Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ten Best Songs

It's July and now is just the right time to return to blogging. Ideas are flowing through my mind and I feel that fresh material is in need. I'm going to start out this month with something I wrote awhile back, but have since updated in order to fit my current tastes and opinions for the ten songs I would choose to download if somebody told me that I could only download ten songs. Due to the fact I have no wishes to rank them and since the rankings are constantly changing, I decided to just put them in the order in which they were performed. While some songs have been performed by different artists, the artist or artists I list is the version that makes the ranking.

If I can have just ten songs (twelve when you include a foreign song and a song without words), here would be my choices...

Stardust (1957) by Nat King Cole- Hoagy Carmichael wrote this song back in 1927 when thinking about previous relationships he was in while he was star gazing. He created the music, lyrics came in later on, and the tone was arranged to fit with the lyrics. This song was performed many of times by many of artists, but the Nat King Cole version is by far the best rendition. When Cole performed this hit, the music felt like being sent to a paradise known as the night sky. Put this together with Nat King Cole's calm and peaceful voice, and you have yourself an experience that you would most likely find in a peaceful dream. Putting a classic hit together with a great singer often comes out with an excellent result, and this does more than prove it right.

Get A Job (1957) by The Silhouettes- The 1950's was the birth of rock and roll and Doo Wop music was a popular genre of that style of music. Many of groups simply began at street corners, getting together and starting up a tune. The Silhouettes hailed from Philadelphia and were four guys who came up with my favorite doo wop tune, "Get A Job." While it was inspired by a mother's longing for their son, recently returning home from the service, to get a job, the song takes a more simple tune, like a nagging wife telling her husband to get off his backside and get himself a job. This song is most well known for the chorus, "Sha na na na, sha na na na na," which actually influenced the comedy doo wop group, "Sha Na Na," on it's name. This song never gets old and every time I hear it, it's just as fun listening to it as the time before.

The Crowd (1962) by Roy Orbison- For those who have read my previous musical works, you should have known that a Roy Orbison song would be somewhere on this list. I decided that I would put one of his songs on this list to give the list a bit more variety. I decided to simply pick the song I chose as his best song in my "Ten Best Roy Orbison Songs" I wrote in April (which happens to compete with my "Shark Tank" submission for the page with the most views), and that would be his 1962 hit "The Crowd." It's not as well known as many of his hits, such as "Oh, Pretty Woman" and "Only The Lonely," but to me, it's just my cup of tea. The story is a man coping with life, but simply wishing and hoping that his significant would come back to him and that things are truly not the same without her. The song has such a powerful and heartfelt meaning and the lyrics are perfectly arranged. Instead of the arrangement that several songs in the music industry take, this starts out slow and keeps going up in tempo, making it more and more powerful. The violin accompanies Roy Orbison's voice with perfection and the vocals are just as fantastic.

A Change Is Gonna Come (1964) by Sam Cooke- Sam Cooke was one of soul's finest. While James Brown has been considered "The Godfather Of Soul," I thought Sam Cooke was an important figure when it came to soul music. I like much of his music, but his posthumously released civil rights influenced hit, "A Change Is Gonna Come," was just excellent. His voice was stronger and more passionate than ever and it just felt like drifting off into history. While this song was covered several times, Sam Cooke clearly knocked this hit out of the ball park. It was unfortunate that he died so soon and especially the way he died. This is surely the best that soul music had to deliver, with only Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" coming close to such passion in the field of soul.

Unchained Melody (1965) by The Righteous Brothers- This is a landmark song when it comes to music. It was written in the 1950's and performed by lesser known artists. However, it was the Righteous Brothers who brought us by far the greatest rendition of this song. Bobby Hatfield's voice complimented the song just right and the arrangement of immediately starting the song worked perfectly. This is simply a love song of longing for your significant. It was originally written for a movie where a man was in prison and had to decide whether he wanted to escape prison (and live forever on the run) or serve his prison time (and return to his wife and family). The words "unchained melody" do not appear in any part of the song, it is simply what the song is. After the Righteous Brothers, many of performers gave their rendition, but none did it like the Righteous Brothers.

Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970) by Simon and Garfunkel- This is a part of the top of the line when it comes to a great song and a great performance. Paul Simon, who is one of the greatest songwriters of all time, came up with the lyrics to this song. However, he wanted Art Garfunkel to sing it. A lot of debate occurred between both Simon and Garfunkel as to how things should have went and led to the two breaking up. However, it was Garfunkel that did the singing and it led to a work of genius. This is just a genuine gem when it comes to music. Regardless what it takes to create the song, the final product was just so good and peaceful that anybody could enjoy it. This is another song that's seen several covers, none of which could even stand by this version.

I Am I Said (1971) by Neil Diamond- I like the sound of Neil Diamond's voice. It has a care free kind of tone to it, but yet his songs are just so good. Two of his hits are just great, "Shilo" and this hit, "I Am I Said." The story is simply feeling lost with life and wishing that things were simply better. The mood is loneliness. Neil Diamond has revealed the origins to many of his songs, "Sweet Caroline" was about Caroline Kennedy, "Shilo" was about a dog (while we all thought it was an imaginary friend), and "I Am I Said" was about feeling homesick while auditioning for a film. There's just something about this song that brings you to another place and makes you feel the way Neil Diamond's feeling in the song.

Without You (1971) by Harry Nilsson- Surprisingly, the Harry Nilsson version of "Without You" was not the original. The song was written by Badfinger and was influenced by a party in which a member of the group realized he couldn't live without his current girlfriend. The Harry Nilsson version takes a darker and gloomier tone. The way that Nilsson performs the song makes it scarier and more heart breaking than anybody has even attempted. There's just so much passion. It turns out that the original writers of the song (from Badfinger) would both go on to commit suicide, which means the chorus was really how they felt.

American Pie (1972) by Don McLean- This is an anthem for rock and roll music. Don McLean wrote this song to commemorate the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper in the February 3, 1959 plane crash that shook the rock and roll world. McLean wrote about how this event changed rock and roll and used allegories to represent figures in the music industry. For instances, Bob Dylan was "The Jester," Janis Joplin was "The girl who sang the blues," The Beatles were "The Sergeants" and "The Quartet," Mick Jagger was "The Devil," and the list keeps going on and on. This is a song that could be dissected when the opportunity arose, but when this isn't the case, it's a nice song to enjoy.

Hotel California (1977) by The Eagles- I could only picture myself driving down an empty highway where the only lights around are the ones on the road and I think about "Hotel California," especially when it's just starting. The song plays as being about a hotel in California (obviously), but there's much more to it. Interpretations to this song include being stoned, having cancer, and cannibalism. However, the most logical and most likely allegory to "Hotel California" is that of the music industry (which can also fall along the lines as "becoming famous"). The last line, "you can check out anytime you'd like, but you can never leave," leaves an opening to this song. When this song is not being analyzed, it's a great hit with great performances on the guitar and great lyrics, a fine performance in the world of music.

Along with my ten favorites, I will also name my favorite foreign hit and favorite non-lyric hit...

Favorite Foreign Song

Sukiyaki (1963) by Kyu Sakomoto- This song has nothing to do with the Japanese dish, but was called such because they felt it would attract the American audience. The original song was called "Ue o Muite Aruko," which translates to "I shall walk looking up." Given that he should walk looking up so his tears don't fall, as the lyrics indicate, it's a sad song. Of course, the only way you would be able to know these things are if you know Japanese (which I don't) or looked up the translation (which I did). When you're listening to the song, you could tell by Sakomoto's tone that this is a sad song and you can also tell that it's such a beautiful song. I'm not such a fan of Japanese music, anime, or manga, but this is just a wonderful song that anybody can enjoy. This happens to be the only Japanese song to reach number one on the American charts.

Favorite Non-Lyric Song

Sleepwalk (1959) by Santo and Johnny- Music can sometimes just captivate without being accompanied by words. Music can simply captivate by bringing a mood that gives the listener an experience and that's what "Sleepwalk" does. The song is known for its incorporation of the steel guitar and nice, warm, summer feel that makes you feel like you're having that kind of experience. All you have to do is create the picture in your mind. This song is so soothing that it can relax you and take you away from any problem you may have. It brings an innocence that only an innocent time can bring. This song has been used to capture innocence, such as in "Hearts In Atlantis" the movie, when the group of friends are playing with one another and during "La Bamba," when Ritchie Valens older brother reacts to his death. This song has so much magic to it.

These are twelve of the great gems of music and I could listen to them on a loop. I tend to listen to these songs in moderation, but I could listen to them in the loop if I really felt like it. That's what music does.

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