Significant Songs (133)

Cry Me Out

Regular readers will know that I have a fondness for British female solo singers, and can be unusually affected by otherwise trite little pop songs. This has been evidenced by my inclusion of Duffy, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, and Sam Brown, among others.

Pixie Lott is a 26 year-old British singer, as well as a some-time actress, TV presenter, and general celebrity. She has apparent boundless enthusiasm, and pops up all over the place, most recently as a judge on the talent show, ‘The Voice’. Her southern accent and crinkly hair make her stand out from the crowd of more stylish performers, and her appeal to young record buyers is undeniable.

Considering her age, she has been around for a long time, signing her first record deal at the age of fifteen, whilst attending a stage school. She has also written songs for other artists, and now runs her own version of that same stage school, in Essex. So what is a record from this pretty young lady doing on this old man’s blog? (I hear you ask)

In 2009, I was driving along in my car, and heard a record on the radio. Stuck in heavy traffic in London, I turned up the volume, and sat and enjoyed this old fashioned song, with its ‘heartbroken ballad’ style. I surmised it was something from the back catalogue of someone I didn’t know, and eagerly awaited the announcement of the singer’s name when the record ended. I was amazed to discover that it was a new release, from someone apparently very popular, who I had never heard of. But I thought it was a great song.

And I still do.

A Musical A-Z: E

Up to ‘E’ already, and it is surprising how many possibilities there are for this letter.
Don’t forget to play along with your choices. Any song, album, or named artist, as long as the name begins with ‘E’.

It couldn’t be ‘E’ without The Eagles now, could it? So much a part of the musical establishment, it it often easy to forget just how good they are. I suppose that ‘Desperado’ is the obvious choice, especially as I missed it (deliberately) off of ‘D’. But I will go with the first Eagles single I ever bought.
Take It Easy

Previous experience on this blog has shown me that not as many people love the music of the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) as much as I do. But as it’s my blog, they are going to feature, you can be sure of that. I like so many of their songs, I might have them popping up all over the place. But here’s one to start with.
Telephone Line

I have never been secretive about my love for Madonna. I will agree that she has gone on rather too long, and is in danger of one day appearing live from an old people’s home. However, her early career showed promise, and she became a pop powerhouse that will live on for as long as people ever play records. Without Madonna, there would never have been a Lady Gaga. The great styles and looks, the lovely face, wonderful figure, and above all, the innovative videos used to promote her work. If you didn’t like the song, it didn’t matter. Just watch her. She more or less had it all. Acting, (sort-of) sex appeal (definitely) great songs (no question) and a terrific dancer too. Here’s one for ‘E’
Express Yourself

Ever been attracted to a band because of the name? I have. I also liked this song from them, but only this one. I have the single in a box somewhere, so make do with listening to it on You Tube these days. It takes me back, and creates fond memories in my mind. And I have no idea why. But whatever you think of it, you have to agree that Martha and The Muffins is a great name.
Echo Beach

At the time, Hazel O’Connor was a rather abrasive young British woman who had a (just) decent voice, and also acted in a few films. I was quite taken with her style though, and chose to ignore the hype of her ‘wild child’ past. She’s still around, now aged 62. But this was her heyday, in 1980.
Eighth Day

I am well known for my love of soulful sounds and funky stuff, as well as liking a lot of female vocalists and girl groups too. I also confess to a weakness for big ballads and torch songs. This song from En Vogue manages to wrap all of that up in one (for me) very appealing package. Play it very loud.
Don’t Let Go

Following on from that theme, another big ballad and classic soul song. This time from a boy band, Boyz to Men. Whether you like this kind of music or not, you will find yourself relating to the song, if you have ever lost in love.
End of The Road

My top pick today is a song from as long ago as 1944, written by the wonderful talent that was Cole Porter. Perhaps most associated with the divine voice of Ella Fitzgerald these days, it has been covered by almost everyone you can think of, including a very good version in modern times, by Simply Red. It is an example of how a truly great song can endure, and will no doubt live on. I dearly wanted to feature the version by Jimmy Scott, as I had the privilege to watch him perform it live, in Ronnie Scott’s club in London. Sadly, the clips of that are not allowed to be accessed from the UK. So here is Simply Red’s version, with a suitably nostalgic video.
Every Time We Say Goodbye

A Musical A-Z: D

Continuing the series, don’t forget you can use any artist, song, or album beginning with ‘D’. Feel free to add your choices, and to play along.

