Top 10: My Brother’s Birthday Edition
My brother Mike turns 58 on Wednesday. He is almost four years younger than me and has been by my side all this time, even when he lives and has lived so far away. So here are a few songs for him. Others may play along, too!
10. “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” The Monkees. The title says it all, but I need to add that this was the first Monkees single I ever bought. It’s backed by “The Girl That I Knew Somewhere.” I still have the single in my box downstairs. I hope I always will. Mike loved them more than I did, but they were always worth a good watch and listen.
9. “Mind Games,” John Ono Lennon. Not his most popular solo tune, but Mike had the album, and I remember listening to him play it on the portable stereo in the room we once shared. It always seems like it was a late Friday afternoon in November when I heard it playing, on days when I returned home from college. “Love is the answer, and you know that it’s for sure.”
8. “A Taste of Honey,” Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It wasn’t the only thing our parents ever gave us, but this song and so many others from Herb and his band showed us that our parents at least knew a good beat when they heard it. This would have been in 1964 or 5. I heard it yesterday on the 60’s on 6 Sirius station. Is it timeless? Now? Oh, and Herb is Jewish (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
7. “Sweet Little Lies,” Fleetwood Mac. I think Mike likes the Mac; anyway, my wife and I bought our daughter Layla her first turntable this week. Her birthday was the 9th, and she has wanted to play LP’s like so many others who appreciate all that’s retro. So, the first record she played — a gift from her Uncle O — was this one. It isn’t my favorite FM song; I remember a hokey video on MTV, but as I listened, I couldn’t help remembering when CD’s didn’t exist. When warmer sounds were all we had.
6. “Live in the Moment,” Portugal, the Man. Layla also got me listening to this group back last summer, and this is another one from their album, Woodstock. Just try it, you’ll like it. It sounds like the 60’s in its way, and the message is just right for our age(s).
5. “Everyday People,” Sly and the Family Stone. Speaking of messages. My wife is watching the Royal Wedding — or a rerun of it — right now. When you hear this song (and they are a former Woodstock band) you get the sense that things were troubled in the late 60’s, that people of different colors and backgrounds didn’t trust each other or something. So glad it’s all better now.
4. “Monkey Man,” The Rolling Stones. So back to Britain we go, and things don’t get much more British than Mick and the boys. This one gets overlooked too often, but it’s from my favorite Stones’ album, Let It Bleed. I don’t know what Mike’s favorite Stones’ song is — maybe he’ll favor us with a reply later — but when I hear this song and think of the title, I wonder just how it might apply to today.
3. “Jet,” Wings. Paul’s subsequent band. So I went to a dance at Bessemer Academy and danced to this song with a girl named Vicky. We dated for a while after that, but that isn’t the point. Mike owned this record, too, and I used to swipe it from him and play it on my stereo in my room. It was all in fun, and I figured those bridges are far behind us. My favorite Wings record.
2. “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” The Beatles. Not my favorite Beatles’ song, nor, I believe, is it Mike’s — but again, maybe he’ll weigh in at some point — but it’s the first song by the Band That Changed Our World that I ever heard. I was in first grade, spring of 1963. I remember that something was happening here. What it was wasn’t exactly clear. But it kept happening for years and years. Still going too, in my humble opinion. Here it is from old Ed Sullivan.
And…he might kill me, but Happy Birthday anyway, and no, the title doesn’t tell you anything:
- “Suspicious Minds,” Elvis Presley. From 1969. It went to number one on the top 30 charts of WSGN (The Big 610). Dwight Yoakum does a killer version, too, but if this is all Elvis had ever done, it would have satisfied me. I bought the 45 even though others mocked me for liking the King. But not Mike; he loved Elvis more than I did and still wants to go to Graceland some day. I think I’ll go, too.
Happy Happy Day.