OL AL'S 100 MOST LISTENED TO RECORDS IN 2014
I offer this piece as an article of Thanksgiving. I could go through a day long litany on things I have to be grateful for this year. The soul of my little life is always moving in stereo, reflected in the music I'm always listening to. So for one thing, this listing gives a focus to reflect and refract most of the main things I am especially thankful for. But there are also reflections of the things that hurt my soul, or my response or resistance to them which you can see most especially in the gangster picks.
This is more or less to say an objective listing of my favorite things musically this year. I'm not pulling a list out of the air, but simply listing the statistics of things that I have actually listened to most frequently on my computer since I re-installed the Media Monkey software in February. So if friends or family want to take my spiritual temperature, this would be your best thermometer. More casual readers stumbling onto this could look at this as simply a recommended super groovy listening list.
"Brazil" - Les Paul Much to my chagrin, I must admit that even as hep as I am to most all forms of American popular music it was only in this my 52nd year that I got around to actually listening to Les Paul. I've been making up for lost time. In the summer of '47 the 33 year old Les Paul was one of the top couple of guitar players in the business and a successful bandleader. He pretty much quit his jobs to go to his garage and homemade studio determined to make sounds like no one had ever heard before. This and "Lover" (listed further down) were the first shot of the revolution - the moment that Les Paul truly became Les Paul. The layers and filigrees of this recording blow my mind. Media Monkey says that I've listened to this about 150 times - which probably is about half of the times of listening, adding in playing it in the car and stuff. So I've probably seriously listened to this recording about 300ish times since February. This song represents to me a high example of the fundamental spiritual significance of pure childlike playfulness. The giddiness of this is Les Paul being like a little child, in the meaning of Christ.
"How Nice a Woman Can Be" - Sinead O'Connor For one thing, the sister is way my biggest female musical idol ever. Beyond that, this 2014 I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss album is one of her best, and has to be my album of the year just on the listening stats. The yearning and need in this song in particular completely goes right into my bones. I started out my couple of hundred listens to this hot for the thought of a woman taking this attitude towards me. After a few dozen listens, it dawned on me that I could even more readily identify with the implicit despair of the narrator. As a lonely old bachelor, I could very well express such sentiments toward a woman. Also, imagining Sinead volunteering to be my "slave" caused me to realize that my ultimate dream date would probably involve Sinead shaving my head with a straight razor.
"Another Nigger in the Morgue" - Geto Boys Sometimes a fella just wants to smite his enemies with extreme prejudice and utter coldness. This expresses the best of anything my desire to go all book of Joshua on jihadists and terrorists of all kinds, foreign and especially domestic. Plus, this is a heller good dance groove. It may not be a reflection of my better Godly spiritual aspects, but I know every word of this and I could pretty well perform it for you acapella.
"Dance (Part 1)" - The Rolling Stones I'm not saying this is nearly the best Stones song, but my interest in this song now reflects a somewhat new understanding of the band that crept up on me these last few years. Some Girls was their last great album - and came out when I was 14, and thus my first. This 1980 follow up Emotional Rescue was a disappointment and I was knee deep discovering the catalog, so it went by me. The prime Stones were the greatest rock and roll band ever. My newer understanding is that they were also the world's greatest disco band - which is in the first place accomplished by having Charlie Watts laying down your disco beat. This is just one of the greatest pure grooves the band ever laid down. Plus, as I've lost 100 pounds this year, this has been it seems my greatest musical celebration.
"God Put a Rainbow in the Clouds" - Merle Travis Along with Les Paul, my other greatest discovery this year is finally listening to Merle Travis. I will take this opportunity to give thanks for the bounty of America as reflected through Goodwill stores. They have become deeply entwined in my mind with the weight loss experience, as I have for the first time ever actually had a real wardrobe. A few hundred bucks has given me a groovy big wardrobe to help re-imagine myself. Also, I've got some awesome music at Goodwill stores that I couldn't find or afford elsewhere. I got the $150ish imported 5 CD Bear Family Records Merle Travis collection Guitar Rags and a Too Fast Past collection for 99 cents. Travis was most noted as a fancy guitar player, but this isn't particularly one of the best examples of it. This song presents not really even just hope but confidence in the future, a great expression of faith in the best sense.
