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musical stroll down memory lane

Via Blogcritics: The Recording Academy has bestowed GRAMMY® Hall of Fame Awards on 21 recordings, including Led Zeppelin's single "Stairway To Heaven" and Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" album.

aja.gifAh, a subject I can dig into without causing controversy other than the usual Stairway to Heaven is the best song ever created flame wars.

Let's dig in to the new entries into the Hall. I'm not really commenting on the merit of the nominees, as much as I'm taking a stroll down memory lane. Ya'll can tag along if you'd like. (Did I spell ya'll right?)

Pop Albums
"Aja," Steely Dan (1977)

Stephen has a nice post up about Steely Dan today. I was a novice punk rocker when this album came out in 1977. I had this soft spot for Steely Dan, though, and this album formed the background to my first big romance. Every song on it is crafted perfectly. Deacon Blues and Josie are particular favorites of mine.

"Still Crazy After All These Years," Paul Simon (1975)
The song 50 Ways to Leave your Lover was a huge hit off of this album. I have a cousin named Stan and we tortured him by constantly singing "make a new plan, Stan," to him.

Pop Singles
"Blowin' in the Wind," Peter, Paul & Mary (1963)
"Both Sides Now," Judy Collins (1968)
"Days of Wine and Roses," Henry Mancini (1963)
"Downtown," Petula Clark (1964)
"It's Too Late," Carole King (1971)
"Up Up and Away," The 5th Dimension (1967)

Blowin in the Wind reminds me of my cousin Francis and the night she came home from some protest covered in gooey egg guts, courtesy of the old men in the VFW who showed up at the protest and pelted the hippy college students with fruit, vegetables and other assorted food stuff.

Both Sides Now. Ugh. We had to sing it in chorus in fifth grade and there was no way I could carry those notes. The music teacher smacked me upside the head with a ruler and kicked me out of chorus. That was about 1972. That same woman is DJ's music teacher today.

Downtown I love this woman's voice. This song is summer, bare feet, freshly mown grass and hopscotch.

It's Too Late I never liked Carole King much except when she did a musical version of Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup With Rice. It's Too Late gives me this weird feeling in my gut, so I'm sure I have some bad memory attached to it that I'm repressing.

(interjection for a moment: It's really odd for me to sit here and say that I don't like these songs when I'm listening to King Diamond. Taste is subjective, I suppose)

"Up, Up and Away" When I was little, the only friend I ever had came over for dinner one night. She was wearing a shirt with a picture of a hot air balloon on it. My parents proceeded to mortify me by singing a duo of Up, Up and Away (in my beautiful balloon). I can only hope to force the same embarassment upon my own kids some day.

Rock Singles
"Hotel California," Eagles (1977)
"I Shot the Sheriff," Eric Clapton (1974)
"Proud Mary," Ike & Tina Turner (1971)
"Stairway To Heaven," Led Zeppelin (1971)

"Hotel California" I cannot put into words how much I hate this song and every single thing that ever happened to me while this song was playing. I swear I did not break Donna's nose with the frisbee on purpose.

"I Shot the Sherrif" Another song I hate with an unexplained passion. And I thought at first he was singing, I shot the Sherrif, but I did not shoot him dead, you see. And I thought, well good for you! So why did he shoot him, anyhow?

"Proud Mary" You know, I love this song. Great piece of music. But it's another one of those embarassing moments for me, where my parents thought they had rhythm or something and danced to it at some party as if they were Ike and Tina themselves.

"Stairway to Heaven" Contrary to popular belief, this was not the greatest song ever made. Not even close, folks. It's just a bunch of crazy words strung together through the haze of drugs. And I was a huge Zeppelin fan back in the day. But now, the song just seems trite.

I'll cover the rock albums tomorrow. Right now, I'm going through the channels on Netscape Radio and I have to get up and sing along to Strawberry Letter #23.

Feel sunshine sparkle pink and blue
Playgrounds will laugh, if you try to ask is it cool, is it cool
If arrive and don’t see me
I’m gonna be with my baby.

