Best Song

on Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I was visiting poetikat and she had this innocent looking little meme. Just 7 simple questions and she asked her readers to leave their answers in the comments. Being a simple minded squirrel, I readily followed the instructions. Imagine me typing away on the keyboard to obey poetikat's request, all the while singing a little "tra-la-la-la-la-la" tune from the Smurfs and you should get a sense of the emptiness of my head at that time.

Question 1: Name? Boy, that was easy. A no brainer.

Question2 : Age? That was a bit harder. Involved some mathematics but I am good at maths from counting nuts in my larder. A bit harder on the old noggin, was the debate about whether to tell the truth.

Question 3: Favorite book? Poem? Song? Oh, boy. Gears in brain begin to grind and make awful noises. Book? Can't even remember what books I read last year. Poem? Isn't it good enough that I read poetry once in a blue moon? But to expect me to remember the title and the poet's name, is quite unreasonable. Song? Well, maybe that is more manageable. After all I have all these "tra-la-la-la-la-la" tunes in my head. What is my favorite song?

As it happens, it was not such an easy choice. I mean I love music and there are so many songs that I like. My IPod is full of songs. How do I choose my favorite.......the best. I had to think and think and think and I think I sprained a muscle in the brain.

Finally though, I settled on this song which was written by Allen Shamblin and Mike Reid and was first sung by Bonnie Raitt in 1991. It was a big hit for Bonnie, making it into the Top 20 in the U.S. Pop Charts and Top 10 in the Adult Contemporary Chart. She was asked to perform this song in the 1992 Grammy Awards. The song is " I can't make you love me".

Why did I choose this song? I thought that the words and song were quite unique. It is not about candy canes and rainbows or sloppy sugary romance. It was about the painful, raw and lonely emotions of unrequited love. Yet it was not a blues song which almost elevates suffering on a podium and in doing so trivialises it. This song stands tall by being just very simple and honest. Sad but real. The pain is so strong but life goes on.

In the video below, Bonnie is accompanied by Bruce Hornsby on keyboards.

After I made the choice, I did some web surfing to learn more about the song and found to my surprise that others thought highly of this song too. In an interview, Phil Collins names this as the song that he would have wished that he had written. In 2000, the MOJO magazine invited top songwriters to choose songs along the same criteria and compiled the top 100 songs as chosen by songwriters. "I can't make you love me" came in at number 8. I feel that I have made a good choice.

Here are the top twenty songs. I wonder what is your favorite song and if you agree with the songwriters' choice.

1. In My Life - The Beatles
2. Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
3. Over The Rainbow - Judy Garland
4. Here There And Everywhere - The Beatles
5. Tracks Of My Tears - The Miracles
6. The Times They Are A Changin' -Bob Dylan
7. Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday
8. I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
9. People Get Ready - The Impressions
10. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling - The Righteous Brothers
11. Yesterday - The Beatles
12. I Say A Little Prayer - Dionne Warwick
13. God Only Knows - Beach Boys
14. Something - The Beatles;
15. Every Time We Say Goodbye - Nan Wyn; Ella Fitzgerald
16. Fire And Rain - James Taylor; The Isley Brothers
17. Moon River - Andy Williams (Henry Mancini)
18. Stand By Me - Ben E King
19. Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles
20. Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers

So, whatcha think?


Urban Animal said...

Interesting meme LGS. What a sad song. been there, felt that, I can relate to it so much. And yes, life goes on...

I agree with lots that is on the list although my taste now go towards the more contemporary like Antony and the Johnston and Damien Jurado, to name a few.

On a limb with Claudia said...

This post exemplifies the reasons I think you are an awesome being, Squirrelly. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite song... or even book... My blogger/MySpace profile are blank because of it.

((hug)) How's the back?

geewits said...

I absolutely adore some of those songs but don't care at all for others. I think I was just a bit miffed that "You've Got a Friend" written by Carole King is not on there, nor anything by Bernie Taupin (he wrote for Elton John). Oh well, that's what lists do, right? And Eeeeeew, Phil Spector co-wrote one of my favorite songs? ICK!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

urban animal,
I show both my age and my 'un-hipness' by not knowing who Anthony and the Johnston or Damien Jurado are. As to unrequited love, I think it is just a fortunate handful that have never experienced it.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

You say the nicest things! But honestly, favorite songs are just a matter of choice. My choice doesn't make it a better song than something you'd choose. Being a scientist, I do analysis based on certain predetermined criteria. I decided to go with uniqueness of subject, form and lyric style and to add on strong emotional impact. Using my criteria, I would not necessarily choose for other legitimate measures. If I had opted for musical and lyrical complexity for example, then I might have gone for a Meatloaf song.

