of those longhaired people I listened to…

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    Closing Time, by Semisonic. It’s about the birth of a child, but it is often used as a musical interlude in a film or TV show more literally.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, that’s a pretty good song that I know I’ve heard, but I couldn’t have told you who or what it was. I notice that it has rather metrosexual lyrics (a guy singing, “I know who I want to take me home”), rather like Weezer’s “I want you to,” which places it in a musical generation later than my own — a generation in which, according to the Gillette ads that keep playing before some of the videos above, guys buy electric trimmers for their chest hair (if they have any)…

      Its use in television sort of puts it in the category of something that was suggested to me on my Pandora “Radiohead station”…. “Teardrop,” by Massive Attack. Which I didn’t even fully realize was a song, thinking of it just as the theme music for “House.”

    2. Scout

      Semisonic and Dan Wilson are awesome. All About Chemistry is a masterpiece of an album.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    My husband went to college with Dan Wilson, who sang his hit at the reunion. Melissa Block was actually friends with Wilson in college.

  4. Kathryn Fenner

    U2 Joshua Tree album. I only came to appreciate it about 2004, after we went to Ireland, where Radio Kerry has it on permanent rotation.

  5. Debby Johnson

    No one did it better than Otis Redding. His version of Down in the Valley would make the dead rise up and boogie.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oops. I committed an error above.

    I mistakenly said (parenthetically) that “you really know that you’re supposed to hate one of the “Bobs” in “Office Space” when he suggests the best version [of “Dock of the Bay”] was by Michael Bolton.”

    Actually, what Bob Slydell said was, “For my money, I don’t think it gets any better than when he sings a ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’.”

    Rather than Percy Sledge.

    So you’re still supposed to hate him.

    1. Silence

      I celebrate the guy’s entire catalogue. But anyway, let’s get down to business, Brad.

      I don’t think you are supposed to “hate” the Bobs. They are just totally square, not loathesome.

  7. Burl Burlingame

    Good list.
    After the awfulness of the late ’70s, music pulled me back in in the early ’80s. I had a FM radio headset I’d wear at work at the paper (as much to drown out those around me as to listen to music; kind of the reverse of the Cone Of Silence) and at that point FM radio really rocked. I got into bands like El Rayo X and The Bluehearts.

      1. Norm Ivey

        I was there Bud, and 10 years ago I would have agreed. We may be in the Golden Age of pop music now. The Internet has given so many more artists an audience they may never have reached before. I can’t find the time to listen to everything I want….

  8. Burl Burlingame

    And I used to be fascinated by music videos as well. But I knew some folks with elementary age kids who were absolutely glued to them, and it kind of freaked me out to see these kids turned into MTV zombies.

  9. Brad Warthen Post author

    Yeah. But since I was an adult by then, I don’t think it distorted my brain too much.

    I just loved that an intentional art form had been developed based on what we used to do in a haphazard way, turning down the volume on the TV and cranking up the stereo and watching for serendipitous moments in which they seemed to synchronize.

  10. Brad Warthen Post author

    Bud, Burl and I are just going to have to disagree with you on that. We graduated high school in 1971, the year that gave us the Stones’ best album to date, “Sticky Fingers,” plus The Who’s best-ever album, “Who’s Next,” Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water,” Janis Joplin’s “Pearl,” Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey,” the Led Zeppelin album with the guy with sticks on his back, George Harrison’s “Concert for Bangladesh,” and the emergence of Leon Russell, Rod Stewart, James Taylor and Carole King (as a performer; she was already an awesome songwriter).

    This prejudices our perspective. Whereas we look at the late ’70s and think, Kiss.

    And Burl, thanks for liking the list. It took a ridiculously large portion of my Memorial Day to finish compiling it.

    I actually had come up with the list in a few minutes last week. It’s the commentary on each, the links and the art that took me so much time yesterday.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      After typing that comment, I had to go listen to Tull’s “Wind Up,” the last song on “Aqualung,” which — probably because I first heard it at an impressionable age — has always seemed to me to say something profound about the relationship between God and Man.

