Archive for the ‘Rock Lyrics’ Category

We all know that instruments can cover up some god-awful vocals. Just ask Taylor Swift or Britney Spears, amirite? On the other hand, taking away instrumentation can reveal what amazing talent some singers really possess. That said, what you’re about to hear below may surprise you. But enough babbling, let’s take a listen . . .

Let’s start with the Voice of an Angel himself, Mr. Carl Wilson. Oh, and wait for the rest of the boys to jump in after the first verse . . .

Sticking with the Beach Boys, listen to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and for the love of God wait for the group harmonies. They nearly bring tears to my eyes.

If you enjoyed those, just go to YouTube and type in “Beach Boys Isolated Vocals” to have your mind and ears blown.

Next up we have none other than Kurt Cobain singing lead on “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. In a way, it’s even better this way. Love it.

Here we have the King of Pop singing “Beat It.” Not bad, but I really miss Eddie Van Halen’s searing guitar solo.

I really like listening to Soungarden’s “Black Hole Sun” with just Chris Cornell’s amazing vocals. So beautifully haunting.

I absolutely love the acapella version of “Your Imagination” from Brian Wilson’s 1999 comeback album. So pretty.

Want some hip-hop? Here ya go . . .

Alicia Key’s doesn’t need any damn instruments to sound gorgeous. Wow . . .

Oh, you’ve been waiting for this one. Stunning. Freddie Mercury was the best. PS- If you like this one check out “We Are The Champions” isolated vocals on YouTube. Stellar.

Here’s an old school Kansas track. You never realize the space between actual vocals in this tune until the instruments are taken out. Wild.

Aw, man. How I love this song. Grace Slick does perfectly fine without the music, thank you.

Back to Freddie, this time with Bowie on “Under Pressure.” So damn good.

Let’s finish up with Fleetwood Mac and Lindsey Buckingham. Good stuff.

We could go on all day with this stuff, and let’s just say you can find some pretty cringeworthy stuff if you look around a little. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed. Have a good one.

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Ah, the 60s. I entered them as a 4-year old listening to my Dad’s Al Martino records and left them rocking out to Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Creedence Clearwater. And in between, of course . . . The Beatles. Hell of a decade for music, man, because the leap was incredible and music hasn’t changed so dramatically since. Narrowing down my list wasn’t easy, but nevertheless it was done. Without further ado . . .

The Beatles

Der. No brainer, kids. Everything you hear today owes something to The Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo were all individual talents in their own right. As a band they were the best ever and if you say otherwise I will fight you. Favorite song: Nowhere Man. Favorite album: Abbey Road.

The Beach Boys

Probably the most underrated band in rock history. The Boys are much, much more than songs about the beach, girls and fast cars. And Brian Wilson? Genius. Favorite song: Caroline, No. Favorite Album: Pet Sounds.

The Band

The Band had a unique, never duplicated sound. They were the greatest collection of musicians since The Beatles. Favorite song: Acadian Driftwood. Favorite album: Music From Big Pink.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Swamp rock from a bunch of California boys, mainly John Fogerty. Again, a unique sound. Favorite song: Bad Moon Rising. Favorite album: Green River.

The Doors

Another band with an amazingly new and different sound, and the combination of Jim Morrison’s vocals and Ray Manzarek’s keyboards made it all happen. Favorite song: Touch Me. Favorite album: The Soft Parade.

Bob Dylan

The greatest rock poet ever, period. He changed the music world with his intelligent, thoughtful lyrics. Favorite song: Positively 4th Street. Favorite album: Highway 61 Revisited.

The Byrds

The favorite American band of The Beatles. Their jangly guitars were legendary and influenced future artists like Tom Petty and REM. Favorite song: Bells of Rhymney. Favorite album: Turn! Turn! Turn!

Led Zeppelin

When Zep released their first album it was pretty clear they brought a different vibe. By their fourth album and Stairway to Heaven they were legends. Favorite song: Battle of Evermore. Favorite album: Led Zeppelin IV.

The Who

LOVED The Who. They had the knack for combining hard rock with catchy melodies and hook-filled songs, not as easy task. Roger Daltrey’s voice and Pete Townsend’s guitar was one helluva combination. Favorite song: Won’t Get Fooled Again. Favorite album: Tommy.

Van Morrison

Van the Man brought a bluesy mood to 60s rock that was fresh and exciting. I heard Brown-Eyed Girl and I was done. Favorite song: Already told ya – Brown-Eyed Girl. Favorite album: Astral Weeks.

Special Mention:

The Animals

We Gotta Get Out of This Place rocked my world., and Eric Burdon’s voice is amazing.

The Rolling Stones

I’ve always liked but not loved The Stones. So shoot me.

Elvis Presley

I liked 50s Elvis (Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock) mush better than 60s Elvis (Suspicious Minds, In the Ghetto).

Honorable Mention:

Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bee Gees, Jimi Hendrix, The Four Seasons, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, the Grass Roots, Herman’s Hermits, Neil Young, The Rascals, The Hollies, The Righteous Brothers, The Guess Who, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Tommy James & the Shondells, Steppenwolf, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Buffalo Springfield, Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, The Yardbirds, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, Velvet Underground, Sly & the Family Stone, The Kinks, Cream, Marvin Gaye.

So, I showed you mine. Now you show me yours.


One of my former students recently asked me how many concerts I had seen in my lifetime, and I told them I had no idea but it had to be over a hundred. I LOVE live music and always have, and I’ve been going to shows for approximately 45-years. Anyway, because I was asked I have attempted to recall all the shows I’ve seen, and believe me when I say there is no way I’ll remember them all. Because of this you can bet this blog will be updated often as the memories come flooding back or somebody reminds me of something I forgot. With all this in mind, let me begin. I’ll list the concerts along with notes on some of them, and they will be in somewhat of a chronological order but not really. An asterisk indicates a Rock Hall of Fame inductee, and I believe I’ve seen 25 bands/artists that have earned that honor. That said, I’ve also seen some shows that might surprise you. Let us begin . . .

Redbone

1974, Kings Island Senior Night. They were Native Americans, they wore full Native American regalia, and their big hit was “Come and Get Your Love.” I was front row and I was forever turned on to live music. Who could not be after seeing this?

Note: I have no idea if that’s politically correct or not, I just know it’s a great song.

Brownsville Station

These cool cats sang the original “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and followed Redbone. I’ll never forget singer Cub Coda’s roaring vocals and drummer Henry “H-Bomb” Weck destroying the skins. Epic.

Seals & Crofts

Thanks to my Uncle Myrl we always had great seats at the Ohio State Fair. Hence the front row seats for the band that gave us “Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl.” It was a very good show.

The Stylistics

Believe it or not I saw this legendary R&B group at the Ross County Fairgrounds. Who booked them there I do not know, but it was the early to mid-70s so they were in their heyday.

Joe and Steven.

Aerosmith*

Ah, the famous (well, at least to me) Aerosmith concert. You know, the one where I drank Stroh’s beer with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler? That one? Yeah, I used to have a cool photo of me sitting between those rock Gods on a backstage couch, smiling broadly, luxurious locks cascading down our backs. Sorry, I got lost in the mists of time there for a second. Anyway, here’s the link: Steven, Joe and Me: Meeting Aerosmith. Read it. I would but it would make me cry again.

Note: I looked it up. It was March 24th, 1978 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Columbus.

Allman Brothers Band*

I saw these guys at an outdoor venue somewhere over near Zanesville. I don’t think it was Legend Valley, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they were as good as you might expect Southern Rock legends to be.

The Beach Boys* (6)

I’ve seen The Boys six times at various venues, including the big return of Brian Wilson sometime around 1977. They’re always a good show. Oh, and remember the time Mike Love tried to steal my girlfriend? If not, here’s the story: In the late 70’s I went to see them, again at Riverfront Coliseum in The Natti. We were once again right down front. From the get-go Mike Love was paying special attention to my date, at one point getting down on one knee and singing a song right up in her grillmix. I don’t remember the song, probably because I was too busy watching the security dude and figuring my odds of getting a shot at Love’s nose. Eventually Love actually sent a guy down to ask if she was interested. She said no and he never came close to us the rest of the show. Bizarre experience.

Chicago* (3)

Damn you to hell Cetera.

Chicago was always a good show, especially when they rocked and before they started with all the sappy ballads in the early 80s. The most memorable show was when Peter Cetera nearly stole my date. Yep, it happened again, and this show and The Beach Boys show were only a couple weeks apart. I guess I should look at the bright side and assume I had good taste in women? Anyway, here’s a link to the whole sordid affair: How Peter Cetera Once Ruined a Relationship. Mine.

Warren Zevon

I saw the legend back in early ’79 when I was living on West 8th Avenue, just south of The Ohio State University campus. I distinctly recall sitting at a table in the since demolished Serene Lounge, a misnamed establishment if there ever was one. As I sat there enjoying Happy Hour, a buddy came rushing in and said he had tickets to a show up the street at The Agora, which is now The Newport. Of course I asked who was playing, and he told me Warren Zevon. Being the sophisticated music aficionado that I was, I immediately jumped at the chance. O.K., truth be told I’d never heard of Warren Zevon. Seems I’d missed the whole “Werewolves of London” hoopla from a few months prior. Go figure. Long story short, I went, was blown away and became a huge fan.

Note. It’s odd but one clear memory I have of that night was Zevon mentioning that his dad was named Stumpy. That’s a cool dad name, don’t you think? Anyway, one of my big regrets (among many) is the fact that I never saw Warren Zevon live again.

Steely Dan

I think I saw these guys at St. John Arena, but I’ll be damned if I can remember exactly. Anyway, it was the late 70s, a period my loving father used to refer to as “my hazy period.”

The New York Dolls

Believe it or not I actually saw these punk legends at the Fairgrounds Coliseum where they opened for The Babys and, wait for it . . . REO Speedwagon. To say I’d never seen anything like them (spiked collars, high heels, multi-colored hair, hot pants) is an understatement. I’m pretty sure I stood there, mouth agape, during their entire show.

Steppenwolf

These rock legends actually performed at Sam’s Place, a big barn-type venue south on Chillicothe on Route 23. I believe the building is still there. Anyway, they rocked out “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” right here in good ol’ Ross County USA.

The Babys

The Babys followed the New York Dolls, and although “Isn’t It Time” and “Every Time I Think of You” are great songs, following the Dolls was a tough gig ( not to mention everyone was there to see REO).

REO Speedwagon

I feel like I’ve seen REO more than once, but perhaps not. Anyway, it was a rockin’ show. I remember they closed with “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”

Electric Light Orchestra

Electric Light Orchestra* (12)

Yep, I’ve seen ELO 12-times at least, and every single show was a joy, a revelation and an absolute rock spectacle. Hey, who doesn’t like lasers, giant spaceships and giant butterflies and moths fluttering above the audience? I know I do. Seriously, Jeff Lynne is a musical genius and a rock legend, and I shall see him again in less than a month. However, the most memorable ELO show was the night I found myself in the middle of a Jeff Lynne/ELO scenario of which I wanted no part of. To fully understand, read this: Pimping for the Electric Light Orchestra.

Roxy Music

I saw Roxy Music open for ELO at Veterans Memorial in 1975, and Bryan Ferry did not disappoint, singing “Love Is The Drug” and others in all his Glam Rock glory.

Gentle Giant

Saw this Prog Rock band open for ELO in The Natti, circa 1977.

Steve Hillage

Hillage was a guitarist of note back in the 70s.

Rick Derringer (3)

I first saw Derringer on the “Frampton Comes Alive” tour at the Tangerine Bowl in Florida. There were several bands before Frampton, and one of them was Kansas. They came out and it was clear from the get-go they were tanked. Just smashed, drunk and/or high as hell. Midway through song two or three they just turned and walked off the stage. The crowd basically rioted until something pretty cool happened. Rick Derringer, who had played a short set earlier, returned to the stage and started playing. Slowly the crowd got into it and eventually he was actually playing requests. That’s a true pro right there, and he saved everyone from a potentially nasty situation. When Frampton finally came out he thanked Derringer profusely and even called him back out for an encore. I’ll always have fond memories of Rick Derringer because of that day.

