Classic Rock And Pop Music Blog

Month: November 2021

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Oldies, Pop, Amy Grant & Country Christmas Playlists

With only 4 weeks until Christmas day, I thought I’d share some Christmas playlists.  While Christian religious tradition holds that the time leading up to Christmas, known as Advent, should be a time of preparation for Christmas, and thus songs of anticipation, not songs of Christmas should be played, I feel that Christmas music does help us prepare for the coming of Christ and Christmas.  And there is a mix of religious Christmas music, as well as secular popular music, though while commercial, I feel still should put people in the mood of the season of giving, as that is what the season is all about – God’s gift to us with the birth of his Son.  May we look for ways to be gifts to each other, and gift our talents to the world and back to our Creator.  I truly love this season, and the music, along with Mass and the events at my church, to put me in the mood to receive Jesus on Christmas morning.

As a kid I grew up listening to oldies, with Johnny Mathis Christmas album prominently played from my mom’s music collection.  I also worked a job in college every December in a gift shop as a gift wrapper.  My responsibility was also to periodically change the cassettes of Christmas music playing overhead.  Among the cassettes in the Christmas collection were Frank Sinatra and Kenny Rogers, who became among my favorites.

So I’ve created 4 Christmas playlists.  The first is oldies, from Sinatra to Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, and many others.  I think Johnny has the smoothest, sweetest voice, Bing the most traditional, Sinatra the Christmas crooner, but Nat, well he could just plain make you ooze Christmas listening to him sing.  Such great, classic Christmas music, perhaps most recently popularized by the “Home Alone” movies, though I’m realizing that those movies aren’t so recent!  Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s “Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth,” another of my Christmas favorites, again dreaming of peace on earth as our Christmas gift – can it be?

The Ultimate Christmas Oldies playlist:

The musical and visual beauty of Lindsey Stirling’s “Carol Of The Bells” makes me come back to this video year after year:

And her “Angels We Have Heard On High” is heavenly.  If you have the opportunity to see her, she’s well worth the time and effort.

And consider a Christmas gift to yourself some year, and see Trans Siberian Orchestra.  They are a spectacle not to be missed, moving and inspirational.  Perhaps their most well known Christmas song is “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo”:

The next list is pop Christmas tunes, mostly 80s performers and their holiday offerings, from Bruce Springsteen to Bon Jovi, the Eagles, Madonna, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, and of course “Band Aid”:

The Ultimate Christmas Pop playlist:

The next playlist features perhaps my most favorite Christmas performer, Amy Grant.  I added some of her “friends”, including her longtime friend Michael W. Smith, her husband Vince Gill, and fellow Christian performing artist Steven Curtis Chapman, among others.   Amy Grant’s “Breath Of Heaven” is among my all-time Christmas song favorites, telling the Christmas story from the perspective a scared teenage girl, carrying the Savior of the world (with video clips from “The Nativity” movie):

Also on this list Becky Kelley’s “Where’s The Line To See Jesus” again reminds of the reason for the season:

As well as Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List” is a wish for the world, a materialistic society which has so much and seemingly needs so little, yet truly needs so much:

The Amy Grant & Friends Christmas playlist:

Lastly is an “unfinished” playlist that I will continue to add and subtract from, of Country Christmas songs.  It’s far from inclusive of all the best songs, but is starting with many of the artists I like, including Kenny Rogers, as mentioned above, Reba McEntire, Kellie Pickler, Carrie Underwood, Trisha Yearwood, and Martina McBride, with a smattering of other Country greats.  I love this video clip of Carrie Underwood singing with her son “The Little Drummer Boy”:

The Country Christmas playlist:

While not a song, this is one of my favorite Christmas video clips, in which Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” tells Charlie and friends what Christmas is all about:

So whether your wrapping Christmas gifts, traveling in the car to see the relatives for Christmas, snuggling by the fire awaiting Santa and his sleigh, or opening presents on Christmas morning, consider streaming one of these playlists, setting the mood and lifting your spirits, for truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

Get ready for CHRISTMAS!

