Category Archives: Music

My ‘Top 25 Most Played’ Songs According to iTunes

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Does iTunes truly reflect what we listen to on a regular basis? I decided to find out if that was truly the case.

I have had an iTunes account for several years. I almost exclusively use it to upload, purchase and play songs randomly. I don’t bother with much else regarding iTunes, which maybe it would be disappointed to hear (but I doubt it).

I am not much for playlists, since my patience level for such endeavors are minimal at best. As a result I have barely paid any attention to any iTunes self-created lists such as its Genius Playlist, Recently Played or its tracking of my ‘Top 25 Most Played’ based on my iTunes Library.

I finally decided to check my ‘most played’ list to see what songs iTunes data had determined to be my Top 25 versus what I thought would be on the list.

I was very surprised to see that a bunch of my popular artists were MIA from the list. Sade. Blind Willie Johnson. Depeche Mode. Maverick Sabre. Sam Cooke. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Movie Soundtrack (don’t ask). Nneka. Tori Amos. Journey. Florence & the Machine. Marc Cohn. Note: I do listen to some of these artists outside iTunes through other apps such as YouTube, Pandora, Soundcloud and Spotify.

Even more surprising was that there are songs on the list that I had no idea that I listened to that much. Also, there were a few that I’m sure made the ‘most played’ cut simply because I just didn’t skip over it after hearing a song I had previously selected. All that being said, most of the songs on the list are ones that I do enjoy listening to regularly; some a tad incessantly.

Below are my top 25 ‘most played’ songs (ranked #25 to #1) along with commentary, links to artist profiles and songs for your listening pleasure. 

FYI:  I did my best to find videos that were free of advertisements. Initially I had planned to use music sharing app such as Soundcloud or Spotify or WordPress’ audio files set-up. Unfortunately, Soundcloud and Spotify didn’t have most of my songs in their respective catalogs (no surprise there) and WordPress’ system didn’t mesh with my desired visual aesthetics for this blog post.

Time to start the countdown or as Referee Judge Mills Lane from ‘Celebrity Death Match’ would say “Let’s get it on!”

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25. ‘Hiroshima’ (2002) – Bryan Ferry

I am a big, big Bryan Ferry fan. I would have been absolutely shocked if one of his songs hadn’t made this list. This is easily my favorite song from his album ‘Frantic.’ I listen to a lot of Ferry’s solo music and a good portion of his work with his former group, Roxy Music. But this song is the one I play the most. It is spacey, oddly robotic, yet soaring at times. It doesn’t get its due from Ferry fans.

24. ‘Darshan’ (2001) – B21

Not surprised this song made it on this list. I first heard it while watching the movie ‘Bend It Like Beckham.’ It’s one of two songs that I really like from a solid movie soundtrack. Its exuberance will get your hips moving, even if you don’t know the Punjabi lyrics. It makes me smile, especially when I’m dragging my feet. The day when I will be able to sing the lyrics to this song successfully will be a good one.

23. ‘Murder’ (1997) – Alana Davis

I didn’t think that I listened to this song this much. Davis is most known for her song ‘32 Flavors‘ but to me she is much more than that. The lyrics and vibe (fingers snapping, simple guitar strumming) to this song are strong; soaked in feelings of dread and paranoia. It makes for a heady mix. Too bad she was a bit before her time musically. Davis probably would’ve made a bigger music mark in our current digital music age.

22. ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ (1995) – Radiohead

I like this group, but I wouldn’t have guessed that one of their songs would have made this list. Then again I do sing to this song whenever I hear it because of the poignant and quietly raging lyrics. I especially like when lead singer Thom Yorke’ voice starts to rise, then falls as he sings “But I can’t help the feeling. I could blow through the ceiling. If I just turn and run.” It is a great song from a solid sophomore album.

21. ‘Ruiner (Live, 2009)’ – Nine Inch Nails

‘Ruiner’ is a recent download/addition to my iTunes account, a song that I have played almost obsessively. So its addition to this list is a given. This is a live 2009 version that I recently discovered via YouTube, which has now become my preferred version of this song. Hell, it’s almost coming close to being my favorite NIN song, but I still enjoy ‘March of the Pigs‘ a bit more. Whenever I hear this version of ‘Ruiner’ my head and body rocks out hard while I sing the lyrics along with NIN founder/lead singer Trent Reznor.

