Segarini’s 27 Records I’ll NEVER Get Tired of Hearing….
In this era of “Greatest This” and “Best That” lists, I felt obligated to share a list that you can disavow with impunity. In fact, I would like it to inspire you to share your own “27 Records I Will Never Ever EVER Tire of Hearing” list with the rest of us…unless you’re afraid we’ll make fun of you…hell, go ahead and make fun of me for this list….
Originally Published on September 11th, 2015. New column on Friday.
In no particular order, and without reservation, these are just a few of the records I will always welcome to my ears. …and just so you Die-Hard Rock Fans don’t think I don’t have rock favourites, I want you to KNOW it. There is one Beatle record, 3 Stones recordings, and lots of Power Pop stuff, most of which I have written about before. The fact that many, many, ‘classic’ and revered rock tunes are not part of my ‘Never Tire Of’ folder is because, well, because they speak more to my youth, not my musical aesthetic or taste. Sorry, ZepWhoPurpleFloydHenrix fans, it is music I respect, but would prefer in much smaller doses than most.
All of the following songs engage me by referencing things that resonate with me. The chorus of the first song, for example, speaks to and FOR me in a very personal manner. I know what it feels like to feel what James wrote and George sings. I cannot relate to Plynths and Hedgerows, smoke covered water, or jah Mon, millions do, I am just not one of them, and one of the greatest attributes of music is that there is some for everyone. …and hearing something you love does not need anyone else’s approval, or concurrence. Be happy with what you truly love, and respect the love others have for theirs. To do otherwise would be as prejudicial as any other form of shaming. Make fun if you must, but be able to take the same as you give. No one has to defend their taste, nor try to convince someone to change theirs. An honest opinion needs no verification or validation from anyone else.
27 Records and Songs I Will Never Ever EVER Tire of Hearing
Written by James Taylor for this gentleman (Taylor’s singing harmony) I love both Taylor’s original and this interpretation by one of Country Music’s most iconic and mercurial artists. George kept a shotgun in the dining room, and lived life right to (and sometimes through) the wall. Hard to find melody and lyrics this strong in any genre, and a story that is lucid and has a beautiful arc, not to mention the sweetest pedal steel and earworm chorus that shames even Max Martin for hook-ability. Crush it, Mr. Jones….
George Jones – Bartender’s Blues
Everybody says they love this guy, but few have listened to his body of work…there is a lot of it. Davis was not only a poet whose poetry issued through his horn, he was a devotee of conjuring different paths through the notes, the structure, and the grooves. His phrasing is boundless, zigging where most would zag, zagging where most would zig, pausing where most would forge ahead, and soaring when most would rest. He didn’t see the stop signs, he didn’t mind the walls, he just paid attention to the other musicians and put passion and soul in every note he contributed.
The first time I heard this, on a late night Jazz program out of Salt Lake City I could pick up on my radio in Stockton, I went out the next day and bought the LP for which it is the title track. Sublime, edgy, and smooth, rich, and meaty as maple syrup pored over bourbon laced barbecued ribs. Great sax solo in this track, too….
Miles Davis – Milestones
This record predicted my future. The atmosphere and imagery, both cinematic and ethereal, conjured up by an interpreter of song sooo talented, that the best writers would elevate their output in the hopes he would sing one of their creations. This piece (written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for the 1943 movie “The Sky’s the Limit” where it was sung by Fred Astaire) is an undeniable, moody masterpiece, and stands as a monument to an era of songwriters and artists that, in my opinion, towers over all others.
Frank Sinatra – One for My Baby
From “The Home Tour Part One”
Stockton California. 464 E. Ellis. “Until the summer I turned 12, this is where I lived. There were no bars on the front door or chain link fence around the yard back then, Stockton hadn’t yet succumbed to foreclosures, gang related crime, or desperation. It was a Norman Rockwell childhood back before the world took a turn for the worse and common sense and neighbourly intent took a punch to the face. Of course there was the war in Korea, the threat of polio, the fear that China would come over and do more than our math homework, and the creepy air raid drills just in case Mother Russia decided to drop The Big One and we’d have to “Duck and Cover”.