Ooh BABY Baby – “Baby” Songs (with James Taylor & Jackson Brown bonus playlist)

On November 19, 1964, The Supremes became the first all girl group to have a UK No.1 single with “Baby Love.”  It was the second of five Supremes songs in a row to go to No.1 in the US, including “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” and “Back In My Arms Again.”  In 1966 they continued their string of No.1 hits with “I Hear A Symphony,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”  Their songs are among the best of Motown songs ever.

“Baby Love” provides the theme for my blog entry and playlist this week, with “Baby”, one of my first word themed playlists I created many years ago, and among my favorites.

The title of the playlist is yet another Motown great, “Ooh Baby Baby” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.  With his silky smooth vocals, Smokey was another Motown hit machine, with songs including “Shop Around,” “Tracks Of My Tears,” “I Second That Emotion,” “Tears Of A Clown” and then as a solo artist with “Crusin’,” “Being With You,” and “Just To See Her.”

Other Motown hits include the Four Tops “Baby I Need Your Loving” and the Temptations “Since I Lost My Baby.” Some oldies but goodies with Buddy Holly’s “Maybe Baby,” Franky Valli’s “Bye Bye Baby,” The Beatles “Baby It’s You” as well as oferings from Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Billie Holiday.

Another gem in this playlist is my all time favorite Bob Dylan song, “Baby Let Me Follow You Down.” Traditionally not the biggest Dylan fan, this song brought me more around to his musical genius, though recorded when only in the infancy of his career. If you haven’s seen “Life Itself,” it’s worth a watch, with Dylan’s landmark album “Time Out of Mind,” which contains the now classic, oft covered tune “Make You Feel My Love.”

The playlist does include “Somebody’s Baby” and “Your Bright Baby Blues” by Jackson Browne as well as “Baby Boom Baby” by James Taylor, both of whom I just saw in concert.  They were fantastic.  Jackson, of German and Norwegian descent, was a precocious songwriter in his teens, and helped pen the Eagles first top 40 hit “Take It Easy.”  He shared a house in Echo Park, LA in the early 70s with Glenn Frey and JD Souther, and helped Glen Frey and Don Henley hone their songwriting skills.  I love the video below, featuring a young Glenn singing the lead on “Take It Easy,” with Jackson as well as the rest of the Eagles members and even Linda Ronstadt in an early 70s performance.

I had totally forgotten that “Somebody’s Baby” was released as part of the soundtrack of the 80s classic “Fast Times At Ridgemont High.” I don’t think I’ve revisited the movie since I first saw it in the theater almost 40 years ago now:

At the concert James Taylor discussed his road to recovery from drug addiction, primarily heroin, prompted by the overdose death of his close friend John Belushi, highlighted in his song “That’s Why I’m Here”:

John’s gone, found dead. He dies high, he’s brown bread, later said to have drowned in his bed. After the laugher, the waves of dread, it hits us like a ton of lead.”

His song “Fire And Rain” chronicles the suicide death of a friend of his, as well as his struggle with addiction and recovery, and institutionalization in a mental hospital.

“Won’t you look down upon me Jesus? You’ve got to help me make a stand. You’ve just got to see me through another day. My body’s aching and my time is at hand. And I won’t make it any other way.”

Lastly, with Christmas approaching, I did include at the end of the list some great Christmas “Baby” songs, such as “Merry Christmas Baby”, “Santa Baby,” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” There are so many great versions of these songs, that I included recordings by several artists, such as Otis Redding, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and U2. They are among my all time favorite pop Christmas songs.

So enjoy this week’s featured playlist, “Ooh BABY Baby”:

As an added bonus, for those of you not familiar with Jackson Browne and James Taylor, or those wanting to re-listen to some of your old favorites, I thought I’d include a playlist of some of the songs from their music catalogue:

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment

Enjoy the moment

Love the moment

Listen to the MUSIC!

Need You Tonight & Rhythm Of The Night – “Tonight” & “Night” Songs

On November 13, 1976, Rod Stewart started an 8 week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with “Tonight’s The Night.”  It was the longest stay at the top of the US singles chart since The Beatles “Hey Jude” 8 years earlier, in 1968.  The song was banned from play on many radio stations due to its suggestive theme and seductive french whispers provided by Stewart’s then girlfriend Britt Ekland, though relatively tame by today’s standards.  It remains among the most popular Billboard hits of all time.