20. ‘Rain On Me’ (2003) – Ashanti

I haven’t listened to this song in a while, so seeing it on the list was unexpected. I had assumed that ‘Only You‘ would have made the list, since I do prefer it over ‘Rain.’ Nevertheless, I can’t complain about this song making the cut since it is a good one. Plus you can’t go wrong with sampling The Look of Love‘ by Issac Hayes. Ashanti doesn’t have a strong voice, but she puts it to good use on this track.

19. ‘How Much I Feel’ (1978) – Ambrosia

There is no doubt that I play this song way too much, which iTunes has confirmed. Unfortunately, 1970s soft rock gets a bad rap, which has caused many to overlook some of the great songs that came out of the era and genre. This song has it all, harmonizing vocals, heartfelt emotion and lyrics that tell a love story starting from the middle to the end. I love the part when David Pack sings, practically laments “Then you both realize. Just how foolish you’ve been. And you try to make amends. But you’re better off as friends.” That is some serious songwriting.

18. ‘Rolling In the Deep’ (2011) – Adele

I thought this song would be in a higher slot since I ran it into the ground and then some.  I had to deselect it from my iTunes Library so that I wouldn’t end up causing the song to wear out its welcome. Adele has had other hits, but this is still my favorite. I just love the 1960s vibe to it and the toughness of her vocals. She sounds like a woman, not a girlish pop star or some manufactured boy band singing and prancing obliviously about like show horses. Adele is simply fierce.

17. ‘Inner Smile’ (2000) – Texas

Definitely a ‘go-to’ song for me whenever I need a mood pick-me-up. It’s also another song from the ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ movie soundtrack. It’s simply infectious and should have been a big hit in the United States. Guess an English band named ‘Texas’ that sings pop/R&B was probably a hard sale in the States. That’s too bad because it’s a damn good song that you can sing and dance to and will make you feel better afterwards.

16. ‘Fallen’ (2003) – Mya

Not sure how this song made the list. I’m not saying that I don’t like it, but I don’t like it this much. I’m positive that this song’s addition to the list is pure happenstance in that it’s just been played randomly by iTunes. Nevertheless, it’s a nice song that has an atmospheric vibe to it, which sadly, isn’t a style you hear much of in the R&B/HipHop music world. Mya can sing, but really hasn’t been provided enough songs to show off her vocal pipes.

15. ‘Safe From Harm’ (1991) – Massive Attack

Another recent iTunes addition so I’ve had it in heavy rotation, therefore its mention on this list is pro forma. ‘Safe from Harm’ is a moody, sexy song – a Massive Attack specialty. This song is in a tie with ‘Joy Luck Club‘ as one of my top songs by them. I’ve had it on replay for quite some time. Shara Nelson’s vocals are strong and sexy and Robert Del Naja’s rap is crisp and hypnotic, both a perfect match to the music.

14. ‘Love Rears Up Its Ugly Head’ (1990) – Living Colour

I honestly can’t recall the last time I’ve listened to this song, yet it’s somehow in my top 25. This act was way before it’s time. Hell, they’re probably still before their time. People just couldn’t get their heads around a Black music group that played a mix of alternative rock, heavy metal and hip-hop. ‘Cult of Personality’ is still their biggest hit, but I don’t think it represents them well as this song does. When Corey Glover, the lead singer, starts wailing “Oh no, no, no, no. Not that again…” along with the loud and striking guitar work – you will recognize this group’s awesomeness.

13. ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ (1994) – Brownstone

Another ‘high song rank’ surprise. Then again I do have a weakness for good cover versions (the 1979 original was written and sung by The Eagles) such as this one. What makes ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ a stand-out is that Brownstone makes this song their own. If it wasn’t for the lyrics you would think it’s an original. There are various versions of this song, but this one (official video version – not on the album) is the best. I love when contralto Nichole Gilbert starts semi-scatting the lyrics then repeats in a deeper voice the line ‘Why don’t you please tell me why’ near the end. It’s too bad the original line-up of this R&B group (from their debut album ‘From the Bottom Up‘) didn’t remain intact. Brownstone would’ve put a lot of female group acts to shame. They were full-throttled, talented women (not sex kittens or wannabe adults) who could sing their asses off.

