A friend asked me yesterday for a list of my favorite artists and songs, which sent me to my excessive CD collection with notebook in hand. After I filled two pages of tiny notes and was about to start a third, I realized how MUCH info it was, and it got me wondering if it wouldn’t be impossible to edit it down to what my very
favorite of all these songs were. I’ve never tried to force this issue before. Never needed to.
I didn't know how to begin narrowing that down. What're the criteria? There are literally thousands of songs that would make me blurt, "Turn this up! I LOVE this song, it's one of my favorites!" Still, there are some songs I love (Stairway to Heaven, Hey Jude, What's Going On
) that if I never hear them again in my life, it will be okay. Oh I'd miss them, but my soul wouldn’t starve without them.
What, then, are the songs that I will want to listen to always? I began a list of songs that I have never gotten tired of, even after listening to some of them for more than 30 years. The acid test for favorite-status is that I know I could hear each one of these songs every day
for the rest of my life, and never tire of them.
, Emmylou Harris.
, Fleetwood Mac
3. How Can I Tell You
, Cat Stevens
4. Stewart's Coat
, Rickie Lee Jones
5. Feel Your Love
, Neil Young
6. Susie Q
, Creedence Clearwater Revivial
7. 2,000 Miles
, The Pretenders
8. You Can Close Your Eyes
, James Taylor
9. La La Means I Love You
, The Delfonics
10. Turn, Turn, Turn
, The Byrds
This list is not necessarily in the order of how much I love each of these songs, with the exception of the first one. Clocks
, written by Emmylou Harris, is one of the most beautiful songs (if not THE most beautiful) I've ever heard. I fell in love with Emmylou the first time I heard that incredible voice that is a cross between a cowgirl and an angel on what most of her fans still mistakenly believe was her first album, Pieces of the Sky
. But when I learned soon afterwards that there was an even earlier album called Gliding Bird
, I searched for it like Indiana Jones pursuing the Lost Ark.
It was a poorly recorded album of mostly mediocre songs, and poor Emmylou sounded more cowgirl than angel on it, and over the decades she has steadfastly refused to allow it to be reissued on CD. But Clocks
—that was more than pure angel, it was pure heaven.
Yes, I know, I know—if you're a true blue Emmylou fan like I am, then you know that she included an alternate recording of Clocks
on her Songbird
box set. It's wonderful, but not the same. And so until I finally stop procrastinating and learn how to convert analog recordings to digital, I must keep my ancient turntable just so that I can have this song with me for the rest of my life. The necessity to keep obsolete audio equipment surely defines the difference between a song that inspires "Turn it up!" and one that qualifies as all-time favorite.