10 favorite songs on a given day

Good Vibrations label

Every year for a while now, I’ve participated in a poll at musicradio77.com to choose the top 77 songs of all time.

The site is devoted to the memory of ABC, the dominant Top 40 radio station in New York City at 770 AM while I was growing up in what is laughingly referred to as rural New Jersey. People vote on their favorite songs, which are posted the week after Christmas.

Some of my entries are always the same, while others change from year to year. I often do it off the top of my head, knowing I’ll remember one or more as soon as I irrevocably click “Submit.” This year I realized, too late, that I’d forgotten my favorite band, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and that I had waxed poetically on several occasions recently about “Ripplin’ Waters.”

Whatever. Here is the list I submitted this year, a list of my favorite recordings on one snapshot of a day in late November 2017.

1. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

2. The Word – Sara Groves

3. Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly – Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

4. Born On The Bayou – Creedence Clearwater Revival

5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles

6. (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet – The Reflections

7. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

8. Rockin’ Pneumonia and Boogie Woogie Flu – Johnny Rivers

9. I Think We’re Alone Now – Tommy James & The Shondells

10. You Just May Be The One – The Monkees

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The one with the Beatles comparisons

uwabnrI gave a presentation about the Beatles to the Door County Historical Society on Monday night, and I had some technical difficulties when I tried to give a couple of examples of how the mono and stereo mixes of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band were different. I said I’d post the old Uncle Warren’s Attic podcast when I made the same comparisons, and so here it is!

Click here to reach Uncle Warren’s Attic #8

The Sgt. Pepper stuff is in the first 8-9 minutes. Thanks for coming tonight!

Still Circlin’ Back with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Circlin Back 2

Two years now, and the memory of that night still makes me smile.

I’ve had a handful of concert experiences that still leave me breathless remembering them – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band back in 1984, the Brian Wilson band doing “Smile” – but the most exhilarating night of them all was Sept. 14, 2015, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Friends at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The venue, the band, the performances, the crowd, all came together in the magical way that music can.

And how blessed we are to have a permanent video record – PBS turned it into an hourlong pledge drive feature with an extended DVD. Even though it’s not complete, the TV show captures the celebratory spirit of that night, when the band marked its 50th anniversary with some of the singers and songwriters they met on their journey. Continue reading

Hey, hey, we’re still listening

pleasant valley sunday

I flicked on the oldies station and there was Micky Dolenz singing “Pleasant Valley Sunday” same as he always did. It occurred to me, as stuff like this often does, that I was listening to what Micky and his colleagues did 50 years ago.

The Monkees were criticized, and often harshly, for not being authentic because they weren’t a “real” band – they were the Pre-Fab Four, a group of young men hired to portray the band in a TV show about a mythical band.

And yet, the music has endured for 50 years. The people who created The Monkees – and that includes the four musicians who were hired to be The Monkees – perceived one important fact: If you’re going to create a fantasy about a popular band, then the band’s music ought to be good enough to be popular. How often does the suspension of disbelief fail because the “popular band” in the story just isn’t that good?

Nope, The Monkees – especially those first four albums or so – made good music. Fifty-years-later-good music. Take that, non-believers.

10 albums that left a lasting impact on teen w.p.

There is a thing going around Facebook: List 10 albums that made a lasting impression on you as a teenager but only one per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too hard.

OK, I can do that, although I almost forgot I was still a teenager the first year and a half of college; otherwise I was drawing a blank. Probably thinking too hard.

In the order they occurred to me, not a ranking:

1. Sgt. Pepper – Beatles
2. Ladies of the Canyon – Joni Mitchell
3. On the Threshold of a Dream – Moody Blues
4. Bayou Country – Creedence Clearwater Revival
5. Lazarus – Lazarus
6. Cellophane Symphony – Tommy James & the Shondells
7. Headquarters – The Monkees
8. Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
9. Judee Sill – Judee Sill
10. Kongos – John Kongos

And of all those albums, the track that started buzzing through my head as I compiled the list was this one. I bought the album based solely on the radio play of “Proud Mary” at that moment in time plus a magazine article I’d read with John Fogerty describing their musical mission. By the end of this first track I was a diehard fan.

I should go through the list and do a post on some of those more obscure titles. Got any favorites from your own teenage years?