As a fan of a wide variety of popular (and not-so-popular) music from the 1950s (and sometimes even earlier) up through the present, one of my bucket list projects for years has been to put together a list of my 100 favorite songs of all time. At some point I decided that, once I got around to figuring that out, I could put it out on a blog, for the infinitesimally small proportion of the Internet world that might be interested. So, here we are. While the Top 100 will be a major focus, I also plan to post on a variety of other musical (and occasionally non-musical) topics, in which you may or may not be interested. (If a particular posting doesn’t ring your bell, you’re only a few clicks away from a dancing cat video on YouTube.)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Shuffle #103 (January 15, 2018)

Up The Junction – Squeeze
I’ve Got Your Number, Son – She & Him
My Ship Is Coming In – The Walker Brothers
Hello, I Love You – The Doors
What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted – Jimmy Ruffin
Mountains O’ Things – Tracy Chapman
Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay – Danny & The Juniors
Life Begins At The Hop – XTC
One Kiss For Old Times’ Sake – Ronnie Dove
Young Folks – Peter Bjorn And John

Friday, January 12, 2018

Shuffle #102 (January 12, 2018)

Cynical Girl – Marshall Crenshaw
Can I Trust You – The Bachelors
Great Balls Of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
Willow Weep For Me – Chad & Jeremy
Suddenly I See – KT Tunstall
100% Pure Love – Crystal Waters
Ol’ Man River – The Temptations
Listening Wind – Talking Heads
Soon (I’ll Be Home Again) – The Four Seasons
A Feather’s Not A Bird – Rosanne Cash
Opus 17 – The Four Seasons
On This Side Of Goodbye – The Righteous Brothers
The Onion Song – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
If I Had A Boat – Lyle Lovett
Wandering Boy – Rodney Crowell
My One Desire – Stray Cats
Back Up Train – Al Green
A Song For You – Leon Russell
You Pay Your Money And You Take Your Chance – Bruce Cockburn

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Notable Quotes #7

From the editors at National Public Radio, as tweeted by Scott Horsley:
“We are using s***hole online. Note the third asterisk in keeping with NPR style.”

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Serendipity #72

Hunting High And Low – a-ha
Heard 1/1/2018 around noon at Fuddruckers (Rockville)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best Music of 2017

Songs (AAA division) 
  1. On Hold – The XX (#33 WXPN Top 50)
  2. Santiago – Preservation Hall Jazz Band (#49 WXPN)
  3. Back Against The Wall – Son Volt (#46 WTMD Top 89)
  4. Baby I’m Broken – The Record Company
  5. Find Yourself – Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real (#7 WXPN, #10 WTMD)
  6. Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man (#2 WXPN, #4 WTMD)
  7. Can’t Go Back – Ted Leo
  8. The National – The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness (#6 WXPN, #11 WTMD)
 Songs (other) 
  1. Rockabye – Clean Bandit f/Sean Paul & Anne-Marie
  2. That's What I Like – Bruno Mars
  3. I Feel It Coming – The Weeknd f/Daft Punk
  4. 24K Magic – Bruno Mars
  5. Starboy – The Weeknd f/Daft Punk
  6. It Ain't Me – Kygo & Selena Gomez
  7. Unforgettable – French Montana f/Swae Lee
  8. Kissing Strangers – DNCE f/Nicki Minaj
  9. Slide – Calvin Harris f/Frank Ocean & Migos
  1. So It Is – Preservation Hall Jazz Band
  2. XXIVK Magic – Bruno Mars
  3. Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements – Brian Dunne
  4. Freedom Highway – Rhiannon Giddens (#4 mvyradio Top 25)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pat DiNizio

This one really hits me. Just yesterday I finally figured out my favorite Smithereens song and wrote it up in my blog. I had bought a ticket for their show at the Rams Head in Annapolis next month. Previously I had seen them twice: at Wolf Trap on 6/16/2011 (on a double bill with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes), and at WXPN’s XpoNential Music Festival in July of 2007. This was for me the best XPNFest lineup ever, as it also included James Hunter, Ryan Shaw, and Suzanne Vega. Vega appeared the same day as the Smithereens but a few hours later, so I had hoped that the band might bring her out to reprise her guest vocals on “In A Lonely Place”. Pat did mention the coincidence and song during their set, but confessed that “We shan’t be doing that one.” A small disappointment in an otherwise great day.
DiNizio was one of the most underappreciated songwriters of his time, just as the Smithereens were one of the most underappreciated bands. (And Jim Babjak remains one of rock’s most underappreciated guitarists.)
Other than their occasional ballads, their songs all had (in the words of Brett Milano) “big guitars, real-life lyrics and hooks a mile wide.” Although the sound ranged from light and poppy to heavy and ominous, the recipe was deceptively simple: start with a great lyric and melody, insert a killer hook at the beginning, add a searing Babjak solo for the bridge, and there you are. Works every time.
Perhaps the surviving band membets put it best in their tribute: "Pat had the magic touch. He channeled the essence of joy and heartbreak into hook-laden three minute pop songs, infused with a lifelong passion for rock & roll." All of the songs listed below can be found on their superlative (and cleverly named) Blown to Smithereens compilation. If you love rock & roll, get it now.
Favorite songs:
In A Lonely Place
Blood And Roses
House We Used To Live In
A Girl Like You
Only A Memory
Blues Before & After
Yesterday Girl
Strangers When We Meet
Beauty & Sadness

#177 Second Chance – 38 Special (1989)

In theory, a power ballad by a band that started out doing Southern rock and never made much of an impression on me shouldn’t have had much chance of making my list of all-time favorites. It’s probably some combination of the understated but just-right guitar work and the lyrical hook (“A heart needs a second chance”), but this is still one that I look for whenever I feel like putting some coins into a jukebox.

#176 Behind The Wall Of Sleep – The Smithereens (1986)

For me, the Smithereens are the second-best rock act to ever come out of New Jersey (in between two others with close ties to Asbury Park). They don’t do anything fancy, just write and play great, hooky, basic rock & roll songs. The only reason they haven’t made this list before now is that I haven’t been able to pick one of their songs as my favorite. This one starts side 2 of their Especially For You album, but either of the two that immediately follow it (“In A Lonely Place” and “Blood And Roses”) could have been my pick. So could “A Girl Like You” (one of their few singles to edge into the top 40), or “House We Used To Live In”, with one of the great call-and-response endings of all time. I finally decided on this one largely because there aren’t many songs about guy groupies, and the sly reference to Bill Wyman closed the deal.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

#175 Peace Of Mind – The Magnificent Men (1965)

Had to give some love to the first hit (local at least) for the pride of Harrisburg PA, a blue-eyed soul aggregation that included their own band and wrote much of their own material, including this single. While largely unknown, they made quite an impression on many who heard them (see links below). And, like the Spaniels, they did a great version of “Stormy Weather”.