Friday Five: Favorites (part 2)

Here are five more favorite songs missing from my “impact albums” listing on Facebook. There’s probably a lot of repeats in here from lists of the past, but so be it:

5. “One” by Metallica (1988)
This song changed my life. From an album that’s about as solid as any the band put out…

4. “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos (1970)
The impact of this song on me is hard to measure. It keeps growing over time.

3. “Galileo” by the Indigo Girls (1992)
The best of what the Indigo Girls do is in the song. It also brings up fond memories of 1992.

2. “I Say a Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin (1968)
The amazing Aretha Franklin is far more amazing on any number of songs she’s recorded. There’s something about this that always captivated me though.

1. “The Weight” by The Band (1968)
When I first heard it, I felt like I had to hear it again. When I bought the album, I don’t think I got passed this one song for about three days.

Friday Five: Random

5. “Melody” by The Rolling Stones (1976)
I suppose the album Black and Blue is best known for Ronnie Wood, who became an official member of the band with its release (though they auditioned several potential replacements for Mick Taylor during the album’s recording). What stands out to me are the album’s eclectic sounds. It’s very bluesy at times, but also has nods to reggae and funk and, in this instance, jazz.

4. “What Am I Living For?” by Chuck Willis (1958)
I knew Chuck Willis for his version of “C.C. Rider,” which Elvis used to play in the 70s. When I heard this song I was struck by its sound. It’s got country tips with a soft back rhythm that swings so nice. Turns out it was his last (and biggest) hit, the B-side to the single “Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes,” released shortly before his death at the age of 32.

3. “Fade to Black” by Metallica (1984)
This song is from Metallica’s second album, the legendary Ride the Lightning. It’s one of my favorite songs by the band, although I didn’t hear it until the late 80s when I was in high school. It’s a fan favorite in their live shows. It took on another level of legendary on August 8, 1992, when James Hetfield caught on fire while singing it. It was also the last played song when the Long Beach station KNAC (which played heavy metal for LA listeners for a decade) went off the air.

2. “Nobody Told Me” by Vintage Trouble (2011)
I first saw Vintage Trouble when they were on Austin City Limits, back in 2016. I’ve been a fan ever since. There’s not a thing they do that I don’t like, and when you listen that’s not a surprise. They intentionally draw on some of the best in 50s and 60s R&B, mixed with so much more. Here’s a live version of the above, which showcases some of their talents better than the studio version can.

1. Zombie by the Cranberries (1994)
The best thing about this last week was when the Bad Wolves cover of this song came on the radio. The kids knew the song, which led to us talking about the Cranberries, the early death of Dolores O’Riordan, and the glories of the 90s. I made a little playlist of the greatest hits of Dolores and Crew, and the kids couldn’t get enough of her Irish brogue and vocal honesty. Here’s a live version of the song from 1994.

Friday Five: 1991

The early 1990s were an eclectic period in popular music and my tastes were no different. Combined with my (st)age––that powerful period in life when you’re actively discovering who you are and deciding who you want to be––my wide interests make me a fan of so many songs from those years.

Some of that is about the memories songs incite. When I hear “3 Strange Days” by School of Fish, for example, I am instantly transported to the job I worked each break from school, processing checks at two in the morning. Some of it is the ironic fanaticism of my generation, a way of seeing and judging that could make things as stupid as this both enjoyable and, somehow, meaningful.

There are a lot of songs from 1991 that I want to people to know about, songs I wish they played more often on the radio, songs that deserve to be played more often. But there’s no way I could get that list down to only five.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard at all to come up with the five songs that meant the most to me that year, songs that I obsessively played on repeat, again and again.

5. “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” (Boyz II Men)
A song of change and of transitions, a song of memories and love. I never stood a chance.

4. “Why Should I Cry for You” (Sting)
Sting made his 1991 album Soul Cages to process his father’s death. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time. I used to put on my head phones and push play, then just sail away…

3. “Lithium” (Nirvana)
It was an album that made me feel alive, confused, angry, powerful, and peaceful, all at the same time. This was the one I played the most, the one that made me feel his genius.

2. “Nothing Else Matters” (Metallica)
I bought Metallica’s “Black Album” the day of its release. I remember being surprised by the melodies. I thought it was the end of Metallica, and one of the best albums I had ever heard. This was my Gen X anthem.

1. “Black” (Pearl Jam)
I loved Pearl Jam’s Ten for the way it made me feel. It was like these guys were playing the soundtrack of my guts, in sound and words.