      That meant a lot more to me than the title track — which, let’s face it, was about a nasty man who had sexual thoughts about little girls.

      Similarly, my favorite thing on “Imagine” is not the title track, either. I think the song is musically magnificent, but I hate what so many others seem to love about it — its “message,” which I see as being, “Don’t believe in or commit to anything.” A grand negation.

      My fave from that album is “Jealous Guy.”

    2. bud

      Differences of opinion are what makes the world go round.

      It’s interesting that pretty much everything you cite (Who’s Next, Aqualung) plus the stuff in the original post are things that I find to be very good. A couple I’m not familiar with but perhaps I’ll check them out sometime. But what sets the late 70s appart, really starting about 1974, is how unique it was from a musical perspective. It’s hard to find another era in music where the artists didn’t really attempt to do anything more than just provide a vehicle for pure, unadulterated, free-spirited fun. No attempt at making a social statement. It was just all about having a good time. And to me that’s what makes that era so refreshing. Then it was Ronald Reagan with all his buzz kill mania with social responsibility. Pleez, gag me with a spoon.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        What?!? Ronald Reagan, social responsibility? Nonononono…

        Jimmy Carter was social responsibility — turn up the thermostat on the A/C in the summer, and wear a sweater indoors in the winter. Which we still do, at my house. Mention social responsibility to Ronald Reagan, and he would say, “There you go again,” in that obnoxious manner of his that for some reason millions of people found appealing (something I will never understand).

        Ronald Reagan was about “If it feels good, do it.” Him and his jelly beans (as opposed to boiled peanuts, which as we know are chock full of moral fiber).

        You know how we knew that Ronald Reagan had changed society, and not for the better? Shortly after the 1980 election, my wife went through the drive-through at the bank with our kids in the car, and the teller offered the kids lollipops without asking my wife if that was OK. That had never happened before.

        She attributed that directly to Reagan’s influence, and I agreed.

  11. Doug Ross

    I listen to 70’s on 7 on XM mostly and particularly like when they replay a Kasey Kasem Top 40 show each week from the same week during one year in the 70’s. I recently commented to my wife about the huge change music went through from the early 70’s to the late 70’s.

    Here’s a link to the list of the #1 songs for that decade.

    Starts with The Supremes “Someday We’ll Be Together” and ends with the “Pina Colada Song”.
    Case closed, Brad. You win.

    I graduated in 1979 – here’s the list of #1’s with my faves marked with *:

    Le Freak
    Too Much Heaven
    Le Freak
    Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?
    I Will Survive
    What A Fool Believes *
    Knock on Wood *
    Heart of Glass
    Reunited *
    Hot Stuff
    Love You Inside Out
    Hot Stuff
    Ring My Bell
    Bad Girls
    Good Times
    My Sharona – *!! My favorite
    Sad Eyes
    Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
    Rise – Herb Alpert
    Pop Muzik
    Heartache Tonight – *
    No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)
    Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

    1. Doug Ross

      Here’s my favorites from the #1’s of the 70’s by year

      Mama Told Me (Not To Come)
      The Tears of A Clown
      You’ve Got a Friend
      Alone Again (Naturally)
      Let’s Get It On
      The Joker
      I Honestly Love You (I have a short story I wrote about this song – it was my first dance with a girl)
      My Eyes Adored You
      Lovin’ You
      — This year may be the worst by far of the decade where #1 songs
      include: Convoy, Theme From S.W.A.T., Afternoon Delight, Disco Duck
      Tonight’s the Night
      50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
      Hotel California
      Blinded By The Light
      Miss You
      Hot Child In The City
      My Sharona
      Knock on Wood

