Favorite Songs Part 1 – Birth through 1980

A post on my all-time favorite songs, starting with my earliest memories. My parents are no longer around so I don’t have them to consult with, so I will probably leave songs off this list. Also missing will be bands from that ere that are my favorites now, like Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, that I didn’t start listening to until the 80s.

The Joker – Steve Miller

The early 70s. This song was huge and I loved it for the wah pedal effects. It is a great song.

Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4

From Chicago’s second album, simply called Chicago.

“Flancing” lights up in the sky and an epic guitar solo.

Peter and the Wolf – Sergei Prokofiev

This scared the hell out of the three of four year old me, and I could only listen to it if my parents were around.

Theme from Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev. Not exactly a song or one of my favorite songs, but another that takes me back to a specific time and place whenever I hear it. In my bedroom. I’m 3 or 4 or so. I intentionally put this on even though I know it will scare the crap out of me. My dad is in my parents bedroom lifting weights. I feel safer due to his proximity. However, he looks at me like I’m some kind of sissy when I tell him I’m scared. The first bar brings shivers to my spine when I hear it to this day.

Loves Me Like A Rock – Paul Simon

Loves Me Like a Rock by Paul Simon. For some reason I associate this song with the Morgan Social Club or the Morgan Boys and Girls Club located in one my childhood hometowns of Morgan, PA. From my house to the club was a short walk to the end of the street, walk across the bridge over the railroad tracks, and across Millers Run Rd. Spent a lot of time there. Either my my parents in the social club, or it was called The Italian Club, or doing activities with The Boys and Girls Club.

Stealers Wheel – Stuck in the Middle With You

This song also takes me back to the early days living in Morgan, PA. It probably got constant play on the radio. Quentin Tarantino re-popularized the song by using it the theme song for the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs. That’s comedian Steven Wright playing K-Billy and Michael Madsen is in full Michael Madsen Mode.

Linus and Lucy – Vince Guaraldi

Don’t know when I first started reading Peanuts but once I did I instantly fell in love, like many many people did, and the Linus and Lucy theme remains one of my all time favorite pieces of music.

I love Christmas Carols. Christmas used to be one of my favorite times of the year and the carols were a big reason why.

Johnny Mathis performing Sleigh Ride on The Mike Yardwood Christmas Show in 1979. They look like your mom’s aerobics class but are actually the Douglass Squires dancers backing up Mathis.
The original Frosty the Snowman sung by Jimmy Durante.
Burl Ives singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. He also is the narrator of the Rudolph cartoon.
Perhaps the saddest holiday song ever recorded.
I swore this was a boy singing until my mother corrected me.
First came to know this song from the movie Lethal Weapon. I tried to post the scene but it is rated for adults only.

Elvis Presley

Elvis was hugely popular in my family, except for my dad. I don’t think my dad liked Elvis. Jailhouse Rock is my Elvis favorite. I performed it during a family talent show one year at Christmas.

Has the following song ever NOT been played at a wedding?

The Beatles – I Want to Hold Your Hand

My mother was a huge Beatles fan. This is probably the first song of theirs I heard and liked. The Wings Band on the Run was one of the biggest songs back in the day. I still love it so I’ll include it with Beatles songs.

The boys are all in their early twenties, all between 22 and 24, yet look like forty-year-old men. I also don’t know what George Harrison is doing.

Flash – Queen

Queen’s theme song to Flash Gordon, the second or third best super hero movie of all time, and this includes the thirty Marvel and DC movies of the last fifteen years (Superman and The Dark Knight being the others). I saw Flash at Cinema West in Robinson Twp with my best friend Johnny Parker. After coming home we made an obstacle course out of my neighbor’s yards and ran through them. Impossible today as almost every one of those yards has a fence around it.

A great live version.

For kicks, here’s Sam Jones’ cameo in Ted.

Queen – We Will Rock You

This is Queen’s second entry on the list but first simply because of the song itself. We Will Rock You was like an anthem of the time. Duh-duh-duh. Duh-duh-duh. We will we will rock you duh. duh-duh-duh. We will we will rock you duh.

We Will Rock You was featured in a classic cold open on Cheers.

