Tag Archives: Rickie Lee Jones

Crafting the Classic Song

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by Rick Bretz

As I write this on a word document, I have always admired people who can string a few memorable words and put them in the correct order.  So with that thought, this is my take on the best songs by great lyricists. As with all of my lists, there are many like it but this one is mine.

Simon and Garfunkel-Sounds of Silence-1964

This is a tour-de-force in songwriting.  Every line of it is unforgettable and it starts with one of the best lines of all time, “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.” As the songs reflects, the “words of the prophets are written on the subway walls” but when this was written down it was gold.

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/simongarfunkel/thesoundofsilence.html

The Eagles-Hotel California-1976

Sometimes you just nail it.  This song is got everything great lyrics, perfect guitar rifts and defining the thin line between a dream and a nightmare.

 

McCartney-Lennon/The Beatles-Eleanor Rigby-1966

Of all the great lines in this song, one for me, still stands out, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from, All the lonely people, where do they all belong.” A simple question but not so easily answered.

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/eleanorrigby.html

 

Jackson Browne, The Pretender-1976

Jackson Browne has delivered many great songs over the years (That Girl Could Sing) but his triumph is “The Pretender” because it covers many themes.  One of the best parts, “I’ve been aware of the time going by, they say in the end it’s a wink of an eye, and when the morning light comes streamin’ in, we’ll get up and do it again, Amen”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ROK1-VvOQ0

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5712

 

Bob Dylan-A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall-1963

This is so good it has been covered by many artists through the years.  I prefer Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians version. This one starts right out with some terrific lines, “I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains, I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways, I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests.”  I have to admit it was a toss-up between this and “The Jokerman.”

http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/1099/

 

Tracy Chapman-At This Point in my Life-1995

Most people like Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” song from 1988.  I like that one also, but I like this one better because it is reflective.  I have always liked her voice but these words hit you like a Fast Car. Words like, “Although I’ve mostly walked in the shadows, I’m still searching for the light, Won’t you put your faith in me.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtlHydzbdNw

 

Bruce Springsteen-Thunder Road-1975

The opening song to the “Born to Run” album hooks you right away and reels you in for a listening ride.  This song’s opening lines are just the beginning for Mary to come along for the ride, “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves, Like a vision she dances across the porch, As the radio plays, Roy Orbison singing for the lonely, Hey that’s me and I want you only”

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=976

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/brucespringsteen/thunderroad.html

 

Alan Parsons Project-Time-1981

Written by Eric Woolfson along with Alan Parsons, “Time” expresses the true meaning of time passing by and the friends you meet along the way. I think about all of the people I have met in my life and how I would like to see them again.  This song can be sad and inspirational in one listening.  It’s about making the most of your time, “Time, flowing like a river,  Time, beckoning me. Who knows when we shall meet again. If ever, But time, Keeps flowing like a river, To the sea.”

http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/12231/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhRzORqNa0E

 

Pink Floyd-Wish You Were Here-1975 and  On The Turning Away-1987

The title track from the album of the same name, “Wish You Were Here” laments their missing friend and how circumstances have over taken them.   “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” may be about Syd Barrett and could just as well be on this list but this song puts their feelings into one phrase.  The best lines are in the opening, “So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain.  Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil? Do you think you can tell?”

“On the Turning Away” is an insightful song about looking away rather than doing something to make the world and society a better place.

 

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/pinkfloyd/wishyouwerehere.html

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1558

Rickie Lee Jones-Last Chance Texaco-1979

I think everything Rickie Lee Jones does is terrific so I may be writing this with a little bias. From her debut self titled album, this song along with Night Train are my favorites from it, although “Chuckie’s in Love” was the hit.  This song uses personification to put human characteristics on an automobile.  It’s brilliant piece where instrument, voice and words meet to create a great song. “It’s her last chance, Her timing’s all wrong, Her last chance, She can’t idle this long, Her last chance, Turn her over and go, Pullin’ out of the last chance Texaco, The last chance”

http://www.rickieleejones.com/lyrics/texaco.html

 

Miranda Lambert-The House That Built Me-2009

This one is written by two songwriters but performed by Miranda Lambert and this favorite of mine might have something to do with the way she sings it.

The words can bring back memories, “You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can. I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am. I thought if I could touch this place or feel it. This brokenness inside me might start healing.”

http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858798152/

 

Honorable Mentions:

Ice Cube-It Was a Good Day

Frank Sinatra-It Was a Very Good Year

Steve Forbert-I Blinked Once

Mamas and Papas-California Dreamin

Neil Young-Harvest Moon

Christine McVie-Song Bird

Phil Collins-In The Air Tonight

Thanks Mr. Edison!! And Every Inventor After Him

 

by Rick Bretz

The digital, broadcast and print media reflect,  daily, the worst parts of human nature.

Evil ISIS hate groups commit atrocities in the name of religion. Countries invade neighboring countries killing innocent civilians. In the United States road rage violence continues just because a mother wanted to teach her daughter the proper way to drive. With all of that in the open, I think it is time to focus on an event that has given people joy since it first sent audio waves across a room to the human ear.

On this day, February 19th, 1878, Thomas Edison received his patent for the gramophone or phonograph. Since this invention dropped its first needle on a cylinder and then a disc, musical instruments, arrangements, lyrics and the human voice have made the audience forget their problems for just a few minutes, or for a good hour if you wanted to hear the whole album, LP or song list. Producers, singers and talent have given us songs we’ll never forget.

Here are some of my favorites. These are songs, I think, have a perfect mix of lyrics, vocals and instrumental arrangements. Music and the arts in general are the best parts of civilization. Especially when being civilized is the exception rather than the norm in some parts of the world.

 

Let the Day Begin-The Call

Everyone should wake up and listen to this song before they do anything else. If everyone did, there would be happier people on the highways during the morning commute.

 

Night Train-Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee’s voice is an instrument in itself and she uses it to perfection on this song about love and moving down the line.

 

 

On the Turning Away-Pink Floyd

This is a song that simply states, stop looking away and start doing something to make the society a little better.

 

It Was a Very Good Year-Frank Sinatra

This song is about growing up but all you have to do is think about your experiences to connect with this song. Also, reading between the lines for this song is a fun exercise because in Sinatra’s day, a song writer had to be more subtle with words.

 http://www.lyricsfreak.com/f/frank+sinatra/it+was+a+very+good+year_20056372.html

I Will Always Love You-Whitney Houston

Wow! Whitney Houston could sing. It’s worth listening to this song just to hear Whitney Houston hit all those notes. The words by Dolly Parton are pretty emotional also.

 

Jokerman-Bob Dylan

Interpreting Dylan’s words are always mind-benders. However, this song is perfect union with the music and lyrics. I never get tired of listening to it.

 

I Blinked Once-Steve Forbert

A song about growing and before you know it time has passed you by. Forbert knows how to put words together.

 

Games People Play-Alan Parson’s Project

Alan Parson produced a masterpiece for his “Turn of Friendly Card” album. It’s about luck, life and happiness and this song talks about it all.

 

This is my list of top eight great songs. You may have a list or other considered songs. If so, write a comment and let me know your opinion.

Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Hornsby, Fleetwood Mac Jackson Browne,  Stevie Wonder, Eagles and anything by Van Morrison

 

Notable Links:

http://edison.rutgers.edu/phonpats.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonograph

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-500-greatest-songs-of-all-time-20110407