Led Zeppelin*

Led Zeppelin

At some point a bit before The Who tragedy at Riverfront Coliseum (again, my dates are a little fuzzy) I saw Led Zeppelin there. The whole festival seating/general admission thing was in place, and it was pretty ugly. We got there real early to get in line. The coliseum’s policy at the time was to open just 4-doors at around 6:30 PM (again, hazy) for the 8:00 show. We were right up front, and a little after 5:00 PM things began to get ugly. Remember, 4-doors for 12,000+ people. Idiocy. People in the back began pressing forward and those of us in front were getting crushed against the doors. Guys were begging the security inside to open up, but they weren’t listening. A police chopper suddenly appeared and began hovering about 30-feet up, and a guy with a bullhorn was telling people to back up. Nobody was having it, and at one point I remember a beer bottle being thrown at the chopper and shattering off its side. By this time I was seriously in fear of not making it out of there. My arms were pressed against my sides so tightly that I couldn’t raise them. Occasionally my feet would rise off the ground and I’d have to completely go wherever the crowd took me. Scary stuff for sure. The worst part was when the crowd would start to lean and you feared getting crushed. It was hard to breathe and several people passed out but obviously didn’t fall down. Surreal as hell. Finally, an ignorant security guard did a dumb but ultimately good thing – he cracked a door open, ostensibly to tell somebody when the gates would open. At that point the door was ripped open and the crowd poured in. Glass was flying everywhere, and as I was being pushed through a guard reached out and ripped a flask from my neck, nearly slashing my throat. No tickets were taken and chaos ensued. After I got away from the rushing crowd, I sought out a cop and yelled, “If these people don’t start opening more doors somebody’s going to get killed here!” A prophetic statement, unfortunately. When the news came down months later that 11-people were killed at The Who show, I wasn’t surprised. I knew exactly what had taken place. Oh, and by the way, I scored a front row spot. Hey, it was Zep.

The Eagles, 1977

The Eagles* (3)

I first saw The Eagles during their Hotel California Tour, and I remember the big album cover backdrop. Joe Walsh had just joined the group and he was on fire. Great show. As a bonus, no band member tried to pick up my girlfriend.

Todd Rundgren (4)

I’ve seen the greatest rocker never to be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame four times, and every single time he has been amazing. Just a multi-talented musician and performer.

Elton John*

I was lucky enough to see Elton at the peak of his powers, during the legendary Yellow Brick Road Tour. I can’t recall who opened for him but I do remember Kiki Dee coming on stage for the song, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. I also remember that we had seats w-a-y at the back of the arena, near the top. At one point Elton stopped to thank his writing partner Bernie Taupin and pointed him out in the crowd. They shone a spotlight on him, and he was sitting right behind me. I asked him why he was sitting in the cheap seats and he said he liked to hear what the acoustics were like from up there. Cool.

Marshall Tucker Band

No clue where this concert took place. Kentucky perhaps. Rupp Arena? I’ve no clue but it was during the “Heard It In A Love Song/Can’t You See” era. What can I say? I fell into the Urban Cowboy country rock phase for a minute.

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick*

This one was at St. John Arena in Columbus and I recall that it was on the same Monday night that Marquette won the NCAA Basketball Title. 1977 perhaps? Let me check. Hold on . . . . . . . yep, March 28th, 1977. 67-59 over Dean Smith and North Carolina. Al McGuire’s last game. Anyway, at one point some kid from Zane Trace threw his ZT hat on stage and Rick Neilson put it on and wore it for the rest of the show. Wild night. Can’t remember who opened.

Rush*

Went with a buddy who was a huge Rush guy, I believe it was in Dayton at Hara Arena. On a related note, Rush people are an interesting group.

Edgar Winter Group

“Frankenstein” baby! EWG rocks, man. Saw them at an outdoor show somewhere in Columbus. It was in a big parking lot and was sponsored by QFM-96. I think.

Joe Walsh

I saw Joe just before he joined The Eagles, just after he released his “But Seriously, Folks . . .” album. Dude was really good with the crowd, and of course his guitar playing was amazing.

Kansas

I told you about Kansas when I talked about Rick Derringer earlier. They sucked.

Peter Frampton (3)

Peter Frampton

I was a big Frampton fan back in the day, and myself and 3 friends followed him on his “Frampton Comes Alive” Tour. We saw him in Tampa, Louisville and back in Ohio. He was touring with the aforementioned Kansas, Rick Derringer and the J Geils Band. Trust me, Peter Frampton put on one hell of a show.

John Sebastian*

John Sebastian was the frontman for the Lovin’ Spoonful before embarking on a solo career. He didn’t have much success until he penned the theme song for the TV show “Welcome Back Kotter”. Anyway, I saw him as the opening act for, wait for it . . . Steve Martin. The show was at Mershon Auditorium in, I believe, the Spring of ’77 or ’78.

J Geils Band (2)

Saw these guys during the Frampton tour, and one thing sticks out in my mind. Their Louisville show was the last show of the tour and lead singer Peter Wolf busted out the champagne. As usual we’d worked our way down to the front row, and Wolf poured a good portion of the bottle right over my head before I tilted my head back and drank the rest. Good times indeed.

John Waite

Waite was the lead singer of The Babys before starting a solo career. I saw him at a small venue in Columbus (The Newport?) and he was really good. Remember “Missing You”?

Wild Cherry

Yep, I saw these guys sing “Play That Funky Music” in a small bar on High Street in Columbus j-u-s-t before they hit it big.

Barry Manilow

I told you some of the artists would surprise you. I went with my sister and her husband Jigger, and it was a really good show. Vets Memorial I believe.

Doobie Brothers

Thankfully I saw The Doobies before Michael McDonald arrived to wreck their sound with his so-called “blue-eyed soul”. Newsflash: It was not. I preferred the pre-McDonald days of “China Grove”, “Long Train Runnin'” and “Blackwater”. It was a fantastic show that I saw somewhere in Cleveland.

James Taylor* (5)

James Taylor

Ah, the original JT. I’ve seen him at least 5-times, the most memorable being the night I stole his jacket. From my original blog: I went to see him at Blossom Music Center back in ’78 with my friends Tom and Chris. After the show we ambled down to the side of the stage, just getting a look at the setup really. The roadies were tearing down the set, wandering around doing this and that. At some point I looked up and said, “Hey, look. He left his jacket hanging on the mike stand.” He’d worn it onstage and had taken it off during the show. Anyway, one of us (probably Tom) gets the bright idea to try to grab it. Nice plan but the place was crawling with security and roadies. I turn to Chris for ideas, turn back around, and Tom had already jumped the railing and was halfway across the stage. He was just casually walking like he belonged there. A couple of guys glanced at him but didn’t say a word, either because he looked like he belonged or because he was 6′-3″, 280-lbs and looked like he could rip your heart out and show it to you before you died (which by the way he could have but that’s another story). He casually grabs the jacket, throws it over his shoulder, and hops off the other side of the stage as Chris and I run frantically around to meet him. We walk away without looking back, expecting at any moment to hear, “Stop them! Thieves! They have James Taylor’s jacket! For God’s sake stop the bastards!” Except it doesn’t happen, and we make it to the car. At that point Tom tries it on. Obviously too small. Chris grabs it. Too big. Heh-heh. Fit me perfectly. Apparently, in ’78, James Taylor and I were exactly the same size. Anyway, that’s how I came to own James Taylor’s jacket. By the way, later I woke up wide-eyed in the middle of the night, realizing I hadn’t checked the pockets. The possibilities were mind-boggling. Carly Simon’s phone number possibly? Alas, nothing. Damn . . .

Charlie Daniels Band

Again, this was during my country rock phase, which lasted about, oh, a minute and a half. Charlie was cool back then though, although I felt that way partly because I wasn’t aware of the right-wing conservative assclownery he’s exhibited the last 20-years or so.

Blue Oyster Cult

Dayton, Ohio, in Hara Arena. At the end of the concert the drummer threw his sticks into the crowd. I got my hand on one but it slipped through my fingers, damn it.

Yes*

I was never a big Yes fan, but I attended this show with a friend. As I recall I wasn’t that impressed.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

See Yes above.

Grand Funk

Grand Funk Railroad

I watched Mark Farner, Don Brewer and the boys at St. John Arena in Columbus and they were great. I distinctly recall them blowing the roof off the joint with “We’re An American Band”. I think Farner found Jesus shortly after this tour.

Amy Grant

Another shocker, amirite? Yep, I saw Amy at the Ohio State Fair and once again we were right up front. My girlfriend at the time loved her, hence my presence at the show.

Hall & Oates*

Talk about a great opening act. I saw these guys open for ELO in Cleveland at Richfield Coliseum. Of course, they were incredible.

Pat Benatar

Yep. Big Pat Benatar fan, man. Saw her in Riverfront Coliseum back around ’82 ish. I remember being impressed with her lead guitarist and future husband Neil Geraldo too. Dude could shred.

Alabama

Another Ohio State Fair show where I couldn’t turn down the tickets. Hey, it was the early 80s and the band was pretty damn big.

Barbara Mandrell

Same as the Alabama show with one big difference – Barbara Mandrell was smokin’ hot at the time.

Kenny Rogers

You’ll have to give me a break on this one. My mother was a big Kenny Rogers fan and I took her as a surprise for her birthday. She loved it. I’m such a good son.

The Alarm

The Alarm

This show was actually a surprise for me pulled off by my ex-wife Twana, and it was spectacular. I loved The Alarm (still do) and their show at Riverbend in Cincy was great. However, they were just the opening act for the big surprise, which was . . . drumroll please . . .

Bob Dylan*

It was 1988 and like I said, this was a surprise gift for me. Dylan was amazing as you might expect, putting on an unforgettable show.

Pink Floyd*

In June of 1975 I traveled to Pittsburgh to see Pink Floyd at Three Rivers Stadium, and they were insanely good. Obviously this was when Roger Waters was still with them, contrary to the American tour 20-years later when they were without him and I refused to attend. To me, the best part of Floyd was Roger Waters. Anywho, great show with flyin’ pigs and whatnot.

Meat Loaf

I saw The Loaf at a small venue near Lancaster in the mid-80s. This was after his success with Bat Out of Hell in the late 70s and before his big comeback in ’93, and he was in the middle of his well publicized emotional issues. At one point during the show he stopped mid-song and helicoptered his mic stand into the crowd, nearly decapitating myself and several others. It was like “Meat Loaf! YEAH! Woohoo! Wait . . . look out!” Fortunately he got it together and finished, but I remember his voice was freakin’ shot. Let’s just say Meat did not bring his A game that night.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney* (9)

Yes, I have seen Sir Paul many times at many venues in cities ranging from Cincinnati to Indianapolis to Cleveland to Chicago. Perhaps my favorite show was the one in Columbus where a bunch of us went all out rented a suite. Our seats were right over the stage. Also, one year in Cincy I was in the front 8-10 rows which was incredible. With McCartney every song is legendary, plus there’s always that awareness that you’re watching a freakin’ Beatle.

Dan Fogelberg (4)

Fogelberg was always great live, and I saw him at Blossom in Cleveland, The Palace in Columbus and a couple other places.

Indigo Girls

I’d never heard of the Indigo Girls when  first saw them open for R.E.M. at Riverfront Coliseum, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out they were going to be big.

R.E.M.* (15)

I’ve seen R.E.M. more than any other band, first in ’83 at a gym in Springfield, Ohio in front of maybe 100-people, and the last time at Blossom in Cleveland in ’04 along with 20,000 other fans. It was pretty cool watching them grow from a small, relatively unknown band to a worldwide sensation. R.E.M. trails only The Beatles on my favorite bands list.

The Minutemen

I saw these alt legends open for R.E.M. at Vets Memorial a couple weeks before lead singer D. Boon was killed in an auto accident. Memorable concert for sure.

The O’Jays*

Ok, technically I never bought a ticket to watch these guys. However, I did hear them sing along with me on an airplane. Not kidding. Here’s the story: It happened when my late friend Jigger and I were heading to Vegas back in the early ’90s. You’ve got to remember that I’ve always been quite the Motown/Philly Sound fan and am pretty knowledgeable about a lot of the groups of that genre. We’d been in the air for a few minutes when I thought I recognized a guy a couple of rows in front of me. Was that Eddie Levert of The O’Jays? I loved The O’Jays! What the hell, I thought. I went up and sat by him (keep in mind there were only about 30-people on the plane). Sure enough, it was Levert and the rest of the group along with about eight roadies sitting here and there. Throwing caution and common sense to the wind, I started singing one of their big hits, “Love Train” and begging the guys to join in. What can I say? I was overcome with joy at meeting the O’Jays and I was pretty sure I’d never have this chance again. Long story short, in a couple minutes all three O’Jays were singing backup to yours truly on lead vocal. One of the guys (Walter Williams possibly) actually got up in the aisle and was doing the dance moves as I stood and sang beside him. Surreal. About halfway through I forgot the words and Levert took over. I then attempted to join the dancing but failed miserably, to the delight of the audience. I then took a theatrical bow with the group as the crowd went wild (at least in my mind, don’t tell me they didn’t), the stewardesses applauded and Jigger sat there shaking his head. I believe I even followed up by trying to start a rousing rendition of “Backstabbers” but my moment had passed. The group got off at our stopover in Minneapolis, bro hugs were shared all around, and the O’Jays went on their way. And you know what? To this day I can’t hear “Love Train” without getting a big grin on my face.

Fetchin Bones

The Bones opened for REM at Bogart’s and they were great. One reviewer described them as such: “a band that must be seen live for a full grasp of their eclectic frenzy.” Couldn’t have said it better.

The dB’s

These guys opened for REM in Dayton, at either Hara or UD Arena (I can’t remember which). The band was led by Pete Holsapple, who later sat in on many an REM gig.

The Neats

The Neats opened for REM at that show in Springfield, Ohio.

Toad the Wet Sprocket

I saw TTWS at The Newport sometime in the mid-90s. Can’t remember much about the show other than the fact that lead singer Todd Phillips didn’t wear any shoes.

Matthew Sweet

Ah, another great Newport show. I’ve loved Matthew Sweet since 1991 and he did not disappoint.

Hootie & the Blowfish

Once again I saw these guys at The Newport, just before they blew wide open. I remember Darius Rucker downed about 8 Budweiser bottles during the show, and he often had one in his hand as he sang.

The String Cheese Incident

I’m not really into Jam Bands, and I have no idea what inspired me to go to this show. Now that I think of it, I have no idea who I was with or where they played. Somewhere outside for sure.

Screaming Trees

Screaming Trees

The Trees were the middle act at College Park, MD in 1992. They followed Gruntruck and preceded Alice in Chains. Of those three bands, I loved the Screaming Trees the most. The show was at Ritchie Coliseum as I recall.

 

Alice in Chains

See above.

Gruntruck

Also see above.

Fugazi

Great show at the tiny City Lights venue in Indy back in 1993. I remember clearly that the tickets cost a mere $5.00.

The National

The National opened for REM at Blossom in 2004.

Brian Wilson

I was thrilled to see Brian Wilson during his Pet Sounds Tour in 2002. His backing band was the Wondermints and they were fantastic too. He played the album in its entirety, start to finish. Stellar, and the work of a musical genius.

Steve Forbert (3)

I put Steve Forbert in my Top 10 All-Time favorite artists. I’ve seen him at small venues in Newport, KY, and Granville and Worthington in Ohio. He always puts on a great show. One of music’s most underappreciated talents.

Faith No More

Caught these guys at The Newport (surprise!) in September of 1992. The main thing I remember is that lead singer Mike Patton had some absolutely killer pipes.

Helmet

I have very little recollection of this one. Sorry Helmet.

The Temptations*

I finally got to see The Temps around 2008, and they only had one original member remaining. Still a great show though.

Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley

I can attribute this one to pure luck. One night in the Caribbean I was sitting at a little Tiki Bar, and a guy came up and casually mentioned that Ziggy was playing a couple hundred yards down the beach. Wait. What? Hell yes mon. I hustled down there and the rest is history.

They Might Be Giants (8)

Man, I’ve seen the two John’s 8 times since 1992 (the last this past winter) and every show has been awesome. One of my favorite bands ever.

OK GO

This group opened for TMBG the night the electric went out at The Newport and everything was delayed a couple hours. They were great, but my main memory was after the show when the lead singer tried to pick up my nephew’s wife out by the merch stand. Musicians, man.

The Eels

Eels (7)

I’ve seen E and the boys on several occasions, usually in Columbus but at least once in Cleveland. Big, big fan and E never, ever fails to entertain. I’ve been on E’s bandwagon since his early solo albums “A Man Called E” and “Broken Toy Shop”.

The Flaming Lips 

Love the lips, and I saw them at the Nelsonville Music Festival a few years ago. And yes, Wayne Coyne got in one of those big bubbles and walked out over the audience. Fun aplenty.

Beck

I used to volunteer for a company that worked concerts around Columbus (actually I only did it twice) but on one occasion I ended up being Beck’s damn backstage bodyguard. He actually invited me to stand beside the stage and watch the show. Dude really liked me for some reason, man. You can read all about it here: Bodyguarding Beck. True story.

Martina McBride

I must have received good reviews for being Beck’s bodyguard, because a couple weeks later they asked me to be the bodyguard for Martina McBride. Once again I was allowed to watch from the wings. Hey, I’ve never owned a Martina McBride song but damn she was a hottie. Anyway, I protected two famous singers and neither were harmed under my watch. My record is unblemished.

Carbon Leaf (7)

Carbon Leaf

I’ve been a big Carbon Leaf fan since around 2000, and I’ve become acquainted with lead singer Barry Privett. I’ve seen them at Kelley’s in the Outer Banks, The Basement and a few other places in Columbus, a little bar in Chapel Hill, the Southgate House in Newport, KY and The 20th Century Theater in Cincy among other places. I highly recommend this band.

The Wallflowers

I have no earthly idea where I saw these guys. Maybe the old Capital Theater on High Street in Columbus?

Paul Westerberg

I’d waited many a year to see the former Replacements frontman in person, and it was one helluva show. It was at The Newport, which was perfect, and one of my friends said it was the first time he’d actually seen a real life rock star. Westerberg growled/wailed his tunes in black jeans, boots and a leather jacket, all the while smoking a cigarette and barking at the occasional roadie. At one point he played while laying on his back, and he added covers like “If I Had a Hammer” and “Daydream Believer” along with his solo stuff and some Replacement classics. Just an amazing, powerful performance from a rock legend that I’ve admired for years. I’ll never forget it.

Ben Folds (4)

Ben always puts on a great show, and the interaction with his fans is incredible. I last saw him in the fall of last year and he hadn’t lost a step.

Billy Bragg

This show was at Mountain Stage, West Virginia, and was actually broadcast live on National Public Radio. For some reason I remember Billy telling the audience that on the way to the show his bus had passed a little town with an interesting name – Bragg. Weird the stuff you remember.

MC Honky

MC Honky was actually Mark Oliver Everett, otherwise known as E of the Eels. He opened for, you guessed it, The Eels. Strange but interesting night.

Taylor Swift

Yep, I saw her at OU-Chillicothe at the very beginning of her career back in 2007, performing before maybe 2500 people. She’d only had a couple hits at that time, and I remember she stood at the back of the gym after the show until she’d signed every single fan’s autograph. There was no dancing or anything like that, she basically just sat on a stool and played her songs solo.

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band*

Quite simply one of the best live performers to have ever lived. There was no big light show, no video screens, no theatrics. Just Bruce and the band playing straight ahead rock and roll. I saw The Boss at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, and it was unforgettable.

Buddy Guy*

Buddy opened for Clapton at The Schott in the late 00s, and he was spectacular.

Bon Jovi* (4)

An ex of mine had a deep, unapologetic love for Jon Bon Jovi, hence the many trips to see the band. They’re crazy good live, and the trips were worth it to me to watch Richie Sambora play guitar. All the shows were at large arenas.

Goo Goo Dolls

I saw the Goos in their heyday, which was sometime around 1998-1999. according to my internal heyday meter. I must say Johnny Rzeznik and the boys were pretty damn good. I cannot recall where I saw them.

Cracker (3)

Love me some Cracker, and I’ve seen them at Kelley’s in the OBX, the Southgate House in northern Kentucky, and the Picktown Palooza (yes, such a thing exists). I’ve had the pleasure to meet guitarist Johnny Hickman a few times and am happy to report that he’s a good dude.

Green Day*

I took my son to see these guys at The Schott in Columbus as part of my Expose My Kid to The Legends Project (he’s seen McCartney, R.E.M., AC/DC, The Eels, and several others) and they were just about what you’d expect. Those little dudes are like Energizer Bunnies, man. It was their American Idiot Tour I believe.

AC/DC*

AC/DC

Tremendous show at The Schott, and for some reason I was pleasantly surprised at how good of a guitarist Angus Young is. I should have known I guess? Anyway, there were more 50-year old boobs on display than I care to recall.

Eric Clapton*

Saw Slowhand at Nationwide Arena, and it was something to behold. See, even though the show was 2 1/2 hours long Clapton didn’t play that many songs. All the tunes were a long, bluesy numbers and every one was breathtakingly good. Although a few morons were yelling for them there was no “I Shot the Sheriff” or “Tears in Heaven.” To top off the greatness of the show, Derek Trucks was a part of the band and Robert Cray came out to jam during the last 30-minutes or so. Legendary.

Robert Cray 

See Eric Clapton above.

Angels & Airwaves

A & A is led by Blink-182’s Tom Delonge, and I went to The Newport with my son to see the band in the mid-00s. Kip wanted to get down front, so we worked our way down to the right front of the stage with yours truly against a railing. Suffice to say the mosh pit was deadly, my ribs were crushed repeatedly against the railing, and I could barely get out of bed the next day. Hey, you have to sacrifice for family. On a related note, it was totally worth it.

The Color Fred

These guys opened for A & A and I have very little recollection as to whether they were any good.

Fuel

I caught Fuel at a small venue in Columbus, but I can’t remember the exact location. Interesting crowd at Fuel shows.

The Smithereens

I saw these guys at the Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, NC as part of a big summer show with 4 other acts. I’ve always loved The Smithereens and they did not fail me.

Scars on 45

Scars on 45 are English band that was a part of the Mateo show. They impressed me.

Gin Blossoms (3)

I’ve seen these guys at the Manteo Festival, Summerfest and Bogey’s in Dublin, OH.

Spin Doctors

Another band at the Manteo concert, and believe me when I say they still have it.

Joan Jett*

Joan headlined the big Manteo show and she was stunningly good. On a related note, the Roanoke Festival Park is a stunning venue with the backdrop to the stage being the Roanoke Sound. Beautiful.

Social Distortion’s Mike Ness

Social Distortion

After years of trying I finally got to see Mike Ness and Social D at what was then LC Pavilion in Columbus a few years ago. They were everything I expected them to be.

Mudhoney

My buddy Goose and I caught the legendary grunge rockers at tiny Café Bourbon Street in Columbus in 2010. Lead singer Mark Arm, the man who coined the term “grunge”, was in top form. I felt lucky to have seen them, and Arm gave me the setlist. Boom.

Manchester Orchestra

This band opened for My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 in Cincinnati. My only recollection is that they had a lush, orchestral sound, hence their name choice I guess.