I think I am just fortunate because songwriters are also probably looking for uniqueness in their song choices.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

As I explained to claudia, it really depends on what criteria one uses to evaluate a song. I too would have thought that Carole King's Tapestry would be on the list.

It is interesting that if you follow the link to the 100 top songs, you will find other lists there too including the top 100 as chosen by MOJO readers and you will find that the list is completely different. I think it is like classical music. If you ask a music professor his favorite classical piece it would probably be one that demonstrates difficult musical passages and themes. Whereas Joe Street will prefer something simpler and more accessible. I guess I am saying that our range of choices range from academic to the emotional and every shade in between. Our choice tells more about us than the actual standing of a song.

Anonymous said...

I love that song by Bill Withers, Ain't no sunshine when she's gone.
Du-oh, now it's stuck in my head.

I've seen some great Squirrel pics lately and thought of you. One on show us your funny travel pics and another one at "Citizen of the World's" blog.

Take Care!


the walking man said...

Squirrels are apparently side tracked without remorse eh? 7 questions?

Favorite songs...because a song implies lyrics I am not going to go to Mozart or Bach...but rather hmmm tra la la la la la (shoot I might be going squirrelly) "Won't Get Fooled Again" The Who. I have always kept this one close at hand even before this current American fools dream.

Dr.John said...

I like 3 and 15.

Anonymous said...

I think there are some fantastic songs in that list of yours. And I agree about the Bonnie Raitt song - it is raw and true. She has just the right raspy voice for it.

squirrelmama said...

Hey, LGS, I think one of the all time greats is Louis Armstrong half-singing, half-speaking, "What a Wonderful World." I get the chills whenever I hear it. Or maybe I have the air conditioning turned up too high.

Of course we squirrel rehabbers also have a soft spot for "Take Good Care of My Baby," recorded by Bobby Vinton but also recorded much later by its original composer, the great Carole King.

Claire said...

Yes I love that BR song too. Also love "Tracks of My Tears" and many others on that list. I'm not very musical, I just know what I like.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I like singing that song too. Now it's in my head! Help! Take care.

Squirrels easily sidetracked? Well, the nuts always look bigger on the other side......yes, we are easily distracted.

Good choice of song. The Who significantly created a whole sub-culture but people seldom talk about it these days.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

dr. john,
No: 3 certainly is a classic which also seems so evergreen. No:15 I am not familiar with but I am a big fan of Ella.

When I see Bonnie sing it, I sense a strong woman but still at the verge of emotional collapse. That's how I feel she has sung it with such sensitivity.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I like your choices. What did you think about my punk squirrel band?

I like what you like.

curious servant said...

I hope you don't mind a stranger playing along...

1. Will
2. 52
3. Moby Dick... Emily Dickinson
4. Dave Matthews
5. I spend a lot of time writing on mine and don't surf much, but I like Amrita's (
6. Mocha
7. Found a "Hippie Button" with a slogan I like:
"Love and Gratitude"

MedStudentWife said...

I don't even want to list my favorite songs.... I think y brain would explode before that & my fingers would drop of trying to type....

You are good !!!! Your ability to distill yourself.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

curious servant,
Hi there Will. Thanks for taking the trouble to copy and play the meme. I like what songs I have heard from the Dave Matthew's band. Hope you will drop by again. I have posted occasionally about my faith and you can find them in the links on my sidebar under "Christian faith".

What does one get if he "distills" a squirrel?

Josie said...

Hi, LGS. I haven't had much time to visit everyone lately. You always have such great blog posts!

I agree with most of this list, but I would add Bob Dylan's "Lay, Lady, Lay". It's not grammatically correct, but it's a great song.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks for the kind words. Rather embarrassing but I did not know that "Lay Lady Lay" was a Dylan song.

squirrelmama said...

LGS, Bravo to the Punk Squirrel Band.....I've seen their video and am just crossing my paws that they come to our local theater this summer so I can get some tickets.
What do you suppose they serve as snacks at intermission?

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