12. ‘Remedy’ (1992) – The Black Crowes

Was a tad surprised that this song by the Crowes made the list. I thought that ‘Sometimes Salvation‘ would have made the cut instead. However, after ‘Salvation’ this is one of my top songs by them. ‘Remedy’ is a bluesy, rock song that is stripped down to its basics: strong lead vocals, slinky backing vocals joined by a tough guitar sound. This song is from their should-be-considered-a-classic album ‘The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion‘ one of the rare albums I can listen to in its entirety.

11. ‘The Main Thing’ (1982) – Roxy Music

I absolutely knew Roxy Music would be on this list! ‘The Main Thing’ is from their ‘Avalon’ album. The album title/song was a big hit, but I gravitated more towards the quiet, brooding, techno sound of ‘The Main Thing.’ The song is short on actual lyrics but long on creating a sound that is eery, like a drug-induced Gregorian chant. People either get Roxy Music or they don’t. If you’re a member of the former you are lucky indeed.

10. ‘Gold Dust Woman’ (1977) – Fleetwood Mac

Of course this song made this list. If I had to pick a song that sums up what I love about Fleetwood Mac it would be this one. Stevie Nick’s scratchy and evocative singing. Lyndsey Buckingham’s crazy guitar work and backing vocals. Mick Fleetwood’s pounding drum work. John McVee’s deep bass strumming and Christie McVee’s harmonizing adding depth to Nick’s vocals. It all comes together on a distinctive song that keeps ramping up until the band just leaves it all in the dust (pun intended).

9. ‘Life’s What You Make It’ (1985) – Talk Talk

I simply like the lyrics and the piercing, soaring guitar work on this song. Therefore I listen to it a lot, hence its placement on this list. The lyrics aren’t that complex, “Baby, life’s what you make it. Celebrate it. Anticipate it. Yesterday’s faded. Nothing can change it. Life’s what you make it” nor lengthy. Yet, the way Mark Davis Hollis sings the words somehow adds more significance to them. Makes you pause and think after the song is over.

8. ‘Homesick’ (2009) – Ryan Kickland

This song is stark and beautiful and will stick around with you long after you’ve heard it, which is why it’s on this list. I was watching an episode of  ‘Justified’ a few years ago when I first heard this quiet, twangy, fantastic song. I love Kickland’s haunting vocals and the simple, yet sad sound of the guitar. This is a woefully overlooked song that deserves a long moment in the sun.

7. ‘Moment 4 Life’ (2010) – Nicki Minaj featuring Drake

I’m not a Minaj fan since she raps with too much manufactured braggadocio and not enough heat. Yet, I must really like this Minaj song since it made the Top 10. The best parts of ‘Moment’ is when she’s not rapping because then she is letting you know what she’s feeling. Hell, Drake out-raps her on her own song. Nevertheless it’s a jam that I like listening to, especially when I’m driving in my car with the windows down.

6. ‘Out of My Head’ (2013) – John Newman

I have become a John Newman fan over the past eighteen months. I would’ve been shocked if one of his songs hadn’t made this list. Though I did think that his acoustic/live version of ‘Not Giving In‘ would’ve beat out this song, but apparently I was wrong. Newman has a distinctive singing style which inexplicably have caused some people to assume that he’s a black guy. The ethnicity assumptions are a result of Newman’s music style, which is heavily-influenced by old school R&B. This song has a semi-epic orchestral feel to it that goes well with his mournful vocals. Love the song’s chorus: “To shut out feeling lonely; I get out of my head. Lost everything around me. Not dealing with it well. To shut out feeling lonely; I get out of my head. Why would you want to love somebody when love hurts in the end?” Hope he sticks around for a bit.

5. ‘Hide and Go Seek’ (1967) – Bunker Hill

Hill’s song gets me nodding my head every single time, which is why I listen to it almost daily.  I just love the exuberance of the song, Hill’s energy and the back-and-forth response he has with the back-up singers. The lyrics are basic and goofy such as “Went down the road. The road was muddy. I stubbed my toe. My toe was hurting. Who all hid (yeah). If you ain’t hid. You better holler Billy goat (baaaa).” I’m forever thankful to the movie ‘Hairspray’ (1988 original directed by John Waters, not the 2007 remake) for helping me discover this freakin’ wonderful song.