Now that is a great song.

Ok, done dancing and being laughed at by my husband. And the hamster. Oh he should talk, the rodent. That hamster dance crap isn't anything to be proud of, you know.

Now I'm wondering what songs, years from now, will be deemed acceptable to enter the Grammy Hall of Fame.

I'm willing to bet Avril Lavigne and Good Charlotte will not be represented. But you best believe that Bye, Bye, Bye will.

Who wants to dance?


"Stairway to Heaven" is the BEST song ever written!

(I thought I'd get the kindling lit right away, it's COLD outside!)


Led Zep wise, I gotta say that Kashmir kicks Stairway's ass.

I shot the Sheriff and Proud Mary are SO not rock, and Hotel California irritates me like a colony of ants crawling under my foreskin.

Blowin' in the Wind...man, I love Dylan. Covers? Not so much.

Fleetwood Mac, however? Bogus. And suddenly, the sound of a million dinner parties at my folks house, insincerity and hot air in attendance, hiss through my mind.

More gin.

Hmmm, do I come off as negative?

Must be hormones...

At some point, I'll probably have to compile a list of things I actually like, just to convince the world that I'm human and all...

Wow, what a tough crowd.
I see some of these are more in my era than you younger folk so let me roll back the fog of memory.
Believe it or not folk music was pretty popular in the early 60's and for some of us Blowin in the Wind was the first time we heard a Dylan song where we could understand the lyrics.
Pet Clark's Downtown was right in the middle of the whole Beatle thing. Hard to break through but it stood out even then and it still good today.
Both sides now is a great song.
Days of wine and roses was a movie theme and I don't recall it being a pop hit.
The rest of the pop selections were ok but not great.
Hotel California was based on the Hotel Ambassador which I stayed in in 75. Awesome hotel. This was also where Bobby Kennedy was shot as I watched in shock.
Even then I don't have your viseral reaction to it.
I liked Proud Mary a lot even though I liked theCCR version also.
Stairway to Heaven may not be the greatest rock song ever written but we sure though so at the time. At one time I could sing the whole think by heart which I can't do for many songs that are a lot shorter.

Gonna go point and click on Strawberry Letter #23..probably over and over a couple of times. Ah, yes, great song! Thanks for beminding me:)

It should be "y'all," since it's short for "you all" and the apostrophe goes where the missing letters should be. See also: "li'l" and "rock 'n' roll."

Steely Dan's Aja is a masterpiece. I had it on vinyl, casette, CD and now DVD-A.

They got a name for the winers in the world,
I want a name when I lose (the bloggies)
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide,
Call me Deacon Blues.

I usually use either y'all or yawl, myself (as I'm warshing mah clothes down bah the crick...)

I always thought it was "y'all", too, given the correct grammar use of the appostrophe replacing missing letters, but a suth'n-born-and-bred gal I used to be friends with insists for all she's worth that the correct sutn'n form, the form THEY all use down South is, in fact, "ya'll", stating that it is the correct abbreviation for "ya all". Who knows with them suth'n'ers...they still think they won The War.

A small correction: Stairway to Heaven was never a single.

Zeppelin's record company BEGGED the band, who by the song's release in 1971 had total control over their product, to release an edited version for 45 rpm (the song is 8 minutes long). The band refused. The band was so contempuous of their record company that they refused to (a) even give their new LP a title (b), put a photo of the band on the cover, and © even put any printed words of any kind on the cover, back, spine, or even the record label itself. The only printed words were the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven on the inside cover. The American release of the LP made some compromises with this, but still, there was never any release of the song Stairway to Heaven as a single. It was never in the Top 40. I've been a rock dj since before the song came out, I know this to be true.

Born to Run - one of the rock albums placed in the hall of fame. One of the best albums ever. Very few albums even come close.

Ah yes...Steely Dan. Steely Dan is named after a steam powered dildo, from the novel Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.

Stairway to Heaven is a wonderful song that radio has ruined for everyone.

