These are a few of my favorite things

It seems like almost every day I see a new post on Facebook or in a magazine with someone’s selections for “Top Ten” this and “Top Ten” that — quarterbacks, guitarists, vacation spots, female vocalists, fashion designers, double albums, car models, concert venues, vegan recipes, and on and on.

3oxgxv5cThese Top Ten lists can be great fun, provocative, irritating, satisfying, or silly, but most of all, they get the conversation started.  Pretty much all these categories involve highly subjective choices, based as much on emotion as empirical quality, so there’s plenty of room for disagreement.

For more than 60 years, BBC Radio has had a program called “Desert Island Discs.”  Celebrities (some musicians, some not) are invited to list and discuss the eight records they would take with them to a desert island.  Bruce Springsteen recently picked his eight, which are all songs that had a dramatic impact on his life and career.  Others have selected tunes that reminded them of specific incidents or past relationships.

It’s certainly an intriguing idea, and a reader urged me to write a blog essay about the subject.  If you were banished to some remote location for, say, a year, and you could take along only a limited number of songs, which ones would they be?  What are the songs in your life that you simply don’t want to be without?

As I began assembling my own list, I realized this is pretty much an impossible task.  There’s no way in hell I could narrow down my favorites to just eight, or ten…so I decided to double the total to 20.  That still makes it a very difficult assignment, especially for a music fanatic like me, but that seems like a fair number that I could work with.

There are several factors to consider in addressing this task.  The first problem is determining which artists absolutely must be represented.  Clearly, you’ll need to have songs by your very favorite bands you’ve adored your whole life.  But then comes the agonizing decision of black-man-exasperatedwhich track (or tracks) to choose from their catalogs.  Do you select the one that brings back the best memories, or the one that has the best musical chops?

What about the fact that you will very soon grow very sick of the songs you’ve selected?  I had to set that concern aside, and just focus on the music that is most near and dear to me…and hope that I would one day be able to hear other songs again.

There are other considerations as well.  If you are a hard-core fan of progressive rock (or R&B, or indie pop, etc.), do you limit your list to tunes from that genre?  Or do you perhaps select songs from a healthy cross-section of genres?  I like jazz or classical every now and then.  Shouldn’t I include something from those areas?

Then there’s the question of what era you’re drawing from:  Depending on your age, would you prefer to concentrate on classic tracks from the ’60s and ’70s…or ’80s and ’90s?  Or should you include something much more current?  And lastly, what about tempo?  Do you want music you can dance to, music you can harmonize to, or music you can make love to?

And, of course, the list you make today is very likely to change next year, or next month, or maybe even next week.  So this really serves as a snapshot of how you feel at the moment.  It’s not etched in stone.  Which is probably a good thing.

In order to get an idea of people’s preferences, I hastily conducted an informal poll of some of the folks who receive this blog every week, asking for their thoughts and favorites.  The findings were very interesting — predictable in some ways, but some surprising as well.  It’s good to get a sense of the kinds of songs that are essential to the people who regularly read “Hack’s Back Pages.”

I couldn’t include every song mentioned, but I’ve compiled a pretty comprehensive list:

It should come as no surprise that tunes by The Beatles showed up most often, and the choices were all over the map:  “Blackbird,” “She Loves You,” “In My Life,” “Here There and Everywhere,” “Hey Jude,” “Because,” “A Day in the Life,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Let It Be,” “When I’m 64,” “Get Back,” “Across the Universe,” “Back in the USSR,” “The Abbey Road medley“…

cdshelves_wide-d400224fea0d06b0b7b13d9ebfebead86112df36-s900-c85Many people said “some Motown” had to be on their list.  Getting the most mentions were The Temptations (“My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Get Ready,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone“), Marvin Gaye (“I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “What’s Goin’ On,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Mercy Mercy Me,” “Let’s Get It On“), Stevie Wonder (“Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “Superstition,” “Golden Lady,” “I Was Made to Love Her“) , The Jackson 5 (“ABC,” “I Want You Back“) and The Supremes (“Baby Love“).  Also, Smokey Robinson (“More Love“), Aretha Franklin (“Respect“), Booker T & The MGs (“Green Onion“), The Isley Brothers (“It’s Your Thing,” “Shout“), James Brown (“Get Up/I Feel Like a Sex Machine“) and The Undisputed Truth (“Smiling Faces Sometimes“).