4. ‘Love Me Again’ (2013) – John Newman

I have played this song so much that eventually my preteen son knew most of the words and came to like it. Therefore I had no doubt that it would be on this list. It was the first song I ever heard by him and turned me into a Newman acolyte. It starts out strong with the words “Know I’ve done wrong, left your heart torn. Is that what devils do? Took you so long, where only fools gone. I shook the angel in you!” and just keeps getting better. The Motown vibe and his throwback, yet original vocals makes for a very good song that you will have on repeat.

3. ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’ (1982) – Frida

I was really shocked to see this song on the list – let alone ranked this high – though I did play the hell out of it for a while. This was Frida’s (Anni-Frid Lyngstad), formerly of ABBA, big solo hit. I have always loved the vocals and drums (courtesy of Phil Collins from Genesis) on this song. This song popped into my head out of nowhere a year ago, so I downloaded it. It definitely has a 1980s song vibe, but don’t let that deter you. When Frida sings the words “I know there’s something going on” and you hear the drums banging along with her, you will think ‘This is a cool song.’

2. ‘Dying For Your Love’ (2011) – Frank Ocean

I thought that this song would have topped this list because I have yet to get enough of it. I have played this song so many times back-to-back; just leaving the repeat button on to make it easier for me to listen to it almost continually. It has a gorgeous, dreamlike sound aided by Ocean’s soporific vocals. The song’s hooks are so personal: “On the same side of the battle. I’m on the front line of disaster now. All make sense, I’ve put it together. Guess what we have doesn’t matter. You have me dying. Every night, just because. You have me fighting. Every night, to prove my love. Cause we never get enough of fighting. In the club, I’m dying for your love. I don’t know what you want. You got me fighting. Every night, to prove my love.” This is his best song though he has other strong, potent and more well-known contenders.

1. ‘Earned It’ (2015) – The Weeknd

My number one Most Played Song’ according to iTunes! As much as I like this song the fact that it’s my ‘most played’ has me flummoxed. I haven’t listened to it regularly in months. I can only deduce that its placement on this list is because of its heavy play rotation; some of it purposely, most of it by random. This song is from the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey’ which I haven’t seen nor do I own the soundtrack. The first time I heard this song was on Pandora and the rest is history. I like the overlapping orchestral instruments, the soft and emotional vocals with a mild techno/auto-tune sound. Not sure if this song has long enough music legs in that I won’t eventually discontinue listening to it. But for now iTunes has spoken about its musical hierarchy and tenacity.

So – that’s my list. What’s on your iTunes ‘Top 25 Most Played’ list? 

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RELATED YETBW POSTS:

Music Moment: The Lost Art of Billy Squier 

Music Moment: Musicians Who Can Play Live Is A Wonderful Thing

Outside the Box: My ‘Inner White Boy’ Playlist

Music Moment: Musicians Who Can Play Live Is A Wonderful Thing

Sometimes I think I’m becoming an old music snob, kind of like my mother. A lot of artists are more about visuals than actually playing their music. Fans end up going to concerts where the artist or band is playing along with their recorded music and their music videos are a part of the concert decor.

It seems as if most of the singers and musicians  are self-conscious or hyper-aware of how they look on stage and to their audience. You can practically see them wondering ‘Do I look cool? Do I look sexy? How does my voice sound in comparison to the album version?’ Music acts are so manufactured nowadays why people bother to cough-up hundreds of dollars to see them live (or lip-synching live) is beyond me.

Yet there are artists out there who understand that playing live is about their performance and the music.

Below is live concert footage of talented singers and musicians that I’ve come across over the years. These artists  understand that fans did not come to hear them sing along to pre-recorded tracks or to look like they stepped off a photo-shopped magazine cover. These musicians came to play and thank God for that.

Enjoy.

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GARY CLARK, JR.

