My Top 10 Songs of All Time
My Top 10 Songs of All Time
by David Bash
Without any ado, and with no reservations whatsoever…
10. Chalkhills and Children-XTC (1989): The first of two “last song on their album” in my Top 10. Andy Partridge and company had recently tackled that “Beach Boys influenced thing” on their Dukes of Stratosphear guise with “Pale and Precious”, and while I think that one is great as well, I love this one even more, maybe because it doesn’t seem as much like a direct cop. It’s magnificent in its majesty and, like several others in my Top 10, its coda is breathtaking.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard this song: Rodney Bingenheimer (The Mayor of The Sunset Strip) had an advance copy of the Oranges and Lemons album, and also had Brian Wilson on his radio show. Rodney played “Chalkhills” for Brian, and afterwards told Brian “Andy Partridge is a big fan of yours, Brian”. Wilson, who was still very uncomfortable during interviews, just gave a Rainman-like “yeah”, and that was pretty much all she wrote. For YouTube video click here.
9. Melanie-The Nines (2001): I was honoured when Nines mainman Steve Eggers brought the brand new album on which this song resides, Properties Of Sound, directly to my house in July of 2001, a few days before The Nines were to play IPO Los Angeles. I fell in love with “Melanie” immediately (and with a real woman named Rina a month later) as it has everything I love in a song: a powerful melody, dizzying background vocals, and some of the coolest chord changes known to man or woman. The bridge may be THE most transcendent moment for me in any song.
Although the song has nothing to do with her, the artist Melanie recorded a song which would likely be in my all-time Top 30. For YouTube video click here.
8. Maggie May-Rod Stewart (1971): I was supremely fortunate to have two Bar-Mitzvahs in September of 1971, one in Israel and one in my home state of New York. After I got back from Israel, my friend Larry Schulman (who came to my U.S. Bar Mitzvah) exclaimed, “wait until you hear this song that’s been playing on WABC since you’ve been gone”, and gave me a cassette with “Maggie May”. Although he’d recorded it with a primitive cassette recorder on a tape which would make a TDK D Series sound state of the art (or, maybe BECAUSE he did this), I’d never heard anything so great. “Maggie May” sounded otherworldly to me, or at least from another time and place, and the lo-fidelity forced the one awesome, sustained keyboard note to the forefront…and it was magical…and was my all-time favorite song for several years after that.
Time, thousands and thousands of songs, and finally hearing “Maggie May” on a quality stereo has not moved it out of the Top 10, and maybe never will. For YouTube video click here.
7. ‘Til I Die-The Beach Boys (1971): My favorite song by my favorite band. Awhile back I wrote a piece on my Top 10 Beach Boys songs; since I can’t think of anything better to write about ‘Til I Die than what I wrote in that piece, I’ll repost it here…
This one codifies everything about The Beach Boys for me. The amazing, angelic harmonies that burst immediately into my head, the percussive background that bounces all around my brain, the lyrical images that permeate my every pore, and the howling of the “wind” that almost frightens me, but in a comforting kind of way…and the refrain! What more can be said, really? For YouTube video click here.
6. This Is The Story Of My Love (Baby)-Wizzard (1974): Roy Wood had done several songs in this vein in the early to mid ’70s, but for me this one pretty much has it all, including “come hither” saxophone riffs and an amazingly Spectorian production. Very sexy, very romantic, (almost) unsurpassingly beautiful. For YouTube video click here.
5. You Are Everything-The Stylistics (1971): In December of ’71 my family moved from Poughkeepsie, New York about 40 miles south to a town called New City. I had just been coming into my own in Poughkeepsie; after having overcome years of being picked on and/or shunned I was beginning to get kinda popular and (yikes!) there was even a beautiful girl who liked me! Having to move was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life because I knew I would have to “start all over again”, and I was terrified at just the thought of that. This song, among several others that WABC had in rotation at the end of 1971, helped bring me comfort during those difficult times.
This amazingly poignant love song was produced and co-written by the great Thom Bell, who is definitely on my bucket list of people I need to meet. For YouTube video click here.
4. Together Now, Very Minor-Game Theory (1987): The first of two videos I put up myself because I didn’t think anyone else would…
I’ll never forget it: earlier in 1987 I had first heard Game Theory at (I believe) Rasputin Records in Berkeley, as they were playing “Erica’s Word” over their sound system. I was immediately hooked, and bought the album on which it resides, The Big Shot Chronicles. A few months later I found out that Game Theory had a new album, Lolita Nation. It was Thanksgiving Day, and I was up in LA to go to T’giving Dinner with my family, but I rushed out to Tower Records on Sunset Blvd. and bought it. I went back to my brother’s apartment and played the album all the way through, thinking: some really good stuff, some stuff that’s totally out there (side 3, mainly), and by the time I got to the third song on Side 4 (double album, folks), I thought “the album’s good, but not quite transcendent”…and then “Together Now, Very Minor” came on…and I was absolutely mesmerized. I played it over and over, about 10 times in a row, something I probably hadn’t done with any song in several years.