As I expected, votes were cast for multiple songs by some of rock music’s biggest bands of the ’60s and ’70s:

The Rolling Stones :  “Satisfaction,” “Beast of Burden,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Under My Thumb

Led Zeppelin : “Good Times Bad Times,” “Ramble On,” “Fool in the Rain,” “The Ocean,” “No Quarter,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Going to California,” “When the Levee Breaks,”  “Since I’ve Been Loving You

Steely Dan :  “Kid Charlemagne,” “Aja,” “The Caves of Altimira,” “My Old School,” “Deacon Blues,” “Don’t Take Me Alive

Bruce Springsteen :  “Thunder Road,” “Badlands,” “Born to Run,” “Rosalita,” “Jungleland,” “You’re Missing

Jimi Hendrix :  “Purple Haze,” “Little Wing,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Voodoo Child

Cream :  “Spoonful,” “Sunshine Of Your Love,” “Badge

The Doors :  “The End,” “Riders on the Storm,” “LA Woman,” “Break on Through,” “Light My Fire

The Who :  “Baba O’Riley,” “Pinball Wizard,” “The Song is Over” “Love Reign O’er Me

Santana :  “Europa,” “Black Magic Woman

Elton John :  “Rocket Man,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “I’m Still Standing” “Tiny Dancer

David Bowie :  “Suffragette City,” “Moonage Daydream,” “Changes

Pink Floyd :  “On the Turning Away,” “Us and Them” “Comfortably Numb

U2 :  “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” “Where the Streets Have No Name

Fleetwood Mac :  “Dreams,” “The Chain,” “Hypnotized

Dire Straits :  “Money for Nothing,” “Telegraph Road,” “Romeo and Juliet

Van Morrison :  “Moondance,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” “Into the Mystic,” “Wild Night,” “Real Real Gone

James Taylor :  “Fire and Rain,” “Your Smiling Face,” “You Can Close Your Eyes,” “You’ve Got a Friend

 

Simon and Garfunkel :  “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “America,” “The Boxer

Joni Mitchell :  “For Free,” “Carey,” “A Case of You” “All I Want

Jackson Browne :  “For Everyman,” “Runnin’ on Empty,” “Take It Easy,” “Doctor My Eyes

Bob Dylan : “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Sweetheart Like You

The Beach Boys: “God Only Knows,” “Good Vibrations”

CSNY:  “Our House,” “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Guinnevere

Chicago : “Questions 67 and 68,” “Make Me Smile

Yes :  “Yours is No Disgrace,” “Roundabout

The Doobie Brothers : “South City Midnight Lady,” “Here to Love You

Little Feat : “Dixie Chicken,” “Roll Um Easy

The Allman Brothers : “Jessica,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Whipping Post

Jethro Tull : “Thick as a Brick” “A Passion Play,” “We Used to Know

Sheryl Crow :  “Every Day is a Winding Road,” “Strong Enough

The Pixies :  “Debaser,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven”

Dave Mason :  “We Just Disagree,” “Look at You Look at Me,” “Every Woman”

Derek & the Dominos :  “Layla,” “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad,” “Little Wing

musicHere is a sampling of some individual songs mentioned once:

Don McLean’s “American Pie,” Harry Chapin’s “Taxi,” The Eagles’ “Ol’ ’55“, Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis,” The Band’s “The Weight,” Pure Prairie League’s “Amie,” Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat,” Batdorf and Rodney’s “Can You See Him,” Linda Ronstadt’s “Different Drum,” Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,” Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Craig Fuller & Eric Kaz’s “Annabella“…

John Mellencamp’s “Check It Out,” George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,”  Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” Toto’s “Africa,” Steve Winwood’s “While You See a Chance,” Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,”  Huey Lewis’ “Stuck With You,” The Replacements’ “I Will Dare,” Frank Zappa’s “Stick It Out,” Blondie’s “The Tide is High,” New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give,” Joy Askew’s “Big Sky,” Sting’s “Be Still My Beating Heart”… 

