Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Top 200 Favorite Songs, Part 20

(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!)

Dolly Parton is my favorite singer of all-time.  This is not a shock to certain people that may know me well, but it isn't something that I came to lightly.  For years it was Aretha Franklin.  For years before that it was Whitney Houston.  For some reason I don't think that I've ever had a favorite singer that happened to be male-women's voices, like so many a gay man before me, seemed to echo a little bit more truth to my experience.  Dolly Parton had largely gone away from the hit-making period of her career when I started to discover music.  While she was still performing (I've seen her in concert in one of my favorite musical outings), her career was largely in the Greatest Hits portion of its life cycle, and so there's no real moment that I can pinpoint that Dolly Parton entered into my world.  She wasn't a favorite of any of my relatives, wasn't someone that gave me a specific memory or recalled a specific moment in my life.  I just felt that her songs were beautiful, telling her story so well and not going against the grain or changing to match what was trendy.  Yes she strayed from bluegrass to country to pop, but her songs were always quintessentially Dolly Parton.  As a result, I've always been able to admire not just her singing and songwriting abilities, but also her as a person, as an artist true to herself.  Plus, she's intensely easy to sing to in the car and someone that I can listen to in literally any mood.  As a result, Dolly, I will always love you.

10. "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Simon & Garfunkel (1970)

Art Garfunkel's soft, hushed tones as he insists that he will be a shelter in the storm for the person that he is crooning toward is a perfect match.  This song has been covered incessantly, but the reality is that only Garfunkel has the voice to hold back until it's time for that silver girl to sail on, and then he brings us home full throttle.

9. "Fast Car," Tracy Chapman (1988)

Growing up in a small town, I don't think I can put into words the resonance that "Fast Car" had on me as a teenager.  In Tracy Chapman, here was a woman that desperately wanted to "get across the border, and into the city" but kept being held back by her surroundings and reality.  "Fast Car" is a song for all of us, the way that it shows how the facts sometimes get in the way of dreams, but it also made me realize that taking chances is sometimes the only way to jump forward, and it's why on rare occasions, I do just that.

8. "I Will Always Love You," Whitney Houston (1992)

Dolly Parton may have written it and sang it first, but from that soaring acca pella first note, Whitney Houston had finally found a song that melded her soaring, melodic voice with a classical iconic nature that could not be denied.  Her star was cut down by drugs and tragedy, but that voice and this song will always be a fitting reminder of the girl we fell in love with, and that is more than just "bittersweet memories."

7. "He Stopped Loving Her Today," George Jones (1980)

I've always found it a bit amusing that my favorite song from the 1980's sounds like it was written 25 years earlier.  Tis the timelessness of a song like this I guess.  George Jones best song is an ode to a man who couldn't stop loving the same woman, even after she left him with a broken heart.  It's the type of love we not only wish someone would bring to us, but the kind we hope to also experience.

6. "Son of a Preacher Man," Dusty Springfield (1968)

My brother, mom, and I would clean the house every Saturday morning, and we'd get to listen to different 45 records that my mom and dad had.  It was a solid incentive to get us to clean, but there was always a moment when the cleaning would have to end and the dancing would begin.  That was when Dusty decided to sing about "Billy Ray."

5. "Be My Baby," The Ronettes (1963)

Ronnie Spector with her mile-high hair and that wall of sound could never be denied; Phil Spector may have been a horrible human being, but that doesn't mean he didn't know music better than any other producer of his era.  Brian Wilson once called this the greatest pop record ever made, and I have to agree.  The song, the music, the lyrics, it's all a magical experience that starts out with a simple "bump, ba-dump, bump."

4. "Desperado," The Eagles (1973)

"Desperado.  Why don't you come to your senses?  You've been out riding fences for so long now."  Haven't we all had that moment when we realized that it was time to move on, and let somebody love us before it's too late?  If you haven't, you will.

3. "Like a Rolling Stone," Bob Dylan (1965)

"How does it feel?"  That's a question pretty much everyone at the time and afterwards has asked about Bob Dylan, a poet brought to music from Duluth, Minnesota who changed the landscape of the 1960's before becoming a haunting figure in pop and folk and pretty much every genre you can imagine.  Since then he's been everything from a god to a joke, depending on who you ask, but it's impossible to deny this song's edge, prowess, and lyrical wonderment.

2. "Jolene," Dolly Parton (1973)

The most-listened to number on my iTunes library, "Jolene" is a perfect song, no arguments allowed.  A plea about a woman struggling to win by default, it's a story about trying to find a way to cope with a wandering eye and also about finding loneliness too hard to bear even if it's with someone who might flirt with a woman with "auburn hair, ivory skin, and eyes of emerald green."  I never have tired of this song-not once, and frequently will go on benders of just listening to different iterations of the song over-and-over on YouTube.

1. "Unchained Melody," The Righteous Brothers (1965)

Dolly, Paul & Art, Aretha, and Al Green may have more contenders on this list, but I'm ending with an artist we haven't profiled yet.  And yet, this song to me means love, plain and simple.  I have listened to Bobby Hatfield's perfect, flawless voice cry out "to the sea" more times than I can count, and when he hits that highest of notes that he "needs" my love-who could deny him?

And there you have it-our countdown is over, and my favorite songs have been revealed.  I thoroughly hope you enjoyed our little rundown over the past month (I know I did).  If you did enjoy, please hit the comments button or tweet this link to your friends, and of course, please share your personal favorite songs as well!

If you've missed any of the past installments, go ahead and click: Part 1234567891011121314151617, 18

No comments: