Larry McKenna – tenor saxophone Tony Miceli – vibraphone Matthew Parrish – bass Dan Monaghan – drums
Its not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me, oh no
Its just the nearness of you
It isn't your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation, oh no
Its just the nearness of you
When you're in my arms and I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams come true
I need no soft lights to enchant me
If you'll only grant me the right
To hold you ever so tight
And to feel in the night the nearness of you.
Longtime readers of this blog may know of my obsession with this song, as I’ve posted various versions over the years. This time we go operatic with Beverly Sills. One thing about Ms. Sills–you never worry that she won’t hit the high notes.
My younger brother, David, who has a large family, was telling me how he loves to give his family various games to play at the dinner table at family occasions. At one point he proposed the following–what are your top 50 song recordings of all time? Here’s the caveat though–only one song allowed per artist (though we agreed you may choose The Beatles and a separate John Lennon solo song, for example). David’s family answers were fun to hear about, because his children range from their early teens to thirty.
After telling me about some of his own picks, David asked me about mine. So I thought about it for quite a while, and then I wrote up this list. It was tough! Because at some point I realized that there were lots of songs that used to mean a lot to me, but I haven’t heard them in a while. And often there were artists who were important to me, but no single song stood out. Also you could get trapped within one genre of music and leave out others that you had forgotten about. So my criteria became this: What songs could I not live without at this point? What songs, if you told me I could never hear them again, would make me feel sad?
There’s only one cheat here–#6, because technically the song was recorded while George was a Beatle. But the song is so identified with George, that I think I should be allowed to get away with it. I notice in shame almost no song is from after the 70s! If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll probably recognize more than a few here. Feel free to contribute your own list.
In no particular order:
1. If You Could Read My Mind–Gordon Lightfoot
2. My Favorite Things–John Coltrane
3. Hey Jude–Beatles
4. Famous Blue Raincoat–Leonard Cohen
5. Suzanne–Judy Collins
6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps–George H.
7. Like A Rolling Stone–Dylan
8. All The Things You Are–Ella Fitzgerald
9. If I Loved You–Carousel
10. Pleasures of the Harbor–Phil Ochs
11. God Only Knows–The Beach Boys
12. Tell Her No–The Zombies
13. Billy Jean—Michael J.
15. Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying–Gerry and the Pacemakers
16. Runaround Sue–Dion
17. Stay–the original
18. The Weight–The Band
19. Dawn–The Four Seasons
20. Maria–West Side Story
21. If I had a Hammer–Pete Seeger or Peter Paul and Mary version
22. The Lion Sleeps Tonight–The Tokens
23. You Can’t Hurry Love–The Supremes
24. Good Morning Heartache–Billie Holiday
25. The Boxer–Simon and Garfunkel
26. Hearts and Bones–Paul Simon
27. 525,600 minutes–Rent
28. All I Want–Joni Mitchell
29. Reason to Believe–TIm Hardin
30. Maggie Mae–Rod Stewart
31. Killing Me Softly–Roberta Flack
32. The Harder They Come–Jimmy Cliff
33. Georgia–Ray Charles
34. You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling–The Righteous Brothers
35. A Change is Gonna Come–Sam Cooke
36. I Only Want To Be With You–Dusty Springfield
37. Summer’s End–John Prine
38. Stayin’ Alive–The Bee Gees
39. American Pie–Don McLean
41. Take Five–Dave Brubeck
42. Rhapsody in Blue–Gershwin
43. Midnight Train to Georgia–Gladys Knight and the Pips
44. Sweet Dreams are Made of This–Eurythmics
45. I Will Survive–Gloria Gaynor
46. It’s Too Late, Baby–Carole King
47. Compared to What–Eddie Harris/Les McCann
48. Doctor My Eyes–Jackson Browne
49. Sweet Baby James–James Taylor
50. Do You Know The Way To San Jose?–Dionne Warwick
Monday morning, after a miserable wet weekend here in New York, Neil Sedaka (still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!) seems well-nigh giddy, and doesn’t seem to mind that his auditory hallucinations are compounding rapidly.
Monday Morning, Don McLean in a great re-make of “American Pie,” fifty years later. At last, all the verses again–not like the awful truncated version from Madonna. McLean is accompanied by the wonderful acapella group, Home Free. As always, not an instrument in sight; all the percussion you hear are mouth sounds from band member Adam Rupp, in the short-sleeve purple T-shirt. See here if you don’t believe it.
Once, when McLean was asked what the song meant, he replied, “It means I’ll never have to work again if I don’t want to.”