Sharing music is something I've done all my life. Really sharing music is a very intimate act. I don't mean playing songs on the radio, although I guess that is sharing music in a certain sense. I'm talking about sharing music as a way of connecting with other people.I've always felt that when you share music that really touches you, you are sharing a bit of yourself. I don't remember a time that music wasn't a part of me.
I can't tell you how many hours I spent in my youth listening to my sisters records. Recently, my sister and I remarked about how, as soon as we awake, there is a song running through our heads. I've often wondered if everyone has experienced that. I should tell you that it's not always a song I like, but there ya go.
This may seem an odd little list of artists and, no doubt, there are a few artists on my list that may be new to you. Eureka! That's why I love sharing music. Over the years, I was introduced to all these artists because someone shared their music with me.
I'm an intensely personal person, bordering on reclusive, and I have to admit that I feel a bit exposed by sharing this list of songs. I didn't write or sing a single one of them and yet, they are very personal. I hope you find one or two in here that you like.
'Such a Small Love'Scott Walker
Most people, if they have heard of Scott Walker at all, know him best from his stint as one of The Walker Brothers. The Walker Brothers were an American group who moved to England to kick start their music career. The plan worked pretty well and The Walker’s managed to rack up 10 top 30 hits in short order. Of course, those hits were on the British charts.
Here in the states, the Walker Brothers didn’t fare quite as well. They only managed to have two hits, neither of which even made the Top 10. Still, for some odd reason, in the years since all the insanity of the 60’s, their hit “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” gets quite a bit of play on oldies stations.
Then, at the height of their success, Scott decided to walk away from it. He re-emerged as a very serious artist who began to record much more adult songs with, at times, darker themes.
Scott is still recording and his influence is very strong especially in Europe. He still lives in London and has been cited as an inspiration by folks like David Bowie.
My favorite Scott Walker song is a thing called “Such a Small Love.” I love the line in the song “Midnight mornings, drenched in Dago Red.” Dago Red, by the way, is a very cheap wine.
Walker, at one point in his career recorded an album of songs all written by Jacques Brel. Brel wrote from a very dark place and some of his songs were even banned because of content.
This leads me to the second artist on my list.
'Ces Gens La'Jacques Brel
Jacques Brel was a Belgian singer-songwriter who composed and performed literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following in Belgium and France initially, and later throughout the world.
Brel was noted for his very adult themes. Many of Brel’s songs were auto-biographical and dealt with subjects that people just didn’t write about in the mid to late 60’s.
One song, “Next” was about the humiliation of losing his virginity in a brothel supplied by the army. See where he’s coming from?
My favorite song by Brel is “Ces’t Gens La.” The song is basically about a relationship that is doomed by the snobbery of the girl’s family. In the song, Brel points out all the flaws of the “snobs.”
Brel, in addition to being a great songwriter, was also one of the most passionate performers ever as you will see in the video. Brel died of cancer in 1978.
An amazing singer who sings in 9 languages. Fabian had a top 10 hit in the U.S. back in July of 2000. The song was “I Will Love Again.”
Not a bad tune, but my favorite is her version of the song “Caruso.” She sings it in Italian, so I’ve included the video on this one since it has English translation. The song is indeed about the famous opera tenor.
Dinah Washington is one of those artists could have sung anything, anytime.She was also, a tragic figure and drug use cut her life short.
It’s hard to pick just one song by Dinah Washington, but I think my favorite is “Manhattan.” The lady really paints a picture of the Manhattan that existed in the 40’s even though the song was written in the 20's.
'On Saturday Afternoons in 1963'Rickie Lee Jones
Without a doubt, one of the most under rated artist on my list. Just about everyone knows her one hit, “Chuck E.’s in Love.” Yeah, it was an okay song, but the woman’s talent and range runs so much deeper. Like Van Morrison, she is very eclectic and that may have something to do with a failure by both artists to chart up a long string of hits.
On her first album, was a song called, “Saturdays Afternoons 1963.” If you had a great childhood friend, listen to this song and think about them!
'Moonlight in Vermont'Frank Sinatra/Ella Fitzgerald
Pretty sure you’ve heard of him. Again, there are so many great songs by Frank Sinatra that I defy anyone who likes the man’s music to pick just one song. Still, I’ll stick my neck out and pick “Moonlight in Vermont’ and I’ll tell you why.
First (and foremost) with his phrasing and style, Sinatra really makes you see the images in the song. Secondly, I love the structure of the song. I particularly love the use of all the great action verbs used to describe the scenery.
Also, when I went looking for a video, I hit the gold mine. Frank sings with Ella Fitzgerald on this tune. If there was a better singer of any popular genre, I have no idea who it would be. Ella Fitzgerald is without equal when it comes to getting to the heart of a song!
'Bright Side of the Road'Van Morrison
Without a doubt, Van Morrison was one of the most eclectic entertainers to be saddled with the Rock and Roll label. From the first time I heard the song “Mystic Eyes” back in the 60’s when he was still with the group “Them” until present times, no two of his albums sound much alike. One of my favorite albums by Morrison is ‘Veedon Fleece.” It was on this album that Morrison first really reached back to his Irish roots. For the most part, critics hated “Veedon Fleece.”
The man refuses to be categorized and I think that’s one of the many things I like about Morrison.
Again, it’s hard to pick a favorite song by him, but I’m going to go with “Bright Side of the Road.” A great uplifting song!