The Wallflowers’ “One Headlight,” Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” Average White Band’s “Queen of My Soul,” Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” Bob Seger’s “Nite Moves,” The Zombies’ “She’s Not There,” The Rascals’ “Lonely Too Long“, Poco’s “El Tonto de Nadie Regresa,”  Earth Wind & Fire’s “September,” Bryan Ferry’s “Kiss and Tell,” John Lennon’s “Instant Karma,” The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now,” Queen’s “Radio Gaga“…

Rush’s “Limelight,” Emerson Lake and Palmer’s “Karn Evil 9,” Buddy Guy’s “She’s Out There Somewhere,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Brian Eno & John Cale’s “Spinning Away,”  Joe Walsh’s “Days Gone By,” “Connie Francis’ “Where the Boys Are,” Gregg Allman’s “Queen of Hearts,” Boz Scaggs’ “Loan Me a Dime,” Sade’s Punch Drunk,” Robert Plant’s “In the Mood,” Pete Townshend’s “And I Moved,” Tracy Chapman’s “Material World,” Dave Matthews Band’s “Everybody Wake Up

Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child,” Elvis Presley’s “Trying to Get to You,” B.B. King’s “Let the Good Times Roll,” Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” Dionne Warwick’s “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” Carrie Underwood’s “Not Enough Wind in Oklahoma,” Brooks & Dunn’s “My Maria,” Keith Urban’s “Memories of Us,” Ronnie Spector’s “There is an End,” Phillip Phillips’ “Home,”  The Cleveland Orchestra’s “Beethoven’s 9th Symphony,” Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take Five”…  

Some readers mentioned these artists but no specific songs:   The Four Tops, Edgar Winter Group, Loggins & Messina, Joan Baez, Styx, Elvis Costello…

A few readers misunderstood my intent, thinking I was looking for songs that would be appropriate for a desert island locale!  Naturally, they suggested tunes by Bob Marley (“Is This Love,” “No Woman No Cry,” “Three Little Birds,” “Waiting in Vain“), Jimmy Buffett (“A Pirate Looks at Forty,” “Changes in Latitudes“), Jack Johnson (“Better Together“), Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy“), The Green, Kenny Chesney (“When the Sun Goes Down“) and Zac Brown (“Life is Good Today“).

Artists mentioned from the most recent decade included The Black Keys (“Busted“), Bon Iver (“Re: Stacks“), Guided By Voices (“Fair Touching“), Fun (“We Are Young“), R. Kelly (“Ignition: Remix“), Gnarls Barkley (“Crazy“), Eric Church (“Springsteen“), Amy Winehouse (“Tears  Dry On Their Own“), Cee Lo (“F–k You“), Adele (“Hello“), Train (“Hey Soul Sister,” “Meet Virginia“), Pharrell Williams (“Happy“) and Justin Timberlake (“What Goes Around Comes Back Around“)…

For what it’s worth, one guy mentioned Iron Butterfly’s “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida“…

A few wiseasses singled out cringeworthy songs like “Volare,” “Afternoon Delight,” “Having My Baby” and the theme song to “Barney”…

*******************************

img_0035In honor of my wife’s birthday today, I asked her to come up with her 20 essential songs.  Clearly, they reflect her love for the music of the ’60s and ’70s, but there are a few newer ones thrown in there too.  In no particular order, here they are:

Thunder Road,” Bruce Springsteen; “In My Life,” The Beatles; “Happy,” Pharrell Williams; “Changes,” David Bowie; “You’ve Got a Friend,” James Taylor & Carole King; “Do You Feel Like We Do,” Peter Frampton; “Unchained Melody,” The Righteous Brothers; “The Chain,” Fleetwood Mac; “Sleep Song,” Graham Nash; “Baba O’Riley,” The Who; “The Boxer,” Simon and Garfunkel; “Kashmir,” Led Zeppelin; “Burning the Boat,” Emily Hackett; “Babe Now That I’ve Found You,” The Foundations; “Badlands,” Bruce Springsteen; “Brown-Eyed Girl,” Van Morrison; “The Logical Song,” Supertramp; “Shanty,” Jonathan Edwards; “Us and Them,” Pink Floyd; “Free Man in Paris,” Joni Mitchell.

