Posts Tagged ‘Songs’

By Peter Stern, Philosophy Faculty

As minutes turn into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, and……I can’t help wondering whether ignorance is or isn’t bliss–man, I mean BLISS, as in BLISS!!!!!! This time this conundrum is provoked by, of all things, panicking as I try to create a favorite song list. First response: zip, zero, nada–can’t think of a single song that really fills the bill. Next: a veritable flood of songs surge through my addled brain, coming from here, there, and everywhere. Greatly confused, I then figure maybe I should give a quick peak over the proverbial shoulder to see what sorts of songs my colleagues mentioned. Here’s where the ignorance/bliss issue leaves me breathless: in all candooor, most of the songs named and discussed have never been heard of by my rapidly aging body of musical acquaintanceship. But that’s the reason we’re in school whether as teacher or student, isn’t it: we go to learn new things regardless of age and extent of ignorance.

And so here’s a five favorite song list with every song older than the hills and every day each song getting one more day older. For instance, my first song is “As Time Goes By.” The song is great partly as it plays with the idea of time passing and yet love and its rituals don’t; they’re eternal. The song also evokes time for me as it takes me back to my college days and the semiannual film festival held during finals week at the Brattle Street Cinema in Cambridge Mass. The main film menu consisted of a bunch of Humphrey Bogart flicks culminating in a screening of Casablanca, a film I came to know almost by heart. One of the great scenes in the movie shows us an unhinged Bogie telling Dooley Wilson to go ahead and play, “As Time Goes By,” with Dooley telling Bogie he didn’t think that was such a good idea (because it evoked for Bogie his aborted love affair with Ingrid Bergman). And I’m thinking to be alive then was bliss, but to be in the Brattle Street Cinema during finals week watching Casablanca was heaven itself.

Song Two: “Be My Baby” sung by the Ronnettes. An early rock n roll song which, in my view, still stands the test of time, is rich with great lyrics and a terrific sound, and also often reminds me I had the privilege of meeting, personally, all the Ronnettes, as I had been instrumental in getting them invited to perform at a big fall weekend concert at school.

Song Three: “Just One of Those Things” by Cole Porter, a song which sports lines like: “One of those things, one of those crazy flings, a trip to the moon on gossamer wings, just one of those things.” All the way to the moon and yet it’s over: no big deal, sort of. “So good bye, and amen, here’s hoping we meet now and then, it was great fun but it was just one of those things.”

Song Four: “Fly Me to the Moon” especially when sung by Frank Sinatra. Another love song evoking the moon, the stars, and playing around Jupiter and Mars because that’s the metaphor needed to capture what love is and what love can do. Oliver Stone uses the song to great effect at the start of Wall Street, as Charlie Sheen is taking the subway to work. It also reminds me of yet another of life’s mysteries namely how a thug like Sinatra can sing about love with such extraordinary subtlety and depth.

Song Five: “The Way You Look Tonight” again in a version sung by Mr. Sinatra with a marvelous mix of softness and bounce. “Never never change, keep that breathless charm for I love you just the way you look tonight.” Moreover, even if there is change, he’ll never forget the way she looks that night. Once again the power of love is wonderfully invoked and time is vanquished. And to my surprise, as I look at the back of the album cover, to confirm the magic of these old songs and the voice of Sinatra none other than Bono writes of the beauty and strength these songs manifest and of Sinatra’s endless artistry.

But Bono also reminds me that I really do have some favorite songs written and sung by singers more current than the list I’ve given here. And now I’ll have to cull this list and get it ready for the next time Paul and Michael decide we should share our favorite songs with the gifted denizens of the growing Flaneur Community.


By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

This week on The Flaneur’s Turtle, we are celebrating the summer music season and the diversity of musical tastes by sharing our Top 10 Favorite Songs of All-Time! Each author will have their own list and their own criteria for their Top 10.

For my list, I used gut reaction to pull 45 finalists out of my entire music collection. From there, I mulled over some hard choices to narrow the list to 35, then 25, then finally my Top 10. Like everyone, I have my “Flavor of the Week” songs I’m addicted to, such as “Beautiful” by Ben Rector, “Happy” by Pharrell Willliams, and “Little Games” by the Colourist. But songs with such an ephemeral standing in my active playlist did not make the cut. My Top 10 are songs that have stood the test of time and I continue to love them as much as I always have, or even more.

