I've been fishing a bit lately. I'm happy. Losing weight. Busy. I just don't feel like writing about the outdoors. Which almost never happens. But I pulled out some old CDs in the truck and was blown away by some of the memories that were instantly summoned. I thought - because for some reason, I think about such things - that it would be a shame if I never got to share some of my favorite songs with Hank. I already do, with mixed approval ("No Daddy, turn it off!" vs. the occasional, "Yeah Daddy, Rockin'!"), but obviously the Blond Boy Wonder doesn't know why we listen to the music we do. Over the next few weeks, I'll list 21 songs that tell that story. There are 21 songs because there are 21 songs. No other reason.
21. Avail: "Fifth Wheel." The band's from Richmond, and the song is about Richmond, or anywhere you don't want to be. But especially, places you don't want to be in Virginia. Included is a pull from #15 on my list, "House of the Rising Sun," "With one foot on the platform, one foot on the train, I'm going back to Richmond, to wear that ball and chain."
20. Ned's Atomic Dustbin: "Grey Cell Green." What a weird band from Swedescandinaviaorwayinland. Two bass players, both playing walking bass lines. Our band, and every band we knew, played this song. It was easy. It was loud. It reminds me of everything about my senior year of high school (when this record was released). This was the first CD I ever bought. Obscure though it is. This band was lost in a wave of flannel - Nirvana's Nevermind was released just six months after this album, and bands like Ned's and the Smithereens just vanished into obscurity because they weren't sufficiently mopey and heroin-addled.
19. REM: "Don't Go Back to Rockville." In time, I expect that a new band from a new generation will cover this song. Hank will love it. He won't know who REM is, or what Michael Stipe wrote this song about, and that's OK. It reminds me of college, with girlfriends from different towns landing in different schools, and all of us having to back to school, or work, or home (depending on the week) to deal with a reality that we did not want to deal with. It also reminds me of high school - I grew up in a very "Rockville" (not Rockville, MD) kind of rural place. Those who didn't leave, didn't leave. Those who left did not return. You have to admit, there's a certain sadness - and finality - to that.
18. No Doubt: "Sunday Morning." This is a fun song. It reminds me of college and grad school - occasionally having a full day to "just be." Man, that was nice. The video is very generation-X specific, but that's me, so there you go...
17. Ben Harper: "I am Blessed to be a Witness." This is not the only spiritual song on my list. It's a beautiful one. I have shared it with a lot of people, and not nearly enough. It is a wonderful, reflective, peaceful song.
16. Cephas and Wiggins: "Richmond Blues." This is a grownup song, but an old song. Every year older I get, the more I understand it. That's a sad thing. I do love that they are drinking Budweiser while doing their followup interview. Click on the video for a good sample of this pistol-whipping blues classic from Virginia.
These represent the cusp of my strongest memories of music. But stay tuned - more reverence for the greats of the blues, country, and rock and roll can be found closer to the top of the list!