LISTMANIA STRIKES AGAIN!
Everyone loves a list. Ten favorite movies? 5 best burger joints? People more repulsive than Ann Coulter? (OK, that's a really short list.) What is the appeal of letting others know what you like and dislike? Why do we love to use lists to say "This is the essence of who I am, as represented by my favorite Helen Reddy songs in chronological order"? Beats us. Maybe we could make a list to explain it. But we'll leave that for another time.
In the meantime, here's a twist on a classic. We all have our favorite songs by our favorite artists that aren't the songs casual fans will be familiar with. As a matter of fact, buy any 20 track CD anthology by an artist you really like and we guarantee you will find yourself saying, "Oh man, I can't believe they left off so and so." Or, "This compilation would have been perfect if the label included so and so."
Well, here is a list of our favorite "unlikely choices" for "Best Song" by some of our favorite artists. Confused? Ok, here's an example: Mention Elvis Costello and many will call out "Alison." Or "Chelsea." Both damn good songs. But, how many people will call out "Hand In Hand," that sweet, melodic gem from side two of "This Year's Model?" Even die-hard Costello dorks will most likely go for something deeper or more obscure. Sal was there at the "Elvis On Broadway" tour of 1986, when he was taking requests, some putz yelled out "Wave A White Flag," which we believe is a pre-"My Aim Is True" song. Costello heard him and shouted back, "No one thinks you're cool. How 'bout something people wanna hear?" So, in that spirit, we're not trying to stump anyone, or impress anyone with our deep knowledge of music. Usually, no one is impressed. We just wanna point out some winners that may have fallen off the radar, and share the joy.
ELTON JOHN - IDOL Taken from his underrated masterpiece "Blue Moves," released in 1976, this torchy, cocktail lounge ballad is a heartbreaker about a fallen star, delivered with an emotional punch that Elton has not be able to match in years. Gorgeous from start to finish.
FRANK SINATRA - SO LONG, MY LOVE Sinatra put out so much great music in the '50s that some of it was bound to get lost in the shuffle, and that's the case with this Nelson Riddle-arranged classic. A bright, brassy swinger with downright nasty lyrics, but Frank sings it in such a happy-go-lucky manner that if you don't pay attention, you might not notice it's a "I'm dumping you, now scram" song.
TOM WAITS & BETTE MIDLER - I NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS This track appeared on Waits' 1977 album "Foreign Affairs." No one ever questioned Bette Midler's ability as a singer, yet her flamboyant stage act never helped her gain credibility with music heads. This bittersweet duet, set in a singles bar, finds both artists in a setting that seems as familiar to them as Sinatra at the Sands. Midler never sounded better, and hearing Waits harmonize with ANYONE is worth the price of admission alone.
PRINCE - GOLD The closing track from the last proper album delivered to Warner Brothers, which Prince loved so much he didn't want anyone to hear it so he promoted it on TV.....or something like that. By 1995, The Purple Peabrain was already over. Even his fans had had enough. Too bad. "The Gold Experience" was as strong as anything in Prince's career, and "Gold" was a lenghty showpiece in the same vein as "Purple Rain." A triumphant chorus, big production, and a blistering guitar solo. Very emotional and truly amazing!
GEORGE HARRISON - DON'T LET ME WAIT TOO LONG Taken from "Living In The Material World," the strong follow-up to the Quiet Beatle's masterful debut "All Things Must Pass," this perfect piece of pop heaven sounds more like Phil Spector-produces-The Beatles than the Spector-produced "Let It Be." Harrison's falsetto is stunning, and it has one killer hook!
LED ZEPPELIN - WEARING AND TEARING Their 1978 attempt to take on punk rock on its own turf. It doesn't sound anything like the Sex Pistols or the Clash, but the guitars roar, the drums pound, and Robert Plant wails his ass off. This is Zeppelin at its thrashiest, and proof that even towards the end, they were still in great form. Released on the posthumous "Coda" collection.
NEXT TIME: A LIST OF OUR FAVORITE PIZZA TOPPINGS, AND THE ADRIENNE BARBEAU FILMS WE LOVE TO WATCH WHILE EATING THEM