Paul’s Top 10 Songs (alphabetical order by artist)

“Like the Rain” by Clint Black (1996)
Arguably the most sentimental and “cheesy” song in my Top 10, but I care not! This is one of my favorite songs to sing along with, and it has solidly connected itself to many great memories in my life.

“I Go Back” by Kenny Chesney (2004)
I can’t NOT sing along with this song whenever it comes on. It is a tribute to music’s power to connect us to memories and moments in life.

“Showtime” by Electric Six (2007)
Electric Six is my favorite band, and “Showtime” is the short, ridiculous starter to many of their live shows. Non-fans who are unfamiliar with E6’s brand of quirkiness and humor may not get this song, but fans at the shows are ready at the first sound of the opening guitar riff – and at the sight of lead singer Dick Valentine gracing the stage in a purple cape with the word “SHOWTIME” written on it in sparkly letters. Ridiculous and amazing.

“Life, Love, and Happiness” by Brian Kennedy (1996)
I’ve been listening to this song for years, and I still get chills during the intro of the “Live in Belfast” version as the audience is clapping along and Kennedy and his band harmonize on, “Oh, don’t let go again. Because it’s your life, love, your happiness.” (Since you’ve likely never heard of Brian Kennedy, here is an American-popularity-level equivalency for this Irish artist: he is a a judge on Ireland’s version of the “The Voice.”)

“Mudhouse” by Bob Schneider (2006)
Bob Schneider is a legend on the Austin, Texas music scene whose catalog of music is more eclectic than any other artist I’ve encountered, with amazing songs ranging from hard rock to jazz to salsa. “Mudhouse” is a fun, acoustic Hip Hop/Rap song that is a hit at his live shows.

“You Raise Me Up” by Secret Garden w/ Brian Kennedy (2002)
Before “You Raise Me Up” became a global hit that was covered by literally hundreds of artists, including Josh Groban’s very blah version here in America, it began as a song from the Norwegian new age duo Secret Garden with lead vocals from Irish vocalist Brian Kennedy. I stumbled upon the song when it was released in 2002 and instantly loved it (and then, as a consequence, found my way to all of Brian Kennedy’s music). The song proliferated through countless covers and went from unknown to overexposed, but it is the original – and any version led by Kennedy – that is still the best.

“Mission Temple Fireworks Stand” by Paul Thorn (2002)
I don’t even know what to say about the silly, upbeat, amazing gospel-country-rock-ish tune. It is possible you’ve come across a slightly better known cover version by country band Sawyer Brown w/ Robert Randolph.

“Recovery” by Frank Turner (2013)
Frank Turner is an English folk-punk singer-songwriter (that combo will make more sense when you listen to the song) whose energy and resonant lyrics are captivating. He is better known in the UK than in America, but I won’t be surprised if that changes very quickly.

“Somebody Like You” by Keith Urban (2002)
I adamantly defend Country music, because most people who criticize the genre prove just how little they actually know about it within just a sentence or two, by saying something stupid like,  “All country music is just sappy songs about your truck breaking down and your dog running away.” Any real fan of music knows that sweeping generalizations and negative stereotypes about ANY genre just don’t hold up. And when defending Country, one of my prime contemporary counterarguments is Keith Urban. While he has the country twang in his voice (though he’s from Australia), and he has some classically country instruments in the band (banjo, anyone?), his lyrics are fit for any pop-rock song. Beyond that, check out Keith on the guitar during his mid-song solo. The man can absolutely, flat out shred. Country fans know this. Country haters, on the other hand, are missing out on one of the premier guitarists working today.

“Set Me Free” by Velvet Revolver (2003)
The now defunct super group Velvet Revolver wasn’t around long, but they made some incredible music in their short time together, including 2003’s “Set Me Free.” Scott Weiland’s growling, robotic verses are layered atop Duff McKagan’s vicious bass, all paving the way to the soaring choruses. The song is then punctuated by one of legendary guitarist Slash’s finest, and most aggressive, solos.

Honorable Mentions – The Rest of the Top 25 (alphabetical order by artist) 

“Hard Workin’ Man” by Brooks & Dunn
“Mind’s Made Up” by The Frames
“Sad Sad City” by Ghostland Observatory
“Dust N’ Bones” by Guns n’ Roses
“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson
“Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai
“Feels Just Like It Should” by Jamiroquai
“Little L” by Jamiroquai
“99 Problems” by Jay Z
“A Better Man” by Brian Kennedy
“40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)” by Bob Schneider
“Tumblin’ Dice” by Bob Schneider
“The Well” by The Silent Comedy
“The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra