Back Back Back: Weekly Top Ten (8/24/18)
School started this week and I had four classes all pertaining to the South. Sounds good to me, and while not everything on this week’s list is Southern-influenced, I am, so there’s that. I haven’t been able to peruse my Sirius-XM new music channels because my 14-year old Honda Element refuses to let me access the “Auxiliary” button. No matter, old reliable WNCW-88.7 Spindale, NC, helped me out, and maybe by the end of today, I’ll be driving a new set of Japanese-manufactured wheels.
Is there a tariff involved?
10. “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” The Temptations. I know that back in 1970, when I heard the lyrics, “And when he died ALL he left us was alone,” I thought of the kids I knew in school who didn’t have what I had: two parents, an intact family unit, a proper, if modest, home. This song gave us all a chance to see a broadening of Soul. The style/genre had been socially critical for a while, but when I consider the state of Alabama and the nation during this era, I see that we still had some sensitivity training to undergo. The guitar in this song feels like someone’s chopping wood on my head.
9. “Bette Davis Eyes,” Kim Carnes. And this one feels like someone’s slapping my face over and over. It was such a hit, but why? What are those lyrics about? Do they tell a story, or just make us want to view Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? again, where Davis’s eyes are something other than seductive, unless you, unlike me, enjoy rats or dead canaries for supper. Watch at your own risk.
8. “Midnight Man,” Joe Walsh/James Gang. Sometimes it’s hard to say why a song pops up. I mean, what could I have possibly been thinking for this Walsh ditty to come rolling into my addled and grieving head? And I’m also trying still, after all these years, to wrap that poor head around Walsh becoming an Eagle. I have nothing against the move, but when you associate a guy with one sound, and then he changes or tries to, I keep wondering, was it money? Fame? A need for new friends? Speaking of guitars… “I”m the Midnight Man. I do all I can to make sure I’m the Midnight Man.” OK.
7. “I Follow Rivers,” Lykke Li. A new song from an artists I’ve been following (no pun intended) for a year or two. Pretty catchy, and sometimes, the best things in life come when you least expect them to, or when you’re searching for an Amanda Shires/Jason Isbell song and you find this.
6. “Women Without Whiskey,” The Drive-By Truckers. From arguably their best album, A Southern Rock Opera, comes a driving tune that won’t hold back. I did get past the title, because the Truckers have more going on than meets the eye. Always have, and if you’ll listen to these Alabama boys play through the entire opera, you won’t be sorry. Or maybe it’s just that your sorry ass will get whupped (pun intended).
5. “Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd. For Ed King, for the start of football season, and for my daughter Pari who once asked me what I had against this song, and my reasoning faltered on the rocks of days gone by, of grievances that didn’t matter anymore, and of the roar of Bryant-Denny as we thumped poor old Miss State. Still not my favorite southern band, though, and soon I’ll get back to the Allmans.
4. “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me,” Linda Ronstadt. This was the most romantic song I had ever heard, I thought, when I was a 20-year old guy living by himself in D.C. Linda’s voice was distinctive, of course, and her range was enviable. I hate that she’s been ravaged by disease now, for I had hoped to hear her for a long time. I know she’s still in my recorded history, though.
3. “Make Me Smile,” Chicago. “Children play in the park, they don’t know. I’m alone in the dark, even though time and time again I see your face smiling inside…” I thought early Chicago was the best, even though my Mom liked the middle and later years. We both loved this one, though. I think this song is so well-arranged that it makes me hurt and smile. “Tell me you will stay, make me smile.” Now, more than ever.
2. “Jeannie Becomes a Mom,” Caroline Rose. So here’s where WNCW came through. Please tell me what you think. Make me smile, oh wait. I already am. I hear that she recorded and uploaded this all by her lonesome. Whatever the case, I have played this song over and over and can’t get enough. Real life and how to live it. I tell myself that what I’m living through is real, and sometimes I even believe it. The world won’t stop and I have to keep playing. Man, does music help.
And here I must thank The World Cafe on NPR for its years of good sense, eclectic playlists, and for challenging us to listen.
- “Eve’s Daughter,” Amanda Shires. Speaking of Southern rockers, I’m gonna head out to the edge and say this record will be in my Top Five of the year. You people in Alabama who have or will get to see her soon, I hate you. I’m waiting, waiting, waiting. I’m headed out to yoga now, with “Eve’s Daughter” on my mind, in my heart and I hope in the power of my Warrior 2.
Feels like fall outside today. I’m ready.