Songs from the Past

I consider myself very fortunate to be at a place where music flows unlimited on the LAN. Sometimes the best part of the day is when I get back to my room and listen to endless music. Over last fifty years, several legends have left a lasting impression with their music. I have often asked myself, “Which is my favorite song”. Answer to that has not been just one song. When others ask me this, I usually reply, “with or without you”, by U2. The fact is that a whole lot of songs spring in my head when I think of great songs or best songs ever written.

In the movie Ray, a biography of Ray Charles, he talks of country music as best form of music because of the stories they tell. True indeed! The ballads they churn out are mesmerizing to say the least. The song “The Gambler”, by Kenny Rogers, is easily one of my favorite country ballads. This song brings out the advice from a gambler.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

What’s intriguing about the song is that the advice is given by a relatively disrespected character in the society and yet it makes all the sense in the world.

Yet another country ballad I love listening to is “Traveling Soldier”, by Dixie Chicks. It’s a simple song about a soldier who befriends a girl so that he could write letters from Vietnam. The need for a friend when you are lonely is powerfully delivered. “You are my best friend”, by Don Williams, reminds you what friendship really is with some timeless metaphors.

You’re my bread when I’m hungry you’re my shelter from troubled winds
you’re my anchor in life’s ocean but most of all you’re my best friend

Turning over to rock music, the song that I find to take me to a different world altogether is “Mr. Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan. Wiki tells me

There are many theories about the meaning of the song. One interpretation is that the song allusively recounts Dylan’s early experiences with LSD, and this is supported by the prominent use of the word “trip” in the first line of the second verse.

Every time I listen to this song, I am in a completely different world. Knowing me, I am pretty sure I will never try LSD. I am guessing this song will be the best vicarious experience of LSD I will ever have. I particularly adore this stanza from the song

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

When speaking of rock, the psychedelic Pink Floyd can’t be left behind. Among so many gems they have produced, the best one, in my opinion, is “learning to fly”. This song best describes how it feels like to fly:

There’s no sensation to compare with this
Suspended animation, A state of bliss

“Free to decide” by Cranberries is one of my all time favourite songs. There are two groups of which I like every song that I have heard, Cranberries is one of them. The other is U2. Coincidentally both the groups are Irish. The rebellious “Sunday, bloody Sunday” By U2 is the song that moves by senses. This anti-war song is a fitting tribute to the victims of Bloody Sunday in Ireland on 30th Jan., 1972. **14 people were killed (including 6 minors) and 13 others wounded by British paratroopers after a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march in the Bogside area of the city of Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Many witnesses, including bystanders and journalists, claim that those shot at were all unarmed.

**quoted from wiki

Tears in heaven” by Eric Clapton was written by Eric Clapton and dedicated to his son, Conor Clapton, who died a 4 year old by falling off from the 54th floor. Ever since I got to know this, the song has always given me the blues. Beautifully written song…..

The romantic song “Top of the world”, by Carpenters scores high on my best pop music ratings. The song is made all the more romantic because of the infatuating voice of Karen Carpenter. I cannot find a word better to describe her sweet voice. It’s a real pity that the world lost Karen to Anorexia Nervosa when she was in her 30s.

One of my favorite bands, Bee gees’ “stayin’ alive” is a disco classic. I don’t find anything great in the lyrics though. It just speaks about ‘staying alive’ in the busy, turbulent world that we have created. What I love about the song is its pulsating tune that can get you on your toes anytime. “The winner takes it all” by Abba is a poignant song on break-up. Arguably, it is one of their best works.

Bridge over troubled water” by Simon and Garfunkel is another song interpreted as a song on pleasures of using drug. The silver girl in the song, some believe, refers to the needle used to inject drugs. Others believe the song is about friendship and how friends lay themselves down like a bridge over troubled water. Paul Simon clarified about the silver girl in the song saying, “My girlfriend at the time was particularly saddened upon finding a few grey hairs in her brush, lamenting that she was getting older. I wrote that lyric as a tribute and inside joke to her. I don’t know how the heroin connection rumor got started. The song is basically about friendship.” It’s ironical that this song on friendship led to their break-up owing to disagreement on who should sing the song.

Radio ga ga” by Queen is a song on the advent of television and its role in bringing the radio down. Other songs in my all time favorite list includes “stairway to heaven” by Led Zep, “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond, “Riders on the storm” by Doors, “Sweet Surrender” by Bread, “Thick as a Brick” by Jethro Tull, “Reelin’ in the years” by Steely Dan and many more.

If anyone hasn’t heard any of the songs above, he is missing out on lot of entertainment. Please do comment on your favorite songs and who do you think has the best voice. Among male artists, in my opinion, Freddie Mercury takes a clear pole position and infatuating voice of Karen Carpenter among the female artists. My favorite bands are U2 and Bee Gees. Lemme know yours.

6 Replies to “Songs from the Past”

  1. Bob Dylan was a folk artist, Shankar, no matter what Wiki tells you! And how could you forget his “Knocking on Heaven’s door?”

  2. I have no idea of most songs in the post, Coolzee.. I have just heard random songs from all the bands mentioned…….

  3. Nice collection of songs there. Haven’t listened to U2 though. Surely this can’t be an exhaustive list and yet, I feel compelled to mention my personal favourites – “American Pie” by Don McLean and “Johny B.Goode” by Chuck Berry.

  4. A couple of corrections… Don Williams is singing about his wife in the song “You are my best friend”, and when talking about Psychedelic Rock… Pink Floyed’s post wall albums dont quite cut it, its not psychedlic rock per se. Typical Psychedelic Rock band would be Greatful Dead.
    Although “Radio ga ga” talks about TV placating radio, they were definitely not the first. THe first of its kind was the song “Video killed the radio star” by The Buggles. In fact, it was the first song to be aired by MTV on its maiden broadcast.
    So far as Simon and Garfunkel go… I think Garfunkel’s acting in a porn movie did contribute a lot to the band’s breakup as well.
    I am surprised not to see David Bowie in there. No audiophile’s claim to be one is complete without mentioning David Bowie.

  5. WITH OR WITHOUT U is also my favourite song.I have not listend to most of the songs mentioned by you in this post.JHONNY B GOODE by chuckberry,ROADHOUSE BLUES by doors are some of my favourite songs.

    S.Manohar

  6. Great. Seems like your blog is getting really popular. Gone are the days when u would beg people to comment on your blog i guess.
    Being clueless about most of the songs you have mentioned, for me my favourite song is Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably numb” . Brilliant song. I think it tries to portray that after soem time, you just stop listening to people and it hurts you most when you need help. But of course, being “numb” you dont realize it. I think it also tries to say that after some stage in your life, you are left with no dreams. Without dreams its as if you have no real feeling. You are detached and so nothing troubles you that much.

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