The Junction
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The Junction

Music Will Save Us: My First Top Ten

It was Dick Clark’s American Bandstand that first brought the weekly Top Ten records to my attention. Clark wouldn’t reveal the top songs every Saturday, which always made me wonder why this week and not the last or the next. Still, Dick had his method, and truly the madness of pop music and the latest hits and trends left us gasping at that age — my age: the pre-teen and teen years.

I think the strangest Top Ten week came in March 1970, when John Ono Lennon’s “Instant Karma” out-dueled “Let It Be” for the number one slot. The Beatles hit slipped to number three, and the world was served notice that one man, for that week at least, was greater than the whole.

Once, I think I heard Dick say that they got their lists from Billboard, which of course also served that legendary Top 40 countdown specialist, Casey Kasem. Birmingham’s local AM stations — WSGN-610, WVOK-690, and WAQY-1220 — also had Top 20’s or 30’s, so depending on who or where you were, you could recognize the worthiest songs, listen, and, of course, own via LP or those precious 45's.

I suppose the countdowns were based on sales and call-in requests, and I always wanted to be the Great Revealer or List Compiler. So while it’s taken almost fifty years, I am beginning today my weekly Top Ten list of music I can’t live without and must hear repeatedly. This is, naturally, a highly subjective enterprise and so conducive to discussion, argument, and friendly persuasion. Or should I say “Crystal Blue Persuasion?”

The list will contain oldies as well as current tunes, with brief commentary after each. From #10 to #1.

Ready, set…

10. Nilufer Yanya, “Small Crimes.” I first heard this Turkish singer on Sirius XMU’s Blog radio program “Gorilla Vs. Bear.” The sound filled my car, but her name truly hooked me, Nilufer, my wife’s name though inFarsi, it’s spelled Nilufar. Listen

9. Cigarettes After Sex, “Apocalypse.” This one’s been in my ready-to-playlist for four months now. The rest of the album holds up, too, but this song makes me want to smoke a bit, or at least remember when. The rest is up to you.

8. Washed Out, “Hard to Say Goodbye.” One guy can make a lot of sounds, but when they come out like this and you still believe you’re hearing other voices, saying goodbye is the last thing any of us would want. Makes me think of living in California in the 60’s though i never did.

7. The Monkees, “Daydream Believer.” Last night I saw the Cafe and Then Some Players in Greenville, and in their satirical way, they transformed this tune for their own devices. I forgot the satire, though, and kept thinking about Davy Jones and how good and right this song always was. Cheer up sleepy Jean, indeed.

6. The Black Angels, “Bad Vibrations.” In a small coffee bar in Austin, this song was playing last week while I tried to write. I love writing to music because one song can send my thoughts around a certain corner into another space, one I wouldn’t have remembered otherwise. I love these corners.

5. Son Little, “O Me O My.” He’s coming to Greenville’s Radio Room next month. I already have my tickets, so what are you waiting for? The end of Trump? Well, me too, but until then….

4. New Order, “60 Miles an Hour.” My friend Les has been after me to listen to this entire album for the past few weeks. I’m a stupid, stubborn man, so I finally listened last night while I was following my dog around the yard. I thought about old dance clubs and what happened to club darkness.

3. Destroyer, “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood.” I can’t stop playing this even though I’m driving my wife crazy right now. It’s one of those songs that makes me want to drink more coffee and haunt my local record store in hopes that they’ll feature Destroyer in one of their in-store sessions. if I just stand there long enough.

2. Rostam, “Bike Dreams.” The Persian member of Vampire Weekend with another song I can’t get out of my head, and it’s been five months now. We don’t go to clubs any more just to dance. We’re too old or something. When did that happen? “Two boys, one to love you sweetly, one just so discretely….”

1.Arcade Fire, “Electric Blue.” As pop songs go, as alt-pop bands are, I can’t think of one I’d rather have drifting through my Bike Dreams, if Rostam won’t mind, that is. I’d travel far to see them for sure. Blue is the color and I did dance to this one once in my alternative life. It keeps playing and playing….

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The Junction is a digital crossroads devoted to stories, culture, and ideas. Our interests are legion.

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Terry Barr

Terry Barr

I write about music, culture, food, and my Alabama past in One Table One World, The Riff, InTune, FanFare, SongStories, Rock n”Heavy, Counter Arts, and Pop Off.

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