The one thing that all my favorite songs have in common is they make me feel more alive. On a slow day, they remind me of some part of myself I had forgotten, neglected, buried -- some sad sack slice of my spirit. Another day, a song makes me slap my knee and cackle. So, in picking eleven songs, I’ll choose ones I’ve lived with (or, rather, that have lived with me) for at least twenty years in the blue and fire shades of Life.
1. Jesse Fuller | San Francisco Bay Blues
This song never fails to make me happy. His voice, the kazoo, the junkyard chunk, the rhythm of the words. Did I mention the kazoo?
2. Ben E. King | Stand By Me
Always gorgeous and sweet sounding in King’s voice. A song that even withstands Karaoke -- no matter how wretched -- so long as you mean it.
3. George Michael | Careless Whisper
Dramatic blue-eyed 80s Soul at its best.
4. Bruce Springsteen | For You
Bossman in his most Ginsberg meets puppy love phase.
5. Kris Kristofferson | Help Me Make It Through The Night
There’s a man sitting alone with an empty beer can. It was once full.
6. Fred Neil | The Dolphins
Here to remind us of our small place in a big world.
7. Chuck Berry | Maybellene
Every song on The Great Twenty-Eight. Out of all the early Rock-N-Rollers, Chuck’s my man. He invented fist-meet-dashboard.
8. Tim Hardin | Reason To Believe
I find myself humming this song almost daily since I first heard it in 1991.
9. Grateful Dead | Ripple
Garcia’s voice and Robert Hunter’s pen.
10. Lou Reed | Satellite Of Love
There’s very little Lou Reed that I don’t love. Grim, sweet, funny, dark. Lou made the world a safer place for all of us.
+11. Otis Redding | (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
Maybe my favorite song in 7th grade, and not just because of the whistling. Still is.