British band Liquid Gold were pretty much a one hit wonder, in 1980. Their simple and rather bad pop song ‘Dance Yourself Dizzy’ was a popular hit, selling over a quarter of a million, and reaching number two in the charts. Unpretentious, and unashamedly lacking in style, it nonetheless caught the imagination of many record buyers, including me. Lead vocalist Ellie Hope was perhaps aware of her shortcomings, but gave herself 100% to the performance. For me, it is just unbridled nostalgia. Happy times.
Dance Yourself Dizzy

Desmond Dekker was a Jamaican-born Ska and Reggae artist who enjoyed a lot of success in the UK. He made the charts with ‘007’, ‘It Mek’, and ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’. But for me, this 1968 release remains a real anthem of my teenage years, and almost fifty years later, my toes are still tapping to it. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the lyrics, nobody does…

In 1964, Martha and The Vandellas released their version of a song that has been covered many times since. When Motown was riding high with its distinctive sound, they brought us the marvellous ‘Dancing In The Street’, co-written by Marvin Gaye, and one of many hits from this girl group over the years. For me, it sums up a time in my life, and a sound that I still adore. Ignore the later cover versions, and relish this one instead.
Dancing In The Street

Irish band Thin Lizzy enjoyed great popularity in the UK, until the early death of their lead singer and guitarist, Phil Lynott, in 1986. Perhaps best known for their massive hit, ‘The Boys Are back In Town’, this track also featured highly in their record sales, and became associated with them forever, despite being a cover version of the King Harvest original.
Dancing In The Moonlight

I didn’t feature the Beach Boys under ‘B’. That was because I knew I would be adding songs they had recorded to this list. The enduring genius of Brian Wilson and the rest of the band never fails to amaze. It is arguable that no vocal group has ever harmonised so well, nor adapted their style across time periods and genres with such success. Here is their lamentably short song, Darlin’.

And just to add to the magic, here they are again, with the plaintive, Don’t Worry, Baby.
Don’t Worry, Baby

Perhaps best known from the Mamas and Papas version, this wonderful crescendo of sound from The Shirelles, (though previously recorded by the 5 Royales) is yet another anthem of my youth. Originally released by the girl group in 1959, it was re-released in 1961, when I was only nine years old. Despite my age at the time, I loved it immediately, and still do. The version that became a huge hit for The Mamas and Papas was not released until 1967, but by then I had long owned the Shirelles superior recording.
Dedicated To The One I Love

Steely Dan make my top pick again, and no apologies. I have no doubt they will feature many times before this A-Z concludes. Another masterful tune from the greatest band of that era. Wallow in the quality…
Deacon Blues

That has just scratched the surface of ‘D’. So, I have left you so much to add. Off you go!

beetleypete’s A-Z Film Challenge … The List: A-L

Susan Toy has compiled a list of all my recommendations from the recent A-Z Film Challenge. She has also added every film choice from all those who commented, and made a complete list, in two parts. Here’s part one, with my sincere thanks to Susan for her real labour of love.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

During the Merrie Month of May, I discovered (through friend Felicity Harley’s reblogging of it) a series of posts by a new-to-me UK blogger, beetleypete, titled A-Z Film Challenge. I was late coming into the challenge with my own suggestions (I didn’t begin commenting until around the “L” post, I think), but I was pleased to see that Pete’s series had already attracted a great deal of attention and further recommendations from his blog’s readers that it seemed as though a real online “party” was going on! I also discovered in short time that Pete has an extensive knowledge of World Cinema (which I particularly enjoy) and had many of the same experiences of seeing films for the first time when he was growing up in England as I had growing up in Canada. Turns out we’re just about the same age. While Pete and I mainly agreed on…

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A Musical A-Z: C

Continuing this series, don’t forget that you can play along by choosing your favourite artists, albums, or songs. As long as they begin with ‘C’.

Every letter throws up far too many choices, but having to whittle them down is half the fun.

I am not a fan of country and western music as a rule, but this classic song gets me right in the heart every time. And I get a double ‘C’ for the song, and her name.