"I'ma Close This Chapter" - Conejo This is Hispanic gangster rap. I generally think of gangster rap as representing - sometimes very artistically - some of the lowest animal emotions. But this has a perhaps dysfunctional and messed up, but a kind of spiritual yearning - romantic in a twisted way. Plus, it sounds really good while cruising the highway.
"Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter" - Ike and Tina Turner Life is a huge basket of Easter eggs waiting to be discovered, even just in my own humble poor man's home. I first discovered this song as a Nina Simone song on her 1974 album It Is Finished. Just a few months ago, I randomly picked up this little boxed set of 45 records laying around that I got for 50 cents at a Goodwill a couple of years ago - and noticed this title. I was delighted to find that this is apparently actually a Tina Turner composition - and the song suddenly became very vivid pictures to me. I can see in my mind young Tina working every greasy joint on the chitlin circuit, and hearing this song I can just imagine her having to deal with every would-be slick black daddy. By the way, it turns out that being funkier than a mosquito's tweeter is actually a BAD thing - which seems counterintuitive.
"Temporary Ground" - Jack White His Lazaretto album is my other top album of 2014. My brother Bobby Schramm was dismissive on first hearing, somehow thinking that it sounds like the frickin' Dixie Chicks. Consider my feelings on the topic, that was just near a hanging offense if I didn't love him so much. This naturally led to me having to give him remedial lessons on Bob Dylan. Jack White is big on Dylan, and seems particularly influenced stylistically by Desire, the gypsy violin sound he favored at that point in particular and the black gospel-y singing chick. Except this is a better song than anything on that Dylan album. Jack White just about gets more out of that sound than Dylan. This is one of Jack's best ever lyrics, a particularly poetic variation on the classic "this world is not my home" theme - except without any promise of heaven to soften the blow.
"James Brown" - Sinead O'Connor This right here is the funkiest jam of 2014. I don't know about what kind of clinical diagnosis she's ever had, but Sinead definitely shows manic/depressive traits in her records. This is one of her best manic expressions.
"Better Call Saul" - Junior Brown I have been a HUGE Junior Brown proselytizer for some years now. He's kinda like Ernest Tubb, but like 50 times better - and I say that with due respect to a legend. I'm just saying that Junior Brown is THAT good. He's perhaps the world's best living guitar picker - give or take Richard Thompson. Also, he's even a better singer than Ernest Tubb. Songwriting is where he really excels. In this case, it's the theme song for the upcoming Saul Goodman spinoff from Breaking Bad. The very dark wit of this makes it one of his very best ever. The FBI finds kids trapped in your creepy van, so you stay real cool and tell them you're the ice cream man.
"Darling Be Home Soon" - The Lovin' Spoonful This is just a perfect up tempo rock ballad with gently urgent emotion.
"Star of the County Down" - Slainte I originally got this recording 15ish years ago off the old mp3.com site. It was the first time I heard this goddess worshipping traditional Irish song. I've heard other versions since, none of them quite as perfect as this.
"Underdog" - Sly Stone This was the first song on Sly's first album, A Whole New Thing from 1967. I've been listening to Sly for 40ish years, but somehow never heard anything from this album. They didn't even put it on the hits albums. But this by rights should be considered one of the best half dozen or so songs he ever made.
"Maggot Brain (edit)" - Funkadelic This track is a beautiful sad 10 minute guitar solo, and the top career moment of Eddie Hazel. By way of telling him what he wanted, George Clinton says he told Hazel to play like his mother had just died. The bad thing was that at the beginning of the track before the guitar starts Clinton babbles on with some just nasty talking about drowning in shit. This not only is irrelevant to anything Hazel plays, but actively subtracts from Hazel's masterly playing. Several times over the years, I've steered away from listening to it cause I just wasn't interested in hearing the poo talk. It occurred to me to simply edit out the George Clinton nonsense and go straight to Eddie. This is a big improvement.
