Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Top Ten Songs Most Folks Have Probably Not Heard

From the Wayback Machine: Classic Nettie from April 1999......

For me to choose a favorite song or artist would be like asking a mother to pick a favorite child. It's near impossible to do -- so these songs are in random order. For this list, I chose songs -- or cover versions of better-known songs -- that most folks have probably never heard.
  1. (Ain't It) Funny How Time Slips Away, by Al Green & Lyle Lovett. I am no fan of Willie Nelson, the singer (and my apologies/condolences to those who enjoy his singing). However, he is a very gifted songwriter -- exhibit A: "Crazy," made famous by the immortal Patsy Cline. Exhibit B is this particular song, a classic to country-philes. This version of "Funny How Time Slips Away" appears on the Rhythm, Country and Blues CD project, which paired various country and R&B artists. This song, in the hands of Green and Lovett, makes me want to dance every time I hear it. And I must admit that every time I hear this version, I wonder if Lyle was singing it to a certain Ms. Roberts..... By the way, practically this whole CD could have made the list in itself. It's well worth picking up for a listen.
  2. Much at All, by Susan Werner. A few years ago, I was browsing at a local used CD shop, and found a gem from BMG called Discovery Sampler: Pop (presumably for artists waiting to be discovered). I purchased this CD, only to find that I was getting it for a buck and very small change. I should have gone to confession over this one: it was a STEAL! There again, this CD alone could have made the Top Ten. Susan Werner's voice has that certain smoky-jazz-bar quality to it, and yet was achingly tender as well. She has a knockout sound on the other track on this CD as well. Special note: about three months later, I was back in that CD shop -- found 3 copies of this same CD, all priced at $5.99. Maybe other people told them that $1 or $2 was far too little to pay for this stuff!
  3. Pass Me By, by AJ Croce. Another piece from the Discovery Sampler: Pop CD. Jim Croce is probably beaming all over rock-and-roll-heaven at his son. AJ isn't a rocker or folk singer, but a jazz-man, with a voice that sometimes sounds like it was cloned from Dr. John's DNA. For someone in his mid-to-late 20s, he's got the vocal stylings of a old New Orleans jazz singer. This uptempo little number didn't last nearly long enough. Hopefully, we'll be hearing LOTS out of him for years to come!
  4. Tootie, by Hootie & the Blowfish. I had had a very bad week. Very bad. And in that time, I didn't listen to any music for a while. For those who know me well enough, that means you need to check my pulse. Anyway, when it was time to enter the world of sound again, I needed something that would express all that I'd been through that week. This CD (Fairweather Johnson) was the thing I needed to hear. I probably listened to it for 4 or 5 days straight. It brought me back to the land of the living. While many songs off the CD could have been given this honor, this song wins. Why? Let's just say that Elton John spoke the gospel truth when he said, "Sad Songs Say So Much." Even now, when I hear this, it takes me back to those days; only this time, I can smile about it.
  5. Everybody Knows, by Don Henley. Well, if you have Actual Miles (the DH greatest hits CD) or the Leonard Cohen tribute CD, then you've heard this one. Or if you have a decent radio station in your area (ours played this for about 2 weeks then mysteriously quit - shame on them!). I can't say what the attraction to this song is.... Some mysteries are best left unsolved!
  6. Duncan, by Paul Simon. I first heard this song when I was a freshman in college. Even now when I hear it, the image of me riding toward Clemson SC with Claudy Fewell comes to mind. When I bought Paul Simon's Negotiations and Love Songs a few years ago, I desperately hopedthat "Duncan" would be on there, since I had misplaced my Greatest Hits 1973-1977 tape with the song on it. No luck! Every time I hear this song, I am transported to places I've never been, and yet it feels "homey" (in a sense). Guess you'd call that "deja voodoo" (with apologies and a credit to Kenny Wayne Shepherd for that phrase).
  7. Adagio, by Albinoni. This is on a CD I have called "Top Ten Baroque." I had never heard of Albinoni before, but this song moved me. I nearly was in tears the first time I heard it. To me, it brings to mind images of a cold Russian winter. I could easily see this music being used in a figure skating routine (though at 9 minutes, they'd have to chop a heck of a lot). Granted, that's probably not what Albinoni had in mind for this piece. Definitely a too-cool song.
  8. Smoking Gun, by Robert Cray. When this tune got a small bit of MTV airplay back in 1986, I immediately took a strong liking to the song. I figured Robert Cray was a new guy trying to make it in the business, and my pull-for-the-new-guy-underdog mode took over. Was the joke on me!! Robert Cray was already a seasoned blues veteran at that point. I finally (after all these years) bought Strong Persuader, which has this song on it. Great CD! Good blues-based music and strong vocals. And naturally, "Smoking Gun" gets a replay every time..... :-)
  9. Jubilee, by Mary Chapin Carpenter. This is from her Stones in the Road CD. The music industry might classify her songs as "country" but this heavily-Celtic-influenced song is a far cry from country! The first time I heard this song, I truly was in tears. It's a beautiful tale of forgiveness and starting anew, especially when you're afraid to. This song inspired me then and continues to inspire me even now. Another one where the whole CD could have made the list!
  10. The Tango, by Grass Cactus (written by Niel Brooks). Grass Cactus was a local outfit that lasted for a couple of years and one CD, "Cactus Juice." Niel Brooks, who was the acoustic guitarist for the band, is an old friend, and in my opinion is nothing less than a genius. Anyway, this is one of his songs which appeared on Grass Cactus' CD, and is heartbreakingly beautiful. It's one of those songs that sticks with you long after the last note has sounded.

1 comment:

Talmadge G. said...

"Everybody Knows": There's nothing like the Leonard Cohen original. He captures the whole feel of the song with his dark vocals. It, of course, was heard all throughout the 1990 movie Pump Up the Volume. Concrete Blonde's version (heard at the end of the movie) plain stinks. Never heard Henley's take, but I'm sure it's more faithful to Cohen.

The song, sadly, was in many ways prophetic.

"Duncan": A truly underrated Paul Simon classic.

"Smoking Gun": Got frequent airplay in the Memphis area, both top-40 and AOR. It too introduced me to a blues legend. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" was another good Cray song. Notable that they also opened for Huey Lewis for their '86 tour.

"Jubilee": I'll have to search this one out. It sounds like a very powerful song.