Friday, July 23, 2010

My 25 most played songs

It was about a year ago when my computer blew up. I didn’t lose anything, but it wiped out the play count from my iTunes library. This is not insignificant.

I try to play every one of my 7,857 songs at least once a year. The play count function helps me realize if I’m overlooking something worthy.

Before last year’s computer malfunction, I had five years worth of tallied play counts and had played every single song at least three times with three cracking 100 plays.

Now with just one year of regular play, the list seems unsettled. There are more of the newer ones than the old standbys.

So this is not a “best of” list, rather it is a list compiled by iTunes of the 25 songs I’ve played the most in the past 12 months.

It’ll be interesting to see just how much the list changes in two or five years, supposing the dang computer makes it that long.

Check it out:

25. Star Star, Rolling Stones, Goat’s Head Soup, 1973 -- I think this is one of the three greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs ever recorded. The other two are “Sunspot Baby” by Bob Seger, and “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles, but that’s a whole other argument. This one's just total filth and raunch and I find that very appealing.

24. Sometimes We Cry, Van Morrison, The Healing Game, 1997 -- This elegiac masterpiece is one reason why "The Healing Game" is one of Van's best.

23. Rocks Off, The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main Street, 1972 -- I played this album a lot this year during the hoopla over its re-release. The feeling I get every time I hear it is exactly the same as when I first lowered the needle into the groove of this, the first cut, from rock’s best album

22. The Devil You Know, Todd Snider, 2006 -- Download this, print out the lyrics (they’re rapid fire enough to warrant it) and turn it up to 11. The initial guitar blast jolt will knock you on your ass. Recover and sit back and laugh at raucous storytelling at its profane best. The East Nashville setting is one I know well from my Music City days.

21. Cheer Down, George Harrison, Best of Dark Horse, 1989 -- As you’ll see from this list, I’m drawn to many of the parts of great machines, the solo work of people who made their marks in much bigger bands. This is a playful Harrison song from when he was becoming involved with his second truly super group, The Traveling Wilburys. This was written and produced with Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty.

20. This Hard Land, Bruce Springsteen, Greatest Hits, 1995 -- Last October I wrote about how I spent four days doing nothing but listening to Springsteen, the good and awful, in chronological order over four days straight. It was really fun and he’s compelling enough to warrant the exercise. This song is the joyful essence of the Boss, thus it is the essence of America.

19. Bigger Wheel, Stephen Bruton, From The Five, 2005 -- My wife and I have been enormous fans of the obscure solo stuff from this Texas session player for years. Kris Kristofferson called Bruton his soulmate. Besides, K.K., he’s written and recorded with Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon and a host of others. But his solo stuff is outstanding. He’s finally getting his due as co-producer with T Bone Burnett on the “Crazy Heart” soundtrack. Alas, this under-heralded great succumbed last year to cancer. His music however will live on in our hearts forever. His “Right On Time” from 1995 was in the mix at our wedding party (and that ought to tell you plenty about what kind of party it was). This one kicks more ass than a team of angry mule drivers.

18. Thunder On the Mountain, Bob Dylan, Modern Times, 2006 -- Should be on everyone’s most played list if for no other reason than Dylan somehow manages to rhyme “orphanages” with “sons of bitches.” My wife, no Dylan fan she, still nods in mirthful appreciation every time she hears that one.

17. Monday Morning Church, Alan Jackson, What I Do, 2004 -- As I mentioned yesterday, an hour spent listening to really good country music is like an hour spent reading the Bible while the Rev. Billy Graham plays the fiddle nearby. This song about the death of a man’s beloved wife and his subsequent loss of faith will rip your heart out. I stopped listening to it when the kids are in the car. I don’t want them to see Daddy cry.

16. Vacancy Sign, Quinn Fallon & Los Gravediggers, If Heartbreaks Were Highways, 2009 -- I’d be a big fan even if Quinn weren’t a good buddy from 20 years ago. His most-played list would make for a great party, too.

15. Loose, Ray Wylie Hubbard, A: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C), 2010

Even her mama said she was always trouble
Promise a man everything, give him half then charge him double

14. Choctaw Bingo, James McMurtry, Saint Mary Of The Woods, 2002 -- If it’s true every father wants their child to do better and be better than themselves, then this Texan’s Daddy got his wish. No small feat considering the old man is Larry McMurtry, Pulitizer Prize winning author of “Lonesome Dove.” His stories, cadence and deadpan delivery make every song riveting.