"The Voice of My Doctor" - Sinead O'Connor I loves me some angry, rebuking Sinead. This is again from I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss. It also makes a good aggressive dance song.
"Don Gato (English)" - Scott Foresman This Mexican folk song about a cat was my very favorite song from the old music class books we sang from in grade school in the 60s. I don't remember ever hearing a recording of the song until I was delighted to find it (and a Spanish version) on a three CD set in a Goodwill store this summer. It appears that these CDs were a supplement to a social studies textbook.
"High Ball Stepper" - Jack White This instrumental from Lazaretto may be the best Jack White guitar showpiece, give or take the "Catch Hell Blues".
"Cosmic American" - Anais Mitchell I don't know anything about this gal, but this 2004 ballad is awfully pretty and yearning. It's a very good melody, and she's a particularly effective singer.
"I've Committed Murder (Live in Vegas)" - Macy Gray I extracted this audio from her 2005 video Macy Gray Live in Vegas. This is one of the best concert videos I've seen. I've always particularly liked Macy's violent psycho stuff. She adds a little to it in the live recording.
"Tried To Be a Man" - Rickie Lee Jones This is from her 2007 album The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard, which was basically a song cycle about the passion of the Christ. Musically, some of the album was likened unto the Velvet Underground. Maybe a little bit here, but Rickie Lee is just a much better songwriter and Lord knows a much better singer than Lou Reed. "I TRIED to be a man, but that's not what I was meant to be."
"Howard" - Rickie Lee Jones I first heard this Ghostyhead album when it came out in 1997. It's not her best album, but it has an interesting sound, weird throbbing electronic stuff. It didn't make much impression, other than vaguely this song. Besides the cool spooky electronic groove, it has an especially haunting lyric in the first half about a woman alone in her house, kept company only by the spirits of all her abortions which reside in the furniture. I've never heard anything else anywhere near like this.
"Fat Gal" - Merle Travis This 1947 recording is a beautiful tribute to his big ol' girl. For a simple country song, it has an especially well drawn lyric describing her as both his metaphorical and literal shelter from the storms of life. Besides being a landlord who isn't charging rent, "she keeps me warm in the winter, shady in the summertime."
"Brother Can You Spare a Dime" - George Michael As I've been losing a bunch of weight, I've taken for the first time ever to trying to dress nice and look like I'm somebody. One day this summer I was checking my outfit in the mirror, and does this tie go with that jacket when I realized I was singing along with George Michael singing a show tune. The gayness of this struck me really funny. But also this is just a great song, and this lyric was the first hit where my man Yip Harburg made his bones. This 1999 performance rates as the definitive recording of the song, at least from any that I've heard. On top of which, it also reconfirms the point that George Michael is one of the very best vocalists of his generation, gay or otherwise. Plus, there's an excellent live performance of this floating around YouTube which also confirms that he really knows how to wear a suit. So it all goes together.
"Gonna Have a Little Talk With Jesus" - Randy Travis My 10 year old godson Tony was sitting in church with mom a couple of Easters ago when he explained to her that people don't raise from the dead - and that was the end of him being a believer. Nonetheless, this recording is a big favorite. I concur.
"Shut Up and Drink Your Beer" - Merle Travis This 1953 recording is just flat one of the catchiest country barroom sing alongs ever.
"She Ain't a Child No More" - Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings A strong dose of aggressive old school soul. "She used to run when you raised your hand. She ain't a child no more".