Hell, I like(d) Fleetwood Mac. Several of the pre-Stevie & Lindsey albums are very good, kinda down to earth and bluesy with some of Christine McVie's nicest songs. Like "Prove Your Love" from Heroes Are Hard To Find and "Why" from Mystery to Me. And Lindsey Buckingham is a crazed pop music genius. I was listening to "Tusk" today and was impressed by how un-dated it sounds for the most part. They're easy to dismiss because of all the non-musical BS that surrounded them, but the music was always excellent. In my opinion, of course.

Maybe I should have saved this for my blog...:-)

Johnny B. said it right. Radio overplay is all that ruined Stairway to Heaven, which is, strictly on its own merits, a terrific piece of music. It's not Zeppelin's best work, though, let alone the best rock'n'roll song ever.

But I remember a time when I viewed Zeppelin with contempt, until I finally realized I was playing head games, looking down on other people for liking them, and blaming the band for their own hyperpopularity. Then I got over it and realized that yes, they were very good.

Some people have similar problems with the Beatles.

So lighten up, y'all. ;-)

Michele, if your in to the whole thing for the nostalgia then you might be interested in a game, of sorts, we play every day over at the Rant called Name That Album. Thes seconds link is an example. Check it out.

'It ain't no use in turning on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
It ain't no use in turning on your light, babe
Cos I'm on the dark side of the road

Wish there was something maybe you could do or say
To make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talking anyway

But don't think twice, it's alright'

Zeppelin has always been in the second tier of bands of their era for me. I enjoy their work and have immense respect for their abilities as writers and performers, but they never took hold of my attention the way some other bands did. But "Stairway" was never my favorite of their works, nor do I think it's their best (not even on that particular albums -- that honor is reserved for "When the Levee Breaks" or "Going to California"). Still, it's a well-composed song and very popular, so there you have it.

Fleetwood Mac gets a lot of shit for being shallow, corporate-rock lightweights, but I have to defend Rumours. Is it an "important" album in terms of defining an era or shaping the direction of rock? No. But it's a fucking good album -- every song, every single when, is well-written and performed, catchy, and sincere. Start to finish, it's an album full of hooks, melodies and energy, everything that a pop album aspires to be. Just think--on classic rock stations, you are likely to hear any song from that album; there's not one that hasn't received repeated airplay. There are only three other albums that come immediately to mind that that is true of: Led Zeppelin IV, Abbey Road, and The Cars. Pretty impressive. (And "Songbird" is a heartbreaking song.)

For "Hotel California," please substitute "Life In The Fast Lane." Thank you.

No quarrel with any of these. When i saw Proud Mary by Ike and Tina, i said WTF? CCR preceded by a couple years and CCR raqs! Proud Mary's the epitome of raq of its time, Crimson. So there.

Paul Simon and Bob Dylan are geniuses. (geniae? genii?) Get on the bus, Gus.

They picked "Hotel" cause it was the biggest seller. Nowhere near the Eagles' best.

I love Dylan, but never ever understood the obsession with Paul Simon or James Taylor for that matter. I've heard most of their music and have been taken to their concerts by friends and have always left unimpressed. I know many concider me a heathen, but I'll take Bob Dylan, Neil Young or Lou Reed any day.

I was not always an Eagles fan but I was a Joe Walsh fan back to when he was with the James Gang who I actually saw in concert at the Ohio State Fair in 197x.
The Eagles/Walsh song that has always grabed me the most was not Hotel but In The City. Great song. I know it was on one of their Live albums but the first time I heard it was at the end of the movie , The Warriors, which has to be one of my all time cult favorites.

What Starhawk said. Without Joe Walsh, the Eagles are just another folkie band.

Dylan wrote great stuff, but his voice was. and is, dreadful.

Steely Dan is without question one of the greatest bands ever to hit a recording studio.

Fleetwod Mac was one of the great blues bands of all time, until Peter Green freaked out and the "chicks" (Nicks and Buckingham) joined the band.

And when I'm hauled into Room 101 by Gauleiter Clinton's Thought Police, they'll be playing Carole King music in there.