13. There Ya Go, Alan Jackson, What I Do, 2004 -- This has an artificially high ranking because it’s one I do play lots in the car hoping the message will sink into the girls’ noggins. It’s about overcoming life’s disappointments with grace and the understanding we can all help each other through this stumbling dance called life.

12. Saint James Infirmary, Van Morrison, What's Wrong With This Picture? 2003 -- A traditional folk song given the full robust blues blowout by a master. The dizzy horn crescendo makes musical madness sound like something worth succumbing to.

11. 5.15 A.M., Mark Knopfler, Shangri-La, 2004 -- I guess if there’s one song on this list I’d urge you to download, this is it. It’s mesmerizing and tells a story I’m still unable to puzzle out, which makes it even more compelling. The world is the poorer when even many tasteful people are asked about Mark Knopfler they reply, “You mean the guy from Dire Straits?” With every new textured album, he makes Dire Straits -- as great as they were -- a bit of an afterthought. 

10. Celtic New Year, Van Morrison, Magic Time, 2005 -- A joyful dance through the clover. I’ve never traveled to Ireland, but thanks to this song and many bottles of wine I’ve been there many, many times. Play this album for anyone who mistakenly believes “Brown Eyed Girl” is still Van’s best.

9. Where are you Tonight, Bob Dylan, Street Legal, 1978 -- So many Dylan songs get overlooked amidst the prolific clutter and magnificence. This is one of my favorites. It’s great rollicking fun.

8. Thanksgiving Day, Ray Davies, Other People's Lives, 2006 -- Not just the best Thanksgiving song ever, it’s one of the best holiday songs ever. It has soul, poignancy, and ragged horns and background vocals sentimental enough to coax tears. For four years now, I wake the family with this for Thanksgiving Day. What’s surprising is how much I enjoy it year round.

7. Just Us Kids, James McMurtry, Just Us Kids, 2006 -- In 5 minutes, 12 seconds, McMurtry chronicles the 40 years we spend going from getting high in high school parking lots to coming to terms with the dashed dreams that come from living hard, sad lives not meant for sissies.

6. She's Gone, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Abandoned Luncheonette, 1987 -- Took me 20 years to realize it, but this is one of the most perfectly crafted pieces of soulful pop ever recorded. Play it loud again and again and again.

5. Slit Skirts, Pete Townshend, All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, 1982 -- This might be my all time most played song. It still gets me every time the same way I heard it in Paul Romig’s Penn State dorm in 1982. Heck, it may have become my most played song that afternoon.

4. Workingman's Blues #2, Bob Dylan, Modern Times, 2006 -- So weary, so majestic. The song cascades and tumbles along for six exquisite minutes. The downtrodden lyrics pair perfectly with Dylan’s ragged rumble to somehow result in something oddly euphoric.

3. After the Fall, Ray Davies, Other People's Lives, 2006 -- In a land littered with great rock stars, Ray Davies and the Kinks have never gotten their due. I love the palpable rage, the despair and the forlorn struggle he details in this one. And I love the defiant assertion that it can all be overcome.

2. Get Lucky, Mark Knopfler, Get Lucky, 2009 -- It surprises even me that this gentle little lullaby of life ranks so high. I just play it all the time. It’s sort of a penny whistle children’s song about a simple man who never grew up. I find it inspirational.

1. One More Time, Ray Davies, Working Man's Café, 2008 -- So distinctly English, yet so universal, this one always feels like freedom. It’s a great singalong, too. For such a caustic and cynical person, he sings a with a lot of heart and with such a sweet voice. I can’t imagine a day when my top 25 most played doesn’t have at least something from Ray Davies and the Kinks.

So, there you go. Thanks for checking in and having a peek at some of the music that means the most to me.

I was sober while I listened to the songs and wrote this all up -- but that doesn’t mean you have to be.

Have a drink, put on some of your favorite tunes and enjoy the weekend.


Tia said...

Great idea for a post. I was challenged to list my top 100 songs that EVERY artist/musician should know (about a year ago) and I am still not done compiling my list. Glad to read your music list. :)

Chris Rodell said...

Yeah, I guess we should aim for about one list a month. They're easy and we all enjoy to read the insights. Maybe movies next month.

But not 100! That's a lot. I'll look forward to reading your list, Tia.