A YouTube Eclectic Music List to Get You Through Any Day

The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine,” Spoon, 2005. Despite coming from Austin, Texas, Spoon’s sound has always been decidedly British New Wave – as in Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, and The Squeeze.  In reality, Spoon’s comes from the long-term aesthetic partnership between lead singer and songwriter Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno, in whose Austin studio the band rehearses and prepares most of their songs. They just might be the best American rock and roll band in recent years with six outstanding albums under their belts since 1999. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGi0dWp22V8

“The Mountain’s High,” Dick and Deedee, 1961. God, there were some great songs that were hits when we were growing up! Dick and Deedee’s “The Mountain’s High” never even made it into the top five in the fall of 1961, and yet I just loved it then; I love it even more now. As a nearly seven-year-old at the time, I adored the pulsating drum patterns that framed the song. Today, it conjures up the innocence, expectancy, and capriciousness of the times. It was the kind of the music that spilled out of our radios like cascading droplets at the height of an early spring cloudburst. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJtTUR-qPqc&feature=kp

Southern Pacifica,” Josh Ritter, 2010.  Novelist, songwriter, musician, historian –  the quintessential Renaissance man  – Moscow, Idaho’s Josh Ritter is a sponge who soaks in everything that he has ever taken in and hurls it into his art. In this tune, he takes on a grand subject and breathes new air into it. Bought out by the Union Pacific Railroad whose colors were red, white, and blue, the Southern Pacifica was its main line; the track line led from Seattle to LA. The reference to Roxy Ann is actually the mountain in Oregon when the Southern Pacific railroad line ran past until it years ago. In every way, this is a lovely song, both wistful and sanguine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sH0UOpKcflc

“Jungleland,” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Recorded Live at the Capital Theatre in Passaic New Jersey, September 19, 1978.  Clarence “The Big Man” Clemons died too young from complications resulting from a strike at the age of 69 four years ago this month. For many Springsteenologists, this particular version of “Jungleland,” which features Clarence’s soaring saxophone solo, remains the best version of the masterwork ever recorded. Happily, through the auspices of WBCN in Boston, it was recorded live for Bruce’s longtime fans in the Northeast.  I originally recorded it on a series of cassettes when I was living and studying in Cambridge at the time, but thanks to the magic of the Internet, there are now links to it out there in seamless condition. Take the time to listen to this if you can. (Just click on to “No Title.” It’s a bootleg, after all.) You won’t be disappointed. RIP, Big Man. http://www.addictedtovinyl.com/media/bs091978/1-12%20Jungleland.mp3

“Sugaree,” Jackie Greene, 2010. Not only is he a gifted singer/songwriter, but Jackie Greene is an accomplished instrumentalist who has mastered the acoustic and electric guitar, harmonica, piano, organ and dobro. His music is a slice of Americana with influences ranging from Dylan, Springsteen, Son House, and Muddy Waters to Tom Waits and Howlin’ Wolf. For those who enjoy well crafted, roots music, backed with unconventional wisdom and lyricism, Jackie Greene demonstrates the capabilities and talent leading a new generation of musicians through the dusty back roads of American Roots Music to the promised land of new and innovative musical expression. Here he is performing the beloved Jerry Garcia-Dead standard, “Sugaree,” at the legendary Paradise in Boston, An absolute tour de force. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QecjOFCnR4c

“We’ll Sing in the Sunshine,” Gale Garnett, 1964. One of the truly great songs that was released sixty years ago released this month, “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” poignantly addresses the one constant for late summer and its persuasive connection to romantic love – it’s emphatically fleeting nature. Composed and performed by New Zealand’s Gale Garnett, the tune turned became an international hit that deservedly went to number one in fifteen different countries in September, 1964. A folk legend in her home country with several top ten hits Down Under, Garnett later admitted that she tried to sound as close to Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame. Her one-hit wonder in North America turned out to be one of the truly great songs written and recorded in a decade ladened with a wellspring of timeless classics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kzeCjluvxU

