Greatest Folk Rock Songs

My “Greatest” Folk Rock Songs

The Byrds

To begin the ‘greatest of’ topic in my “Not all ‘Greatest of’ lists are created equal” post I talked about the creation of lists and then got a start on a list of my own. One does not have to be genius to come up with such a list but I do take some time to do my research. So to use a popular term these days I have ‘curated’ the songs, many of which you will find on other lists but I have my own take so perhaps you will learn something new.Read More »

Valentines Day Songs

Valentines Day Songs
(some of the happy and not so happy stories about love songs)

Not all songs with the title of “Valentines Day” are love songs. In fact many are not and some are quite depressing such as “Valentines Day” not surprisingly by Marilyn Manson. David Bowie’s “Valentines Day” is a about a mass shooting. Steve Earle has been married seven times which means he is either very good or very bad at it, his “Valentines Day” refrain sums it all up with an apologetic “I ain’t got a card to sign” sort of empty promises song. To be honest I have no idea what James Taylor’s “Valentines Day” is about at all and Billy Bragg definitively states “Valentines Day is Over” and it wasn’t a happy one. Linkin Park is not having a good “Valentines Day” either, not unlike “St. Valentine’s Day” from The Dream Academy.Read More »

Greatest Songs Lists

Greatest Songs Lists

Not all ‘Greatest of’ lists are created equal …
My thoughts on the ‘greatest of’ lists…and my own
Greatest Songs (Part 1 )

Let me add some music right off the bat here because as usual I’m going to be complicating things, but later I will squeeze in another four tunes. We will call this the “MMC (MostlyMusicCovers) Blog Greatest Songs List” (hey, I worked on that name for a good thirty seconds, can you tell?)
 

My choice for – Greatest Song of all time is  “Over the Rainbow”

 

 
 “Over the Rainbow” performed by Judy Garland in the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Music written by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. First recorded October 7, 1938, the movie was released August 12 1939. Judy would record this song July 28, 1939 for the cast recording album “The Wizard of Oz by Victor Young and His Orchestra”. I am not alone in my opinion that this is the best song period, not just from a movie but from anyone or anything. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has placed this as the 20th century’s #1 song and I find no fault in that choice. The brilliant melody by Harold Arlen who was a former staff writer at the Cotton Club had already composed Musicals and the classic “Stormy Weather”. He was struggling with coming up with the right song for the movie which came to him as his wife Anya Taranda was driving them to Grauman’s Chinese for dinner, they pulled over just past Schwab’s Drug Store on Sunset and he wrote the song there and then. He would go on to compose some of the most recognizable songs in American music. Just a short list of songs he wrote with a number of different lyricists includes; “That Old Black Magic”, “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” and “The Man That Got Away” from the original “A Star is Born”. Lyricist E.Y. (Yip) Harburg has written “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, “April in Paris” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon” as well as many Broadway productions.

The song was also released as a single by Decca Records on a 78 r.p.m. record as the 45 r.p.m was not invented yet (it came out in 1949). By the time Garlands record had been released in 1939 the song had already been covered five times, and has gone on to be recorded including instrumentals, into perhaps the thousands of times but officially documented at over 1100 times if you go by Secondhandsongs.com, eight of those versions in 2019 alone. Judy Garland had not only the most remarkable and beautiful voice but her performances both on screen and live on stage were trans-formative. That is to say audiences were taken away to another place, dare I say “over the rainbow” when she sang. There are few voices that compare to hers nor a person that can deliver a song like she did. All too often behind a performer we find a heartbreaking and sometimes tragic story. Judy Garland has such a story and you can read about in many places and also see a bit of insight in the new movie ‘Judy’.

There will never be anyone who can sing this song as well as Judy Garland, but there are many amazing attempts that give the original song enough justice to warrant some attention, especially this first cover by Zellweger from ‘Judy’, Renée Zellweger (2019) and a few of the better versions;  Octave (2019) Lady Gaga (2018), Pink (live at the Oscars 2014), Ariana Grande (2017), the little angel Jackie Evancho from 2012, a superb version from Susan Boyle (2012). Eva Cassidy’s version from 1992 would gain much deserved attention in the U.K. in particular two years after her passing in 1996 at age 33 from cancer. Of note there is a lead verse to the song that was omitted from the original performance but many cover versions and stage performances add it back in (some above) and others such as this one from Danielle Hope (2010), other great covers from; Eric Clapton (2002), Eva Cassidy (1992), Celine Dion (1985), Patti LaBelle and The Bluebelles (1966), Ray Charles (1963), Ella Fitzgerald (1961), Liza Minnelli at age 13 (1960),  Frank Sinatra (1947).

While the song came out before the music charts were created there is little doubt it would be a chart topper and it won the Academy Award in 1939 for Best Original Song. Various later recordings have hit the charts but none reaching the top 10.

What do I mean when I say “Not all ‘Greatest of’ lists are created equal”For me at least, the ‘criteria’ used to decide ‘the best’ is generally fraught with bias, be it due to genre, geography or perception. 

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