"Mama Hated Diesels" - Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen I'd heard of this guy for years, but only picked up a couple of old vinyl albums in closeouts at a Half Price Books store this summer. The 1972 album Hot Licks, Cold Steel and Truck Drivers Favorites turns out to be really good, as evidenced by the several cuts making this list. By the name of the band and such, I expected more ironic hippy stuff. But they're really more like a legitimate country band. This is definitely their best song of any I've heard. Partly it is superior melodically and in the song structure and such, but far more importantly it is right on the money emotionally. I listened at first with some trepidation, expecting basically satire of hokey country tear jerking by the likes of Red Sovine - which would have made the song nothing more than maybe mildly clever. But it's absolutely straight. They completely go right to all that - and make it totally legit. The lyric is brilliantly drawn, and makes for vivid images. By the end of the song, the narrator is standing in the graveyard alone with the preacher, barely able to hear him for the sound of them big trucks rolling down the highway. By that point, they've earned every nominal cliche and invested them with genuine pathos to convince even a cynical sophisticate such as me.
"One More Cup of Coffee" - Bob Dylan This is from the Desire album, which I've never really cared for. I went back to this song a few months ago when my brother was not properly appreciating Jack White's "Temporary Ground." No, Jack wasn't trying to sound like the frickin' Dixie Chicks, he was trying to sound more like the gypsy sound of this record. The White Stripes actually covered this song. One the one hand, they didn't do near as good as Dylan with it, partly because Jack White doesn't play violin. On the other hand, "Temporary Ground" is an even better song than this Dylan classic. In any case, they're two great tastes that taste great together.
"My Sick Mind" - The Roches This 1980 recording is one their more aggressive tracks, and has some of their very best harmonies and counterpoints. There seems to be some real angst here, but I've never been able to figure out just why the songwriter thinks she's so sick in the head.
"In the Still of the Night" - The Five Satins God invented recording technology for the specific purpose of capturing doo wop harmonies like this for posterity.
"Lydia the Tattooed Lady" - Groucho Marx Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg wrote this song for Groucho and the 1939 Marx Brothers movie At the Circus. I dig this even more than their Wizard of Oz songs - which is rating it pretty high. I love every little detail of Yip's lyric. This rose back to the top with me because of Breaking Bad, in which the psychotic young thug Todd used this as his ringtone for the evil Lydia in the show on whom he had a crazy puppy dog crush.
"Sabbath Prayer" - Fiddler on the Roof Original Broadway Cast I listen to this song a lot on Sundays, though I suppose by rights I should be thinking of it more on Saturdays. I like the big hits from the show, but this means more to me.
"Tomorrow Never Knows" - The Beatles This might be my favorite Beatles song - though of course it would be pretty impossible to pick just one. If you're going to write about some Eastern philosophical stuff (the Tibetan Book of the Dead) it's good to do so with a pounding beat, the fullest height of John Lennon's songwriting skills, and multiple but very precise layers of psychedelic electronics.
"Oh My Pa-Pa" - Eddie Fisher As a punk rock and jazz loving hipster, I should theoretically have no interest in this schmaltzy vaudevillian song, but I hear it and get entirely wistful for my late father Howard Barger.
"Mind of a Lunatic" - Geto Boys In the theory, I at least feel like I should feel bad about liking this truly wicked a song so much. It's not about having to be tough to survive on the street or anything but just purely wanting to hurt and kill people for the pure thrill of it. "She begged me not to kill so I gave her a rose. Then I slit her throat and watched her shake till her eyes closed." And only then does he really start acting fully psychotic.
"You Can't Live Crooked and Think Straight" - Up With People I should write a whole essay on this infamous group. They were such complete corporate tools. They had ads on this 1965 album cover. A lot of the arrangements and performances sound like skillful but awful high school glee club ideas of good singing. But listening to this early album and reading just even a little bit about the group and the social movement of the original brothers, they were as purely freaky as any of the hippy contemporaries they were answering to. I'm fascinated with the idea of the group, and this song most particularly. It's a very catchy conservative folk protest song. It's intentionally corny in the cheesiest way, but it makes their point and it just works. Also, it's nice that it came up on this list back to back with that Geto Boys song, cause I in fact frequently listen to the songs back to back. As they ask in the big finale song of the album, "which way America, which way to go?"