There have been many versions of this next song, but for me, none have got close to the smoky-voiced original from the divine Julie London.
Cry Me A river

Phil Spector and his ‘wall of sound’ was also one of the sounds of my youth. He produced many girl groups, including The Crystals. No matter how old you are, I am willing to bet you know this song.
Then He Kissed Me

The summer of love and the days of ‘flower power’ gave us many enduring songs. One of the groups that personified that era for me was the Mamas and Papas, with their version of a song written by two members of that group.
California Dreamin’

One of my all-time top ‘C’ songs, from the grumpy but nonetheless wonderful, Van Morrison. Also mentioned many times on this blog, here it is again.

Almost a top pick, with a very personal reason why I love this song so much. I played Rickie Lee Jones’ album so often at the time, I almost wore it out. I really, really love her voice on this happy song.
Chuck E’s in Love

My top pick today is from someone I feature a lot on this blog. Elvis Costello may not be his real name, but as it’s the one he is known by, I am using it for ‘C’. As I have previously used many of his bigger hits, I will choose this one, another personal favourite.

A Musical A-Z: B

This seems to be a popular idea, so on to ‘B’. Don’t forget, you can use the ‘B’ for the name of the artist, album title, or song title, so it is very easy to play along.

As I had a pick from David Bowie under ‘A’, I shouldn’t really choose another based on the ‘B’ of his surname. But he is so good, I’m going to. His back catalogue is so huge, it’s hard to choose, so I will go with one of the less obvious examples, from the album ‘Pin Ups’. This is a cover of an original from the Easybeats. I loved both versions.
Friday On My Mind

I always loved Kate Bush in her early years. She is still around of course, but for me she never bettered her first three albums. Here she is with my choice for this letter, as well as her surname of course.

Steely Dan are going to feature a lot here, so you might as well get used to them. My favourite American band of that time, and still played regularly, chez beetelypete. This is one for today’s letter. There may be many more.
Babylon Sisters

Robert Palmer died young. This stylish British rocker managed to cross lots of musical genres in his career, and embraced the new idea of the pop video at the time, with some great results. This is one of his toe-tappers from 1979, at the height of his success.
Bad Case Of Loving you

Today’s top pick was cast in stone. it has been featured on my blog at least twice before, but I don’t care, as I love this short song so much. I was introduced to this band by a recently departed and much-loved friend. It was one of the songs played at his funeral. The short-lived career of the British group Be Bop Deluxe left us with some classic songs to remember them by. The wonderful guitar of Bill Nelson is as fresh today as it ever was, and this song just makes me want to jump up and bounce around the room. Yes, even at the age of 65! Turn up the volume. Please.
Maid In Heaven

A Musical A-Z: A

Unlike my previous film challenge, this will not be a daily feature. I will also be taking liberties with the placing of the letters, using either the names of the recording artist, or the title of the songs. There may well be duplicates too, where I feature an artist for one letter, and one of their songs for another. I will do my best not to repeat songs that have featured in my ‘Significant Songs’ series, but make no promises that this will not happen. I do not claim that they are all great songs, and like most music, it will be a matter of taste. I hope that you will play along, with your own choices in the comments. After getting so much satisfaction from the film challenge, I wanted to do something similar.

Starting off with A offers lots of choices, and I will try to make some of them unusual. Taking me back to hot summer nights at a certain time in my life. are the long-forgotten Alessi Brothers, with the middle of the road classic from 1976, ‘Oh Lori’. When I first heard this, I thought it was a ‘female vocal’.
Oh Lori

Adele has to feature in ‘A’. This formidable British singer songwriter can do no wrong it seems, from heartbreaking ballads, to James Bond themes. I love her look, her style, and her attitude, and she has a wonderful voice too. Too many to choose from really, so here’s one I like a lot.
Rolling In The Deep

George Michael had a successful career. After hitting big with Wham, he became a solo singer, eventually becoming one of the top recording artists in the pop world. He died young, but left behind a huge legacy of great song performances. Including this one.
A Different Corner

My top pick for today (and probably other days too) was always going to be David Bowie. From his huge catalogue, my choice for his ‘A’ song is this hit for Mott The Hoople, on this occasion performed by the man himself.
All The Young Dudes

This is much easier than the film challenge. You can use the ‘A’ in any way you like, from artist name to song title. I will look forward to your personal choices. (Even the heavy metal ones, honest!)