Music/Popular Culture

The 30-Day Song Challenge, day 1: my favorite song

“Hey, Sam. What’s your favorite song?”

This is about as hateful a question as it is possible to ask a guy like me. I own somewhere in excess of 4,000 CDs probably and if you put a gun to my head I could make a case for at least several dozen songs that fit the bill. I could pick a number of U2 tracks, for instance (“Sunday Bloody Sunday,” maybe, especially the live version from Rattle and Hum, or “Pride”) or The Police’s “So Lonely” or “Shadows in the Rain,” which was simply chilling live. Or Queen’s “The Prophet’s Song.” Or Springsteen (“Thunder Road”) or REM (“South Central Rain”) or Johnny Clegg & Savuka (“I Call Your Name” or “The Crossing”). How about Don Dixon’s “Your Sister Told Me Where You’ve Been” or “(If I Could) Walk Away.” (Actually, I might use that last one later if there’s a call for a song that torments you to sleep at night). Graham Parker has several that I love intensely. Or “Carrying a Torch” by Van Morrison. How can I ignore Zevon and Zep and Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel and The Beatles and Space Team Electra (come on, what about “Luminous Crush”?) And I’m not even talking about some of my newer favorites from bands like Fiction 8 or The Birthday Massacre or The Lost Patrol. (I guess I could pick “Winter Rain” or “Hegemony” by F8 or “Bittersweet” by Paul Lewis, but I’d feel guilty since I co-wrote them.)

Waffle waffle waffle. No matter what I pick, I’m lying and doing a disservice to somebody. So of this list I’m going to pick one that I dearly love, and that connection probably has something to do with the artist, who I consider a good friend. And as I listen to the song I remember the place I grew up and I think I know where he’s singing about, places that I once called home.

So, Day 1: your favorite song – Jeffrey Dean Foster’s “The Summer of the Son of Sam.” Gods, I hope it gets easier than this.

11 replies »

  1. No! The Police? My god man, what are you thinking? What about Layla? Southside Johnny’s I dont want to go home? Statesboro Blues? Sultans of Swing? U2? Really?

    More seriously, I was at a Y2K party where weeks before the host had sent out surveys of best song of hte millenium. he compiled all the votes, made everyone cd’s of their favorites, etc, etc. but the interesting thing was i went around after the party and every single person had voted as their favorite something that was popular thier junior or senior year of high school, proving once again, that for most of us favorite is not really about “best” but about “strongest emotional connection,” which makes your task inherently unscalable.

    • I have no objections to any of your suggestions, but if you’re dogging on The Police and U2 you might need some audial chiropractic.

      This particular question doesn’t ask me for “best,” it asks for “favorite” – very different questions. Although I’d argue that the one I chose is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, as well.

      Most of my favorites have come along since high school, and my tastes have never stopped growing. So the best song I have ever heard may be scheduled for release later this year.

  2. The very question is ludicrous. But I’ll play along anyway. Of the 20+ favorite songs I have, I’ll go with Miles. So What.

  3. And people think I have a lot of music!

    I don’t think I could pick a favorite, but U2 (Exit, God part II) or The Police (Synchronicity II, Message In A Bottle) would certainly be in the running, as would The Doors (Break on Through, Riders on the Storm, The End), Led Zeppelin (Ramble On, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Dazed and Confused), Chuck Berry (Johnny B. Goode), Muddy Waters (Manish Boy, Got My Mojo Working) and way too many others. Good grief, I didn’t even get into post-punk/alternative, disco, oldies other than Chuck Berry, Blues other than Muddy, etc.

  4. OK–I’ll bite. Day One: The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
    (Definition of favorite: will crank up the volume in the car when it comes on a random mix and possibly drive too fast)

  5. This is the song I always come back to when I’m stuck as a composer – so in a real sense, it’s my favorite:

    • Yeah, “Penny Lane” is a remarkable bit of songcraft. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a perfect song, but I’m damned if I can find anything wrong with it.

  6. No more waffling. OK, here’s a song that knocked my over when I first heard it. Literally, I was standing and had to fall back on the sofa. I still love it. Maria McKee Wayfarin’ Stanger.