Thanks to Rolling Stone and WWE (an odd combination to be sure), this week was largely about the ’60s, which is pretty much indisputably the best decade for music in our country’s history. However, it’s the much newer “Sirens” and “Piano Man” that are old to me, presenting an interesting dichotomy for my picks for this week.
- “Leader of the Pack” – The Shangri-Las
I’ve always held an affinity for the Phil Spector-esque Wall of Sound recordings of the ’60s, but other than “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, I’ve never heard one that gripped me like this one does. Though it starts with the borderline-sickening female innocence that the girl groups of this era typically exhibited, it covers a haunting subject and featuring backup vocals that hit with the weight of a funeral bell. It’s the dichotomy between the innocence and tragedy that make the song what it is: unforgettable.
- “Downtown” – Petula Clark
Like probably millions of others, the fantastic new WWE 2K17 ad served as my introduction to this old school track from 1964. Unlike with The Shangri-Las, Clark comes across as a seasoned lover that is trying to either hide or forget her scars whether emotional or physical. It presents a perfect contradiction for the commercial, but it’s a fantastic track on its own.
- “Sirens” – Pearl Jam
This is a track that I heard pretty much right when it came out as Lightning Bolt was one of the first albums I ever reviewed for The East Texan. It reminds me of a time in my life when I was filled with happiness and pride in my newfound work, but was still dealing with the deep-seated pain from my breakup with my serious high school girlfriend. This track seemed to toe that line perfectly then, and it still does today.
- “Midnight Train to Georgia” – Gladys Knight and The Pips
This is my introduction to Gladys Knight, and I must say if this is what she’s all about, I’ve got a lot of listening to do. Though the setting of failure is scary considering what Sean and I are going to be attempting in the months ahead, the music is inescapable, and the camaraderie between Gladys Knight and her Pips is showstopping.
- “Piano Man” – Billy Joel
I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with this track in the past, as it got so overplayed that I didn’t listen to it for years. But hearing it again after all this time as I go through Rolling Stone‘s Top 500 Songs of All Time, I was struck by how fantastic it really is. When Billy Joel is on, he’s a killer even today. But he outdid even himself when he cut this one.
For more playlists, including my master Burnes’ Turns playlist that contains nearly 2,000 songs, search for Andrew Burnes or Burnes’ Turns on Spotify.