      1. Norm Ivey

        Number Ones are often vanilla because they have to appeal to a broad audience to reach number one. The best stuff is a little deeper, but here goes…
        1970 War
        1971 Me and Bobby McGee (still sing it at least weekly)
        1972 American Pie
        1973 Will it Go Round in Circles, Frankenstein, Time in a Bottle
        1974 I can’t pick–there’s about 7 or 8 I’d rank first.
        1975 Best of My Love, Black Water, You’re No Good
        1976 Play That Funky Music, Rock’n Me
        1977 Hotel California
        1978 Miss You
        1979 Heartache Tonight 1979 kinda sucked.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          “War” is an awesome song. Except, of course, that it’s wrong when it says it’s good for “absolutely nothing.”

          I could have accepted “nothing” as mere pop song hyberbole, but the “absolutely” went too far…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I appreciate it because it’s one antiwar song that has a muscular masculinity to it, instead of the usual pastel, airy sweetness and light, daisies-in-gun-barrels stuff you get in most of those songs.

            I like songs that defy expectations, and succeed at it…

  12. bud

    Wow, Heart of Glass not a fave! That’s a great song. My Shirona is also very good. And of course anything Donna Summers.

    1. Doug Ross

      @bud – not a Donna Summer fan, sorry. “Love to Love You Baby” was the pinnacle for her in my view.

    1. Doug Ross

      @Silence – please regale us with your nostalgic stories of Flock of Seagulls and Duran Duran.

      1. Silence

        You are off by about a decade, Doug. I came of age in the 90’s, not the 80’s. My high school soundtrack included Nirvana, Pearl Jam, that sort of thing. Of course I liked the classics, classic rock that is.

        Earliest song I can remember liking/paying attention to when it was new on the radio – Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra” and I would have been about 7 years old. I remember listening to it at the swimming pool, so it must have been summer ’82. I remember Van Halen’s “Jump” which was 1984, I think. Also remember my babysitter bringing over her brand new copy of “Thriller” on vinyl which would have been early ’84.

        First pop/rock album I remember owning was a bootleg tape of Run DMC’s “Raising Hell” which would have been in ’86. First albums I bought at the store were a few parentally suggested Beatles tapes, followed by Rush’s seminal album “2112” on cassette, and Led Zepplin IV, all of which I wore out since i only had about 6 cassettes. Of course by then it was probably 1990. I didn’t really buy any albums until I was driving. Partly cause I didn’t have the funds, and partly because I wasn’t allowed to control the radio in my parents’ cars. Before my senior year in HS I invested in a discman and a “tape-on-a-string” so I could play CD’s through my car’s cassette deck. Then I bought a bunch of classic rock CD’s that now reside in a box in my attic. Skynyrd, .38 Special, Bad Company, Molly Hatchet, Allman Bro’s, Doobie Bro’s, Yes, Jethro Tull, Rush, Frampton Comes Alive, Cheap Trick, etc.

        In retrospect I was pretty heavy into Southern Rock and Prog Rock. Wish I’d just listened to the radio and saved my money. But 80’s new wave, never!

        1. Scout

          Oh, I’m older than you Silence. Who knew. Abracadabra was the first video I ever saw on MTV, followed directly by Stray Cat Strut, probably 81, so I was 11. Some of my favorite songs in High School were the Safety Dance and Take On Me (which had a really cool video) and Our House and For The Longest Time, off the top of my head. I recall us band geeks singing We’re Not Gonna Take It to the football team upon returning to school on buses after a loss. Probably not the smartest move on our part.

          1. Silence

            Scout – I TOTALLY remember watching that “Stray Cat Strut” video! I used to watch it on the USA network, they had a show called “Radio 1990” I think, it came on in the evening after the cartoons ended. This was before we had MTV at my house. I don’t recall ever seeing a video for Abracadabra. I remember the “Safety Dance” video though, because it was full of little people. S-A-F-E-T-Y!