I dove off the garage roof with a tea towel cape around my neck to see if I could fly like Superman, I couldn’t. I accidentally dropped a 10 gallon can of paint on my kitten, “Snowball”, who instantly became ˜Flat ‘Red Ball’ and was no more, and bonded with my dad’s Water Spaniel, Spotty, who sat on the front porch with me for hours, my only friend in the world, after I tried to hit a home run in the living room and put a Louisville Slugger through the glass front door. I learned how to ride my first two wheeler by jumping on it from the porch and wobbling across the lawn to the sidewalk dozens, if not hundreds of times, before I made it to the street instead of winding up on my ass in my mother’s petunias. My bedroom was covered in Hopalong Cassidy wallpaper, linoleum, lamps, bed sheets and bed spreads. Next to the bed was the Emerson table radio my grandfather had given to me when I was barely a year old. It was always on. I had no idea then that I would pursue a career in music and its related fields, but the songs I heard late at night, laying there in the dark, have stayed with me my whole life.”
This song closed either “Burgie Bandstand” or “Lucky Lager Dance Time”, and more often than not, I fell asleep after it played.
I have been dreaming, and living the dream, ever since.
The Pied Pipers – Dream
Stevie Wonder, dozens of blues harpists, our own Jerome Godboo, Montreal’s Jim Zeller, and I-don’t-know-how-many British rock singers play the harmonica, and some of them wonderfully…but not this song, and not like this man. Such emotion from such a difficult and oft-times silly little instrument.
Almost always brings tears to my eyes, not unlike some of the other songs in this list….
Toots Thielmans – Bluesette
A singer’s singer. The phrasing, the command of the musical landscape, the flawless perfect pitch, and the crazy mad scatting skills…what he does with an all-time favourite song is not only jaw dropping, but a singing lesson disguised as entertainment. Oh how many years I tried to sing along with this, only to fail repeatedly…but even in failure, learned more about singing from him than just about anyone else. Rita Coolidge was also a lesson in taste, phrasing and purity of melody.
Mel Torme – Lullabye of Birdland
Speaking of a pure voice…like Karen Carpenter, Mathis just stuck with the melody with an occasional trill or tasteful flourish. This song, his voice, just wow.
Johnny Mathis – Misty
This gentleman was the first black performer to have his own little show on NBC. It was on in the afternoon for a whole 15 minutes, and I would race home from Woodrow Wilson Elementary School to hear him sing and play the piano. Though the song was most identified with Charlie Chaplin, this is the voice I always hear in my head whenever the tune is mentioned. A Perfect Storm of singer and song.
Nat King Cole – Smile
Teenagers got married straight out of high school back in the ’50s, or when Johnny got back from his 2 years of military service. The urgency lie in the Cold War sabre rattling and the fear that all could be gone in a heart beat. Songs aimed at the vast, teenage Baby Boomers-to-Be, were all about love, not sex, romance, not ‘bangin’, and marriage, not bathroom hook-ups while you’re out clubbin’. This is one of the absolute best. There are many much more famous, but popularity has never swayed me from appreciating greatness….
Lee Andrews and the Hearts – Long Lonely Nights
Stoop sitting, paper bag, mason jar, sidewalk singers and the joy of summer just ooze from the grooves in this record. Try some WPLJ when you get the chance, like the song says, “Oooo, what you do to me…”
The Four Deuces – WPLJ
…and because there is NO Best Before Date on Greatness….
Daryl Hall – WPLJ
Although he should have been jailed a few more times (especially for “My Ding-a-Ling”), the Chucker remains one of the Original Architects of Rock and Roll, and even after it lost the Roll, one of Rock’s few, actual Living Legends. I grew weary of the Berry Standards (you know what they are) long ago, but these two describe my entire childhood perfectly, with clarity and humour…something today’s rock could use a shot of. Thank God for Rival Sons, Xprime, and a few others…you know who you are. Dedicated to EVERYONE who ever cruised Pacific Avenue in Stockton California. Meet you at Henry’s for hashbrowns and gravy….
Chuck Berry – Almost Grown
Chuck Berry – No Particular Place to Go
Elvis. These two. Still….
Elvis Presley – I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
Elvis Presley – Teddy Bear
Listen closely and you will hear the origins of at least a couple of early Beatle records. Yep, Everything comes from somewhere…Just ask Ray Parker Jr. and George Harrison and Jimmy Page. This one is for Glenn Gallup…the man who opened my eyes to the rhythm and blues so many people missed. This is what I grew up on….
Bobby Parker Junior – Watch Your Step
…Best known for “Turn on Your Lovelight”, THIS was the one for me. His version of St. James Infirmary also shines as does almost all of his catalogue. Duke Records. 1313 Erastus Blvd. Blind Boys of Alabama and more. praise it and thank you, Mr. Gallup.