Gary Clark Jr. is an original blues man who somehow combines B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Gil-Scott Heron and Howlin’ Wolf into his own style. He not only sings the blues like he’s lived them he also plays a mean-ass guitar. He’s only been around a few years, but his profile is on the rise. In 2010 he played at Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, a one-day event held in Chicago. A lot big name guitar artists were there such as Jeff Beck, B.B. King, Robert Cray and Johnny Winter. Yet, Clark stood out amongst the famous crowd. His cover version of Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights” is distinctive and incredible. After he’s done kicking ass on stage, he quietly says “thank you” to the crowd. He makes you want to say “No -thank you!”

FLEETWOOD MAC

Fleetwood Mac was the artist and supergroup of the 1970s. Most of their songs have been relegated to soft rock stations, but at one point in time they were the biggest act on earth. The five-person band had three major successful songwriters in Christie McVie, Lyndsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, which is practically unheard of today. Until Michael Jackson’s Thriller surpassed it, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors (1977) album was the biggest selling album of all time. It spawned several hits such as “Go Your Own Way,” “Don’t Stop,” “The Chain,” and “Gold Dust Woman.” However, before Rumors the Mac had another hit “Rihannon” a song written by Nicks about a Welsh witch. The album version is good, but this 1976 live version is excellent. Nicks vocals are very fierce and impassioned (starting at the 4:37 in the video) and the band plays off of her vibe, speeding along to the very end. Very few artists perform like this anymore.

MARY J. BLIGE

As an artist, Blige’s music output is uneven at times, in that I don’t think her songs really match up to her vocal talent.  However, her live performances can sometimes make lyrically-weak songs seem epic, which was the case at the 2002 Grammy Awards. Mary J. Blige decided to perform “No More Drama” which is not a great song, but it was her latest R&B hit at the time. Initially she starts out kind of sedentary, probably thinking about the audience in front of her since Grammy audiences are notoriously quiet and polite during performances. Yet midway through her set Mary seems to forget about who’s she singing to and just goes for it (starting at 2:17 in the video) . When she sings” You demons get out my face. Go get out of my mind. I’m about to lose my mind. Lord help me!” it’s like she’s wailng and praying for strength. She makes you feel the words. At the end of her performance the Grammy audience stood up and clapped – one of the few times I’ve seen this happen. Mary deserved their honor and respect.

GEORGE MICHAEL

By the time George Micheal performed with Queen in 1992 at Wembley Stadium in London he was already a musical superstar. From his days with Wham to his solo work, he was pop and R&B friendly who happened to have an amazing voice. Yet many singers would have been scared sh*tless to be asked to play with Queen as a stand-in for Freddie Mercury, especially at a tribute concert to honor the passing of Mercury who had died of AIDS. Plus the concert was to be broadcast live to over 76 countries with an audience of almost a billion. A lot of pressure, but George was up to the task. His version of “Somebody to Love” was respectful of Freddie Mercury, but it was still all George. His voice sounded clear and joyful which the band obviously appreciated. George knocked this one out of the park. I’m sure Freddie was impressed.

MARC COHN

In 1992 Cohn’s self-titled first album did very well. It sold over a  million copies. He had a top 2o hit with “Walking in Memphis and two other top 100 hits off the album. He finished up the year with a Grammy for ‘Best New Artist,’ which can be a good or mostly bad thing. Unfortunately for Cohn, a Grammy didn’t help his later albums and he has never come close to his initial success. But he’s still out there writing, singing and performing for his diehard fans. One of his most popular live songs is “True Companion” which is about meeting, marrying and committing to the love of your life. The 2009 version he did in Utah is one of my favorites. It has a quiet, earnest beauty about it that is simply wonderful. It really allows you to listen to the lyrics so that you really feel him singing the song. An understated, heartfelt performance by a real artist.

ARETHA FRANKLIN

The ‘Queen of Soul’ is known for “Respect” and “Natural Woman” but those songs don’t really symbolize what Aretha Franklin can do with her voice. Her voice is powerful, but it is also a host of other levels like pain, sorrow, love and anger. Her songs that have more of a gospel flair to them are her best stuff such as “Never Loved A Man.” The first few lines of the song start as “You’re’ no good. Heartbreaker. You’re a liar and a you’re a cheat. I don’t know why I let you do things to me.” You know exactly where she’s coming from and how she feels, especially the way she stretches out certain words. This 1967 two-plus minute live version gives you just a snippet of what she probably would’ve done with this song if she was given a more time, but songs weren’t too lengthy back then. Too bad for her audience and for us.

