Monday, July 2, 2012

My 25 Favorite Songs Part IV

10) “Woman”—John Lennon, 1980. This is a “time-and-place” song for me, having first heard it within days of Lennon’s being killed. I was an emerging Beatles nut at the time and had no idea what his death would mean for every person who would ever come to worship at the Beatles altar. This love letter to Yoko Ono is musical romance at its straightforward best. And thank God he got to say it before it was too late. “Let me tell you again and again and again…I love you, now and forever.”

9) “Achin’ To Be”—The Replacements, 1988. I’ve gone into depth about my love for the Replacements. This is not their best song, but it’s my favorite. Paul Westerberg was his generation’s finest songwriter, and his hoodlum poetics never sounded so sad, elegant, and lonely as this waking look at weary self-discovery (it even includes a wry gender-flop to give it an air of further detachment.) He’s written dozens of take-your-breath-away lyrics before and since, but this is Westerberg at his mature best. “She’s kinda like a poet who finds it hard to speak; the poems come so slowly, like the colors down a sheet.”

8) “Why Worry”— Dire Straits, 1985. A hushed, lullaby-like ballad spotlighting the water magic of Mark Knopfler’s Stratocaster. Pretty and seductive – I used to drift off to sleep at the end of some late, late college nights with this playing.“Just when this world seems mean and cold, our love comes shining red and gold, and all the rest is by the way.”

7) “Fall on Me” —R.E.M., 1986. Just a beautiful rock song, with wondrous descending harmony and melody lines that seem to go on forever and an undeniable pop hook. R.E.M. was music for people who felt different and needed something different; a club for people who didn’t belong to clubs. And this may very well be their best song, as well as my favorite. “Buy the sky and sell the sky, and bleed the sky and tell the sky, ‘Don’t fall on me.’”

6) “Rain”—Beatles, 1966. Probably written as a throwaway, but this is the height of Lennon’s fuzzy psychedalia and musical mathematics. It led to dozens of barely listenable hippy-dippy copycats, but this one is the genuine article. The first time I heard it was as a kid, finding it buried on Side 2 of the Hey Jude collection, just when I thought they couldn't get any better. The harmonies are magical, and Ringo’s at his very best, too. "Shine, the weather’s fine.”

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