I was fooling around on my computer at my job yesterday (your tax dollars at work) when I ran across a list of my 100 favorite songs that I made up years ago. Looking over it I realized there were a bunch of songs on there that I would replace today so I revised the list a bit and then decided that I'd post YouTube clips of the Top Ten on this blog that come from live performances, music videos and homemade photo montages to the songs.
This is a wide mix of styles, jazz classics, soul and rock tunes that are either forgotten or really obscure. My musical tastes today range to the more experimental sides of jazz, improvised and classical music, and I think now more in terms of entire albums than individual songs so you won't find anything recent here. The newest song on the list dates back to 1996. As much as it hurt me a lot of my favorites did not make the cut. There's no Portishead, The Band, Steeleye Span, Curtis Mayfield, King Crimson, Gene Pitney, Stan Getz or Charles Mingus here but there is not a song on this list I could take off. Since this looks to be pretty long I will post 6-10 now and do 1-5 in a few days. And so, to the list:
10. The Temptations - "My Girl"
Everybody has a different favorite Motown song. This is mine. The thudding bass intro, the slow winding guitar riff and then David Ruffin's silky "I've got sunshine on a cloudy day". All pure magic. This clip doesn't look the best and the song is followed by Berry Gordy talking over silent footage of the Tempts working with producer Norman Whitfield but I chose this version because here the group actually sings the song live.
9. Jimmy Ruffin - "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted"
I promise this is not going to be a Motown oldies show but this song by David Ruffin's brother is just so majestic I can't resist it. When Berry Gordy's hit factory was at its peak, there was nothing better.
8. Sophie B. Hawkins - "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover"
I said things would get different. I saw Sophie live several years ago and wearing just a flannel shirt, t-shirt and torn jeans she put out more animal energy and sexual heat than Beyonce, Lady Gaga and all those other glittery, overrated hoochie mamas currently ruling the pop world put together. It all depends on the singer and her songs, in this case, a miraculous gem of longing and passion. MTV, the noted reality show network, used to show music videos once upon a time and actually banned this one, showing a much tamer clip in its place. Some people can't handle the real thing.
7. Guided By Voices - "The Official Ironman Rally Song"
Robert Pollard, the leader of the band Guided By Voices, used to do something I did when I was a kid, make up titles and track listings for imaginary record albums. Unlike me though he actually progressed from that to becoming a musician. I haven't heard much of his work but this 1996 song started haunting me the first time I heard it. I don't know if it's the watery vocal sound or the gorgeous circular melody but something in this song often brings me near tears. This bizarrely sentimental video is great too.
6. Ornette Coleman - "Lonely Woman"
Finally some jazz, couresty of one of the most important musicians of the last fifty years. Ornette Coleman's music was once considered fraudulent and ugly. Listening to this early masterpiece now, that seems impossible. The blue cries of Ornette and Don Cherry are heartbreakingly beautiful int their humanity and the tension set up by Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins is perfect.
Soon, Numbers 1 - 5, featuring trips to Georgia and Seattle, Dostoevsky explained in 4 minutes and the Tao of Miles.