My Chemical Romance (2)

I’ve seen MCR twice, once opening for Green Day in Columbus and once for Blink-182 in Cincinnati. On both occasions they were very good, and it turned out that the Cincy tour was their last.

Blink-182

Blink-182

My son was a big Blink guy and this show was pretty special. I recall sitting in the parking lot waiting for the rain to stop, and when it did we debated whether to make a run for the gates. We decided in the affirmative, and when we were exactly halfway to our destination the torrential downpour began anew. We were drenched for the entire show. I also remember that the banter between Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppes was hilarious. Really good show.

Band of Horses

Saw Band of Horse open for My Morning Jacket a few years ago and I thought they were fantastic. I actually enjoyed them more than the headliner.

My Morning Jacket

I don’t know, there’s something about these guys that’s sort of monotonous to me. Can’t say I loved it.

Bowling for Soup

A couple years ago I went to see Bowling for Soup at the A&R in Columbus. The show was at 7:00, but as I am want to do I went up around 4:00 to scout out the terrain. I could hear the band doing a soundcheck inside, and there was a line of probably 150 people sitting outside the door and down the sidewalk. I thought what the hell, I’ll take a shot at this. I walked past all the people, up to the door, and as luck would have it the door was open. I walked in, nodded at a few security guys in A&R polos, and sauntered on to the front of the stage and watched the guys warm up. After a bit I walked to the back of the venue and was leaning against the wall when I was approached by a very large dude. I was expecting the worst, but the guy said, “Hey, have you seen Greg?” I looked around as if I knew who the hell Greg was, then told him, “No, not recently.” He then thanked me and gave me a knuckle-bump before departing. Crisis averted. Then, a short while later I swear this happened: The band stopped and the lead singer looked straight at me and asked, “Whaddaya think? Is that enough bass?” The world stopped for a second as the entire band and everyone in the venue looked at me. I nodded knowingly and gave the thumbs-up sign as the bass player shot me a return thumbs-up before kicking into another tune. At that point I had cred with the entire place so I could basically do whatever I wanted. What can I say? The secret is acting like you belong. Bottom line, I saw the soundcheck and the show, and both were great.

Bacon Brothers

I was invited to this show at an outdoor mall somewhere in Dayton, and I have to say Kevin Bacon and his brother were pretty good. Somebody opened but I can’t recall the band name.

Lit

I saw Lit along with the Gin Blossoms and the next three bands during the Summerland Tour a few years back. Lit was excellent, Gin Blossoms were very good, Marcy Playground was Ok, Sugar Ray was surprisingly amazing and Everclear was disappointing.

Sugar Ray

See Lit.

Marcy Playground

See Lit.

Everclear

See Lit.

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady

Caught these guys in Cincy at Bogart’s (I think). They were excellent. Really underrated band in my opinion.

Nathanael Rateliff & the Night Sweats (3)

Saw their show at the Nelsonville Music Festival a couple years back and they were great. They also opened for Kings of Leon last summer, and I saw them at Express Live! in early October. Always stellar.

Sister Hazel

Urban Meyer’s favorite band played Bogey’s in Dublin/Muirfield a couple years ago along with the Gin Blossoms. And yes, Urb and Shelley were in attendance. I used to know Shelley back in the day, and here she is giving me a shout out:

Soul Asylum

For the life of me I cannot recall where I saw Soul Asylum, but I remember it being a grungy little bar type of establishment. Go figure. It was towards the beginning of their success.

Kings of Leon

Attended a KOL show at Riverbend in Cincinnati last summer. Great band, great show.

Guided by Voices

One of my friends is a big fan so I went with him to see his hero Robert Pollard. I’m glad I went.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Amazing band I saw during their Wheels of Soul Tour back in 2015 at the PNC Pavilion in The Natti. They’re unbelievable live.

Avett Brothers (7)

The Avett Brothers

I first laid ears on The Avetts around ’05 in the Outer Banks, and have since seen them in Raleigh, NC, The Louisville Palace in KY, and several other venues in Ohio. One of my favorite live bands currently.

Tall Heights

I saw this band open for Ben Folds last fall. Cool sound.

Todd Snider

Todd is one of my friend’s favorite artists, and I must say I enjoyed the show. I think we saw him in Cincinnati. I think. UPDATE: I checked. It was at the Madison Theater in Cincy.

The Pixies (2)

The Pixies were on my Bucket List, and thankfully I’ve seen them twice in the last year or so. The first was at Express Live! in Columbus and the second at an amazing show I’ll talk about shortly. Just a legendary, influential alternative band.

John Hiatt

I love John Hiatt and I finally got to see him a couple years ago in Columbus. I think it was The Palace, and it was just John and his guitar. Incredible performance.

Rick Brantley

Opened for John Hiatt, and I remember his song “Hurt People” the most.

G-Love

G-Love opened for Jack Johnson and he was great. He came out later with Jack to sing “Rodeo Clowns” and it was amazing.

Jack Johnson

I was never a huge Jack Johnson fan but he won me over a few weeks ago at Riverbend in Cincinnati. It was a laid back, mellow show with a tremendous vibe.

Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters (3)

Ah, The Foos. I’ve seen them 3-times in the past year and they blew me away. The first show was in Cincy at US Bank Arena (formerly Riverfront Coliseum) and just the other night at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center in Noblesville, IN outside Indianapolis. The Indy show was special because we were 12-rows back. Incredible night. The last time I saw them was at CalJam ’18, which I’ll talk about below. PS – Dave Grohl is a God.

The Struts (2)

The Struts are a Queen-influenced group fronted by a guy named Luke Spiller, who is fantastic. They opened for the Foo Fighters both times I saw them. High energy, rockin’ band.

The Wombats

I loved The Wombats back in the late 80s, and if you didn’t like “Let’s Dance to the Joy Division” you are a phony, a pretender, and you have the musical taste of a ferret. I finally saw them a couple weeks ago as the opener for The Pixies and then Weezer, and as expected they killed it.

Weezer

Weezer

To be honest I went to the Weezer show for opening acts The Wombats and The Pixies, but to my surprise Weezer blew the roof off at Riverbend. I mean, I knew they’d be good but they were way better than I expected. Incredible show that actually shocked me, and I don’t shock easily.

Jimmy Buffett (3)

I first saw Buffett in 1977, again in the late 80s, and finally a couple weeks ago in Cincinnati. Buffett shows are basically one big beach party, replete with leis, bikinis and margaritas, among other things [clears throat]. You get the picture.

Some of the bands below have been mentioned before, but I saw them all at Cal Jam ’18 the weekend of 10/4-10/6. What an amazing experience:

Foo Fighters/Nirvana

1111111111111111111111111111111111111111

Joan Jett, Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.

Still can’t believe I was at this legendary show where Nirvana (minus Kurt Cobain of course) reunited with Joan Jett and Deer Tick lead singer John McCauley to perform seven songs at the end of the regular Foos show. When Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic walked out the place erupted, and Joan and John sounded great singing the lead with Dave Grohl back on the drums. Incredible.

Post Pop Depression

LOVED these guys. PPP is Godfather of Punk Iggy Pop (The Stooges), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), Dean Fertita (QOTSA, The Dead Weather) and Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) among others. Amazing show, and at 71 Iggy is still going strong.

Garbage

I really liked Garbage a lot. Shirley Manson definitely still has it, and her band was tight.

Yungblud

I was surprised how much I liked this guy. Trust me, angry British punk is alive. The Sex Pistols would be proud.

Metz

Enjoyed this show as well. Rockin’ young band.

Tenacious D

Yep, Jack Black’s band was there too, and I have to say I didn’t love them. Hard to take Jack Black seriously as a musician after School of Rock, you know?

Greta Van Fleet

Honestly, I can take or leave these Led Zeppelin sound-alikes. Didn’t dig it at all.

Deer Tick

LOVED these guys. Great band with 3 different lead singers. Reminded me a little of The Band in that way.

Gang of Youths

I really liked frontman David Le’aupepe and this Australian band. Sort of a cross between U2, Springsteen and The Alarm. Lots of anthemic rock.

The Front Bottoms

Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms

Probably my favorite new band I saw in California. I got to meet lead singer Brian Sella briefly, and I can report he is a good dude.

Thunderpussy

This all-girl band rocked the hell out of it, and Foos drummer Taylor Hawkins sat sidestage and watched their drummer, who was fantastic.

Giants in the Trees

This is Krist Novoselic’s band, and I cannot say I’m a fan of the dreamy, psychedelic vibe they were putting out.

Billy Idol

Billy played the first night, and he did not disappoint. Dude still has the pipes, and guitarist Steve Stevens was as good as ever.

Cal Jam Bonuses:

At the backstage layout, I absentmindedly asked out loud what kind of pasta they were serving. From behind me I heard a voice say, “That’s Couscous Mac ‘n Cheese, man. You have to try it.” I turned around and it was Foo Fighter’s drummer Taylor Hawkins.

I also got to meet and spend a little time with the man who played drums on one of my favorite songs of all-time, The Church of Logic, Sin and Love by The Men. Suffice it to say that Dave Botkin was a great guy.

And those are all the concerts I can ever remember attending, although I know I’m going to think of more. When I do I’ll update this blog. There were also a couple notable shows I missed . . .

J-u-s-t Missed Shows:

The Who

Yep we had tickets to Riverfront Coliseum the night of the tragedy where 11-people were crushed to death, and we were actually on the way to the concert. Fortunately we were stupid enough to think a party in Chillicothe would be more fun, and it might have saved our lives. And yes, I know about a million people claim to have had tickets to that show. We actually did.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

I had tickets for a show at St. John’s Arena in Columbus on October 28th, 1978, but unfortunately we all know what happened 8-days prior – their plane crashed in Mississippi. I’ll never forget waking up the morning and my roommate Jed telling me what had happened. And, being the 21-year old jackass that I was, I returned my ticket because I thought I needed the $8.25 or whatever the hell the ticket cost back then, probably to buy beer.

Upcoming Shows:

Tedeschi Trucks Band (The Palace, Columbus)

Before we begin, understand that I didn’t choose these songs for their historical significance, their legendary lyrics or for the amazing musicianship contain within. I simply picked the songs that I never get tired of listening to, that make my earholes happy every single time I hear them. So without further ado, let us commence . . .

We Gotta Get Out of This Place – The Animals (1965)

Believe it or not this tune was initially slated to be sung by The Righteous Brothers, who would’ve got the brooding right but would’ve never had the grubby, throaty force legend Eric Burdon brings to the song. Just an amazing song with a soaring chorus that blew me away from the get-go. Listen to the bass that kicks things off.

Caroline No – Beach Boys (1966)

Quite simply the saddest, most beautifully written song I’ve ever heard. Proof that Brian Wilson is an absolute musical genius.

Where did your long hair go?

Where is the girl I used to know?

How could you lose that happy glow?

Oh Caroline, no . . .

Nowhere Man – The Beatles (1965)

It should come as no surprise that the four guys from Liverpool were the first to write a song that made me think. Before “Nowhere Man” I just liked music for the beat and the melody, never expecting to learn anything. Still, when I heard these lyrics I was mesmerized . . . “Doesn’t have a point of view, Knows not where he’s going to, Isn’t he a bit like you and me?” You know, I was just a kid but I knew exactly what they were saying – wake up, young man, and see what’s all around you.

Helter Skelter – The Beatles (1968)

Paul McCartney has said that he wanted to record a song, “as long as dirty as possible”. He succeeded. Some say this was the first speed metal song, and I cannot disagree. Wildly original for 1968. Prepare your ears for this one.

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan (1965)

In 1965, Bob Dylan was about to pack it in. Having finished an exhaustive tour of England he’d lost interest in the music game, but the creation of this track – one of his finest moments made even better with Al Kooper’s signature organ line – reinvigorated his love for music. Of course the six minute monster went on to become a worldwide hit and one of the most influential pieces of music of all time. “How does it f-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-l?”

