My favorite songs this week include a blast from my own musical past, two Hip-Hop classics that sound just as fresh today as they did in the ’80s, two joyful Folk Rock romps, and Stevie Wonder. Because everybody loves Stevie Wonder.
“I and Love and You” – The Avett Brothers
I can’t remember exactly how I came across this song (though it’s safe to assume I either learned about it from reading Rolling Stone or from iTunes’ now defunct Free Single of the Week program), but it was a staple in the early days of my playlist. Its themes of leaving behind one’s roots in order to move on to something better (and the heartbreak that comes along with doing so) hit me at just the right time when I was leaving for college. It became even more powerfully ingrained in my psyche when my high school girlfriend broke up with me a few months later. Over the years, I had forgotten how much it means to me, but coming back to it all these years later, it’s still quite powerful.
“Keep the Customer Satisfied” – Simon and Garfunkel
This is far from the most famous song on Simon and Garfunkel’s legendary Bridge Over Troubled Water, but that climactic horn-laden climax is musical nirvana.
“The Weight” – The Band
Easily the most famous song from The Band, “The Weight” is well-deserving of its status as Southern Rock’s greatest peak. It’s laden with powerful imagery, and but it’s the delivery of The Band’s multiple harmonic voices (lead by the incomparable drummer Levon Helm) that makes this song the classic that it is.
“Fight for Your Right” – Beastie Boys
“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” – Beastie Boys
It’s hard to separate Licensed to Ill‘s standout Rap-Metal hybrids, so I decided to include them together. Both feature some of the Beastie’s rawest (and catchiest) rhymes in history, and both have become party anthems. Interestingly (and hilariously), though, “Fight for Your Right” was actually intended to be a parody of the very lifestyle that it cheekily “endorsed” (a fact that went WAY over the heads of the ’80s masses), and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” is much more a celebration of Rock n’ Roll than Hip-Hop. Due to their wide swaths of appeal, both became crossover hits and are still legendary today, retaining a remarkable sense of freshness (largely due to Rick Rubin’s production and Anthrax guitarist Kerry King’s animated riffing) that many ’80’s Rap tracks lack.
“Happier Than the Morning Sun” – Stevie Wonder
Mark Ronson said it best, Stevie Wonder speaks to everyone from Hip-Hop heads to Rock purists to casual Top 40 listeners. His lyrics are often simple, but they’re contrasted with a magnificent sense of musicality, and “Happier Than the Morning Sun” is a prime example of this. It’s impossible to listen to it without having it stuck in your head for the rest of the day (unless, or course, you listen to “Shooting Stars”…) and it’s prevalent sense of joy is infectious.
For more playlists, including my master Burnes’ Turns playlist that contains over 2,000 songs, search for Andrew Burnes or Burnes’ Turns on Spotify.