Weekly Top Ten (08/17/18) Music for Working Jig-Saw Puzzles With Your Family
At the Target in Bessemer a few weeks ago, my daughter Pari and I bought a jigsaw puzzle featuring the Alabama Crimson Tide’s Bryant-Denny Stadium — 1000 pieces depicting what I believe is the night of the Bama-Florida game from 2010. We thumped the Gators in Urban Meyer’s swan song. He might be flailed by other swans soon, but this isn’t about him. It’s about my my wife, daughters, and me on vacation, laughing, concentrating, and having drinks over fitting pieces of our lives together. And the tunes. Always the tunes.
It astounds me that the period of pop music that my younger daughter Layla likes best is the 70’s. So from her Spotify playlist came many of these gems, much to my pleasure. Our pleasure.
10. “From the Beginning,” Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Many of their songs have not worn well, like most of Brain Salad Surgery. But go back to 1972, my sophomore year at Jess Lanier High, and think of hearing this song late in the night as you might have been recovering from a Friday night at Pasquale’s and all that entailed. This was the Trilogy LP, and regardless of what else that album held, this one will always be a gem.
9. “A Horse With No Name,” America. My brother Mike and I saw America at the old Boutwell Auditorium back in 1975, I think. A friend of mine yelled at some hippies, and I shrunk. “Plants and birds and rocks and things.” Everyone needed to be stoned for this, and my friend most of all. Lead singer Dewey sounded so much like Neil Young, so I was predisposed to love everything the band did. But I definitely drew the line at “Sister Golden Hair.” “Horse,” though, seemed like an epic, something worth singing to over and over. “And the perfect disguise above..but the humans will give no love.”
8. “Don’t Play That Song for Me (You Lied),” Aretha Franklin. Yes it does, yes it does. This was 1970, and Aretha was still so young. Maybe it was a minor hit for her, but I remember understanding Soul music at the moment I heard it. Or at least I thought I did. What a voice, what shifting emotion caught in a three-minute song. Will we ever really appreciate what this woman meant to the music of our lives? “Cause it brings back memories.” Hell yeah.
7. “Driver’s Seat,” Sniff ‘n the Tears. If 1978 taught me anything, it was that I couldn’t trust the way I felt about college girls. My heart got crushed over and over, and I wonder why I was so out of control? Why I didn’t listen to those who knew better? All of this has nothing to do with this song, which I hadn’t heard in forty years until it came on the mix we were listening to three nights ago. I might never listen to it again, but it was worth a few memories, however bad.
6. “For the Good Times,” Ray Price. I had to get this one in, another tribute to the songs my mother loved. This one, I remember, was one she said our neighbor, Frank Manzella, particularly adored. Not meaning to bring anyone down, but I find myself singing this in the oddest moments, like when I cooked some fresh red snapper last night, trying to approximate the Bright Star’s signature dish. It was mighty good fish, and I had to pause for a moment when I reached the second verse: “I’ll get along, you’ll find another. And I’ll be here if you should find you ever need me.” So simple. “Don’t say a word about tomorrow, or forever.”
5. “I’ll Be There,” The Jackson Five. No jokes or bad feelings. This song went straight to number one in 1970. After their more raucous “I Want You Back” and “ABC” hit so big, you had to know that when they did a ballad, the pop charts were going to be reeling in a Jackson tornado. It wasn’t so cool to say you liked it in Bessemer if you were white and fourteen. As I listened again the other night, I felt bad for what a coward I once was. And I wish things had turned out better for them all.
4. “Radar Love,” Golden Earring. “I been drivin all night, my hands wet on the wheel.” Or something like that. The lyrics didn’t mean as much as the beat and volume, the intensity of being sixteen and feeling like driving through many nights. Driving was life back then, even if the only place to go was the mall. To Musicland, Expressions, or Grant’s for more records. Life in a north central Alabama town. “The radio playing that forgotten song.” Right.
3. “Nutbush City Limits,” Ike and Tina Turner. For some good and unknown reason, this tune was on the Pasquale’s jukebox. I wonder if anyone ever played it besides Jimbo, Jane, and me? Not that they couldn’t or shouldn’t have, but in the contemplative quiet of a Sunday night at our local Pizzeria, where I was admonished for playing Spades on a Sunday night, I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone hadn’t complained that the devil was on his way, or already there, as Tina shouted about that “little ol town.” That’s right, NUTBUSH.
2. “Stoned Love,” The Supremes. “A love for each other will bring fighting to an end.” I think only if we are…stoned…will that message come true. The early 70’s were truly a musical gift, and in their biggest hit post-Diana, this trio hoped that the love between brothers and sisters would last. In a funny and real way, it certainly has, as we in Bessemer come together every day on our various Facebook groups. Yes, we argue, and we make up. Someday, we’ll be together, too.
I left too many songs out this week — a special nod going to the first big hits of Elton John and Cat Stevens. “Sea lo que sea,” a phrase I learned in Mr. Perez’s Spanish I class back in the year of our Lord, 1970.
“Rhiannon,” Fleetwood Mac. You know, this might be an obvious choice, and maybe I wouldn’t have gone number one on it. But Layla simply loves it, and she’s only 24, which means that when it hit so big in 1975, she was minus 19 years old. That she loves her Dad’s music at this age is more than I can say about me with my Dad’s music back then. Though God knows I appreciate Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw now. So to the dads and their daughters…”Taken by, taken by disguise.” And yes, we’ve already won.