RALPH STANLEY

Like many of his fans, I became aware of Stanley’s talent via the “O Brother Where Art Thou?” soundtrack. Ralph Stanley, a bluegrass artist and banjo player won the 2002 Best Male Country Performance Grammy for his performance of “O Death.” Though the album version is great this 2008 a cappella version he did at a festival in Clintwood, Virginia is even more honest and chilling. All you see is 85 year-old Stanley on stage, grasping his hands while wearing a white cowboy hat asking the grim reaper to spare him for another year. Amazing.

PINK

I have always liked Pink‘s voice, but most of her songs just do nothing for me. In fact, I think most of the crap she sings is not worthy of her voice. Pink’s voice is raspy, full of strength, hurt, fun and heartache. It’s too bad most of her music, as popular as it is, just doesn’t measure up to what she could bring to the table. Though I’m sure her bank account is very pleased with her pop success. She really knows how to vocally turn lemons into lemonade. Yet, once in awhile, she shows us that she is the real deal, especially when her song choice is an even match for her vocal prowess. I’ve seen this happen only once with her, when she sang a cover version of Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” at the 2007 Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. With her voice it seems like it would be an obvious fit for Pink, which it is. But she makes it all her own while still respecting Janis’ version of it. An awesome feat indeed, which the audience knew by giving her a well-deserved standing ovation.

N.E.R.D.

I became a fan of N.E.R.D. (Nobody Ever Really Dies) the first time I heard “Sooner or Later” – a good song that has a Beatlesque/70s guitar vibe that I really like. This funk, rap, hip hop and rock bank is made-up of three members with writer/producer Pharrell Williams being the driving force of the group. I used to like the album version of “Spaz” until I came across this live version. It’s not a great version of the song in that they took it to a another level. What I really like about this version is the energy of the group and the audience. It has an excitement and rawness to it that makes the album version truly pale in comparison. Maybe N.E.R.D. was able to bring it because they were doing a Projekt Revolution concert which celebrates a variety of music genres. All I know is that it makes me wish that I had been at this concert. I would’ve jammed my ass off!

Music Moment: The Lost Art of Billy Squier

MTV has sucked for years, though that wasn’t always the case. There used to be a time between its 1981 beginnings up until the early 1990s that I used to look forward to watching the channel. I discovered a lot of artists as a result of MTV, one of them being Billy Squier.

Billy Squier’s ‘Emotions in Motion’ 1982 album cover

Squier is a rock musician who wore jeans, t-shirts, had semi-long, curly hair who loved to play music. He wasn’t pop-happy, narcissistic, misogynistic, conflicted or full of angst.

His music was enjoyable and easy to rock out to whether you were at home, driving around or hanging out in a bar. He wrote songs mainly about men, women, relationships, love and sex that had good hooks and strong lyrics. He had a distinctive voice and was handy with a guitar. His big hits included “The Stroke,” “In the Dark,” “Everybody Wants You” and “My Kind of Lover.” He’s one of the artists who helped start me on my ‘inner white boy‘ music journey.

It’s kind of amazing that he was successful during the 80s given he was in the era of music video stars such as Michael Jackson, Madonna and Duran Duran. Squier’s videos mainly showed him singing with his band live or lip synching with his band. Straight-forward videos for a nothing-too-fancy-up-and-coming rock star.

Then came the “Rock Me Tonite” video off of his 1984 Signs of Life album. The one time he attempted to do a stylized dance video and it was a cringe-worthy disaster. I remember the first time I saw it.  I thought he looked ridiculous. His dancing was weird and out of character. The layered pink and white shirt he wore in the video looked like it came from the Flashdance movie set, which he then proceeded to rip off his body. I’m not sure if David Lee Roth or Mick Jaggar at the height of their strut-worthiness could’ve pulled off that video let alone Squier. The video was a misstep, but I decided to overlook it because I liked Billy Squier. Unfortunately many others didn’t do the same though the song was and is still his biggest hit.

Billy Squier in concert (Photo/Wiliam Randolph, 2009)

Squier has done several albums since Signs of Life, but his career has never been the same. Squier himself has blamed the “Rock Me Tonite” video for his career slide. Maybe this was just another true-to-life example of the Buggles’ song “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Then again, maybe it was just the early 1990s and the changing music landscape with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam becoming the death knell for Squier’s type of 80s rock music.