Its title provides the theme for this week’s blog entry and playlists, featuring both “Tonight” and “Night” word playlists.  Both words have inspired some absolutely amazing songs.

“Tonight” songs include such hits as “Get Down Tonight,” “Let Me Take You Home Tonight,” “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” and “We’ve Got Tonight,” which I believe was the theme song for my high school senior “Class Night.”  There are even some nods to Broadway musicals, including “Lion King,” “RENT,” “Hamilton,” and “West Side Story.”

When touring RCA Studio B in Nashville, where Elvis recorded “Are You Lonesome To-night,” we learned some interesting trivia regarding the song.  To get in the right mood for the song, Elvis ultimately dimmed all the lights in the studio to increase his feeling of loneliness.  When the song ends, he moved forward in the dark and bumped his head on the microphone.  You can actually hear the “thump” at the end of the song if you turn up the volume and listen closely.  Also, Elvis didn’t like the very end of his best take, so he re-recorded the end of the song, which was then in those pre-digital recording days spliced together from the two separate tapes using scissors and tape, MID-WORD, with “To” being the end of the best take, and “-night” the last recording of the end of the song.  if you notice the original, true title of the song, it is “Are You Lonesome To-night.”  The hyphen in the word is in recognition of those “splicers” who spliced together the two takes with such exceptional precision that it is impossible to tell that the song was pieced together.

While only half-serious in this video, Elvis gives us a glimpse of what a master of his craft he truly was.  He demonstrates such control of his beautiful instrument, his God given voice. Breathtaking.

“Night” songs have another Bob Seger great “Night Moves,” the disco hits “Night Fever,” and “I Love The Nightlife,” rock classics “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” “All Day And All Of The Night,” “Dance The Night Away,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Fly By Night,” 80’s ladies songs “Shadows Of The Night,” and “All Through The Night,” and some oldies with “Still Of The Night,” “Night And Day,” and “Strangers In The Night.”  There are also a handful of Broadway hits, including songs from “Chess,” “Evita,” “Phantom Of The Opera,” and “Miss Saigon.”

From the Broadway Musical “Chess”, “One Night In Bangkok” rose to #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1984.  It’s singer, Murray Head, played the lead, Judas, in another Tim Rice Broadway Musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar” over a decade earlier, in 1970.

For those of you thinking chess an unusual theme for a musical or movie, consider watching “Searching for Bobby Fisher” or if you haven’t watched the much hyped Netfilx Original series “The Queen’s Gambit,” do yourself a BIG favor and watch it.  It’s that good:

And for those who have seen it and loved it, guess what? “The Queen’s Gambit, Season 2” is coming to a Netflix screen near you!

Now, back to the playlists for some music I know you’re going to love.



I’ve also included some Country counterparts, as an added bonus for you Country fans: 

“Tonight” Country:

“Night” Country:

Give these playlists a listen – you won’t be disappointed!

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment

Enjoy the moment

Love the moment

Listen to the MUSIC!

Silly LOVE Songs & A Groovy Kind Of LOVE – “Love” Songs

On November 6, 1982, Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”, a song featured in my recent “Techno-Pop” playlist, achieved the longest unbroken run on the UK charts with 43 weeks in the top 100.  On this day in 1990, Madonna released “Justify My Love,” the first VHS video single in the US, some 4 years after Queen had released the first video single in the UK with “Who Wants To Live Forever.”  Her song, co-written by Lenny Kravitz, became her ninth No.1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.  And on this day in 1993, Meat Loaf had the No. 1 US single with “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” a song that appeared in my last blog and “Piano Man” playlist for top piano oriented rock songs.  You likely notice what these songs have in common, the theme of today’s word-oriented playlists, they each contain the word “Love” in their title.

