Neil Young With Crazy Horse – Down By the River
If there was ever a track that sounds so infinitely better on vinyl it becomes less of a ‘song’ and more of an ‘experience’, this would be it; the 9-minute + long jam and Side 1 closer on Neil Young and Crazy Horses’ “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” dawdles along with darkness and dignity and one of the best damn guitar solos ever. I would describe it as one of my favourite songs longer than 4 minutes, and it begs repeated listening to take in all of the determined grit and grimness of the track.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers – My Friends
With the big announcement today of the Chili Peppers’ Western Canadian dates (yay!) I am throwing in this, my favourite Chilis’ ballad (of the ones sans John Frusciante of course). There’s something so beautiful and deeply saddening about this song both in terms of the story behind it (that of bassist Flea’s painful divorce) and the subject matter of the song; of feeling less alone in a cold world and remembering to love. Interviews with the band often stress that the message of the band is love; of one’s self, and each other. It’s nice that a rock band most famous for their raunchy sock-donning antics and filthy rap innuendos, can remind us to take a moment and remember those “hurt by the cold”.
Fleetwood Mac – Over & Over
While “Tusk” is not one of Fleetwood Mac’s most well-known or well-loved LPs, it features the album opener to end all album openers, Over and Over, Christine McVie’s opus and my favourite contribution of hers on any of the records on which she appears. It’s an emotional song that seems so odd when paired with the New Wave sound of the other tracks on Side A of the double album, like a peaceful island amidst a rocky sea. It’s often been said that “Tusk”, like “The White Album” seems the work of several solo artists and if this is true, then the opener makes perfect sense. Either way, it’s the best track on the record and maybe one of the band’s best tracks ever.
Bad Company – Ready for Love
Why is Bad Company so great, yet kinda underrated? If you look up ‘Classic Rock’ in the dictionary their picture will be there and yet the world hasn’t fully recognized them as rock legends alongside untouchable Gods like The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin. Yet, one listen to the dark, husky, sexy Ready for Love will have you wondering why. It’s a quintessential 1970s makeout/road trip type song with all the workings of an almost country-fried rock n’ roll classic. I dare you not to fall in love.
Ryan Adams – Whether We Make It or Not
Yet another Ryan Adams songs that never appears on an official release, this incredibly messy, uneven track about… death? A breakup? Leaving Los Angeles? was played live only once, and only exists as a live bootleg. Yet, it’s the unevenness and nonsensical lyrics and the sheer, raw passion in which that one-time-only performance is sung that makes this so worth listening to, it’s scary.
Bob Seger – Night Moves
To me, this song sums up everything about a youth I was unlucky enough to never experience; that feeling of dating and self-discovery and memories and music and cars and summertime and “trying to lose those awkward teenage blues” while falling in love and not knowing (or caring) what you’re doing is a magical thing and it is captured too perfectly in this total classic. It’s, like a lot of classic Seger tunes, a whole bunch of false nostalgia about happier, simpler, more badass times and whether you can relate to it or not, that sense of finding belonging amidst a world of confusion, cars, women and booze is something we can all relate to.
The Monkees – I’m Not Your Stepping Stone
“WHAT A GREAT RIFF!” you might say, if this song was written and performed by someone else. The Monkees get a bad rap. I was just talking to my mom about them yesterday and she said she gave all her Monkees records away to her younger brother once she had “outgrown” them. I once saw this famous clip of Dick Clark introducing the ‘music video’ for Strawberry Fields Forever which was preceded by him asking audience members what they thought of the Beatles following Beatlemania and the vicious John Lennon backlash. One young gentleman said, ever so sacrilegiously, “They’re as bad as The Monkees.” Well… the Monkees are no Magical Mystery Tour, even though they tried their hand at mimicking the sounds of the counterculture a few times. But there’s no denying a pop/rock classic like I’m Not Your Stepping Stone. Underneath the well-produced angry rock sound it’s a silly song about dating a girl who is “trying to make her mark in society” and who doesn’t really care about who she’s dating to get there. But hey – whatever, man. It’s a great song that demands a second look.