When I look at today’s music charts I can’t help but think it would be nice to see another Billy Squier – a rock musician who enjoys playing music without artifice. Luckily Squier still tours–albeit on a much smaller scale–and fans have posted snippets of his live shows and other performances (old and new) on YouTube. He’s still around and looks and sounds great to his old fans; hopefully to be discovered by new ones.

Though Squier is known for bigger hits, my favorite song by him is a1983 live version of “She’s A Runner” which he did in Detroit. To me it definitively sums up Billy Squier and his music to his fans. It also shows why he should’ve had a larger, longer and more successful career. Sigh – damn THAT music video.

Music To Chase Away Those ‘Debt Ceiling’ Blues

The debt ceiling soap opera that swirled around the White House and Congress has finally come to a crappy conclusion. However, the political drama has left a bad taste in in the mouths of many Americans. We have been left wondering, again, why it seems that our elected politicians are not listening to us, but are listening to the wrong people. As a result, we’re feeling down in the dumps, cynical and just a bit angry. And not just about the debt ceiling.

When you’re in a bad mood, you try to find ways to make you feel better or you may fallback on tried and true methods. I usually feel better when my husband hugs me, seeing my son happy and healthy or talking to my mom. My other bad mood busters are more mundane such as reading, walking or sitting out on my balcony late at night staring into the sky.

However, one of the easiest and quickest methods to lift my spirits (even if for only a little while) is music. Whether it’s the lyrics, the vocalist or the beat – certain songs just make me feel better.

So for those of you in need of chasing some blues away, here are several of my ‘get-out-of-a bad-mood’ songs. Lord knows we all need a moment of solace from the the debt ceiling mess, the state of the U.S. economy or whatever else that has been pissing us off these past several months – too many to mention here.

Take a listen, I’m sure one of these songs will make you feel better.

Proud – Heather Smalls http://tinysong.com/I521 When she sings the lyrics “We need a change. Yeah. Do it today. Yeah. I can feel my spirits rising” it will make you want to do some good.

Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson http://tinysong.com/I4Re The words are highly idealistic, but what’s wrong with that? Plus, he sounds like he is really feeling the words to this song, you will feel them as well.

With A Little Help From My Friends -Joe Cocker http://tinysong.com/7cow All about how you can get by, get high (it was the 60s) and gonna try because your friends will be there with you. It’s actually a cover version of a Beatles song, but this one is very different and much, much better.

Optimistic – Sounds of Blackness http://tinysong.com/oMPG “You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky.” It’s just an outright positive, mood-altering song.

Beautiful Day – U2 http://tinysong.com/xAf8 Great song from start to finish. “It’s a beautiful day. Sky falls, you feel like it’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away.” In other words, find a way to count your blessings.

Everybody Dance – Ru Paul http://tinysong.com/evt0 A straight up feel-good dance song. It takes me to my happy place.

The Pressure (Part 2) – Sounds of Blackness http://tinysong.com/gJDX  “When my burdens get too heavy. He’s right there to bare the load. To give me strength and comfort anytime I need relief from the pressures of the world. I just believe.” A deeply, moving song. Note: Avoid the Part 1 version – it’s loud and terrible.

Anytime You Need A Friend – Mariah Carey http://tinysong.com/AnFe This is when she used to sing. The friend could be an earthly one or a higher being, whichever floats your boat. It makes you feel that there is someone out there who has your back.

You’ve Got A Friend – James Taylor http://tinysong.com/IcfG  A quiet song, but it reminds you that many of us have people out there who can help, if you just ask.

Ain’t Nobody – Chakka Khan http://tinysong.com/AEBs A classic song about how you feel (or should feel) when you fall in love. You can hear the happiness in her voice. A sing-out-loud song.

Benny and the Jets – Elton John http://tinysong.com/qW26  “She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit. You know I read it in a magazine. B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets.” I don’t know what it means and somehow it doesn’t matter. I like singing this song – it makes me smile.

Music Moment: My ‘Inner White Boy’ Playlist

This is a different type of blog than I normally post. It started as a result of a Twitter conversation I had with a follower who mentioned that he needed to add some hard rock to his playlist. I thought about just tweeting him a few suggested songs, but it turned into this blog. I hope this helps him out and maybe a few others . . .

