Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sonic Sunday: The Soundtrack of My Life (1973)

I've really been slacking on Sonic Sunday (and my blog in general), so I came up with an idea that would help me bring this feature back while also giving me an excuse to write at least one non-American Idol post a week.

The next 38 Sonic Sundays will feature a list of 10 songs from every year I've been alive. Ideally, these will be my 10 favorite songs from each year but I can't promise that they necessarily will, simply because I have about five gazillion "favorite" songs and it's really hard to do these types of rankings. Also, I'm limiting each artist to only one spot on each list to prevent Duran Duran and Pearl Jam's total domination of the '80s and '90s lists. But the lists will be a pretty good representation of my favorites and/or songs that had a great impact on me. Obviously, most of the songs that would have meant something to me during my toddler years would have been sung by, say, Chrissy and the Alphabeats, so the lists from those years will more often than not include songs that I grew up to love.

First up, it's the year of my unplanned birth: 1973!

1. "20th Century Boy," T. Rex
Friends say it's fine, friends say it's good/Everybody says it's just like rock 'n' roll/I move like a cat, talk like a rat/Sting like a bee/Babe, I wanna be your man/Well it's plain to see you were meant for me, yeah/I'm your boy, your 20th century toy

I think I was born about 15-20 years too late because I would have loved to have been in the prime of my youth when glam rock was in its prime. I would have been one silk-clad, glittered-up mutha. Much like I'd like to thank my parents for giving me life, I'd like to thank Marc Bolan for birthing one of the best sub-genres of rock 'n' roll EVER.

2. "Over the Hills and Far Away," Led Zeppelin
Many have I loved, and many times been bitten/Many times I've gazed along the open road/Many times I've lied and many times I've listened/Many times I've wondered how much there is to know

Ah, Led Zeppelin. They'll always be my answer to the eternal question, "Beatles or Stones?" (Not that I don't like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. But I like them kind of equally and not anywhere near as much as I love Zeppelin.)

3. "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," Elton John
And love lies bleeding in my hand/Oh, it kills me to think of you with another man/I was playing rock 'n' roll and you were just a fan/But my guitar couldn't hold you so I split the band/Love lies bleeding in my hands

I finally got to see Sir Elton recently, and he opened with this, my all-time favorite of his songs. Yet somehow, he still had about 5,000 more songs to back it up.

4. "Little Willy," Sweet (or THE Sweet, if you like unnecessary articles)
Uptown, downtown/Little Willy, Willy drives them wild with his run-around style/Inside, outside/Willy sends them silly with his star-shine shimmy shuffle smile/Mama done chase Willy down through the hall/But laugh, Willy laugh, he don't care at all

Yes, lyrically, this is a totally stupid song. But I defy anyone to not sing (and clap) along.

5. "You're So Vain," Carly Simon
You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive/Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair and that you would never leave/But you gave away the things you loved/And one of them was me/I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee/Clouds in my coffee

Yes, lyrically, this is a totally brilliant song. It taught us all the word "gavotte," after all. And I'm super jealous of anyone who's ever gotten revenge on an ex by writing a hit.

6. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," Jim Croce
Now Leroy he a gambler/And he like his fancy clothes/And he like to wave his diamond rings in front of everybody's nose/He got a custom Continental/He got an Eldorado too/He got a .32 gun in his pocket for fun/He got a razor in his shoe

I always say that this is the song (with "Little Willy" a close second) I would perform on American Idol during "Songs From Your Birth Year" Week, if I could sing and they would let old people compete. Because it's just awesome. I love the fact that Leroy actually gets his ass beat and ends up looking like "a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone."

7. "Superstition," Stevie Wonder
Very superstitious, writing's on the wall/Very superstitious, ladders 'bout to fall/Thirteen-month-old baby broke the lookin' glass/Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past/When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer/Superstition ain't the way

I honestly don't think I know anyone who doesn't like this song. Who the funk wouldn't?

8. "Midnight Train to Georgia," Gladys Knight & The Pips
He's leaving on that midnight train to Georgia/Said he's goin' back to a simpler place and time/And I'll be with him on that midnight train to Georgia/I'd rather live in his world/Than live without him in mine

Man, what a gorgeous love song. Lyrically, melodically, vocally (especially those Pip backups)—all of it. It's just perfect.

9. "Life On Mars?," David Bowie
Sailors fighting in the dance hall/Oh man, look at those cavemen go/It's the freakiest show/Take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong guy/Oh man, wonder if he'll ever know/He's in the best selling show/Is there life on Mars?

Honestly, I have no idea what this song is about. Every time I think I kind of have it figured out, I'm like, "Nah, Bowie just put a bunch of stuff together while he was high and is getting a laugh at all of us trying to make sense of it all." But I think it might just an "is this all there is to life?" kind of anthem. Whatever the case, it's a great melody. And I've read that it was written as a parody of Frank Sinatra's "My Way." (Note: the song was actually on the 1971 album Hunky Dory but was then later released as a single in 1973, so I'm allowed to include it here.)

10. "Let Me Be There," Olivia Newton-John
Let me be there in your morning/Let me be there in you night/Let me change whatever's wrong and make it right/Let me take you through that wonderland that only two can share/All I ask you is let me be there

I can't even tell you people how many of my childhood days were spent swaying in front of my bedroom mirror, plaintively singing this song into my hairbrush. This and just about every other ONJ song I could get my hands on. God, I wanted to be her in the worst way. Especially after she got to make out with Travolta and marry this hot piece (despite his girly speaking voice).

9 comments:

Ian said...

Some really good choices here. How messed-up am I that my favorite song on the list is "Little Willy"? They don't write 'em like Chinn and Chapman anymore, no sir! If you care (and you probably don't) I think my second-favorite would be "Midnight Train to Georgia."

So. Cal. Gal said...

2, 3, 7 and 8 are my favs...and can I just say, "Stevie Wonder ROCKS!" : )

Scope said...

While I can SING ALONG with most of the songs, the only one I can just SING is "Little Willie".

cube said...

I can just picture you lip syncing to ONJ. BTW I hope the hot piece treated her better than the more recent boyfriend who disappeared during a fishing trip. She thought he was dead until he turned up like a bad penny.

SkylersDad said...

These are excellent Becky, 1973 was my sophomore year in high school and these tunes were a huge part of my life!

tennysoneehemingway said...

I do not dislike any song on this list and that's not something I can say very often about lists of ANYTHING.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Skyrocketed back to my youth, I was, with this list. I'm not sure I can forgive you for ensuring that Little Willy will be stuck in my head all day.

Malcolm said...

The 1970s (musically speaking) aren't nearly as bad as some people think. You've got some solid choices here. Over the past week or so, I've been on a "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" kick. I love that piano intro!

Shelly said...

Oh man, great choices! I am now stealing your answer to the "Beatles or Stones" questions because I totally agree with you.

And my 8 yr old daughter knows all the lyrics to "You're So Vain" - totally her favorite song right now.

 

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