“Passenger,” Lisa Hannigan, 2012. Ireland’s Lisa Hannigan, has released two truly inspired solo albums over the past four years. In both albums, there’s a wellspring of jazz in the notes and phrases that she picks. Here, Lisa is singing the ninths, the elevenths of the chords…I mean some of the things sound like choices that Miles Davis would have made. With typical Irish, self-effacing humor, Hannigan describes her music as “a rather pedestrian alto who is backed up by broken-down, whezzy old instruments.” Trust me, she sounds refreshingly unique and all scrubbed-up and brand-new. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve2Qj281G0s

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” The Righteous Brothers, 1965.  Yes, the books of the New Testament are beautiful, but sometimes, you just have to go back to Genesis. When you listen to “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” you’re back in the Garden of Eden. Phil Spector might have been nuttier than a rat in a coffee can, but his Wall of Sound was pure, unadulterated genius.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTvU3BELZEo

“Valerie,” Amy Winehouse, 200, Live on the BBC. She had it. She had it in spades. Oh, Amy….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPnQrNF0-zk

“The Closer You Are,” The Channels, 1956. This is deservedly considered one of the two or three greatest doo-wop songs of all time. Frankie Valli claimed that the soaring falsetto here by Rudy Lewis was one of the main reasons that he decided to become a falsetto singer in the first place. Considering that the Channels never had another major hit, it was almost as if they reached for the moon and stars – and made it – on their opening salvo. “If you are able to somehow do that, then just walk away and smile,” Rudy Lewis said later on. Lewis would later go onto a much more successful group, the Drifters, later on.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYly2sGCBBE

 “Only Women Bleed,” Alice Cooper, 1975. While many remember this as a brilliant, impossibly catchy tune about a woman in an abusive marriage, what is interesting to recall is how the censors in the States misinterpreted the main phrase as somehow connected to menstruation. This is undoubtedly the most powerful and memorable ballad that Cooper ever wrote – and certainly deserved much more airplay than it received at the time. As the son of an abused mother, Cooper broke the chain of violence while taking the side of women everywhere here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id_LCECKb4E

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne, and Dhani Harrison, 2004, Recorded Live at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. While his talented son, Dhani, and his old Wilbury buddies, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, do themselves proud here in a tribute to the late George Harrison when he was inducted as a solo artist into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame ten years ago, it is Prince who reverently steals the show with his jaw-dropping guitar licks, especially during two featured solos of George’s classic rocker. While Hendrix and Clapton were named in a recent Rolling Stone poll as the top two guitarists in rock history, Prince came in third. Here is exhibit number one as to why that would be so. (be sure to watch from 3:30 on…) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SFNW5F8K9Y

“New Frontier,” Donald Fagin, 1982. The signature song of former Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagin’s masterpiece, The Nightfly, “New Frontier” is now considered one of the most unheralded, truly brilliant pieces of music written in the past thirty years. As Fagin himself writes, “The song captures certain fantasies that might have been entertained by a young man growing up in the remote suburbs of a northeastern city during the late fifties and early sixties.” The bountiful optimism of that time period is captured here in both words and music so seamlessly that I always thought that this ballad seamlessly blended Dave Brubeck with Paul Simon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8zrKnkd6ss

“Since I Fell for You,” Lenny Welch, 1963. Originally written in 1945 by renowned bandleader, Buddy, Johnson, he had his sister, Ella Johnson, record it later on that year, where it made the Top 20 and became a minor pop standard. Eighteen years later, the blues ballad had a revival, when smooth jazz vocalist Lenny Welsh took it to number 3 on the Billboard Top 100 in late November, 1963. Fifty-two years later, “Since I Fell For You,” – the number two song in both the US and Canada this week in ’63, remains an absolutely faultless ballad that has truly stood the test of time.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7xrQY_FLM4

“I’m Not in Love, 10CC, 1975. The metamorphosis of a truly great song – 10CC’s “I’m Not in Love,” is captured in an absolutely fascinating nine-minute song biography that gives you a new appreciation of inspired recording production.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq7oGenbp2I

“In State,” Kathleen Edwards, 2012. The pride of Hanover, New Hampshire and Boston University, Edwards has long been a staple in both Boston in New York become a national presence earlier this year. As cerebral as she obviously is, she is, at heart, a rocker. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QrLBURJLjQ#t=48


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