The Greatest Songs Ever! (According To No One But Me)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 6/21/14 – See Bethany Blog

The last blog post was pretty doggone serious and melancholy, by my standards, so because this is how I roll, I’m jumping immediately back into the random and absurd. You know…the kind of blog post that one or two of you find somewhat entertaining, maybe three of you will “Like” on Facebook if I’m lucky, but has me cracking up at myself. (Yes…if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am indeed pretty much a writer for the sake of entertaining myself.)

Today I’m going to discuss, in no particular order, the five best songs ever written – according to me, and most assuredly no one else. Now please know that these are songs which will probably appear on no other “Greatest Songs of All Time” list ever. To me what makes a great song is an emotional connection. Sometimes the emotional connection comes from a memory, sometimes it’s just the music or the lyrics latching onto your heart in a way no one else ever needs to understand. In other words, I don’t expect you to understand!

WARNING: Despite the fact that I am 34 years old, I am actually 75 in musical taste years. Proceed with cheesy, adult contemporary caution.

Rainy Days and Mondays
By The Carpenters

First of all, if tears do not instantly spring to your eyes at the sound of Karen Carpenter’s voice on any song, then you are a cold, heartless shell of a human being. Perhaps the greatest pop voice of all time + lyrics everyone can identify with at some point in their life + Karen’s tragic life and death + some super emotional harmonica = 3 1/2 minutes of perfect heartbreak.

 

Landslide
By Fleetwood Mac

The performance in this video was my introduction to “Landslide” and to Fleetwood Mac. The live album on which the recording appeared was a monstrous hit my freshman year of college, and I can pretty much guarantee that anyone of my generation who knows the song can’t help but say “This is for you, Daddy,” at the beginning and “Thank you, Lindsey. Thank you, Stevie,” at the end. And it is actually the mutual admiration between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham which makes this song one of the best ever. Stevie wrote “Landslide” more than 20 years before this recording as she contemplated whether it was time to play it safe and go back to school and get a new career or continue on with Lindsey, romantically and professionally. “Hey, Lindsey…my first true love. I wrote this song while I was trying to decide whether or not to dump you. And of course I did ultimately dump you, leaving you heartbroken. Now will you please go on stage and perform this song with me every night for the next 40 years? Thank you, Lindsey!”
Thank you, Stevie. Thanks a lot.

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
By Billy Joel

I went to my first Billy Joel concert in college, and I didn’t understand how everyone besides me seemed to know every word to an almost 8 minute-long song that had something to do with a bottle of red, a bottle of white. Was I ever so young and naive? “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” is the driving force behind book two in the Abigail Phelps Series, Scenes From Highland Falls. It’s a song about love and friendship and loss and life, and becoming an adult. “From the high to the low to the end of the show…” Needless to say, when I saw Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden in May, I was able to sing along. Every single word.

Yesterday
By Paul McCartney

I am a huge Beatles fan, and I love Paul McCartney is particular, but “Yesterday” isn’t my favorite Beatles song. But I couldn’t fathom the idea of it not being on this list. It is masterfully brilliant in its simplicity, and it connects with you on an intimate level. There are a million performances of the song which I could have used as the video, but I intentionally chose the one I did to point out the magic of “Yesterday”. Today it’s easy to forget, but in 1965 The Beatles were the biggest, baddest rock band in the world. Rock and roll. Remember…their music was banned, their albums were burned, and teenagers rebelled by dressing like them. And in the midst of that, they released “Yesterday” and a funny thing happened. The screaming teenagers in love with the Fab Four actually shut up and listened. Watch the video…after about the minute mark, you won’t hear the crowd again until Paul’s final note. And people are still listening. “Yesterday” is one of the most covered songs in history and as long as it is sung, people will continue to listen.

Both Sides Now
By Joni Mitchell

There are certain songs which I love all the more because I associate them with a movie, book, or television show. This one is, in my opinion, the best use of a song in a movie scene ever. If you haven’t seen Love Actually, here’s what you need to know: Emma Thompson’s character and her husband, played by Alan Rickman, went Christmas shopping and she spotted him at the jewelry counter, and later found a gold necklace in his coat pocket. She of course thinks he bought it for her. And then, as you see, she opens the package to find a Joni Mitchell CD, and immediately knows that the gold necklace went to someone else. Joni Mitchell’s emotional vocals combine with Emma Thompson’s 3 minute master class in the art of subtlety to create a scene which has ruined this song for me forever. In the best possible way.

What about you? What songs are you emotionally attached to? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment here or put it on the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/seebethanywrite. (By the way…have you “Liked” the page yet? Please do!) Maybe you’ll help me remember something I’ve forgotten, and I’m sure I will have to do another installment at some point down the line. After all, it just feels wrong to not have anything from this group included:

ABBA

Bethany Turner is the author of the Abigail Phelps Series of books, available for purchase in paperback or Kindle download. Click HERE to visit Bethany’s Amazon Author Page.

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