Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top 200 Favorite Songs, Part 16

(If you're just tuning in, I'm doing a rundown of my Top 200 Favorite Songs-see the bottom of the page for previous entries and welcome!)

The first concert I ever went to was, unfortunately, technically, American Idol: Season 2.  However, the first concert I always tell people I went to since I don't really count the American Idol concert (it was more stage show/Pop-Tarts commercial than concert) was the Dixie Chicks.  I was actually considerably older than your average person when I went to my first concert; growing up in a small town, concerts were really more of something that you went to if you wanted to drive to a casino or to a giant rodeo field in your truck and wanted to live out of a tent for a few days, and it almost always involved a series of country music acts that I had heard of maybe one of the people at.  So the summer after my junior year of college, I managed to convince my mom and one of her friends to come down to the Twin Cities and attend the concert with me, as none of my friends were having the Dixie Chicks and they were my all-time favorite band, and still in many ways are.  Seeing them live was a thrill, and for a brief period of time after that I went kind of hog-wild in attending concerts.  Slowly but steadily I saw almost every major singer that I could find that I loved; Coldplay, Tony Bennett, Joan Baez, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Tina Turner all soon followed, and while concerts slowly slipped back into the shadows once I realized that Broadway touring companies provided Playbills and were generally less expensive in my town, I still have so many fond memories of that concert, sitting there with my mom as the Dixie Chicks came out onstage and, albeit a bit later than most, I had that quintessential moment of cheering on a favorite band for the very first time.

50. "Wide Open Spaces," The Dixie Chicks (1998)

I was a fan from the beginning of the Natalie Maines era.  There was something so freeing about the songs on this album that didn't match the rest of the country music of that time, and I felt time-lifted out to the era where country music was played on prime-time television on broadcast networks.  Their songs always felt personal and light, but sometimes dreary, which is not an easy feat to master.

49. "All By Myself," Eric Carmen (1975)

Fun Fact About John: this is the very first song I ever bought on iTunes.  As a result I have listened to this song incessantly through the years (particularly since I bought like four songs initially and just kept playing them over-and-over).  Eric Carmen's ballad about "living alone, thinking of all the friends I've known" is one of those songs that you have to play when you're feeling sad and blue, and having one of those emo days and to pretend I don't have those sorts of days on the semi-regular would be foolishness, so I definitely can't deny this position.

48. "Midnight Train to Georgia," Gladys Knight & the Pips (1973)

On the opposite end of the scale, though, is Gladys Knight blasting the song I listen to when I am happy or want to rock out in my car/apartment.  Seriously-has there ever been a song that has been more fun to shout out to when it comes on the radio?  On my bucket list it actually said, amidst a sea of visiting foreign locales and getting married, "sing 'Midnight Train to Georgia' at a karaoke bar."  With two of my friends in-tow as my Pips, I was able to accomplish this a few years ago.

47. "Wild is the Wind," Nina Simone (1959)

The Anna Magnani-film version had Johnny Mathis singing the song (which was nominated for an Oscar), but with all due respect to Mr. Mathis, Ms. Simone's version is the quintessential one.  Soaring, elegant, and deeply-moving, this became in my opinion Nina's best recording-she found the devastating loneliness of living on the edge, something of course that she knew from experience.

46. "A Change is Gonna Come," Sam Cooke (1964)

It's hard to believe this song, perhaps the most significant of the American Civil Rights movement, started as a B-Side on one of Cooke's final records.  The song is profoundly moving, insisting that change was going to come, a story Cooke wanted to believe as he was denied spots in the hotels he would perform in, and it was a song he was so moved by personally that he only performed it live once.

45. "Stand By Me," Ben E. King (1961)

I have somehow never seen Rob Reiner's classic film of the same name (it's OVP-we'll get there), but man did I love this song growing up.  The wonderfully-etched power of King's voice, as if he was throwing it somewhere it felt so precise, makes what could have been something sappy feel inspiring, and it's one of those great stories of a song (how King almost didn't record it, but decided to on a whim).

44. "Lost Cause," Beck (2002)

Beck was a singer growing up that I just didn't get-what was the point of this pretty but grungy man whose music didn't seem to follow any sort of genre?  And yet as an adult I simply cannot get enough-I love the way that his voice seems to almost mimic the instruments behind him, and the way that he chooses unusual subjects, like dismissing his own worthiness of love, for the world of rock music like in "Lost Cause."

43. "The Scientist," Coldplay (2002)

The only modern music act that can remotely compete for my love in comparison to the Dixie Chicks is Coldplay.  I own every album (seriously-every one), and would just play their music alone in my college dorm over-and-over again.  This was what first bonded me to one of my best friends in college, in fact (we realized we were friends when we signed up for free Coldplay tickets at the same time), and as a result all of these songs make me go back to that time, "back to the stars."

42. "Me and Bobby McGee," Janis Joplin (1971)

It's hard to imagine the original version of this song was sung by Roger Miller.  Hitting Number One after her untimely death, Joplin's ode to a "busted flat in Baton Rouge" starts out simple and then just keeps getting more frenetic, until we are awash in the Pearl's raw vocal energy.  A powerhouse performer, this is the song that I eternally think of when I am reminded of her.

41. "Nutbush City Limits," Tina Turner (1973)

I remember seeing Tina Turner in concert, and thinking that she was going to skip this song, and I was DEVASTATED, as it was roughly 50% of the reason that I got floor seats.  Thankfully the encore was Tina strutting out on a gigantic crane to this number, running up and down it in high heels, saying "one more time" to the audience gleefully knowing we'd just keep going with it-she stretched the song out for seven minutes, and honestly-I'd have been fine if I was still there saying "one more time" years later.

And there we have it-the next set of ten.  Do you have any fond memories from The Dixie Chicks?  What was your first concert?  And any favorite songs of this crop?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

If you've missed any of the past installments, go ahead and click: Part 1234567891011121314, 15

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