"Can't Do Nuttin' for Ya Man" - Public Enemy I wouldn't begin to consider Flava Flav to be any kind of musician - except for him coming up with this and "911 Is a Joke". This is one of the best couple of actual legitimate SONGS PE ever made, and provides some blessed relief from the constant smothering cultural demands for compassion for every sad sack no matter how badly they deserve their misery. "It was you who chose your doom. You built this maze you can't get through. I tried to help you all I can, now I can't do nuttin' for you man."
"Truck Drivin' Man" - Commander Cody This right here is one of your finer bits of classic truck stop jukebox quarter bait.
"I'm Sittin' on Top of the World" - Les Paul and Mary Ford This 1952 song was a huge hit at the peak of their success, and one of the most purely joyful records ever made.
"Born Under Punches" - Talking Heads This record came out my senior year in high school, and I was well obsessed with the previous Fear of Music album, but didn't pay so much attention at the time to their other records. I didn't fully get the group right at the time. For one thing, they're about the only unmistakably full fledged funk outfit ever that managed to do that without sounding not really even a little bit like James Brown. But that point for one was lost on me at the time as I hadn't even yet listened to James. They have come to mean more and more to me over the years. It's only this year that I really noticed this song, and now I can't get enough of it.
"Many Rivers to Cross" - Jimmy Cliff The Harder They Come soundtrack is always in season, and this is one of the greatest and deepest spiritual songs ever recorded.
"Why Don't You Do Right?" - Peggy Lee Of course, like many people of the last couple of generations, I know this song from Jessica Rabbit's act at the Ink and Paint Club. It's all slinky and sexy and yummy. Listening to the original hit repeatedly, the ambiguity of the lyric comes out at me. She sounds like a gold digger demanding that you "get out of here and get me some money." But it's not that, considering that she took him in and showed pity on him. She's not really trying to abuse him it seems, but just wanting him to step up and contribute.
"Negro y Azul (The Ballad of Heisenberg)" - Los Quates de Sinaloa This makes three songs here related to Breaking Bad. The words are written by the writers of the show, but composed to a song and performed by an actual Mexican narco ballader band about the exploits of the pseudonymous Heisenberg whom they were sure was going to be killed for crossing the cartel.
"Let's Ride" - Conejo I became familiar with this Latin gangster rap because this song was featured prominently and with great irony in The Shield, while Vic Mackey was impersonating a Mexican banger while holding up a police evidence van to set him up. "I don't want to be right if the barrio's wrong."
"Diggy Liggy Lo" - Commander Cody This is not a Cody original. It's something of a cajun country dance standard that I've heard before, but by who in particular I couldn't tell you.
"Entitlement" - Jack White Here's another great cut from Lazaretto. This catchy waltz sounds like almost a country song. I particularly like the lyric, which is a gently expressed rebuke to the culture. "There are children today who were lied to. Told the world is rightfully theirs. They can have what they want whenever they want. They take like Caesar and nobody cares."
"Go to Hell" - Nina Simone This comes from her classic 1967 Silk & Soul album. Nina was the top best angry chick singer ever, among other things. This particular song is, per the album title, silky and smooth. Her mother was a preacher, and her girl delivers this bit of fire and brimstone so pretty that I just can't get enough.
"Lover" - Les Paul This was the first shot of the Les Paul revolution, along with "Brazil". It's nominally a Rodgers and Hart song. I've repeatedly listened to this tricked up instrumental back to back with Ella Fitzgerald's songbook version though, and I'm danged if I can hear any part of it being the same song. Sister Amy suggested that there should be a cartoon made to it, with cute little mice scampering around. I could definitely see that.
"Lazaretto" - Jack White More from Lazaretto. This is just a joyous, catchy guitar rock song that can't be denied. I will have to make some necessary criticism though that the lyric is just absolute gibberish, representing the worst aspect of his Dylan idolatry.
"One Bad Apple" - The Osmonds Not that they were the greatest thing since sliced bread, but they had at least a few excellent songs, starting with this one. This may be the best record the Jackson 5 never made. To my mind, this family gives rather more credence than he did to Huey Lewis' admonition that it's hip to be square.
"Gettin' Ready for Christmas Day" - Paul Simon With much love to Graceland and Hearts and Bones among his other classics, this 2011 album may be the very best work Paul Simon has done. This is just totally righteous rocking, and the way he incorporates these big chunks of a 1941 black preacher is brilliant. And for someone who says that he doesn't actually believe in God, this is a pretty good lyric about getting ready for the return of the Christ.
"Looking Back to See" - The Browns Jim Ed Brown and his sisters were a pretty big deal back in the day. I don't know where this song came from, though I'm sure I've heard other versions. But it's just pure country cotton candy. Plus, I like the slightly complicated logic of the chorus lyric. "I was looking back to see if you were looking back to see if I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me." That's not at all repetitious when you think it out. The boy and girl are scoping each other out, and looking for clues to the others' reaction.
"Dedicated Follower of Fashion" - The Kinks I've been immersed in the Kinks and this Carnaby Street satire for 40ish years, but this song has come into focus for me in the last few months as I've been playing dress up. I listen to it a lot while I'm picking out outfits. "And when he pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight, he's a dedicated follower of fashion." No homo, as they would say on The Boondocks.
"Ain't But the One" - Duke Ellington This comes from the 1965 San Francisco debut of his first "sacred" concert, recorded for the dedication of a cathedral in San Francisco. I would tend to be inclined to consider all of Sir Duke's concerts pretty sacred, but this explicitly religious work put out at the age of 66 represents the last phase of his most major accomplishments. This is just righteous rocking jazz in joyful celebration of the only one who really knows the story. I extracted this from the DVD of the show, which comes very cheap and with a great documentary about Duke attached. You should probably own this.
"Hummingbird" - Les Paul and Mary Ford Pure pop candy from 1955, one of their last big hits. There's a great catchy melody, and an excellent simple lyrical metaphor. The layers of Mary Ford vocal harmonies and Les Paul's little filigrees of guitar flitting around like the titular bird are just irresistable.
"So Beautiful or So What" - Paul Simon This driving blues generates one of the more dramatic effects of all of Simon's songs. You'll get that basic guitar lick embedded in your brain by the time you get halfway through the first listening, and that incessant beat. Then there's the urgency of the melody, and what I might characterize as the philosophical warning of the lyrics. "Life is what you make of it, so beautiful or so what." He takes that "so what" home in the last verse, with the assassination of MLK. "And the siren's lone melody singing 'savior, pass me not'".
"Caravan" - Les Paul I'd been digging Joe Jackson's excellent 2012 album The Duke a little before I discovered Les Paul. I was pressing buttons in the basement when this 1949 Les Paul recording came on. Wait, I know this song from the Jackson's Duke Ellington record! Only then did I really notice or get the Duke Ellington trio recording with Charles Mingus and Max Roach from their Money Jungle album that I'd listened to repeatedly over the last couple of years and the Hendricks, Lambert and Ross recording. Every one of this arrangements and recordings are totally unique and beautiful.
"Someone to Watch Over Me" - Sinead O'Connor This girl can sing seemingly any kind of music like it was what she was meant to be singing. She invests this 1998 recording with a greater sense of urgent need than any other version I've heard. I consider this to be the definitive recording of the song. You should listen to this back to back with "How Nice a Woman Can Be". They are totally contrasting styles, but very similar underlying emotional currents.
"Feng Shui" - Gnarls Barkley You can really feel the feng shui, the uncluttered smooth and efficient flow. The whole song is less than 90 seconds, but it's a completely filled out musical thought.
"Don't Let Me Down" - Dillard and Clark For starters, note that you badly need the twofer CD of The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark coupled with Through the Morning, Through the Night. This was the last recording of the latter album. This rates with me as one of the half dozen best Beatle covers ever, turning it into a perfectly realized country song. I am always grateful to hear a particularly good re-thinking of extremely familiar old favorites such as, well, pretty much any Beatle record. This made the song new to me again after probably seriously 1000 listenings.
"Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" - Bob Dylan This is my all time favorite Dylan song, a rambling blues in which he explains the story of how he discovered America. You know, he used to have a sense of humor. It may be the most joyous recording he ever made. It also has my favorite Dylan lyric, as he goes to the bank looking for a loan. "They asked me for some collateral, so I pulled down my pants." It came back into season this year while I was watching Dinesh D'Souza's excellent America Imagine the World Without Her movie, reclaiming and wrestling with the meaning and history of America. I watched it with Brother Bobby - and then immediately gave him his first hearing of the song as a nightcap. The context of the D'Souza movie brought a 'new world' of meaning, so to speak, to the last lines of the song as Bob was getting the hell out of Dodge and met the incoming sailor. "I asked him what his name was and how come he didn't drive a truck. He said his name was Columbus, and I just said 'Good luck".
"Guide Me God" - Sinead O'Connor Really, by rights there are only a couple of lines of actual melody, repeated and refracted - with some a strong medium tempo groove and some nice details in the arrangement. It's more of a meditation than a regular song. I sometimes listen to the song several times in a row to work up to a mood altering near trance state.
"Inch by Inch" - Elvis Costello This comes from the 1995 Goodbye Cruel World album, which wasn't particularly one of his best. He was real good at midtempo jazzy forays into romantic distrust and dysfunction like this.
"Watch My .38" - Commander Cody Again, this comes from the 1972 Hot Licks album. The slow bass riff turns into a fine little southern rock piece.
"On the Road to Fairfax County" - The Roches The sisters tended to lighter and more humorous emotional expressions, but this is a totally sad and dramatic folk song about a doomed romance with an outlaw. Nothing else in their work sounds much like this, or has anything like this emotional effect. I had the song around for years before I listened to it again this year and stopped in my tracks. It really crept up on me.
"Maggie's Farm" - The Specials This recording brings particularly charging and totally unique new ska life to the Dylan classic. I prefer this to the Dylan original, actually.
"I Cannot Make It" - Sly Stone 1967
"Divorce Me COD" - Merle Travis 1946
"Walk Like a Man" - Franki Valli and the Four Seasons
"With a Little Bit of Luck" - My Fair Lady 1956
"Love Is Eternal Sacred Light" - Paul Simon 2011
"Good Mornin' Neighbor" - Porter Wagoner
"The Orange and the Green" - The Irish Rovers
"Unborn Child" - Seals and Croft 1974
"Put It There Pal" - Richard Thompson 1996
"Dance in the Graveyards" - Delta Rae 2012
"Gratitude" - Beastie Boys 1992
"How High the Moon" - Les Paul and Mary Ford 1950
"Want and Able" - Jack White 2014
"Dirty Old Man" - The Three Degrees
"Dr Manhattan on the Human Miracle" - The Watchmen
"Snoop Upside Your Head" - Snoop Dogg
"Sherry" - Franki Valli and the Four Seasons
"Dawn" - Franki Valli and the Four Seasons
"Black Is the Color of My True Loves Hair" - Nina Simone 1969
"The Last Chance Texaco" - Rickie Lee Jones 1979
"The Harder They Come" - Jimmy Cliff 1972
"You Can Get It If You Really Want It" - Jimmy Cliff 1972
"Vampire" - Sinead O'Connor 2005
"Creature From the Black Lagoon" - Dave Edmunds
"America" - Prince 1985
"In the Good Old Summertime/O What a Beautiful Morning" - Ethel Romelfanger
"Rufus (Swung His Face at Last to the Wind, Then His Neck Snapped)" - John Coltrane 1965
"Dick Ridin' Obama" - The Boondocks 2009
"Do Something (Live in Las Vegas) - Macy Gray
"I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance" - The Solitaires
"Eye of the Tiger" - Big Daddy
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