An Ultimate Playlist….

You can tell a lot about somebody by what they listen to. I don’t know why this particular playlist seems worthy of note but it does.  The idea behind it is to get, somehow, above the din of ugliness, drama, and chaos that is the lives I hear about daily in my office and the bizarre drama that is our news at this point. There’s enough junk out there in our world that there are two other blog pieces just waiting to be finished, but this one somehow fought it’s way out first.

Remember when music meant something? Remember when we thought it  would save the world?   As Harry Chapin once sang, “”Remember when the music
Came from wooden boxes strung with silver wire
And as we sang the words, it would set our minds on fire
For we believed in things, and so we’d sing”.

I wanted to listen to songs like that. I need to listen to songs like that so I put together this playlist on my iPhone. Lately, I skip the radio or other CDs to listen to it. Oddly, Harry’s song is not here, because I didn’t want to be told how good I was for listening, I wanted to feel how good it felt to listen. Harry is wonderful, and one of my all-time heroes, but he’s for another day.

1972, when I was 12, for some reason comes to mind here as I put this together and some of the songs — “soul” songs especially — would have come out during that time. Maybe this period would last until about 1976, when disco would have its heyday and the world would slowly fall apart around us. Intermittently, there would be songs that pop out with meaning or difference or spirit, but our national or global spirit dampened the lift that the song had, so no revolutions or long-term hope came from them. Some of them are protest songs, some of them are other-worldly, some of them are soul, some are just child-like or silly and that’s why they’re here.

It’s a long playlist because it takes a long time to overcome lost perspective and rise above it all to see beauty and hope again. It kind of began because Pandora radio, which I have at work, has a Donovan station and it helped me feel at peace. Ethereal and Indian and reminiscent of the Beatles on on hand and Joan Baez/Bob Dylan on the other hand, I kept it on for a long time. I ended up buying some Donovan for times when the radio/wireless wasn’t available. From there, as pieces came to mind or brought me that feeling, I picked those up as well. Anyway, hope you like it. It’s what I’ve been listening to.


You Get What You Give — New Radicals — “Age fourteen/ they’ve got you down on your knees. Don’t give’ve got the dreamer’s disease…”

You’ve Got A Friend — Carole King — Needs no introduction if you remember it from when it came out.

Wear Your Love Like Heaven — Donovan — Great song, for all the reasons I said.  Sarah McLaughlin does a wonderful version of this as well, because it’s a great song and it shows off her spirit.

Waterloo Sunset — Ray Davies and Jackson Browne — I have at least three versions of this beautiful song. This one has Jackson Browne, too.

Wake Up Everybody — Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes — Love this, heard it in a movie recently and my daughter asked about it. Wonderful Black preacher feel to it.

Up On The Roof (Live) — Carole King and James Taylor — I like both individual versions of this, and this isn’t the best out there, but they’re having fun and it reminded me of fun (as Robert Plant once said, “Doesn’t anybody remember laughter?”).

Turn, Turn, Turn — Pete Seeger — folk music, protest singer (has anybody written a protest song lately?), biblical references: the real deal.

This Land Is Your Land — Pete Seeger, Sweet Honey In The Rock, and others — A wonderful song with so many wonderful voices. Dylan made it possible for the Smithsonian to own Folkways records with this. It’s for all of us.

Shiny Happy People — R.E.M. and the B-52s — Hippie, Happy, beautiful joy.

Stoned Soul Picnic — Fifth Dimension — loved them as a kid — “red-yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine” sung beautifully.

Pride (In The Name of Love) — U2 — These guys give me hope for the world. Songs about MLK, Ghandi, and Jesus, with a great rhythm and energy, have a tendency to do that.

Positively 4th Street — cover version from a tribute album. I like to see when a new generation carries a song on and what they do with it. I like the banjo here.

Oh Happy Day — Edward Hawkins Singers — just no getting away from the love and the Spirit here. Amazingly, it was played on the radio when I was a kid.

Oh Girl — Chi Lights — the only song about romantic love here. From my days as a misunderstood twelve year old who knew all about loving girls.

Lalena — Donovan — more Donovan, real funky breathing creates an ethereal sound.

Itchy-Coo Park — Small Faces — How many times can you sing “It’s all too beautiful” without getting your spirit up?

Israelites — The ABC Company — I just love this.  It’s like a garage band doing reggae before anyone had heard of reggae. “Get up in the morning to go make bread/so that every mouth can be fed…” Have no idea what this has to do with Israel or Israelites, but there it is.

Hurdy Gurdy Man — Donovan — probably written on acid, but wow… otherworldly love, man…

Good Vibrations (a capella) — Wilson Phillips — I love the sound of just people’s voices and this is a really cool example. Strange hearing a woman do the bass parts as part of it all but true to the spirit of her father, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy — Bobby McFerrin — same reasons about a capella and the message is hopeful.

Do It Again — Wilson Phillips — fun for the sake of fun, celebrating fun.

Crimson and Clover — Joan Jett and the Blackhearts — I own the original Tommy James version, but not on mp3. My kids love this and it rocks.

Catch My Disease — Ben Lee — There is something about the use of kids’ piano that raises my spirits every time I hear it. This song is fun and silly and has that sound. Video’s a lot of fun as well. “They play ME on the radio… and that’s the way I like it!…”. Just plain fun. Five-year-olds can dance to this one. So can drunken college students and hippies.

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft — The Carpenters — An incredible song. I like it better than the Klaatu original because it feels more substantial somehow. And Karen Carpenter’s voice against a robot-sounding alien voice? She does us proud.

Blowing In the Wind — by House of Fools from a tribute album — a heroic anthem, sung as an anthem featuring children’s voices, brings a tear of hope…

Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In — Fifth Dimension — a great soul anthem of hope and possibility, from Hair.

I Shall Be Released — Steel Train from the same tribute album — poignant tone of I-don’t-know-what seems like the wind and it’s great.

Long May You Run — Neil Young — My old DJ habits couldn’t resist a closing song, and this is it. St. Mary’s College of Maryland hippies, this is for you — and me.


So there it is, in all it’s glory. Hope you like it.








3 thoughts on “An Ultimate Playlist….

    • Val: I’m so impressed by other people’s collections that I’m not surprised you don’t know all in mine. Glad you got smiles out of the others. As always, thanks for reading!



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