I Started a Joke – Bee Gees (1968)

Here’s the deal. The Bee Gees have gotten a bad rap for one reason- disco. However, there is way more to the Brothers Gibb than falsetto dance songs, and this tune proves it. There are a many interpretations of this song, including one that believes it’s about organized religion. Whatever the case, I’ve always loved the plaintive, aching vocals and melody of this song.

Positively 4th Street – Bob Dylan (1965)

I always loved the lyrics to this Dylan song, but especially these:

I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you
Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And you’d know what a drag it is
To see you.

Burn, man.

Chimes of Freedom – The Byrds (1964)

This is vintage Byrds, complete with the music-changing jangly guitars and beautiful harmonies. It’s easy to why The Byrds were The Beatles’ favorite American band. Many groups to come, including Tom Petty and R.E.M., were heavily influenced by The Byrds. You can tell why after listening to this song.

I Will – The Beatles (1968)

It’s hard to explain the allure of this song to me. It’s simple in every way, from the lyrics to how it was written. Still, it touches me on a most basic level.

The “Fish” Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag – Country Joe & The Fish (1967)

Well, if I hadn’t figured out Viet Nam yet Country Joe drove the point home for me with these lyrics:

Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don’t hesitate,
Send ’em off before it’s too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

Ouch. Needless to say the song didn’t get a lot of airplay on conservative WLW over in The Natti. After midnight I could get WLS out of Chicago though, and my ears were forever cooked.

Universal Soldier – Donovan (1965)

Universal Soldier” is a song written and recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. The song was originally released in 1964. It was not a popular hit at the time of its release, but it became a hit a year later when Donovan covered it.

He’s the universal soldier,
And he really is to blame,
His orders come from far away, no more,
They come from here and there,
And you and me and brothers,
Can’t you see,
This is not the way we put the end to war.

Touch Me – The Doors (1968)

A lot of people didn’t like this one, mainly because it was a bit of a departure for Jim Morrison and the boys. Why, you ask? Because it had horns. Gasp! As for me, I Ioved it. Here’s Jim Morrison at the peak of his powers.

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane (1967) 

This psychedelic number divvied up Alice In Wonderland references with not-so-subtle winks at drug assisted mind expansion. Grace Slick perfectly captured the mid-60s hope that narcotics could change perceptions and the world. A counter-culture classic, and it blew my young, impressionable mind away.

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head.

Groovy, man.

That’s the Way – Led Zeppelin (1969)

A beautiful acoustic song from Led Zeppelin II, this one is about two youngsters who can no longer be playmates because one’s parents and peers disapprove of the other because of long hair and being generally from “the dark side of town.” As a kid it really touched me, and it still does today.

I don’t know how I’m going to tell you
I can’t play with you no more
I don’t know how I’m gonna do what mama told me
My friend, the boy next door
I can’t believe what people saying
You’re gonna let your hair hang down
I’m satisfied to sit here working all day long
You’re in the darker side of town.

Walk Away Renee – The Left Banke (1966)

I love this song mainly for one reason – the soaring, gorgeous chorus. The vocals, the harmonies, they just blew me away. Bill Bragg did an exceptionally funny and poignant spoken word version of the song which us great as well.

Lightnin’ Strikes – Lou Christie (1966)

Again, the soaring chorus won me over again with this song. It’s nothing special musically or lyrically, it’s just has a melody that gets me every single time I hear it. Can’t help it kids, I love this song.

Do You Believe in Magic? – The Rascals (1965)

From the moment John Sebastian begins strumming that autoharp at the beginning of this song I was sold. Again, it’s a just a simple song about the power of music, and it contains this great line – It’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock ‘n roll.

Fun fact: Prior to starting The Lovin’ Spoonful, Sebastian was in a band called The Mugwumps. The Mugwumps broke up when Mama Cass Elliott and Denny Doherty left NYC to go to California, where they formed The Mamas & the Papas.

People Got to Be Free – Rascals (1968)

Featuring a lead vocal from Felix Cavaliere, this is a musically upbeat but impassioned plea for tolerance and freedom. Believe me when I say it is very relevant today. Read these to the lyrics and tell me I’m wrong:

If there’s a man
Who is down and needs a helpin’ hand
All it takes is you to understand and
To pull him through,
Seems to me
We got to solve it individually, 
And I’ll do unto you what you do to me.

Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly and the Family Stone (1969)

Sly and the Family Stone was the first major American rock group to have a racially integrated, male and female lineup, and they were incredible. They called their sound “psychedelic soul” and this was my favorite song of theirs. Just an amazing groove.

Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (1967)

Oddly enough, this great song wasn’t a hit until it was re-released in 1970. Although essentially a sad song, it’s sung with an upbeat melody. Awesome vocals by Smokey as well.

Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf (1968) 

This is the first song where the term “heavy metal” was used, and it is famous for being included in the legendary movie Easy Rider. John Kay growls out the lyrics like the badass that he was, and the crunchy guitars give it a tough, gritty vibe. Love it.

Love Is All Around – The Troggs (1967)

I’ve just always loved the slow, dirge-like melody of this song. The other big hit by The Troggs? None other than Wild Thing.

Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys (1966)

Yep, Brian Wilson again. It wasn’t the lyrics that blew me away with this song, but rather the music. Brian Wilson’s “pocket symphony” showed me that a rock song could go deeper musically than it ever had before. The varied instrumentation was groundbreaking (A cello? Are you serious?). And what the hell was that woo-woo sounding thing? I found out later it was an electro-theremen, but all I knew at the time was that it sounded cool as hell. We all know that Lennon and McCartney were trying desperately to keep up with Wilson in the studio production department during the mid-60’s. The album Pet Sounds, and this song, illustrates why.

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison (1967)

Morrison’s most enduring song, and although it’s been covered by a million people, nobody does it like Van the Man.

Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire (1965)

Loved the lyrics to this one, and it was played repeatedly on the stereo on Taylor Street in Southern Ohio back when I was a kid.

You may leave here for four days in space,
But when you return it’s the same damned place.
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next-door neighbor,
But don’t forget to say grace.

So, what did I miss? What are your favorite song from the 1960s? And don’t tell me it was before your time. You’ve heard the songs. Music is timeless. Let’s hear it.

I’ve said it a million times – Todd Rundgren should be in the Rock Hall of Fame, and until he is the whole thing is meaningless. I’ve written about it many times, including my latest and cleverly titled blog Put Todd Rundgren in the Hall of Fame! Bottom line, Todd should be in and it’s a damn cryin’ shame that’s he’s not there already. But back to the point of this blog, and that is my Top 15 favorite Todd songs. Read, listen and I dare you to tell me I’m wrong. Let’s do this . . .

I’ll include Utopia as well.

Hello, It’s Me (Something/Anything?) – 1972

I know, I know, it’s a simple love song. But this gem was on the “live” side of the legendary Something/Anything? album and it was done in one take. ONE. TAKE. Give a listen to absolute pop brilliance . . .

Lysistrata (Swing to the Right) – 1982

Todd recorded this song with his group Utopia, and believe it or not it’s about an ancient Greek queen that caused a war. Just typical rock content, right? I think not. What a great song.

I Saw the Light (Something/Anything) – 1972

Just an absolute confection of pure pop magic. So good. Here’s Todd performing the song with Daryl Hall in Hawaii. Enjoy.

It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Something/Anything) – 1972

Just a great song about the insanity of jealousy. I mean, if someone is going to be jealous of you even though you’re faithful, then what’s the point? “If I ever thought of lyin’, I’d rather think of dyin’ instead.

We Gotta Get You a Woman (Runt) – 1970

Todd’s first big hit, from the album Runt. LOVE it. It had me from the opening chords.

It Takes Two to Tango (Something/Anything) – 1972

An apologetic song about Todd’s lost loves. Sort of. Because you know, it takes two to tango. Plus you must admit you learned a bit . . .

Feet Don’t Fail Me Now (Utopia) – 1982

Love the Beatlesque harmonies in this one. Another song Todd recorded with his band Utopia. Roger Powell actually sings a lot of the lead, but it’s still a great Rundgren song.

One World (Swing to the Right) – 1982

Yet another Utopia release, and it’s one of Todd’s signature rock anthems. Good stuff.

Can We Still Be Friends (Hermit of Mink Hollow) – 1978

From the underrated Hermit of Mink Hollow album. I wore this record out in my apartment at 178 West 8th Avenue, Apt. C just off the Ohio State campus. Ah, the memories. The song reflects on the age old and difficult task of maintaining a friendship even after the intimacy has ended. Here’s Todd, again with Daryl Hall:

Drive (The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect) – 1982

Have you noticed how prolific Todd was in 1982? Anyway, this may be my second or third favorite Rundgren tune. The guitar intro, the soaring vocals, the harmonies. Just a stellar song.

One More Day (Something/Anything?) – 1972

A pretty amazing song about having just one more day, whether is be in Vietnam, a relationship, a job, whatever. Poignant.

Couldn’t I Just Tell You (Something/Anything?) – 1972

Some think this song was a prelude to punk, and who am I to argue? The raw vocals, the distorted, loud guitars, it’s all there. Todd? He refers to it as “power pop” and it’s that too.

Piss Aaron (Something/Anything?) – 1972

This is a song about high school we can all relate to. It’s about kids who were, well, a little weird. The outcasts if you will. Todd had literally no boundaries where song content was concerned.

Some Folks is Even Whiter Than Me (Something/Anything?) – 1972

Straight ahead rock and roll with a message that’s entirely relevant today. Listen to Todd shred on guitar, and the sax wails as well. Love. This. Song.

You Left Me Sore (Something/Anything?) – 1972

Yeah, this song is pretty much what you think it’s about. There’s no misreading the lyrics, man. Only Todd could make a cool song about STDs. It’s from the famous Side 4 of the album, where everything is live and loose, hence the false starts and laughing during the song. Just a great little inappropriate pop song.

Yes, I know a lot of the songs I chose came from one album, and that’s ok. You know why? Because Something/Anything? is one of the best albums ever recorded. So there. Click on that link for my opinion.

As some of you know, I’ve had a lifelong habit of running into famous people, and it happened with Todd too. From an earlier blog:

I was casually walking through City Center in C-Bus a few years ago when I literally ran into the man himself. My hands flew to my face as I yelled, “TODD RUNDGREN!” Immediately his hands flew to his face as he responded, “YES!” Bastard was mocking me. After a couple minutes of my blathering on about his music and what it meant to me and him realizing not only that I wasn’t a lunatic but I in fact knew what I was talking about, we had quite the in-depth conversation about the state of music in general. Nice life-moment for me I must admit.

Todd, man. Appreciate him.

 

 

I’m heading to see the two Johns again this Thursday for the umpteenth time but for the first time in awhile, so this is a timely blog. Well, at least for me. It may not be timely at all for you. Anywho, I have loved They Might Be Giants and their quirky tunes since 1985, and every show is a joy, a delight and an outright lovefest. Without further ado, my favorite songs of They Might Be Giants:

Everything Right is Wrong Again

As only the boys could do, they incorporated a 1950’s Lucille Ball movie into the lyrics. “The long, long trailer” is a reference to the 1954 movie The Long, Long Trailer. Taking a honeymoon road trip, a trailer creates plenty of hijinks and slapstick problems for Lucy and Ricki, including one scene where the motor trailer, Lucy inside, becomes unhinged from the car, their dishes falling from the shelves, and the car continues away, hence these lines:
Just like in the long, long trailer,
All the dishes got broken and the car kept driving
And nobody would stop to save her .”

Admit it, TMBG fans. You did not know that.

I Palindrome I

Ah, what an amazing tune. It’s about, well, palindromes, which are words or sentences that can be read the same forwards or backwards. LOVE this song and its great opening line . . .

“Someday mother will die and I’ll get the money . . .”

