I'm not so much concerned about showing my age -- what does concern me is revealing what a dweeb I am. Most of my friends prefer real manly, beef-flavored music like The Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash, and I like that sort of thing, too, in its place . . . but, secretly, in my heart of hearts, I've always harbored a shameful love of smarmy Easy Listening ballads.
I owned every album by The Partridge Family that ever came out. I still do. Don't hate me for it.
Give me The Moody Blues and The Carpenters any day over The Rolling Stones. While others were listening to Pink Floyd, I was listening to my grandmother's records by the Mystic Moods Orchestra.
I know. Most of you are now pointing at your mouths and making gagging gestures. Sorry about that, but a person has to be who they are. I love elevator music. There, I've said it. I am free, now!
So when I discovered the power of ITunes a week or so ago, I began tracking down creaking oldies like there was no tomorrow. For the past three nights I've been up until after three AM, searching, ooooh child, searching ever-y wee-yee-yee-utch way-ee-ay-ee-ayee for old musical friends.
And last night I burned a 24-song compilation onto disk, have been playing it more or less continuously since then.
Speaking as a creative person, it is not a creative act to edit a short story collection or to compile a playlist. But for the compiler it does carry a kind of creative feeling, and the selection inevitably says more about the person picking the songs than it does about the songs themselves.
Here then, is my playlist -- with some commentary along the way:
- A Summer Place -- Percy Faith
- One Less Bell to Answer - The Fifth Dimension (I loved this group. They contributed nothing in terms of songwriting, but they knew how to make a song their own. Once, long ago, a friend proposed a party where only LIVE albums could be played as music. I chimed in with "I've got a Live album by The Fifth Dimension!! -- The room fell silent.)
- We've Only Just Begun -- The Carpenters
- I'll Never Fall in Love Again -- Dionne Warwicke (I was quite little when this one came out. I always liked Dionne a lot until she became a psychic call-line con artist).
- Alone Again (Naturally) -- Gilbert O'Sullivan (I never did understand the words until I heard the song on the radio again last year, and then they hit me hard. In particular, the verse "I remember I cried when my father died | Never wishing to hide the tears | And at sixty-five years old, | My mother, God rest her soul, | Couldn't understand why the only man | She had ever loved had been taken | Leaving her to start with a heart So badly broken | Despite encouragement from me | No words were ever spoken | When she passed away | I cried and cried all day | Alone again, naturally" are as honest and hard as any you'll find in a bouncy little pop ballad)
- Galveston -- Glan Campbell
- Both Sides Now -- Judy Collins
- Ave Maria -- The Carpenters (the song is a family favorite, and although my favorite version is the one at the end of Fantasia, Karen does a nice job with it here)
- The Lord's Prayer -- Sister Janet Mead (this might seem like an odd entry for a crusty skeptic, but I've always loved it. Sister Mead's singing is sweet and clear, and in particular the bridge of the song is just lovely. I wore out that part of my 45 copy by playing it over and over again)
- Jean -- Oliver (I know some people who would run screaming from the room if I played this song for them. I love it.)
- A Daisy a Day -- Jud Strunk (I saw Strunk live once, at the Thaxter Theater, home of the Portland Players. This was before he turned up as a regular on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. His brand of regional comedy didn't appeal to me any more than Tim Sample's does to this day, but he wrote hisseff a nice song here.)
- Close to You -- The Carpenters
- My Father -- Judy Collins (I first heard this beautiful song when Melanie did a terrific cover of it on her album Good Book)
- Sugar, Sugar -- The Archies (Pour a little sugar on it, honey!! -- somehow, I think that might sting!)
- The Morning After -- Maureen McGovern (I'd listen to her sing one of George W. Bush's speeches if I had to)
- The soundtrack cut for this post. Click here to find out what it is!
- Angel of the Morning -- Merilee Rush (the only song on the compilation that I had to pay for. I just could not find this version anywhere. Juice Newton did a very competent cover, but it doesn't create the mood that this one does)
- San Francisco -- Scott McKenzie (I never knew until just last night that Papa John Phillips wrote this song!)
- I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing -- The New Seekers (still can't play this without hearing the Coke lyrics in my head. Mom loved this song and I've always liked it.)
- Top of the World -- The Carpenters
- Can You Read My Mind -- Maureen McGovern (wish they'd used this version in Superman: The Movie instead of Margot Kidder's spoken-word rendition that bleeds the romance right out of it)
- I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes -- Jim Stafford (yes, it really is, kind of, a love song, about lad who doesn't know what to do with a crush!)
- Right Down the Line -- the recently late Gerry Rafferty. And the perfect closing tune:
- Put a Little Love in Your Heart -- Jackie DeShannon
Now I can put this CD on the player and putter around the house with little hearts, flowers and stars flying out of me just like a damn cartoon character.
There was one song that I couldn't find, because I couldn't remember its name or the name of the artist. This afternoon, it finally came to me: Love is Blue.
Can you sense the beginning of another compilation?
P.S. staying up until three AM three nights in a row does not make a person a very good employee by the third morning!