I liked Bohemian Rhapsody a bunch but supposedly the movie didn’t have much truth to it. Here’s that movies’ retelling of how We Will Rock You came to be.

Kool and the Gang – Celebration

Celebration by Kool and the Gang was what could be called “the song” of the late disco era – late 70s – early 80s. Uplifting and catchy, Celebration got played at every event. Birthday parties, school dances and every other kind of dance, work parties, ballgames, etc. It’s like Kool and the Gang set out to write the perfect party song. It wasn’t a party unless Celebration came on.

And like everyone else I assumed the ‘Kool’ in Kool and the Gang was the singer, who was actually James JT Taylor. Kool was founding member and bass player Ronald ‘Kool’ Bell.

Stevie Wonder – Isn’t She Lovely

Isn’t She Lovely by Stevie Wonder from his Songs in the Key of Life double album, I remember listening to this song, written and recorded by Wonder in honor of his newborn daughter, in the dining room of my (fifth and longest tenured) childhood home. My mother bought this I am sure, and the sounds of baby cries in the background while Wonder sings ‘Isn’t she lovely, isn’t she won-der-ful.’ This album also contains ‘I Wish,’ Wonder’s nostalgic tribute to his childhood.

ZZ Top – La Grange

My favorite and one of ZZ Top’s most iconic songs. My dad had Tre Hombres, the album La Grange is on and listened to it over and over (a habit I have picked up, playing the same song over and over). ZZ Top headlined Stadium shows in the 70s then their popularity fell off. They reversed that by going electronic on Eliminator. My friend Ed saw them in concert for their Afterburner tour. I asked him what songs they played and he said “some song called La Grange.” I was like that is their best song. He had no idea what it was.

This is one of the songs I most frequently pretend to play on guitar.

Journey – Any Way You Want It

First heard this song when I saw ‘Caddyshack’ in theaters. So probably the first Journey song I heard or remember hearing. Journey has many good and great songs. This is my favorite. I particularly love Steve Perry’s vocals post guitar solo…”I said holllllllllllllllllld on, hollld on ho-ho-hold on…”

“The world needs ditchdiggers too.” Suck up attempt…denied.

Styx – Renegade

One of my favorite bands Styx, released this rock “anthem” in 1978. Renegade was played endlessly on FM radio. The sound got cranked up and we all sang along. In the mid 2000s the Pittsburgh Steelers football team adopted it as a motivational theme song for their defense, as an artificial way to get fans involved. This was at a time when defenders crushing receivers and quarterbacks with hits was still cool.

Kiss – Rock-n-Roll All Night

No list of favorite songs from the 70s is complete without a Kiss song or two. One of the biggest bands in the world, Kiss had many great songs to go along with their makeup and costumes. Who they really were was as big a mystery as ‘Who shot JR.’ I remember in grade school Ben Specca would start screaming whenever anyone mentioned Gene Simmons, he hated Kiss that much.

This is from a “documentary” about the band made by the band. More like a farce. The perfect rock song.

Kiss was so big they got their own NBC Saturday Night movie.

Joe Walsh – In the City

The theme song for the movie The Warriors. Walsh co-wrote In the City with Barry De Vorzon, who was the musical composer for the movie. A version of the song also appeared on The Eagles 1979 album In the Long Run. I first heard the song sitting in my living room watching The Warriors late at night while my mother slept on the couch. The Eagles played it live.

Boston – More Than A Feeling

From Boston’s self-titled debut album, which became one of the biggest selling albums of all time (selling greater than 17 million copies). More Than A Feeling got played at least once an hour on AOR stations.

The Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive

Seemingly played on a continuous loop in my house, the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever has many great disco songs, most notably Stayin’ Alive. The bass line and the harmonies make this song timeless. Listening to it never gets old. Although the songs admiration for The New York Times hasn’t held up.

Grease – Summer Nights

Sung by the actors this is my favorite song from this perfect movie. Another movie seen at Cinema West in Robinson Twp., this time with my sisters and our neighbors, the Shoups. Coming home and singing and jumping from bed to bed…then when Grease came to the local theater, The Galaxy in Bridgeville, seeing it almost every day.

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