Note – My 5 favorite palindromes:

A man, a plan, a canal – Panama.

Sit on a potato pan, Otis.

Eva, can I stab bats in a cave?

Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.

Dammit, I’m mad.

Classics.

Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head

An amazing song about so many subjects, including OCD. However, I love the homage to the line from ‘Guitar Man’ by Elvis that they snuck into the song – “Well, I quit my job down at the car wash, left my mama a goodbye note.

Enjoy.

Don’t Let Start

Includes these immortal lyrics:

“No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful,

Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful,

They want what they’re not and I wish they would stop, 

Saying Deputy Dawg dog a ding dang depadepa,

Deputy Dawg dog a ding dang depadepa

D, world destruction,

O-ver an overture

N, do I need

Apostrophe T, need this torture?”

Only TMBG, kids. Only TMBG.

Mammal 

Animal song about, well, the beauty of mammals. So TMBGish.

Standing in between extinction in the cold
And explosive radiating growth
So the warm blood flows
Through the large four-chambered heart
Maintaining the very high metabolism rate they have.

Mammal, mammal
Their names are called
They raise a paw
The bat, the cat
Dolphin and dog
Koala bear and hog . . .

Dinner Bell 

About Pavlov’s dog, among other things.

Birdhouse In Your Soul

The absolute classic, and the song that put the boys on the map. Enjoy, kids.

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) 

This is actually a cover of a song written in the 1950s, and it’s basically a little history lesson. Catchy as hell.

Particle Man 

A science teacher’s favorite, and there are many interpretations to this song, way too many to mention here. Lend it an ear and tell me what you think.

Twisting

Such a rocker live. It’s about a couple that constantly breaks-up and makes- up. We all know the type.

They Might Be Giants

A quirky little song about who-the-hell-knows. You tell me. I think it’s about the band, how they got their name from the movie, and how Don Quixote thought that windmills were giants. Then again, perhaps I’m quite insane.

Meet James Ensor

Love this song about the obscure Belgium painter. Good stuff.

Kiss Me, Son of God

Although this song was written 30-years ago, it could have been written about Donald Trump. Eerie really. Listen . . .

Man, It’s So Loud in Here

A newer song about, according to John, “The dawning awareness of old age.” 

Bastard Wants to Hit Me

Great tune about a weird encounter with a crazy dude. So typically weird it hurts. TMBG through and through.

[BONUS SONGS]

Your Racist Friend

“This is where the party ends, I just sit here wondering how you can stand by your racist friend.”

Timely.

Dr. Worm

Just a simple song about a common subject –  a drum-playing worm who’s also a doctor. Enjoy.

 

I’ve been an unabashed lover of the Electric Light Orchestra since the early 70s. Man, when I first heard the opening to Roll Over Beethoven it was on. Later, the band just kept getting better. Over time Jeff Lynne proved himself to be a musical genius, and in addition to his ELO stuff he produced some amazing music for George Harrison and was a member of the legendary super group The Traveling Wilburys with George, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison.

Elite company indeed.

And yes, this past summer the Electric Light Orchestra was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sure, they were elected about 25-years too late, but still.

Which leads me to the point of this blog – my favorite ELO songs. Since Jeff Lynne was ELO, I’ll include his solo stuff along with his group releases. Let us commence:

Save Me Now – This is a great tune hidden at the end of Jeff’s great 1990 solo album Armchair Theatre. It’s a simple, acoustic little number about the environment, Just beautifully written and gorgeous in its simplicity.

If you liked that, here’s an electric version. You’re welcome.

Mama – From ELO II in 1973, it’s a long, haunting song about losing your mother. Again, just achingly beautiful.

It’s Over – From the great Out of the Blue double album in 1977, this song was played by yours truly after every gut-wrenching break-up of my young, relationship troubled life.

It’s all over now, and the way you look don’t even mean I’m down.

Oh yes it does, Jeff. Oh yes it does.

Can’t Get It Out Of My Head – From 1974’s ungodly album Eldorado. I’ll let Jeff Lynne himself describe this one – “It’s about a guy in a dream who sees this vision of loveliness and wakes up and finds that he’s actually a clerk working in a bank. And he hasn’t got any chance of getting her or doing all these wonderful things that he thought he was going to do.” Fun Fact #1: The song does NOT include the line, “Walking on a wave she came” but rather “Walking on a wave’s chicane” which is the peak of a wave. That line is widely misheard and often repeated even when you look up the lyrics. Fun Fact #2: The album cover to Eldorado, a screenshot of Dorothy’s shoes when the witch tried to take them in The Wizard of Oz, is one of my all-time favorites.

Poker – A little-known but blistering track from 1975’s Face the Music, this tune begins, continues and ends with straight-ahead rock fire.

Showdown – An ominous, sort of threatening song, also from 1975’s Face the Music, about a looming conflict.

She cried to the southern wind,

About a love that was sure to end, every dream in her heart was gone, heading for a showdown.

Roll Over Beethoven – As I mentioned before, this is the song that introduced me to ELO back in 1972. A cover, it begins with those strings, followed by Lynne’s searing guitar. An American classic. So. Damn. Good.

Steppin’ Out – Another song from Out of the Blue, this song has always struck a chord deep inside me. The lyrics speak of getting away, just packing up and rolling out. And not only that, you’re going to prove all your doubters wrong.

Did you hear what he said?

He said they sold me down the river,

They thought I thought I was a fool,

They said the rain would fall,

What did they know?

Hold On Tight – A rocker from 1981’s Time album about holding on tight to your dreams. Who can argue with that sentiment?

When you get so down that you can’t get up,

And you want so much but you’re all out of luck,

When you’re so downhearted and misunderstood,

Just over and over and over you could.”

Hold on tight, man.

Do Ya – An absolute rock and roll song that blows the roof off the joint live. And oh, those lyrics:

In this life I’ve seen everything I can see woman
I’ve seen lovers flying through the air
Hand in hand
I’ve seen babies dancing in the midnight sun
And I’ve seen dreams that came from the heavenly skies above
I’ve seen old men crying at their own grave sides
And I’ve seen pigs all sitting watching
Picture slides
But I never seen nothin’ like you.

Evil Woman – ELO’s first big-time hit, this is a song that rips a poor former girlfriend to shreds. The lyrics are brutal, man.

Evil woman how you done me wrong
But now you’re tryin’ to wail a different song
Ha-Ha funny how you broke me up
You made the wine now you drink a cup
I came runnin’ every time you cried
Thought I saw love smilin’ in your eyes
Ha-Ha very nice to know, that you ain’t got no place left to go.

Ouch.

Telephone Line – Just a simple, beautiful song about trying to contact somebody you love and not being able to get through. It sort of has an old, 50s doo-wop feel to it, and Lynne’s vocals and harmonies are stellar.

Note: Now that I think about it, he actually sings the words “doo-wop” in the lyrics. Cool.

Rockaria! – A rock opera of the highest order, complete with, well, an opera singer. It’s hard to explain, but the song begins with a woman singing opera, she’s soon joined by ELO, and then they all come together for the ending. Hell, just listen:

Shangri-La – This is the last song of the great 1976 album A New World Record, and I love these lyrics:

My Shangri-La has gone away
Faded like The Beatles on “Hey Jude”
She seemed to drift out on the rain
That came in somewhere softly from the blue.

I’m getting out of love . . .

Just a very, very pretty song.

Oh No Not Susan – From the band’s third album, On the Third Day. It’s about a young woman who lives amongst the wealthy in a society she despises.

Susan met the lords and dukes of everywhere
Smiling kissing wishing that they’d go to hell
And then she’d laugh – wonder why
Take a nap – sit and cry
Oh no not me – I wouldn’t
Oh no not me – I couldn’t
That’s all she says, her money and her place
They just don’t mean a fucking thing.

Rock and Roll is King – Another Lynne rocker from the underrated 1983 album Secret Messages. It’s just a simple song about a girl who loves her some rock and roll.

It rolls like a train that’s comin’ on down the track
She rolled over Beethoven and she gave Tchaikovsky back
Oh, she loves that drivin’ beat, she goes dancin’ on down the street
She said rock ‘n’ roll is king.

Bluebird is Dead – Another great, relatively unknown song from On the Third Day. It’s a song about a lost love, one who passed away, and man is it sad . . .

Why do they say, Bluebird is dead?
I can still see her, touch her, my Bluebird.
The love that she gave, I don’t believe, no, no, I don’t believe . . .

Moment in Paradise – From the amazing comeback album Zoom in 2000, this is a song about finding a new love that gives you a new perspective on life. Lovely melody.

She said that it’s your duty to save your soul,

To save it for someone . . .

Stranger – Another beautiful song from Secret Messages, it’s sort of a an enigmatic tune about seeing the world through the eyes of someone else. Love the guitars in this song.

The streetlights looked so pretty
As they spread into a town
I was lookin’ for another sundown
And my head was spinnin’ round and round
Round and round . . .

When I Was a Boy – This was the single from the band’s 2015 album Alone in the Universe, and it’s basically the story of Jeff Lynne’s life. Love it.

When I was a boy, I had a dream
Finding out what life could really mean
Don’t want a job cause it drives me crazy
Just wanna sing, “Do you love me, baby?”
When I was a boy, I had a dream.

PS- After seeing ELO live several times from 1973 to 1985, I’m going to see them again next summer in Detroit. Can. Not. Wait.

 

Word for word.

Steve Forbert has been a favorite of mine since his first album back in 1978. He’s just one of those guys that writes music that speaks to me, ya know? He never really hit it big and had only had one real hit, Romeo’s Tune. Still, he’s been churning out albums and touring for nearly 40-years.

It’s really hard to describe his style, so I’m not even going to try. I will say that Steve Forbert is a true poet, and an absolute master storyteller and lyricist. And perhaps the most unique thing about Steve Forbert is his voice. Listen to it, man. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. I’ve been lucky enough to see him live a few times and even met him once. Highly recommended.

Factoid: Steve Forbert had a cameo appearance in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” video, playing her boyfriend.

After beginning with about 70-songs I have meticulously narrowed it down to my Top 10. Let us commence . . .

10. Hope, Faith & Love (1988)

Just an optimistic song about three things we all need.

I need hope to look for the good through the bad
I need faith to know I ain’t lost what I had
When they’ve lied and cheated me
And tear what I care for in two
Oh, I need love, to rise up above and renew.

9. Goin’ Down to Laurel (1978)

A beautifully simple song about going to see a girl.

Well I’m goin’ down to Laurel
It’s a dirty stinkin’ town yeah
But me I know exactly what I’m going to find
Little girl I’m goin’ to see
She is a fool for lovin’ me
But she’s in love and love’s a funny state of mind.

8. Prisoner of Stardom (1982)

A song about a young woman from Ohio who, although she’s hit the big time, finds it’s not all it was cracked up to be.

She’s a prisoner of smiling
It’s expected night and day
Its a burden on her everywhere she goes
Still she’s looking for some magic
Like those teenage magazines
That she read in ’65 in Ohio.

7. Lonely Girl (1980)

Just an absolutely gorgeous song about a sad and lonely girl.

All the guys who dance for you, they’re so unsatisfied

Their hungry hands come reachin’ out, to get your bows untied

And I come ’round to sing to you, starvin’ just like them

As I talk with you and long for you, and sing my midnight hymns

To a lonely girl.

6. He’s Gotta Live Up to His Shoes (1981)

A great song about a guy who’s a big talker, but now he has to back up his big mouth.

So let him walk
Let him walk real proud
And let him talk
Let him talk real loud
And let him do
Anything he choses to
He’s gotta live up to his shoes.

5. Laughter Lou (Who Needs You?) (1980)

Rolling in at #5 is a song that rips some dude to shreds. Everyone has a Laughter Lou in their life, believe me.

You criticize most everything, hey but what have you ever done?

You’re always putting something down or laughin’ at someone.

Can’t never tell what’s somethings like ’til you’ve been there yourself

You’ve spent your whole life sitting down, just watching some else.

You criticize most everyone, but what have you got to show?

At least the ones you’re putting down, got up to have a go.

Tell me Laughter Lou, who needs you?

4. Romeo’s Tune (1978)

Ah, Steve’s biggest hit. It’s been covered by Keith Urban, among others. Just a catchy, pretty, uptempo song with, as always, amazing lyrics. Fantastic piano as well.

Oh, Gods and years will rise and fall
And there’s always something more
It’s lost in talk, I waste my time
And it’s all been said before
While further down behind the masquerade the tears are there
I don’t ask for all that much I just want someone to care.

3. Say Goodbye to Little Jo (1979)

I love this song about a man defending a woman from a guy she wants nothing to do with anymore. In this song some man is completely eviscerated by Steve.

You’ve shown so much of your hate
She’s seen so much of your greed
She’s taken shit for so long, yes, yes
You ain’t got nothin she needs
You don’t deserve her no how
Go fading back into fate
Go sit ya down where ya were
Don’t grab and beg, it’s too late.

2. Search Your Heart (1988)

A beautiful ballad of encouragement that tells us to never, ever give up.

The world is too much with you all of the time
You got no space for grace inside of your mind
Some things can’t be conquered
So your thoughts all say
But if you search your heart
You’ll find a way.

1. Settle Down (1978)

Ever hear a song that just speaks to you? It’s almost as if you could have written it about yourself? This is once such song for me. One of my favorite songs of all-time.

Well, I hear you when you whisper
And I’ve seen your nervous eyes
I’ve known your fear and held your doubtful hand
You’re judging way too soon
You’re underestimating me
Sometimes I rock a bit but I can stand.

So won’t you settle down, settle down
Baby love, my baby love
Don’t quit your faith in me.

So yeah, Steve Forbert. Love his music. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard here’s an entire concert from ’79. Enjoy.

 

Great new song by Jack Johnson. Timely lyrics as well.

One of my Top 10 favorite artists. Never gets old, man.

Well I’m goin’ down to Laurel,
It’s a dirty stinkin’ town yeah,
But me I know exactly what I’m going to find.
Little girl I’m goin’ to see,
She is a fool for lovin’ me,
But she’s in love and love’s a funny state of mind . . .

With The Eels you never know what you’re going to get. Here are some examples:

Or you might get this . . .

I know, I know. Awkward title. Live with it.

Anyway, this was a tough one. The Fab Four have put out over 70-albums of material and recorded over 1,000 songs since parting ways in 1970. Narrowing these lists down to a mere 5 was difficult, and for that reason I’ve taken the liberty of adding honorable mentions. Hey, it’s my site. Let us begin with Mr. Lennon . . .

JOHN LENNON

Imagine (1971)

You have to start with Imagine, right? Just a hauntingly beautiful song. Love its simplicity too. An iconic and era-defining song for certain, and it is generally ranked as one of the best songs in music history. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at #3 on its Top 500 Songs of All-Time list.

#9 Dream (1974)

Surreal and dreamlike, John said this tune came to him in a dream. He also said that the song was just “churned out” with “no inspiration.” Yep, John didn’t like it. I, however, loved it. Factoid: The phrase repeated in the chorus, “Ah, böwakawa, poussé, poussé”, also came to Lennon in a dream and has no specific meaning. Originally he pronounced it “pussy, pussy” but the record company bitched, hence the safer pronunciation. Factoid #2: The record peaked at, coincidentally, #9.

Beautiful Boy (1980)

This was written for John’s final album, Double Fantasy, and it includes one of my favorite lines ever written for a song:

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

The song is all about the love John Lennon had for his son Sean, and he conveys that love beautifully. Just a gorgeous, heartfelt song. Factoid: That quote can be traced back to a 1957 Reader’s Digest article which attributes it to some dude named Allen Saunders. I’m still giving John credit though.

Mind Games (1973)

John had this song in his back pocket since 1969 and finally released it in ’73. It’s one of John’s most upbeat and positive songs, evidenced by lyrics like “Yes is the answer . . .” Factoid: The song’s original title was “Make Love Not War.”

Woman (1980)

Another beautiful song, this time written for John’s wife Yoko. It was also on his last album, and he said in interviews prior to the album’s release that the song was written for all women. Factoid: At the beginning of the song you can barely hear John whisper, “For the other half of the sky.” He was referencing a Chinese proverb that was about women and men.

Honorable Mention: Working Class Hero (1970), Nobody Told Me (1980).

PAUL MCCARTNEY

Jet (1973)

This one was named after Paul’s dog. It was on Band on the Run, and I’ve always loved it. The soaring chorus just blows me away every time. I’ve seen McCartney live several times (OK, it’s 9) and “Jet” always blows the roof off the joint. It’s a Power Pop gem, and legendary music critic Dave Marsh referred to it as a “grand pop confection” that represented the only time McCartney approached the “drive and density” of his tenure with the Beatles. I agree. Factoid: I have never understood the lyrics to this song.

Junior’s Farm (1974)

This might be my favorite Paul McCartney tune of all-time, and the searing guitar solo by Jimmy McCullough is incredible. Not kidding, watch the video and tell me it isn’t. Love. This. Song. Factoid: McCullough wrote and performed a song called “Medicine Jar” for a Wings album a couple years after “Junior’s Farm” was released. It was an anti-drug song. A few years later McCullough died of an overdose.

Band on the Run (1973)

Love the change of pace I this song. It’s like three songs mashed together, a multi-part song. The first verse has a folky feel to it, complete with harmonies. The second verse is almost an early grunge sound, and finally, the last part of the song features that infectious, melodious hook that made it a hit. Part of the critically acclaimed “Band on the Run” album.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (1971)

Stitched together from snippets Paul had from the Abbey Road sessions. It’s loaded with sound effects, vaudeville jokes and time and style shifts that make it one of the wildest-ever Top 40 hits. The song is a rare combination of playfulness, experimentation and a gorgeous melody that I love. The “Hands across the water” chorus still touches me today.

Here Today (1982)

Paul’s touching tribute to John Lennon, written shortly after he was murdered.

And if I say I really loved you
And was glad you came along
Then you were here today
For you were in my song.

‘Nuff said.

Honorable Mention: (I Want To) Come Home (2009), At the End of the End (2004), Maybe I’m Amazed (1970), Getting Closer (1979), Magneto and Titanium Man (1975).

GEORGE HARRISON

Blow Away (1979)

This song is relatively unknown but I love it. Released during the disco and punk era, it stood on its own as a straight, simple rock recording, and I loved the catchy melody. Factoid: George said that the song arose from feelings of frustration and inadequacy resulting from a leaking roof at his home in England.

My Sweet Lord (1970)

The first #1 song by an ex-Beatle. George was later hauled into court, and lost, on charges of copyright infringement because of the song’s similarities to the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” The courts said he subconsciously copied the melody. Still, “My Sweet Lord” remains a masterpiece of rock spiritualism as well as an amazing song.

This Is Love (1987)

I don’t know why but I’ve loved this tune from the first moment I heard it. I also love these lyrics:

Since our problems have been our own creation
They also can be overcome
When we use the power provided free to everyone
This is love.

It’s produced by Jeff Lynne, and you can certainly tell if you’re a Lynne fan like myself. Beautiful tune.

You (1975)

George wrote this gem for Ronnie Spector, formerly of The Ronettes. The song has a series of amazing sax solos by the appropriately named Jim Horn. Not kidding. Factoid: George has said this song is a tribute to 60’s R&B. Just a pure rock classic.

Crackerbox Palace (1976)

It’s just an odd little song about a man George had met, but I love the catchy melody and quirky lyrics, beginning with the opening line . . .

I was so young when I was born,

My eyes could not yet see . . .

From his great Thirty-Three & 1/3 album.

Honorable Mention: This Song (1976), It’s What You Value (1976), What Is Life (1971), Give Me Love (1971)

RINGO STAR

It Don’t Come Easy (1971)

Don’t think Ringo had a bunch of good songs? You are incorrect, sir. Or madam. Because Ringo had arguably the greatest post-Beatle hit ever with this song. It was co-written by George, but Ringo’s voice gives it its identity. A true rock classic that grabs you at the opening notes.

Photograph (1973)

Another #1 hit for Ringo, and once again George helped out on guitar and co-wrote. Great chorus that is catchy as hell. It’s basically about a photograph being the only thing left from a broken relationship.

Every time I see your face
It reminds me of the places we used to go
But all I’ve got is a photograph
And I realize you’re not coming back anymore.

Walk With You (2009)

Ringo got a guest appearance from none other than Sir Paul McCartney on this beautiful number, which is one of his prettiest songs ever. Just a gorgeous, heartfelt song.

Liverpool 8 (2007)

This is an autobiographical song about Ringo’s days with The Beatles as well as growing up in Liverpool. It’s a touching yet upbeat song that includes crowd involvement at the end. Great song.

No No Song (1975)

This song, written by Hoyt Axton, reached #3 on the US charts. Incredibly, the song described attempts to sell marijuana, cocaine, and moonshine to a recovering addict who refuses it all. Helluva theme, right? Factoid: Hoyt Axton also wrote Three Dog Night’s classic hit “Joy to the World.”

Honorable Mention: Oh My My (1974)

So there ya go. I’m sure you have your post-Beatles faves. What say you?

There’s a new day breakin’.

One of their most beautiful songs.

Beautiful song.

My favorite Tom Petty song.

Update: Glen Campbell passed away on Tuesday, August 8th, 2017.

Yesterday was Glen Campbell’s birthday. In addition to being one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived, he was an amazing singer. Before he hit it big later in the 60’s, Campbell played on recordings by Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Phil Spector. He even toured with the Beach Boys. After that he had an amazing solo career that included the songs Gentle On My Mind, Galveston, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Rhinestone Cowboy and Southern Nights. In 2011 he released an album called Ghost on the Canvas that included collaborations with guys like Paul Westerberg (writer of the title track), Jakob Dylan, Chris Isaak, Rick Nielsen and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Great stuff.

In 2011 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, and hasn’t performed since 2013. Anyway, Happy Birthday to the great Glen Campbell, an incredible and sometimes forgotten music legend.

Here he is in the late 00’s still sounding great. At the bottom is an even more recent song. Good stuff for real music lovers.

Wichita Lineman

Galveston (unbelievable guitar solo)

By the Time I Get To Phoenix / Galveston

Gentle on My Mind

Finally, here’s “Ghost on a Canvas” written with Westerberg.

Beautiful.

A friend of mine and I have been discussing Pet Sounds, the amazing Beach Boys album that is widely considered as one of the top one or two in music  history. Legend has it that when The Beatles first heard it they believed they could never top it, and its debatable that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band actually did. I own the Pet Sounds Sessions Box Set, and it’s simply amazing. You can hear all the talking in the studio, Brian Wilson instructing the musicians, everything, and it’s fantastic. The Set includes the music without vocals as well as the vocals without music. Listen to the songs below. Just heavenly, and pure genius.

True Beatles fans are well aware that the boys from Liverpool were capable of some crazy stuff, especially later in their career. After all, they wrote a song called “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” about a murderous bro who killed people with a hammer. The song was done with such a pleasant, melodious tune that people didn’t really care. They also recorded weird songs like “Revolution #9” that has to be heard to be believed, because it’s that damn weird.

Still, it began way before those two tunes, as early as 1965 on their Rubber Soul album. At this point The Beatles were still sort of thought of as four lovable Mop Tops and not the anti-establishment hippies they’d be looked at as later. Once again, the song I’m about to talk about is upbeat, with a pretty melody. But, when you listen to the lyrics it paints a much darker picture.

The song is called “Run for Your Life” and it is downright frightening. A video is below, but let’s examine the lyrics first. Since the Beatle that wrote the song always sang lead back then, we can assume John Lennon penned this little ditty. Why am I not surprised? With a deep breath, let us proceed . . .