Bobby Blue Bland – Don’t Cry No More
Listening to this is like pouring Calgon bath beads in the Jacuzzi and closing your eyes and drifting away from all the stress and bullshit. Ahhh, the British. I and a few others will always refer to him as Mr. Wacker Bilk. Yep.
Mr. Acker Bilk – Stranger on the Shore
When he toured with Stuff, the Wackers were stuck in Philly for a week running up our tab at a brand new downtown Holiday Inn at 14th and Market, and getting take-out Rum Collins’ from Ray’s behind the hotel. Managed to get someone connected to get us into the show at Irvine and will never forget Simon and Stuff’s live renditions of Simon’s songs.
When I tried to learn this song to sing in Segarini, Cole, and Winters, I kept breaking down because the meaning of the lyric was so emotional to me. I recovered, eventually, but it still brings a tear, and will always remain one of the greatest songs ever written, even though it resides in the Simon catalogue which is FILLED with greatness…also, he sang this on SNL in a turkey suit. You had to be there…and I am still “A fool for love songs”, unlike Mr. Simon says.
Paul Simon – Still Crazy
George and Ira Gershwin. Nelson Riddle. Linda Ronstadt. Please…you can keep Ga Ga…she’s all yours.
Linda Ronstadt – Someone to Watch Over Me
Daved Kohls introduced me to Dylan and Dylan’s tour drummer years ago after I watched their set sitting on an air-flight case on the side of the Molson Amphitheatre stage. Dylan had a handshake like a wet fish, but the drummer’s hand was firm. Kohls had told me he was the drummer from The Range, and the first thing I said was, “What was it like recording and playing ‘The Way it Is’”, to which he replied, “What do you think it was like?”
I KNEW what it must have been like….
Bruce Hornsby and the Range – The Way it Is
James Taylor influenced and changed my life for the better twice, supplied the live background for one of the most emotional moments in my life, and has been an inspiration since 1986, when this first song came on the radio while I was blowing down Highway 12 just north of Stockton. I pulled over and sat stunned at the lyric and the melody and the playing, and when the final verse and chorus hit, I was inspired to start writing again after giving it up in 1980, fed up with the futility of writing and recording and performing and hearing your songs on the radio and selling in the stores, only to see so little money for the effort, and so little respect and willingness to abide by some of the recording industries labels and management. I got over myself and wrote some of the best songs I have ever been lucky enough to write. Thank you James, for that. To this day, the only person I can think of that I would love to sit around the kitchen table with besides the people I already get to do that with.
James Taylor – That’s Why I’m Here
I had a serious drug problem at one time. When James successfully kicked his long-standing heroin habit to the curb after 4 previous failed attempts, I decided to quit mine, which was free basing coke. It literally destroyed my life, and yet, I was still addicted. I began a mantra everyday, which was a simple 4 word sentence, and it finally paid off. It took three years to be rid of the desire, but it has held now, for over 20 years. The four words, “I’ll get high tomorrow.”
Thank you, Mr. Taylor, for making me return to writing…and then saving my life. I owe you much more than dinner and a drink….
James Taylor – Never Die Young
I dare you to listen to this traditional song as sung and played by Mr. Taylor, without tearing up. Maybe I’m just an emotional old softy, but nothing enters my bloodstream like this unless it knows me better than I do. Such a beautiful, achingly lovely song and performance.
James Taylor – The Water is Wide
I cannot say enough about this British singer and the song that brought her to my attention. Again…simplicity and a heartfelt story, sung with emotion and sincerity. No need to play the sexy card when the music is as sultry and understated as this….
Rumer – Aretha
Modern Doo-Wop performed by Masters. Another ‘just wow’.
Naturally 7 – Wall of Sound
This is the only group whose entire catalogue is in my collection. Listening to Fourplay is like plugging in a VR Headset for me. Every song conjures up images of everything from Northern California back roads, to scenic vistas from a train’s dome car, to slo-mo drives through the streets of my past, autumn leaves blowing across Monterey Avenue under the bridge of trees arching over the street, to the smell of fresh coffee and bacon mixed with pines and redwoods in the early morning light of Yosemite National Park, and the sound of a college football game in the distance, a chill in the air, the crunch of leaves as you walk hand in hand down the sidewalk with a first love, the musk of lit fireplaces and the promise of a light rain hanging in the air. Music for moving, recalling, and fondly remembering, even though this music didn’t exist when the sights and sounds and odors it initiates were first seen and heard and experienced. THESE are the rhythms my body responds to, part of my DNA, part of my life.
Here’s hoping your life is as full of music that defines you as mine is.
Fourplay – Rollin’
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Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.