In the late ’90s Game Theory main man Scott Miller came down to LA to do a show, at Spaceland. I asked him if he would play “Together Now, Very Minor”, and he did! A few years later Scott played IPO San Francisco, and introducing him was one of the most difficult things I had to do at IPO; I was just total fanboy, spewing out superlative after superlative. After the show, he told me “I had a hard time going on after THAT introduction”.
Scott Miller was one of the most inventive songwriters of all-time. His untimely death was tragic. May he rest in peace. For YouTube video click here.
3. Dear Brian-Chris Rainbow (1978): There have been several odes to the great Brian Wilson, but this one, by this “Glasgow Boy” is definitely my favourite, partially because it’s so beautiful, and partially because it seems to be the most genuine. The final 90 seconds completely send me over the moon…
In November of 1979 I took a trip to London; it was a quest to find records I’d read about but couldn’t get in the U.S., as well as perhaps more that I hadn’t known about. On the top of the list were the first two albums by Chris Rainbow, Home Of The Brave and Looking Over My Shoulder (on which “Dear Brian” appears). My good friend Jeff Harris, via his friend Phil Page, had turned me on to these albums a few months earlier, but all I had was a cassette recording of them. Back then you couldn’t get even the coolest U.S. record shops to order one copy of anything from the UK, so I had to go there in the hope of finding these and other albums. When I got there one of the first shops I went to was HMV on Oxford Street. I figured I’d start in the “Rock R” section to see if the Chris Rainbow albums were there, but alas they weren’t…but then, lo and behold, behind the “Rock R” section was a card that said “Chris Rainbow” and behind that…Looking Over My Shoulder!! I don’t think my heart ever jumped so hard in a record shop, before or since! A few days later I found Home Of The Brave at another shop, and my mission was complete.
I’m honoured to call Chris Rainbow (under his real name, Chris Harley) a Facebook friend. He sometimes talks of recording a new album, and I hope it happens! For YouTube video click here.
2. Wuthering Heights-Kate Bush (1978): I first heard Kate Bush on WNEW-FM in early ’78; it was “Moving”, the first song on her The Kick Inside album. A more apt title there never was, as I was move than “moved”; I was mesmerized, tantalized, pulverized, and every other “ized” I can think of. Who WAS this woman? Was she from the past, or maybe the future-she certainly didn’t seem to be of the present! Soon afterward I bought the album, and although I was already captivated by her, one look at her photos and I was smitten…as I’m sure at least a million other guys (and gals) my age (or older/younger) were as well.
“Wuthering Heights” quickly became my favourite song on the album. I’ve always fantasized about…well, if Felix Unger were a real person and, knowing his hatred for rock ‘n roll and love of classical/opera…playing this song for him and seeing what he thought. Perhaps he’d have liked it. Silly, I know…
By the end of 1978, “Wuthering Heights” became my favourite song of all-time, and stayed that way for another 20 years, until the song I’m going to talk about next took over…
For YouTube video click here.
1. Slow Down-Beagle (1992): The second of two Top 10 songs I posted myself on You Tube. For awhile the powers at be at Universal took it down, but fortunately allowed it again about a month ago…
In the summer of 1992 I was hanging out with my friend Steve “Spaz” Schnee, who showed me a review in Q Magazine of the album from which “Slow Down” comes, Sound On Sound. In it were mentions of so many of my touchstones: The Beach Boys, The Association, The Left Banke, and other bands I liked such as Crowded House. I didn’t need to see anymore; I immediately called my good friend Phil Galloway, who owned Off The Record in San Diego, and asked him to order the CD for me, pronto! A couple of weeks later he called me and said “David, listen to this”, and it was the opening 30 seconds of the first song on the album, “And So It Goes On”. I immediately exclaimed, “I’ll be right down!”, and drove the 80 miles to the store and bought it. When I got home I played it within about 10 seconds, and it did not disappoint, and currently resides in my Top 10 albums of all-time. Although several songs on the album I would count among my favourites, “Slow Down” rose to the top pretty quickly, and by the end of 1998 took its place as my favourite song of all-time.
Every girlfriend I’ve had since Sound On Sound was released has loved the album, and Slow Down always became a fave for them as well…or, at least that’s what they told me!
In 2001 I realized one of my dreams when Beagle came all the way from Sweden to play IPO Los Angeles. Their lead singer/songwriter Magnus Borjeson is truly a genius, and anyone who doesn’t have Sound On Sound, or, for that matter, Beagle’s second album, Within, needs to find them like…immediately. For YouTube video click here.
A few random observations about my Top 10 songs…
1. Five countries were represented: England (4), The U.S. (3), Canada (1), Scotland (1), and Sweden (1).
2. Four decades were represented: the ’70s (6), the ’80s (2), the ’90s (1) and the ’00s (1).
3. Although the ’60s are easily my second favorite decade for music, no songs from that decade managed to make my Top 10 and, almost by extention, no songs from my second favorite band, The Beatles (or, for that matter, nothing from my third favorite band, The Monkees). Of course, that’s how Top 10s are sometimes: lots and lots of great things get left out. I haven’t yet worked out my list past #10, but my guess is at least three songs from the ’60s would fall between #11-20, including one by The Beatles.
4. This was FUN! I’d love to see some comments on the songs!