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man.

Well, well. Didn’t beat around the bush, now did we? That’s a little harsh, man. Jeebus.

You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won’t know where I am.

So basically John is saying, “Sweetie, better keep your head or I’ll lose mine.” Good God.

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end, little girl.

A-n-d, there it is. Cheat on me and die. Boom.

Well I know that I’m a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can’t spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line.

I know, I know, not a real New Age way of thinking for sure. Making a woman “toe the line” is a little outdated, fo sho.  Then again, so is threatening to commit homicide if they don’t. John actually touched on his jealousy issues later on when he wrote “Jealous Guy” as a solo artist. However, Mr. Lennon wasn’t done making his point.

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I’ve said
Baby, I’m determined
And I’d rather see you dead.

Because nothing makes a song come together better than combining religion and manslaughter, amirite?

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end, little girl.

From this point forward the boys pretty much repeat their morbid threats of death until they merrily fade out at the end.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the song is that their was no public outcry, no wringing of hands, really no complaints at all about the song. Nobody said, “Hey, isn’t that Beatle dude threatening to kill his girlfriend? That doesn’t seem right.” Hey, it was a simpler, more naive time. Folks just rolled with it.

Then again, there were artists like Liberace and Little Richard who in retrospect were clearly gay, but I don’t remember that occurring to anybody either. On the other hand, I was 9-years old so what the hell did I know about the world?

Maybe this song was the beginning of the end of the innocence, you know? Because shortly thereafter music took a turn from being mostly about love, cars, and dancing to being about the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, sex, and doing drugs.

The Beatles. Always ahead of the times, man. Anywho, turns out YouTube has been scrubbed of all Beatle tunes, which sucks.Still, I found the song being performed by a Beatles cover band, and quite nicely, it turns out. Enjoy.

Note: The song “Baby, Let’s Play House” actually featured the lyrics “I’d rather see you dead little girl, than to be with another man” back in 1954 by Arthur Gunter, then in 1955 by some dude named Elvis Presley. People were weird back in the day, man.

What a song.

ADKX33 BOB DYLAN at Mayfair Hotel London 3 May 1966

Boy, was this a hard one. How to narrow down such a list? First off, I had to come up with some sort of criteria, and after weeks seconds of deliberation I came up with one. These are songs that I simply never get tired of hearing. They don’t have to have great lyrics, although that’s a plus.  Sometimes it’s just the melody or the tune, and sometimes it’s sort of undefinable. You like what you like, right? Hey, I’ve admitted my appreciation of Kelly Clarkson and The Osmonds before. I ain’t skeered. And as for all you high-falootin’ judgemental musical elitists who don’t think my favorite songs are up to your standards, you can go straight to hell. Merry Christmas everybody!

So in no particular order, let us commence. Click on the title to hear the song.

Caroline, No – The Beach Boys (1966)caroline

  • Just a heart-wrenching, sad, gorgeous song. Touches me every time I hear it to this day. Brian Wilson’s writing at its peak: “Where did your long hair go? Where is the girl I used to know? How could you lose that happy glow? Oh Caroline, no.”

So Very Hard To Go – Tower of Power (1973)

  • Those horns, man. The Tower of Power horn section is legendary. Once again, it’s a beautiful song about lost love. “Cause I could never make you unhappy, no, I couldn’t do that girl. I only wish I didn’t love you so, it makes it so, so very hard to go.” Seriously though, click on the link and listen to the horns.

Imagine, Take 1 – John Lennon (1971)

  • Sure, the released version is great, but this pared down outtake is simply stunning. Recorded at John’s house, you can even hear someone say, “Quiet in the kitchen, please” at the beginning. Note: I own a piece of the front door to that house. Not even kidding. Thanks, second wife.

Church of Logic, Sin and Love – The Men (1992)church

  • Just a blast of Rock & Roll that came out of nowhere from a completely unknown band. Released during the height of grunge but not grungy at all, it has everything – melody, a searing guitar, and cool but rather weird and enigmatic lyrics. I can’t get enough of this tune. On a related note, I got to know drummer Dave Botkin on FB and am happy to report he’s a pretty righteous dude. Love. This. Song: “The Thing ahead sixty miles, do not miss. Not for the squeamish or depressed, Not for the unbelievers, truly obsessed. Something you just don’t wanna miss. It’s the kind of place where space explorers could have landed around 1963 when Kennedy was in Life Magazine, And everything was aquamarine . . . aquamarine.

Dialogue Parts 1 & 2 – Chicago (1972)

  • In Part I of this song, the lyrics are a dialogue between two young people with different views. The first person (whose lines are sung by Terry Kath) is very concerned about events of the early 1970s, such as war, starvation, and “repression closing in around.” The second person (whose lines are sung by Peter Cetera) maintains that “everything is fine.” Musically, the song is also a dialogue between Kath’s rhythm guitar and Cetera’s bass. As Part I comes to a close, Kath’s character sarcastically endorses the other character’s worldview, saying “You know you really eased my mind, I was troubled by the shapes of things to come.” The response, which hints at an acknowledgment of culpability: “Well, if you had my outlook, your feelings would be numb – you’d always think that everything was fine.” Just an outstanding song, and both Kath and Cetera tear it up on their vocals. Part 2 is the whole band singing, “We can make it happen.”Awesome stuff.

Have You Ever See The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)

  • In my opinion the best song by the legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR leader John Fogerty has said in interviews that the song is about rising tension within CCR and the imminent departure of his brother Tom from the band. He said the song was written about the fact that they were on the top of the charts and had surpassed all of their wildest expectations of fame and fortune, but somehow all the members of the band at the time were depressed and unhappy. Thus this famous line: “Have you ever seen the rain, coming down on a sunny day?” It touched me deeply, and I still love it today.

Sitting Still – REM (1983)rem

  • Listen to that jangly guitar. That was the beginning of alternative music for me. It seems rather unremarkable today, but that sound led to the creation of bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Beck, The National, Pavement, and yes, Radiohead, Coldplay and Nirvana. Kurt Cobain himself said that Nirvana was heavily influenced by REM. REM created the model for alt music, and this song is vintage, classic REM.

Oh Girl – The Chi-Lites (1972)

  • Again, a song straight from an aching, broken heart. 70’s R&B as only The Chi-Lites, and lead singer Eugene Record, could sing it. A beautifully sad song of despair, and one of my favorite tunes ever.

Acadian Driftwood (Live from The Last Waltz) – The Band (1976)

  • Here’s what’s beautiful about music – that a Canadian song describing the forcible displacement of the Acadian people after the war between the French and English could have such an effect on a 20-year old kid from southern Ohio. Robbie Robertson’s lyrics were influenced by Longfellow’s poem Evangeline, which describes the deportation of the Acadians. Just a beautiful, haunting, intelligently written song that still touches me to my core.

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan (1965)

  • “How does it feeeel?” This was one of Dylan’s first “electric” tunes, and it still soars majestically today. Rolling Stone magazine named the song the #1 rock song of all-time, and that’s hard to disagree with. We used to discuss this song in my 8th grade Reading class because it was so well written. Dylan, man.

Do It Or Die – Atlanta Rhythm Section (1979)

  • I’ve always loved the mood a good ARS song could bring to the table, songs such as “All Night Rain” and this one. It’s an ultimately uplifting song about surviving, and I loved lyrics like this: “Do it or die now, stand your ground. Don’t let your bad breaks go gettin’ you down.
    Even when times get rough, and you’ve had enough, you still gotta try. Do it no matter what the people say, they don’t even know you.” Rodney Justo’s soulful, heartfelt vocals make the song even better.

Nowhere Man – The Beatles (1965)the_beatles-nowhere_man_s_8

  • It should come as no surprise that the four guys from Liverpool were the first to write a song that made me think. Before “Nowhere Man” I just liked music for the beat and the melody, never expecting to learn anything. Still, when I heard these lyrics I was mesmerized . . . “Doesn’t have a point of view, Knows not where he’s going to, Isn’t he a bit like you and me?” You know, I was just a kid but I knew exactly what they were saying – wake up, young man, and see what’s all around you.

One Step Up – Bruce Springsteen (1987)

  • There’s just something about this song that hits home with me. Something about a guy trying to find peace and to keep his head above water is sort of universal. “When I look at myself I don’t see, The man I wanted to be, Somewhere along the line I slipped off track, I’m caught movin’ one step up and two steps back.”

E’s Tune – E (1992)

  • One of my man Mark Oliver Everett’s early songs, before he founded the Eels. Who can’t relate to these lyrics? “Life’s just an ugly mess, The angry souls in such distress, Still there is a time when moments can be sweet, And it feels like someone’s smiling down on me.” Amen brother. This song strikes a chord with me on every level. Period.

Over the Rainbow – Eric Clapton (2002)

  • Probably my favorite song of all-time, and this is my favorite version. I am touched every single time I hear it. Sad and plaintive, but uplifting at the same time. It’s performed not particularly slow, but not fast either. Mid-tempo I guess. Whatever it is, I love it. Oh, and it’s performed live, folks. Love Clapton’s vocals on this one too. And oh, by the way, if it’s not played at my funeral I’ll come back and haunt all y’all.

We’re the Same – Matthew Sweet (1993)

  • Rolling Stone called this quite possibly the best song of 1993, and I couldn’t agree more. Just a pure pop confection of jangly guitars and gorgeous melodies. Matthew Sweet at the height of his powers. Sweet once said he was inspired to play guitar when he first heard “Sitting Still” by REM.

I Can Stand a Little Rain – Joe Cocker (1974)

  • This is a song about fighting back when you’re at your lowest, and the melody reflects that. It starts out slowly but builds to a crescendo towards the end, giving the listener hope that it’s going to be O.K.: “I can stand a little sorrow, I can stand it till tomorrow, I can stand a little strife, Just another taste of life, I can stand a little love, But when I’m on my last go-round, I can stand another test, Cause I made it before and I can make it some more.” Hell yes.

Looking for Space – John Denver (1975)

  • This song is about looking for the definition of who you are, by finding out where you are, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. The lyrics are quite profound in a simple way:  “It’s a sweet, sweet dream, Sometimes I’m almost there, Sometimes I fly like an eagle, And sometimes I’m deep in despair. All alone in the universe, sometimes that’s how it seems, I get lost in the sadness and the screams, Then I look in the center, suddenly everything’s clear, I find myself in the sunshine and my dreams.” Another song that just hits home with me on an emotional level.

Oh, Shenandoah – Van Morrison (1998)

  • This is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating to the early 19th century, and it’s about the Missouri River. There are many, many versions, and the song has been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen to Tennessee Ernie Ford. However, I love this version by Van Morrison the most. Just a gorgeous song that I’ve loved since I was a kid, when I first heard it on a TV show called “A Man Called Shenandoah.” Every time I hear it I get hit right in the feels. Love this song.

Lay Down Burden – Brian Wilson (1998)brian

  • Another Brian Wilson tune, this is a song from his great Imagination comeback album in 1999. It’s another sad one about the death of his brother Carl, and again he lets us in on his innermost feelings: “So many years spent running away, How many times I wished I could stay, Too much emotion a hole in my heart, Feeling alone since we’ve been apart, And if I had the chance I’d never let you go, Just want you to know. Lay, lay me down, lay me down, Lay down burden.” Gorgeous melody and classic Brian Wilson harmonies as well.

I Will – The Beatles (1968)

  • One of the simplest songs Paul McCartney ever penned, yet one of the most beautiful. On the “White Album”, this tune was a favorite of mine and my best friends Tom and Andy. In fact, Andy sang it to us a few days before he passed away. I’ll never hear it again without thinking of him.

So there ya go. What are your all-time favorite songs?

Note: I lied. I listed 21 songs.

Great song.

u2comehome

Big Nick Lowe fan here. I’ve got all his stuff from the beginning. Love him.

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