My Favorites by My Favorites

Over the weekend, I got to thinking about my favorite songs by my favorite popular musicians. I’m not talking about any namby-pamby, noncommittal, random number of favorite songs stuff… nuh uh… but just one song per artist.  So, here’s my list of my top 20 favorites, one song each:

The Starters – i.e., the absolute top-of-the-food-chain most favorist (sic) musicians:

1. The Band – “Ophelia.” Off Northern Lights – Southern Cross (1975). “Why do the best thangs always disappear?”

2. The Beach Boys – “Surfer Girl” (1963). Maybe the most beautiful slow pop song of all-time. So beautiful that you overlook the somewhat syrupy lyrics.

3. Chuck Berry – “Maybellene” (1955). “Rock & Roll guitar starts here.” – Rolling Stone Magazine

4. Steely Dan – “Chain Lightning.” Off Katy Lied (1975). “Be part of the brotherhood, chain lightin’… it feels so good.”

5. Steve Earle – “Number 29.” Off Exit 0 (1987) “Everyone in town came, hip flasks, horn blasts, every autumn Friday night.”

6. Randy Newman – “Louisiana 1927.” Off Good Old Boys (1974). “What is happened down here is the wind have changed.”

7. NRBQ – “RC Cola & a Moon Pie.” Off Workshop (1973). “… but everything’s gonna be alright, with an RC Cola and a Moon Pie”


Comin’ Off the Bench

8.  Karla Bonoff – “I Can’t Hold On.” Off Karla Bonoff (1977). “I walk around the block and I think, maybe you’ll change.”

9.  Ray Charles – “What’d I Say” (1959). “Hey, Mama, don’t you treat me wrong… come and love your daddy all night long.”

10. Ry Cooder – “Face to Face that I Shall Meet Him” Off Jazz (1978). Instrumental music to get buried by.

11. Dire Straits – “Calling Elvis.” Off On Every Street (1991) “Did he leave the building? Can he come to the phone? Callin’ Elvis, I’m here all alone.”

12. Bob Dylan – “Highway #61” (1965, Title Track). “We’ll just put some bleachers out in the sun & have it out on Highway 61.”

13. Nanci Griffith – “Trouble in the Fields.” Off Dustbowl Symphony (1999). “Come harvest time we’ll work it out.”

14. John Hiatt – “Through Your Hands.” Off Stolen Moments (1990). “There’s a healing touch to find you on that broad highway somewhere.”

15. Van Morrison – “Cleaning Windows” (1982) “I heard Leadbelly and Blind Lemon, on the street where I was born.”

16. Jimmy Reed – “Bright Lights, Big City” (1961). “Alright, pretty baby… You gonna need my help someday.”

17. Rolling Stones – “Dead Flowers.” Off Sticky Fingers (1971). “Now when you’re sitting there, in your silk upholstered chair…”

18. Staples Singers – “Respect Yourself.” Off Beatitude: Respect Yourself (1972). “If you’re walkin’ ‘round thinkin’ that the world owes you sumthin’ cuz’ yo’ heah…”

19. Tom Waits – “$29.00” Off Blue Valentine (1978). “Now when the streets get hungry baby, you can almost hear ‘em growl.”

20. Stevie Wonder – “Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away.” Off Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974). “But if there is a God, we need him now.”

BONUS: (If I don’t include a Beatles song, my son may never speak to me again.) “Here Comes the Sun.” Off Abbey Road (1969). “Little Darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting.”

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld