Sunday, January 16, 2005

Songs, Songs, Songs ...

The choice is made. Here is my final list of ten favourite songs for Norm's poll. It was really hard, I can tell you - but I can live with this lot. In roughly chronological order and with brief notes by me:
'God Bless The Child' - Billie Holiday
- As much for the immortal Billie as the song itself, and the fact that it was my "signature" tune at our jazz club in Silungan, Manila

'Mack The Knife' - Ella Fitzgerald
- Is it a "pop" song at all? Probably not - but it's witty and ironic and I love Ella's live recording (Berlin) as well as Sonny Rollins's instrumental version

'A Change Is Gonna Come' - Sam Cooke
- Sam Cooke's own response to the death of his son and the racial schisms and political ferment of America in the early 1960s

'Four Women' - Nina Simone
- Wonderful modulations between her four characters and sung in that inimitable voice

'Respect' - Aretha Franklin
- There could have been any number from the "Queen of Soul" but this lays the foundations of what would come later

'(Sittin On) The Dock Of The Bay' - Otis Redding
- It's been called a "post-industrial blues" - the quintessential song of the generational shift from the Deep South to the North

'The Partisan' - Leonard Cohen
- A powerful song about people laying down their lives in the cause of the anti-Nazi resistance: "An old woman gave us shelter,/kept us hidden in the garret,/then the soldiers came;/she died without a whisper"

'The Boxer' - Simon & Garfunkel
- They performed some great songs but this still has the power to move - strong lyrics and great harmonies

'What's Going On' - Marvin Gaye
- Of course it might have been "I heard it through the grapevine" - but the deeply political lyrics and jazz inflections did it for me

'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' - Gil Scott-Heron
- Beat poet and jazz funkster originally with "The Last Poets": "They was nappin’ when we was rappin'" - original, witty and serious
Norm says that this one - the seventh - is comfortably the biggest poll to date. Somehow I'm not expecting many of my choices to make the final top ten. Ah, well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

your brief notes are not brief: they are compact and expresses a lot more than what longer sentences can hope to explain. i am no jazz fan, least an expert, but u gave a good insight on what to expect from the albums. i've tried listening to a few and hope to listen to Gaye's and Simone's.


1:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally like three of the songs you listed. Respect by Aretha Franklin, What's Goin' On by Marvin Gaye, and Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding. Hope to hear from you!


6:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey there!
how about jackson browne?:
You speak as if you know
What's good for everyone
What's good in what you've done?
What's good about a world in which
War rages at a fever pitch
And people die for the little things
A little corn, a little beans
Ah boy boy
This world is not your toy
This world is long on hunger
This world is short on joy
You measure peace with guns
Progress in mega-tons
Who's left when the war is won?
Soldier of misfortune

1:56 pm  

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