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 HolidayNorm 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.
- 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