Ron Berger —
When I retired last Spring, I was feeling nostalgic. I thought I’d put together a retrospective CD that was framed, metaphorically speaking, as musical material that resonated with my life and wisdom I’ve acquired along the way. I planned to have the CD prepared for my retirement dinner, but I did not complete it until a few months later (with the help of my daughter–see song # 12).
My time frame and place of origin, if you are comparing your biography with mine, is that I was born in Los Angeles in 1951, which means my formative musical years (as a consumer and regretfully not as a player) was therefore the late 1960s and early 1970s, although some of the songs that are included are of a later date.
Here I’ve located YouTube renditions of the songs, not all of them the same version as on my CD, for your enjoyment and contemplation (minus the commercials that require your patience to get through). With YouTube one never knows if the material available at one snapshot in time will be available at a later date.
I invite others to post their favorite songs too.
1. Duke of Earl, Gene McDaniel
3. I Want to Hold Your Hand, The Beatles
4. I Threw It All Away, Bob Dylan
5. For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield
7. A Little Help from my Friends, The Beatles
8. What a Little Bit of Love Can Do, Jeff Bridges
10. Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, Franki Vali
12. You’re My Girl, Neil Young
14. Isn’t It a Pity, George Harrison, sung by Bill Preston
15. Ride ‘Em Jew Boy, Kinky Friedman, sung by Willie Nelson
16. My Sweet Lord, George Harrison, sung by Billy Preston
17. In My Life, The Beatles, sung by Johnny Cash
Preview YouTube video Neil Young “I Am A Child” [Live 1978]
Preview YouTube video The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand
Preview YouTube video Bob Dylan ~ I Threw It All Away~ Live on The Johnny Cash Show 1969
Preview YouTube video Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth 1967
Preview YouTube video The Beatles – Revolution
Preview YouTube video The Beatles – With A Little Help From My Friend LIVE ( Rare Color Ringo Starr Sing ) Laser Disk
Preview YouTube video Jeff Bridges – What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do (AOL Sessions)
Preview YouTube video Old Man (feat. Bryan Maclean) (Live)
Preview YouTube video Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Flash Mob Proposal (Trang and Nam)
Preview YouTube video When I’m Sixty-Four: A Tribute to Lennon & McCartney [HD]
Preview YouTube video Neil Young – You’re My Girl
Preview YouTube video Joni Mitchell – This Place
Preview YouTube video Isn’t it a pity – Concert for George
Preview YouTube video Ride ’em Jewboy
Preview YouTube video My Sweet Lord, Concert For George (High Quality)
Preview YouTube video Johnny Cash – In My Life [HD]
Preview YouTube video Traveling Wilburys – End Of The Line
15 thoughts on “Musical Memories”
Recently I participated in a Facebook exchange about Phil Ochs, one of my favorite songwriters from the 1960s, who addressed political themes. I did not include him in my original CD—an oversight—but here are a couple of my favorites.
“I Ain’t Marching Anymore”
“Small Circle of Friends”
Ron, what a revelation your list is! I told you I’d put my Facebook list here, but after reviewing yours, now I don’t want to.
Mine was a list of songs/recordings that I thought were well-done in a specific way: Melody, lyrics, arrangement, and performance all evocative of the same emotion. ‘My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison makes you want to cry with that same yearning for the Divine; “I’m of Fire,” by Bruce Springsteen throbs with pent-up desire; “Rolling in the Deep” by Adelle makes you feel it might be appropriate to keep the beat by the pounding your fist into the wall–or her boyfriend’s face.
Once you start looking for it, it’s surprising how rare that emotional integrity is in pop music. There are some really bad examples–“Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers is a prime example–a bouncy beat and cheery guitar, with lyrics that include “the squealin’ tires, the bustin’ glass, the painful scream that I heard last.” Or Frankie Valli singing “I’m gonna walk like a man, talk like a man” in that high falsetto.
But I like your idea better–a list of “musical material that resonated with my life and wisdom I’ve acquired along the way.”
I’ll start with a grossly underrated band–Del Amitri–and their song “Driving With the Brakes On,” which I think perfectly captures that quiet paralysis I’ve felt within a relationship when it was clear that my deepest desires and those of my lover were in conflict, but I couldn’t even sort my own out anyway. I’ve read the song reflects songwriter Justin Currie’s reaction to his girlfriend’s abortion.
Okay, and this might be a little TMI, but when I think of musical material that resonates with my life, I can’t get past Martina McBride’s Independence Day.
I got out of my first, abusive marriage without murdering anyone or burning any houses down, but this chorus still makes my heart beat with a little of that old righteous anger I felt when I walked away:
“Let freedom ring! Let the white dove sing!
Let the whole world know that today is the day of reckoning!
Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong,
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay,
It’s Independence Day!”
And if you want to know EXACTLY what it feels like to be out of an abusive marriage and on your way, rock with Patti LaBelle:
“Somehow the wires uncrossed, the tables got turned.
I never knew I had such a lesson to learn.
I’m feeling good from my head to my toes;
Know where I’m going and I know what to do.
I’ve tidied up my point of view;
I’ve got a new attitude”
If I was forced to pick one artist whose songs resonated with me most often–at several very different stages of my life–it’d have to be Bonnie Raitt. I think this was the first song of I heard from her that made me sit up and shout, “Yes! That!” when I first heard it in the early 1970s.
And I love this very grown-up, heartbroken-but-no-one’s-doormat, song of unrequited desire.
Social awareness/action songs are on my list, too–you’ve got two of my favorites (For What It’s Worth and Revolution) on your list. Add Imagine, of course.
But for me, my inner experience of social awareness is less about outrage or protest, and feels most like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?
That bewilderment, that frustration, that yearning for people to realize “we’ve got to find a way to bring some understanding here today…”
I had thought about including this on my CD, too, but I decided 18 songs were enough.
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Insert entire Concert for George here, which you came pretty close to doing anyway–hooray!
I like the way Paul and Eric arranged Something in that concert–starting solo with George’s beloved ukulele, and orchestrating that fabulous, spine-tingling change at 1:30 in this video…
It’s not a single song, and this video is 41 minutes long, but I found it worthwhile–it made me fall in love with John Fugelsang, too. (Been in love with George since 1963.)
Clearly Karen and I both like George Harrison, so I thought I would add this. Recently, the Syrian refugee crisis got me thinking of the fundraising Concert for Bangladesh organized by Harrison in 1971, one of the best rock concert’s ever. When I watched it on DVD again (I own it), I was moved by the simplicity of Harrison’s comment at the beginning: When asked by a reporter, of all the enormous problems in the world, how did he choose this one to help? He simply said, because he was asked by a friend (Ravi Shankar).
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Wow. It’s going to take me some time to get through all these. I’ve been thinking about putting up my own list, but so far, I’m too conflicted. But keep watching this space. 🙂
Victory dance at the Armory after the game! Be there!
I just had to add this one.
I want to save this piece about Phil Ochs that was published on the 40th anniversary of his death.