            After I posted yesterday, I remembered two more radio songs from my childhood that made an impression. One was “Axel F” which was the instrumental theme song from “Beverly Hills Cop” which mom used to let me crank up when it came on the radio. The other song was “Shout” by Tears for Fears, which I remember singing along to.

  13. Norm Ivey

    A list like this could be nearly endless, and could be added to daily. My nominees:

    Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Sun–done by Blind Boys of Alabama, Willie Nelson and others. I’ve no idea who did it first.

    Baby It’s Cold Outside by Dean Martin. No kidding. I heard this for the first time about 5 years ago. It just captures Dean.

    Freakin’ at the Freakers’ Ball by Dr. Hook. To me Dr. Hook was Cover of the Rolling Stone and When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman. This song got me to explore more of their peculiar brand of pop. Don’t know how I missed this one. Discovering that Shel Silverstein wrote most of their early stuff was another neat experience.

    The Passenger by Iggy Pop. It was used in a commercial for some minivan a few years ago.

    I’m Going to Give It to Mary with Love by Cliff Edwards. Maybe this doesn’t count because I couldn’t have heard it when it was new, but to hear Jiminy Cricket singing a song like this, and for it to have been recorded in 1936 just makes me smile every time I hear it.

    Righteous Love by Joan Osborne. Righteous.

    Can’t Get it Right Today by Joe Purdy–from a Dawn commercial.

    Artists I Discovered Late (A Corollary):
    They Might be Giants
    Michele Shocked
    Mother’s Finest (I didn’t grow up here….)

    1. Doug Ross


      Your inclusion of Michelle Shocked is proof that you are a wise man. 🙂 I saw her at a small club in Raleigh sometime around 1995…

      1. Norm Ivey

        I had heard her name, but never listened to her until hearing How You Play the Game over the closing credits of An Inconvenient Truth. Love Anchorage, VFD, The L&N, and most everything on Soul of my Soul.

      1. Brad Warthen

        Maybe when Dean Martin sang it.

        But seriously, are you saying that those lyrics, when sung by a woman, add up to “no?”

        Of course, she had the option, at any later point in the evening, to say “no.” But the song rather strongly implies “yes.”

        1. Brad Warthen

          OK, I just refreshed my memory. Maybe you’re right. I forgot that it was a dialogue…

          What was I confusing it with? “Don’t Sleep in the Subway, Baby?”

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      You can also do Amazing Grace to the Theme from Gilligan’s Island, and. I’ve versa.

  14. Bart

    I grew up in a time when music was changing from the “There’s a Summer Place” orchestration to the social songs of Woody Guthrie and the beginnings of social commentary in songs, especially folk type songs by The Chad Mitchell Trio who had a famous member, John Denver. One of my favorites is “The John Birch Society” song by Chad Mitchell – too funny and great social satire. Then it went to the Rock and Roll era with Bill Haley and the Comets, the great black groups especially the Platters and one of the greatest voices to ever record a song as their lead singer. From there, the changes were fast and furious. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Eric Burdon and the Animals, and so on and so forth. Then the country music era and lots of cross-over hits were common.

    One of my favorite memories was meeting Peter, Paul, and Mary after a concert in Charlotte. Just standing around talking, discussing current social issues, and talk about any subject they wanted to discuss or what we wanted to discuss was a great experience. My next favorite is meeting the original Kingston Trio and spending some time visiting with them in their dressing room. It was a different era and PPM and TKT were great entertainers and were at the forefront of the awakening of social changes in America. And in spite of the social commentary, the music was really a lot of fun.

    As bud said, each generation had or has its own memories and preferences. The one thing we tried to instill in our children was an appreciation for all music and to listen to as wide a variety as they could. Both appreciate the wide variety available from some of the earliest to the present.

    And to confess, I have tried to listen to some of the music of today but am having a lot of difficulty with appreciating most of it.

  15. bud

    Bart, I started to say Katy Perry has some interesting songs but then realized she hasn’t done much in a few years. Time really does march on.