 

img_0010Since this is MY blog, I figured I can list my 20 songs as well.  In no order:

God Only Knows,” The Beach Boys; “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,” Traffic; “Rosalita,” Bruce Springsteen; “America,” Simon and Garfunkel; “The Song is Over,” The Who; “Down to You,” Joni Mitchell; “Telegraph Road,” Dire Straits; “I Was Made to Love Her,” Stevie Wonder; “Hypnotized,” Fleetwood Mac; “Thick as a Brick,” Jethro Tull; “You Can Close Your Eyes,” James Taylor; “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” The Allman Brothers; “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” Led Zeppelin; “Suffragette City,” David Bowie; “King of the World,” Steely Dan; “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End,” The Beatles; “Can You See Him,” Batdorf and Rodney; “Sympathy For the Devil,” The Rolling Stones; “Guinnevere,” Crosby Stills & Nash; “Tangled Up in Blue,” Bob Dylan.

 

 

Whew.  This one was exhausting!

 

 

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13 comments

  1. CRO · January 20

    I’m going to burn a Judy and Bruce mix. What a range of great tunes – nice work. Happy birthday to your bride!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Phil Pierce · January 20

    Dear Bruce,

    Sorry I didn’t get a chance to add my two cents, but the list is already exhaustive, as well as interesting. DAMN glad to see no disco (unless one or two snuck in there)! Many great road tunes and just plain good songs. Enough for every mood and situation.

    Just one questions — is that your den crammed with shelves and trays of CDs? Wouldn’t be surprised!

    Many happies to your beautiful lady,
    Duryea

    Liked by 1 person

    • brucehhackett · January 20

      No, sadly, not my den. My vinyl (about 900) is stored in my daughter’s living room in Nashville…and my 500 “Hack Tape” cassette mixes are stored under her bed! But my CDs are on multiple shelves in my modest mancave in Santa Monica…

      Like

  3. Julie S · January 20

    Hey Relic!

    Good job putting this all together. Great fun to see favorites posted. It was difficult to choose just a couple! Disappointed there isn’t an active playlist though (lazy girl!). Enjoy Jude’s special day today! It will go down in the history books, that is for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • brucehhackett · January 20

      Yeah, I could’ve done a playlist of Judy’s or my stuff, I guess. But I’d prefer y’all subscribe to Spotify and start digging into all this great music on your own! 😉

      Like

  4. Budd Bailey · January 20

    Got a long time to listen to music on a tropical desert island? In-a-gadda-da-vida struck me as appropriate. (I was thinking of songs that took up one side of an album.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • brucehhackett · January 20

      Agreed, Budd. Which is why I went with Thick as a Brick (one song that took up TWO sides of an album) on my list. Plus Telegraph Road (14:00) and In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (13:00) and Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (12:00). All worthy songs to make the list even without their lengthiness, but that sealed the deal…

      Like

  5. David Futch · January 21

    That’s quite a list. I like yours the best, especially the nod to “America.” Maybe I missed it but was Dylan’s Highway 61 included?

    Like

  6. Phil Light · January 21

    This was great, Bruce. I have one question/comment. I hesitate to be critical, but I’ve got to wonder, if one song from David Bowie was to be on the list, how could it be “Suffragette City”? It’s got a great rock-n-roll beat and is good musically, but I’ve always thought it was a rather shallow tune, lyrically…Wham, bam, thank you ma’am? There are so many other iconic Bowie songs…”Rock-n-Roll Suicide”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “Star Man”, “Space Oddity” to name a few. Oh well, just my opinion.

    Like

  7. Mike Reaves · January 21

    Love this!! Very interesting to see where everyone feels like their musical homes are! Happy to see Mama J’s list as well as yours. Beatles medley should be on my list on second thought.

    Like

  8. Mark Frank · January 21

    Fun blog Hack! I like your list a lot. Also some excellent (and some surprising) suggestions from your readers!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. brucehhackett · January 22

    Yes, glad to see a few under-the-radar picks from readers. Keeps us on our toes, with new music to explore and discover…

    Like

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