8 Great Songs You've Probably Forgotten
Artists of the Songs You've Probably Forgotten
- Billy Joel & Ray Charles
- Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Creedence Clearwater Revival
- The Rolling Stones
- Van Morrison
- The Spice Girls
- Digital Underground & 2Pac
Music plays a significant part in the shaping of our lives. The music of our parents sets the tone for what we'll base our future selections upon. My father's favorite band, the Rolling Stones, remain my favorite band to this day!
We correlate certain songs to moments in history or events in our lives. The first guitar note of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" will forever be our Vietnam-era go-to song. Such connections exist in our personal lives as well.
How, then, if music is so integral to our lives, do the good songs sometimes get forgotten? With music playing in the background of every commercial, in every movie, and on each of the hundreds of stations on your satellite radio, it's no surprise that we occasionally find ourselves in musical overload. From time to time, it's worth slowing down and poring back over the songs we'd once loved, but have since let slip to the back burner. Below are 8 great songs you may remember...
"Baby Grand" by Billy Joel and Ray Charles
Perhaps it is the truth in Joel's mid-song declaration "Nobody's gonna play this on the radio" that allows this song to slip so precipitously through our fingers, but "Baby Grand" is a powerful love song in which two titans of the keys enumerate the reasons they adore their pianos.
As you would expect, the instrumental control of these musicians is precise and the vocals are solid. Every line from Joel's mouth sounds like butter, and from the moment Ray Charles sings his first note, he comes in like an old jazzman might, but you can feel in every word his ability to explode and hit you with vocals that feel like a freight train.
How did Joel feel about performing his song with the legendary Ray Charles, the man who would one day induct him into the Hall of Fame?
...At first I felt like a scared little schmuck from Long Island. But by then end of the session everybody was in a great groove. We were all having a good time.1
In the end, none of that nervousness shines through, and the result is this beautiful song.
"All I Can Do is Write About It" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Mockingly named for Leonard Skinner, the boys' P.E. teacher in high school, Lynyrd Skynyrd is the iconic Southern Rock band. Despite the well-documented death of several of the members in an airplane crash, the group has played together since the mid 1960s, saved a ten year hiatus from 1977-1987, immediately following the incident.2
Ronnie Van Zant, lead singer of the band died in that airplane, but not before penning some incredible pieces. "All I Can Do is Write About It" sometimes gets overshadowed by more popular hits such as "Sweet Home Alabama," "Gimme Three Steps," and "Freebird," but it stands the test of time as a simple man's case for protecting the environment.
This testimony to the feeling of helplessness in competition with corporatism and expansion serves to prove the importance of music as an outlet. It is a song filled with touching memories and sweet lyrics. A must-hear.
"Can I Get A..." by Jay-Z feat. Ja Rule and Amil
Nowadays Jay-Z is a business mogul. He had his fingers in Rocawear, continues to be involved with Budweiser Select, the Brooklyn Nets, 40/40 nightclubs, Arsenal Football Club, and Def Jam Records3. On top of that, he's married to the beautiful and talented Beyonce Knowles in what is perhaps the most talented power couple of my lifetime.
However, on top of all of that Jay-Z is still a hell of a rapper. He's released 14 studio albums--and they all went platinum!4
Get your own copy!
The man's been doing it a long time, so it's no surprise that some of the stuff gets forgotten. "Can I Get A..." is a late-nineties relic that still carries with it all 90s flavor that makes you want to bounce up and down just a little while it plays. This tune was Jay-Z's first significant exposure to listeners who didn't consider themselves exclusively rap fanatics.
In it, Jay-Z has already established the character that, fifteen years, he has truly turned out to be. The rhymes aren't as smart as some of his more popular stuff, but the beat is worth something.
*This video has a significant amount of profanity*
"Lodi" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Good enough to be on their greatest hits album, "Lodi" is the narrative of a travelling musician stranded when things just didn't work out. Although Creedence Clearwater Revival was really a west coast band, Fogerty tells a musical story like a through-and-through Southern rocker.