  16. Steve Gordy

    I had a college professor who was a fan of Tom Lehrer (Google the name). We sometimes listened to some of his side-splitters, such as “[The Ballad of] Oedipus Rex” and “We Will All Go Together When We Go.”

    On a serious note, I’ve always loved Phil Ochs, “Changes,” which he wrote in ’65 or ’66. Dylan probably wishes he could have written something with as much poignant wisdom.

  17. Brad Warthen Post author

    Y’all realize that I started this list with “Love and Happiness,” in part, so that Barry (and Rob and Dick) in “High Fidelity” couldn’t mock me for being too obvious.

    Really. I was thinking of what a fictional character would think. But the way I look at it, there are real music snobs out there like Barry, so I was protecting myself from them…

  18. Bart

    I think I may be the oldest contributor on the blog and therefore would be the logical choice to be “out of touch” or the old fart who tells kids to “get offa my lawn” except I don’t cut the grass – alergic to it – honestly I am – had the scratch and blood tests run years ago to confirm.

    Good music transcends generational preferences and when I hear good music, I know it or at least I think I do. Phillip is a known provider of very good music through his accomplished piano talent and it is a joy and delight to listen to his playing. Back in the day when Ferrante and Tisher (sp?) were popular, it was a pleasure to listen to their concerts. I am a great fan of the Three Tenors, Andre’ Rieu’s concerts when he provides a great cross-section of music, some of the Broadway musical numbers going back to when Zero Mostel did “Fiddler on the Roof” and any great female singer who can sing Ave’ Maria with little musical support. We attended a wedding in Charleston recently and the lady who sang it brought tears to my eyes. It was about as perfect a rendering as I have ever heard.

    Frank Sinatra singing “A Summer Wind”; Billy Joel singing “Piano Man”; Elvis singing “It’s Now or Never” which is to the O Solo Mio music; Gordon Lightfoot or Elvis or Max Wiseman singing “Early Morning Rain”; Joe Tex singing “The Love You Save” – the list can go on and on. Fortunately, my iTunes library is extensive and a joy to listen to when I have time.

  19. Bart

    Oh, one more. Peggy Lee singing “Fever” but if you want a really great version, try Little Willie John’s version – fantastic.

  20. Brad Warthen Post author

    My kids, too — who are in their 20s and 30s. Well, maybe not more than I do, but they really know their classic rock.

    Which really makes me feel rather narrow and shallow.

    I don’t know my parents’ music — I mean, not the music from when they were teenagers. I know the stuff they listened to while I was growing up: Nat King Cole, Herb Alpert, Dean Martin, some Peggy Lee (I think — there was somebody I used to confuse with Peggy Lee, and I forget which one I heard).

    But not the awesome stuff from the Big Band era. Makes me feel pretty ignorant.

    I hear something like Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” and it blows my mind. Maybe I should have included that on the list…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Actually, “Mood Indigo” is sort of before my parents’ time, so bad example. It was first broadcast when my Dad was less than 2, and my mother hadn’t been born.

      The only thing I can say in my defense re my ignorance of swing music and jazz of the era is that I just wasn’t exposed to it. When Burl and I were growing up, if a radio station played something from a year earlier, it was an “oldie.” My kids were exposed to a broader spectrum, and they have good taste. So they like good stuff from the 60s, as well as the stuff from the ’00s that I don’t know as well…

      1. bud

        My kids were exposed to a broader spectrum, and they have good taste.

        Brad’s kids must like Disco. 🙂

    2. Norm Ivey

      My oldest child (22) really knows her classic rock–Beatles, Doors, Zeppelin. The younger one (21) will ask occasionally What’s that song–I like it when I am listening to music from my generation. More often she’s incredulous that I listen to things from her own generation.

