Gene recently invited me to prepare my top 25 songs of all time for publication. The premise is simple. Turn on the radio this weekend and many, if not most, radio stations will be counting down the top songs of all time in their particular genre. Music is an important element in many of our lives, and although we “patent people” don’t always make the connection, copyrights are a critically important intellectual property right for so many creators, particularly musicians.
When Gene interviewed me in November 2015 we did talk about music and he tells me I’ve given him a hard time about his own top 25 songs since, which he published during the 4th of July weekend 2015. I don’t remember giving him a hard time, and if I did, well, I apologize. Although looking at his list I probably should have!
In any event, I’m pleased to participate in what I understand will become a yearly endeavor with different IP professionals asked to provide their own top 25 each 4th of July weekend. Before I delve into my list let me provide a little background.
I don’t have a song list on my iPhone anymore. I now mostly listen to SiriusXM &Pandora – I like the variety and the surprise of not knowing what’s coming next. I also started listening to vinyl again, dug out my 35-year-old turntable a few years ago and revived what remained of my old record collection. I have been buying some vintage albums lately too, last one was Led Zeppelin I (although I don’t think their first one was actually numbered).
While rock clearly dominates my favorites, I can go into spells of listening to bluegrass and Motown (thank you, SiriusXM & Pandora). It was hard for me to pick my favorite songs, however, had a lot of fun trying. I tend to view music in terms of artists, albums, and eras. In other words, “favorite” is a fleeting label. But these are the songs I always like to hear, typically a favorite from an artist or album that I enjoy, and a reminder of a time in my life. And I’m listing them in age/era order (oldest to newest), not a ranking. I just couldn’t bring myself to actually rank these songs.
1 – Crosby, Stills, Nash – Helplessly Hoping – particularly great harmony on this song, the Crosby, Stills & Nash and Déjà Vu albums were classics.
3 – Sly & the Family Stone – Dance to the Music – Much (or all) of my early exposure to music was from my older brother. This 8-track (clearly dating myself!) was a regular, and Sly an unforgotten classic.
4 – Allman Brothers – Statesboro Blues – One of my all-time favorite bands, seeing them live at the Beacon Theater in NYC is one of my top live music events.
5 – Jonathon Edwards – Shanty – maybe a forgettable artist, but great harmonica and catchy lyrics on this one, another from my brother’s early collection.
6 – Bill Withers – Use Me – 1 of 3 bluesy/soulful songs of Withers, including Lean On Me and Ain’t No Sunshine, that were a staple on my old iPhone playlist.
7 – Neil Young – Old Man – saw him years ago at Constitution Hall – don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone play so many different instruments so effortlessly.
8 – Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man – Skynyrd was a main-stay of my high school years, really captures that early-to-mid 70’s southern rock era.
9, 10 – Eagles – Hotel California & Already Gone – Only group I picked more than one song, so consider that a reflection of my respect, and I could probably list a few more favorite Eagles songs. Glad I saw them not long ago at Madison Square Garden before Glenn’s passing.
11 – Little Feat/Lowell George – Two Trains – love the band’s syncopation, and Lowell’s solo version of this song is a keeper. A (another) great vocalist that died way too young.
12 – The Who – Who Are You – Of the early British rockers, I prefer The Who over the Rolling Stones.
13 – The Marshall Tucker Band – Heard it in a Love Song – from that mid-70’s era when I was listening to a lot of country rock (Skynyrd, Outlaws, Charlie Daniels…).
14 – Van Morrison – On the Bright Side of the Road – Another artist with an incredible collection of great music, I like the up-tempo beat of this one.
15- AC/DC – Highway to Hell – another one of my all-time favorite groups, distinctive and timeless rock. Back in Black an all-time favorite album.
16 – Tom Petty – American Girl – Great song writer, prefer his early work (like Damn the Torpedoes), recently SiriusXM has been playing tunes from one of his early bands, MudCrutch, really good stuff.
[Pause…I kinda skipped the 80’s musically in terms of favorites. Not sure if it was me or just what was coming out then. I do like a lot of Michael Jackson, but I have a hard time squeezing any one song into my top 25]
17 – Van Halen – Right Now – Great intro in this tune, made me finally accept Sammy as David Lee’s replacement.
18 – Pearl Jam – Alive – Ten is one of my favorite albums, seeing them at Merriweather Post in Columbia, MD was memorable, although I almost lost my wife in a swirling mosh pit.
19 – Nirvana – Come as Your Are – Nevermind is great album, cover-to-cover. Can’t listen to any Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) music without thinking how amazing it was that he was their drummer.
20 – Sister Hazel – All for You – I don’t remember the band or any other songs, but this song gets stuck in my head a lot.
21 – Everclear – Santa Monica – Somewhat of an unheralded band, they used to dominate my iPhone playlist. Good story telling & lyrics. Saw them at the 930 Club in DC very late in their career and they didn’t disappoint.
22 – Green Day – Basket Case – Dookie was a great break-out album, and this trio put out a lot of great sound. I never thought of it as punk, more like alternative rock.
23 – Counting Crows – Mr. Jones – Adam Duriitz is a great lyricist, although when seeing him live I would warn you – unless he’s playing the piano his creativity can lead him wayyy off the album version of any song.
24 – Weezer – Undone (The Sweater Song) – A fun band, this song is a singalong special.
25 – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – SOB – relatively new band, getting playing time on SiriusXM. This is a catchy tune, can’t wait to see where they go next.
For my ‘honorable mentions’, I apologize to these great bands/artists I have enjoyed over the years for not being able to squeeze even one song into my top 25…Traffic (Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys), Bowie (Changes), Jackson Browne (The Pretender), Golden Earring (Radar Love), Boston (Smokin’), Talking Heads (Burning Down the House), Springsteen (Rosalita), Doors (Roadhouse Blues), Clapton/Cream (Crossroads), Foghat (Fool for the City), Collective Soul (Shine), and in tribute to my short-lived time in the south, Ricky Skaggs (Highway 40 Blues).