I grew up listening to whatever my mom was listening to on the radio or playing on the record player. Aretha Franklin. Frank Sinatra. Earth, Wind & Fire. Boston. Bing Crosby. B.B. King. Mamas and the Papas. Al Green. Joe Cocker. Mahalia Jackson. Doobie Brothers. I learned from my mom that if you like a song that’s all that matters. As a result, I do not allow genres to dictate what I listen to whether it’s hard rock, rap, punk, country, alternative, electronic dance, bhangra, salsa, trance, blues, gospel, bolero, jazz, pop classical or world.

I have been told my music tastes are all over the place. It has been described as eclectic to wacky to nonsensical. What can I say? I like what I like. I have never been afraid to admit to what I listen to though people have made assumptions in regards to my tastes based on my looks. She’s Black therefore she only listens to R&B, rap and hip hop. Yes, I do like rap, hip hop and R&B, but I can swing between a variety of music genres without batting an eye. I have gotten strange looks from people when I’m driving around in my car, windows down, listening to Sade then Tim McGraw followed by Nine Inch Nails.

One of my favorite types of music is rock/hard rock/alternative rock. I get pumped whenever I hear my ‘inner white boy’ playlist (as I jokingly call it) on my iPhone. I enjoy blasting it in on my headphones. I love hearing the vocalists yell or growl out the lyrics when they’re pissed off. When listening to the great to sometimes uneven guitar solos I wonder what the guitarists were thinking while they were recording their part. I bang my fingers to drum solos constantly wishing I could learn and play the drums like Taylor Hawkins does on the Foo Fighter’s ‘Everlong.’

I know that there are other black chicks or black guys like me whose music tastes are outside the box, but you don’t hear much about us. It’s acceptable and very cool for whites to listen to R&B, rap and hip-hop. Yet it is still viewed as odd for blacks NOT to only listen to R&B, rap, and hip-hop. If we do listen to it then we’re ‘weird’ or worst somehow ‘not Black’  – comments like these make me grind my teeth and start grumbling. Just because most white guys supposedly only listen to hard/alternative rock or metal doesn’t mean that non-Whites shouldn’t or haven’t given the genre a shot. A lot of good music gets overlooked because people stick to what they think or what others think they should be listening to instead of being open to all types of music.

Below is a list of some of my favorite ‘inner white boy’ songs to help anyone who wants to do some stretching beyond their usual music genres and tastes.

Note: I normally provide simple audio links for music listeners, but decided to go with official videos or live versions of the songs if available, just so that you can see these bands and artists in action.

So plug in your earbuds and take a listen, you’ll be glad that you did.

Updated October 5, 2016

…………………………………………..

Alice In Chains – ‘Rooster’ 

Alien Ant Farm – ‘Smooth Criminal’

All American Rejects – ‘Gives You Hell’

Arcade Fire – ‘We Exist’

Black Crowes – ‘Remedy’ 

Bon Jovi – ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ 

The Clash – ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ 

Creed – ‘Higher’ 

The Cult – ‘Love Removal Machine’ 

Def Leppard – ‘Photograph’ 

Fall Out Boy – ‘Dance, Dance’

Foo Fighters – ‘Everlong’ 

Green Day – ‘Holiday’ 

Jane’s Addiction – ‘Stop’ 

Jimi Hendrix Experience – ‘Hey Joe’ 

Journey – ‘Any Way You Want It’ 

Judas Priest – ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

Living Colour – ‘Love Rears Up Its Ugly Head’ 

Ministry – ‘N.W.O.’ 

N.E.R.D. – ‘Sooner or Later’

Nada Surf – ‘Popular’ 

Nickleback – ‘How You Remind Me’ 

Nine Inch Nails – ‘Ruiner (Live)’ 

Pete Townshend – ‘Rough Boys’

The Pretenders – ‘Tattooed Love Boys’ 

Prodigy – ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ 

Rachid Taha – ‘Barra Barra’ 

Radiohead – ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ 

Rolling Stones – ‘Gimme Shelter’ 

Smashing Pumpkins – ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ 

Soundgarden – ‘4th of July’ 

Staind – ‘Outside’ 

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