The fellows who formed CCR started going at it as early as middle school. Fogerty had to deliver papers to pay for the guitar he bought with a loan co-signed by his mother. Doug Clifford had to play his snare drum with sticks he made out of old cue sticks. There was a deep love for the music, and one day, down the line, it showed in this tune.5
Simple rhythms mirror the simple story-telling, but this is a song with more complex themes: hope, action, disappointment, and regret. At the end, you'll examine your own life, wondering if there's a story to be told.
"Dead Flowers" by the Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are another long-term rock band who not only witnessed, but acted as a catalyst for, the transformation of rock music from a passing fad to a steadfast cultural landmark. Keith Richards puts it succinctly:
“Something was happening in the late winter of 1962 and afterwards,” Keith Richards says, “because suddenly hundreds and then thousands of people were queuing up to see us. And it doesn’t take a nail driven through your head to realize that something’s going on and that you’re part of it. It was an amazing experience and it happened so fast, starting in London and then moving out from there. It was like hanging onto a tornado.”6
They remain a big deal, and their discography is legendary. "Dead Flowers" is a far cry from some of the Stones' most recognizable tunes, but it reeks of the influence that the blues and bluegrass had on their music. It's slow and strummy but is also as raw ("...with a needle, and a spoon, and another girl to take my pain away...") as you'd expect from the World's Greatest Rock n' Roll Band.
A song like this one can make you forget that those guys are from across the pond. Give it a listen.
"Tupelo Honey" by Van Morrison
When you talk about Van Morrison, you're talking about the artist behind forty albums. You're talking about a timeless sound.7
Van Morrison isn't a new name to most, as "Brown-Eyed Girl" continues to be a radio go-to. In addition to "Brown-Eyed Girl," however are a slew of other songs that you've likely heard and possibly forgotten. No one would blame you for hanging your Morrison hat on that classic, but here is another one deserving of respect.
"Tupelo Honey" is the title track to the album entitled "Tupelo Honey." It is a love song, with the focus upon his "angel, of the first degree." Like most of Van Morrison's music, this song exemplifies his buttery style. Every note, every word is smooth.
"Wannabe" by The Spice Girls
First of all, I should just admit that depending on when you hit puberty, it may not be fair to say that "Wannabe" (or its music video) were every really forgotten. For some of us, and maybe I'm just speaking for myself, the "Wannabe" video was the first thing that I ever thought was sexy. Thanks, Spices.
The Spice Girls hit the 90s like tidal wave and excited guys and girls all over the world. Though they produced only three studio albums, they spent the late 1990s on top of the world. With "Wannabe" atop the charts in over two dozen countries, the Spice Girls, named aptly for their looks and/or personalities were all the rage.8
Parlaying their popularity into a movie deal, the group also produced "Spice World," a movie that became popular in its own right.
In the end, this is what there is to say about the Spice Girls: they skyrocketed, exploded like a Kerouac firecracker, and promptly fell back to earth. Those men and women of my age group still remember them--fondly?--they are largely irrelevant now which makes "Wannabe" a fun little trip back to Brit Pop was all the rage.
"Same Song" by Digital Underground & 2Pac
Before 2Pac became the posterboy for "West Coast Rap" (he's wearing a Yankees jersey in the video!), he was featured by Digital Underground. D.U. was a funk-inspired hip-hop group with a rotating core of members. With every album, the group was a little bit different. It was formed out of California by Shock G and Chopmaster G, D.U. contributed music to the "Don't Be A Menace in South Central While Drinking Your Juice in The Hood" soundtrack as well as that of the Dan Aykroyd film "Nothing but Trouble," in which "Same Song" can be found.9
On his "Never Scared" comedy special, Chris Rock said something interesting about rap music.
"In the old days it was easy to defend rap music, it was easy to defend it on an intellectual level. You could break it down intellectually why Grandmaster Flash was art, why Run DMC was art, why Hoodini was art and music"10
Now, I don't know if he had Digital Underground in mind, or not, but there is certainly something different in their music than of the rap today. It's not the sexuality (though perhaps the level of vulgarity) because Humpty touches on rap in "Same Song." It's not the focus on fame, as 2Pac's verse discusses that too. Maybe it's just the nostalgia, I don't know. Maybe you can figure it out.