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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ten Songs That Everyone Should Hear

This is the start of a series of posts about some music, books, films and such that have influenced me over the years. They are not in any particular order, but after 25 years in the music and entertainment biz, I think I have collected enough wit and wisdom to publish a list or two with some authority. I hope you enjoy them.

1. Wasted Time
This tune from which appears at the end of side one of the Eagles' Hotel California is perhaps the greatest of all rock ballads. Don Henley's pain seared and sympathetic vocals and a set of lyrics that speaks to everyone who's ever lost something in life are like no others in music. A song of both heartache and hope, it has been a favorite of mine for more than 20 years.

2. The Leader of the Band
Dan Fogelberg's poignant tribute to his father (a respected colleagiate music professor) is one of the most touching ballads I have ever heard, perhaps because I can relate to it on such a personal level. I don't know of any other song that so aptly describes a life in music.

3. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
It's too easy to pan Bono for his overtly religious tendencies and his change the world outlook on life. If, however, this soul-searching and sincere quest for self doesn't relate to at least 60% of the population, then there's something wrong with all of us.

4. A Pig's Foot and a Bottle of Beer
Blues legend Bessie Smith delivers up a rip roaring song about the finer things in life. The first time I heard this tune I backed the cd up and played it over about four times in a row. This song, more than just about any other, extols the virtures of good friends and good fun.

5. Something Cool
Chanteuse June Christy, who never really sang quite perfectly in tune, creates an unforgettable image of the sophisticated life of the 1950's in this evocative ballad. Instrumentals arranged by Pete Ruggolo are flawless.

6. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
Title track from Frank Sinatra's string of 1950's vintage masterworks for Capitol Records, this song is heartbreak in a bottle. The Charman of the Board at his finest.

7. Teo toriate (Let Us Cling Together)
In the 1970's Queen released two masterpiece LPs named after Marx Brothers movies. (A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races). This song is the last track of the latter, and is one of the most memorable love songs that I have ever experienced. Its refrain, in English and Japanese is one of the decade's most beautiful melodies, and Freddy Mercury proves why he had one of the greatest voices in Rock and Roll.

8. The Way Old Friends Do
This closing track to Abba's Super Trouper is a nostalgic look (from the vantage point of the present day) at what might have been. A couple of albums later the Swedish foursome would all be divorced, and the dance floor phenomenon of the 1970's would be no more. The harmonies along with the presence of a live audience make this a song to remember.

9. Crossroads
Don McLean is best known for Vincent and American Pie, but this hauntingly simple and beautiful song about a love gone wrong gives strong evidence as to why McLean is one of the finest song writing talents ever.

10. The Air That I Breathe
Ah for the days when songs had a hook, a tune, a melody, a chorus that we could actually sing back at the radio. Sigh. The Hollies were one of the best bands of the late 60s-early 70s and they are woefully under appreciated today. Sigh. Time for a revival. k.d. lang's cover of this song was one of the best remakes in history.


Hildigunnur said...

wow, I wish Icelanders could buy music from iTunes music store!

My favourite Queen song ever is Prophet's Song. One of those lesser known songs, like your one, but just brilliant music.

Kevin Sutton said...

Another favorite is "39" from A Night at the Opera!

Kevin Sutton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hildigunnur said...

yeah, that one's pretty good, too :-D

Kevin Sutton said...

Why can't you buy tunes from itunes?

Vonda said...

Hey Kevin, This is Vonda Bowling....I have subbed for Mark at the Hideway sometimes on Tuesday nights. I was an opera major at the University of Tennessee and I have my Master's in Voice Performance. I want to sing for you sometime.....please e-mail me at

Hildigunnur said...

iTunes just doesn't cover Iceland, not yet at least and probably never. Has something to do with that the Icelandic companies won't hand royalties for Icelandic music over to iTunes.

If I had a credit card issued in an iTunes country I could buy the music. Apparently there's a possibility to go around it somehow, I might borrow my brother's English one to buy. My eldest daughter would like that veeeery much :-D

Kevin Sutton said...

In the meantime, you should subscribe to Rhapsody, a great streaming service from which you can also buy downloads.

It's $9.95 American a month, and has gazillions of tunes. Lots of classical too. It's a great service. You can save things to your computer if you are a subscriber.

Hildigunnur said...

cool, I'll check this out :-)