      Before I could afford my own records, I listened to my parents’ stuff–Ray Price (Heartaches by the Number is a permanent fixture on my mp3 player), Sonny James, Faron Young, Peggy Lee (I also love Manana), Perry Como, Eddy Arnold, Patsy Cline. They had some Dorsey and Mills, but I never got into that too much. Lot of warm memories in that stuff.

      We lived in Winchester, Virginia in the early-mid 60s. My older sister used to go to Patsy Cline’s house to play with her daughter. Just to name drop…

  21. Steve Gordy

    If we’re going to open this up to swing era music, how ’bout “Begin the Beguine” (Artie Shaw’s version) and “String of Pearls” (Glenn Miller)?

  22. Bart

    Ferlin Husky “Gone” was a hit and it was done later by Joey Heatherton in her time and she did a great job. No matter what your age, if you were a red blooded guy, watching Joey Heatherton sing and dance was a treat for the eyes and ears. Ray Price – “For the Good Times” is about as good as it gets for great C&W classics, and anything by Patsy Cline who had one of the greatest voices ever.

    The list can go on and on but I guess it shows that music doesn’t pay attention to any particular age, gender, or generation if it is good. Great topic.

      1. Bart

        “Joey Heatherton > Ann Margaret Not even close.”…Doug

        Doug, once again, it all depends on the eye of the beholder. In her day, Joey Heatherton was tops but she didn’t have the talent level to maintain her popularity the same way Ann Margaret did. Ann Margaret never needed a hit song to succeed, all she had to do was to walk on stage or across the screen. I can still remember seeing her for the first time in 1962 when she starred in the movie, “State Fair”, with Pat Boone. Damn, it doesn’t seem possible it was that long ago.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I remember “State Fair” when it was new.

          Joey Heatherton (wow, I don’t think I’ve run across that name in 40 years, but her image immediately came to mind) was very hot in her day. But she was sort of like what Elvis Costello was on about in “This Year’s Girl.”

          Whereas Ann-Margret is one for the ages…

  23. Steven Davis II

    Now that rap music is approaching 30 years old, will it be played on Oldies stations?

  24. Burl Burlingame

    I love swing music, but prefer Count Basie’s KC syncopation to Duke Ellingtons elegant sophistication and time signatures. But I really loves me both Dorsey brothers.

    The thing to remember, though, is that the “swing era” lasted less than a decade.

    It’s not just that pop music was “better” 40 years ago, the period coincided with an explosion in radio outlets and portable radios and inexpensive records, so the average kid had access to tunes that weren’t filtered through authority figures. We voted with our lunch money and the good stuff rose to the top.

    Of course, then “The Man” took over and radio station became chains with limited playlists.

  25. Burl Burlingame

    This likely won’t help. I’ve interviewed both Ann-Margaret and Joey Heatherton. Ann-Margaret is VERY impressive on all levels. Joey Heatherton, on the other hand, was a lot more fun.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I’ll bet. Hubba-hubba.

      This is so unfair. My claims to interview fame are such things as having sat down with both George Bushes, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, Al Gore (many times, but long ago), John McCain (several times), Joe Biden (two or three times), Barack Obama, Fred Thompson, Dick Gephardt, John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and (one of my favorites) Ted Sorensen.

      Burl gets Joey Heatherton and Ann-Margret. I get Ralph Nader. The universe is seriously out of whack.

  26. Brad Warthen Post author

    A little followup…

    All day I’ve had a tune running through my head. I knew it was from one on those bands I’ve recently, belatedly discovered, but I wasn’t sure which one.

    Then I remembered, I don’t have to wonder about stuff like that any more.

    I took out my iPhone, tapped on my SoundHound app, and roughly hummed a couple of lines. My rendition was really lame — dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-DAH-dah-dah…

    The app grumpily told me that there were no CLOSE matches, but then it gave me the song I was looking for: “When I Come Around,” by Green Day.

    Marvelous times we’re living in…

    If you don’t have a SoundHound app, I do recommend picking one up. They’re free.

Comments are closed.