I had sworn to myself never to take on the challenge of creating a playlist with the word “love,” anticipating it being too large an undertaking, suspecting and confirming once working on it that it is perhaps one of the most common title words in rock and pop music.  When the playlist neared 350 songs and a day’s worth of music, I decided to split the lists in 2, making them a bit less unwieldy.  I created an “A” and “B” list – that said, the “B” list isn’t so shabby, still with some amazing “love” songs.  And for clarification, these are not “love songs”, meaning they are not all romance songs.  They are songs that contain “love” in the title, and thus songs like Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and J Geils’ “Love Stinks” are far from love songs.  For ease of finding your favorite “Love” song I did alphabetize them (yes, a little OCD) on each playlist (a feature only available if you have the pay version of Spotify).

So “What Is Love?” asks Howard Jones, “Love Is A Battlefield” belts Pat Benetar, “Love Is A Tangle” according to the Radiators, “Love Is Strange” croon Mickey & Sylvia, “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” warble The Four Aces, “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” sings Sade, “Love Is” both “…Stronger Than Justice” and “…The Seventh Wave” according to Sting, “…The Drug” per Roxy Music, and to England Dan and John Ford Coley “Love Is The Answer.”

The “A” list, “Silly LOVE Songs” contains such classics as “All You Need Is Love” (The Beatles),  “Baby Love” (The Supremes), “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (I opted for Haley Reinhart over Elvis, I so LOVE her and her version):

Also “Endless Love,” “Jungle Love” (Steve Miller Band), “Love Her Madly” (The Doors), “Love Is Strange” (Mickey & Sylvia, made famous in “Dirty Dancing”):

And “Love Shack” (B-52’s), “Make You Feel My Love” (Bob Dylan), “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2), and “Somebody To Love” (Queen and Jefferson Airplane).

Some songs posing questions: “Are You Ready For Love? (Elton John), “Do You Believe In Love?” (Huey Lewis), “Is That Love?” (Squeeze), “Is This Love?” (Whitesnake and Bob Marley), “What Is Love?” (Howard Jones),  “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” (Tina Turner), “Where Is The Love?” (Black Eyed Peas), “Who Do You Love” (George Thorogood), “Why Can’t This Be Love?” (Van Halen), “Will You Still Love Me?” (Chicago), and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” (Carole King).

The “B” sides playlist, again quite spectacular in their own right, has such greats as “Bold As Love” (Jimi Hendrix), “Goodbye Love” (RENT Cast, all my Broadway Musical “Love” songs are on this playlist for continuity sake), “I’ll Never Love Again” (Lady Gaga), “Love And Marriage” (Frank Sinatra), “Love In The First Degree” (Alabama), “Runaway Love” (En Vogue), “So This Is Love?” (Van Halen), “The Book Of Love” (The Monotones), “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding” (Elvis Costello), and “You Love The Thunder” (Jackson Browne).

Plural “Loves” songs are also included at the end of both lists, including song greats “Everybody Loves Somebody” (Dean Martin), “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (Whitney Houston), “She Loves You” (The Beatles), and “When A Man Loves A Woman” (Percy Sledge).

You may notice there are no “Loved” (as in “Could You Be Loved” and “She Will Be Loved”), “Lover” (as in “My Kinda Lover” and “Dream Lover”), or “Loving” (as in “Bad Case Of Loving You” and “Baby I Need Your Loving”) songs.  They each have their own playlists to be explored and released in a future blog – something to look forward to!

Some artists appear drawn to Love, or at least writing songs with love in their titles.  The top “Love” artists are Elton John, the king of “Love” songs, appearing 15 times on the list, with the Amy Grant coming in second with 11, though tied with Paul McCartney if including his work with The Beatles (9) and Wings (2), with John Lennon and George Harrison right on their heels with 10 appearances on the lists when considering their Beatles (9) and solo songs (1).  Honorable mention goes to Eric Clapton, at 7, and Elvis Pressley and Celine Dion each making the list 6 times.

So “Are You Ready For LOVE?”  If so, check out this video – such an amazing glimpse of the 70’s!

And then give these playlists a listen – you won’t be disappointed!

You can directly access all of my playlists on Spotify, as well as follow me on Facebook (see “Follow Us” links)

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment

Enjoy the moment

Love the moment

Listen to the MUSIC!

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