On December 19, 1970, Elton John’s first US hit “Your Song” entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it went on to reach number eight. The song had already been recorded and released by Three Dog Night – who knew? And The Hollies has been offered the song and turned it down – that was a mistake! The song on his eponymous album, actually not his first, but second album, with “Empty Sky” being released a year prior. While I already owned the vinyl of this album, I remember purchasing and listening to the digitally remastered CD version and being absolutely blown away. The album has such amazing orchestral pieces and great music, including, in addition to “Your Song,” “I Need You To Turn To,” “Take Me To The Pilot,” “Sixty Years On,” “Border Song,” “The Greatest Discovery,” and “The King Must Die.” Do yourself a favor and give this album a listen. You won’t be sorry.
“Your Song” is among the inspirations for this week’s word playlist “Favorite SONG” featuring songs containing the word “song” or “songs” in the title. To be clear, these aren’t my favorite songs in general, as that will be the topic of a future playlist. The title of the playlist is borrowed from a TobyMac song of the same title included in the list. Of note, TobyMac, a Christian rap and hip hop artist with DC Talk and solo, has sold over 10 million albums, had six No.1 Contemporary Hit Radio as well as Billboard Chrisitan singles, and won 7 Grammy Awards. Here’s one of Toby’s more recent hits:
In addition to “Your Song” Elton has five other songs on the list, including “Border Song,” “Michelle’s Song,” “Love Song,” “Sad Songs Say So Much,” and “Song For Guy.” Check out this version of “Your Song” live in Central Park in 1980. It’s not every day that you see a pop star singing dressed as a duck and quacking!
Led Zeppelin appears on the almost as often as Elton, with 5 offerings, including “Immigrant Song”, which lent itself to one of the greatest movie opening scene song pairings ever in “Thor Ragnarock”:
Also included are Zep’s “The Wanton Song,” “The Rain Song,” “The Lemon Song,” and “The Song Remains The Same.” If you want to watch a great 70’s live rock concert video, check out the movie “The Song Remains The Same” with Plant, Page, Jones, and Bonham in their heyday. Two of the songs included here, featuring Jimmy on his doubleneck Gibson SG, made famous as his electric guitar used for his masterful licks on “Stairway To Heaven.” Both “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” are featured here:
And by nature of the word, a title that includes the word “song” may be a song about something that does not include the word song in the lyrics. Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song” and “Kathy’s Song” as well as Supertramp’s “Logical Song,” Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” John Denver’s “Annie’s Song,” Anne Murray’s “Danny’s Song,” Bob Dylan’s “Percy’s Song” and many others, in addition to some instrumentals that obviously contain no words, “song” or otherwise! Who can forget this memorable use of Harry Belefonte’s “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” in the movie “Beetlejuice”?
With Tesla’s “Love Song” video, again not containing “song” in its lyrics, you can see Jimmy Page’s influence on rock, with another doubleneck Gibson 6 and 12 string SG:
One of the real hidden gems is Leon Russell’s “A Song For You.” While I’m certain I heard this song years ago, I , somehow forgot about it, until researching for this playlist. Give a listen to it early in his career:
Then fast forward 40 years, at his induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, accompanied by John Mayer, who my son calls the greatest guitarist of his generation, and listening to this, he’s not wrong. And Leon can still tickle the ivories, and has his same singing chops:
Some Broadway musical greats included are songs from “Song and Dance,” “RENT”, and “West Side Story,” the latter of which is very timely given the new version of this Sondheim musical just released, even more fitting given Stephen Sondheim’s recent passing. Here’s the original version of “The Jet Song”:
Also, a shout out to The Dartmouth Aires, the all-male acapella singing group of my alma mater Dartmouth College. I still have an old cassette with some of their greats, including “Up The Ladder To The Roof,” “Peg,” and “Shamma Lamma Ding Dong.” They also of course sang our traditional college songs, two of which are included here, “Twilight Song” and “Hanover Winter Song.” The Aires finished runner-up to none other than Pentatonix on “Sing Off” several years back. Though I am obviously biased, I think they actually should have won, but it’s hard to give a contract to a college group that will change from year to year, or in Dartmouth’s case term to term. You be the judge:
There is one song on the list without the word “song” in the title but feature the word so prominently in its lyrics that I included it – the Carpenters “Sing.” My kids had an Elmo video where he and his Sesame Street pals were searching for “la-laers” (people to sing “la la la la la, la la la la la la, la la la la la la la…” – if your kids had the video, you know what I’m talking about, else listen to the song, and you’ll understand). Alas I couldn’t find that version, but you’ll have to settle for this compliation, which is cool in its own right:
So there’s a song for everyone, pun intended! Here’s the playlist. I hope you enjoy it:
I also made a country counterpart, though nowhere near as extensive – I’m happy as always to take suggestions for additions:
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!