My 100 Favorite Songs from 1973 (Part 4 of 5)

Imagination is number 15 on My Favorite Albums from 1973 list because it is a great listen all the way through but along the way there are three killer singles and "Midnight Train To Georgia" has emerged as my favorite for now. The interplay between Gladys and the Pips is on point and her emotional vocal intensity is off the charts. Not the happiest song in the world but it strangely comforts me and I like it. Love the train whistle vocals from the Pips. Watch Ms. Knight and the Pips perform "Midnight Train To Georgia" and "Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)", each performance from a different episode of The Midnight Special but edited together in one video clip. And you might have noticed this is the second song in my countdown with Georgia in the title.
Wow, two train songs in a row! The smooth blast of R&B known as "Love Train" is courtesy of Philadelphia International Records, songwriters/producers/label presidents Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff as well as the MFSB Orchestra. It is the perfect upbeat musical counterpoint to their song "Back Stabbers" and each song anchors a side of the 1972 album Back Stabbers. Hearing the less than three minute version that remarkably is the full length album version leaves me wanting more and fortunately Tom Moulton created a 6:14 remix. See The O'Jay's rush through "Love Train" in this clip from The Midnight Special dated May 11, 1973.
I have an inkling as to what "Little Willy" is all about but as I scream along at the top of my lungs I don't really care. This was the last of Sweet's early recordings that they sang but didn't play on à la The Monkees or the Partridge Family. Of course, the song is a Chinnichap composition as were all but two of Sweet's greatest songs. Watch them call out "Little Willy" on this televised performance from 1972.
So dang funky. "Right Place Wrong Time" features Dr. John backed by The Meters and is produced by Allen Toussaint - one of the heaviest lineups in recording history! My only complaint and I know it's a common one, is that the song is too short; not even three minutes long. Guess that's why that backskip button is there. Dr. John's ATCO studio albums are available on HD Tracks and this song in particular sounds absolutely amazing.
You know I like my driving songs and Three Dog Night's "Shambala" is a great tune to sing along with while tooling down the freeway. Most people don't know that B.W. Stevenson (featured earlier on the countdown with "My Maria", which had been co-written by Stevenson and Daniel Moore, who also wrote "Shambala") beat Three Dog Night to the charts by a week with his version of "Shambala" though they eventually lapped him, their version of the song peaking much higher than his. The late Cory Wells handled lead vocals on this one and you can watch him and Chuck Negron and Danny Hutton sing "Shambala" is this Soundstage clip from 1975.
I used to watch The Cisco Kid ("Robin Hood of the Old West!") on Sunday mornings after The Lone Ranger. He and his sidekick Pancho were great, always getting the best of the bad guys. (Wonder if they are still showing episodes on any of the gazillion cable channels we get?) My Uncle Sam had War's Greatest Hits on 8-track so I heard the wonderfully loping song "The Cisco Kid" quite a bit after 1976. It still like a party in the studio when I hear it. Watch War perform "The Cisco Kid" on the October 19, 1973 episode of The Midnight Special, an episode they also hosted.
Tried watching the movie that Dylan wrote "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and the rest of the soundtrack for but ended up turning it off after less than fifteen minutes. Did I miss anything? This is another one of those songs I came at sideways, via Eric Clapton's cover which I first heard on his Time Pieces album. I enjoyed Clapton's reggae version - thought it was an original or perhaps another Marley cover - until one day while looking at the back of that album I noticed the song was written by Dylan. A couple of years passed and in 1985, I somehow learned which of Dylan's albums "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" was on and bought it as quickly as I could. The song digs and tears at me and it was a pleasant surprise when Guns N Roses did their own cover of it in 1987 but the version that nearly topples Dylan's original is Warren Zevon's haunting take from his final studio album, The Wind in 2003.
Love this song and disappointed in myself for ranking it so low. I owe myself an apology. Wrote about "Photograph" and the Ringo album HERE. Watch Ringo's home-made video for "Photograph".
Love "Piano Man" and its colorful cast of characters, too.
  • an old man - "Makin' love to his tonic and gin"
  • John - at the bar, sure he could be a movie star
  • Paul - a real estate novelist
  • Davy - still in the Navy
  • the waitress - practicing politics
  • the businessmen - slowly getting stoned
  • the manager - smiles
  • the piano - sounds like a carnival
  • the microphone - "smells like a beer"
  • Bill - the Piano Man
Watch Joel's early music video for "Piano Man".
It might come as a surprise, but I actually prefer the truncated single version of ELO's cover of the Chuck Berry classic "Roll Over Beethoven" over the full length album version though I still think the Beethoven intro is clever. For years, if someone asked me if I liked classical music I would say "Yes, I love the Orchestra... the Electric Light Orchestra". And if they asked me if I liked country music I'd say "Yes, both kinds: American and British". Man, I was a dumb-ass when I was a teen. Watch Jeff and his Orchestra mates rush through "Roll Over Beethoven" as if their pants were on fire as they perform on the German program Rockpalast from October 4, 1974.
Sunrises and sunsets are two of my favorite times of day here at The Hideaway.  In the morning, the sun peeks over the mountains to our East and in the evening, the sun sets behind the mountains to the West and the dust in the air creates magnificent colors across the sky, all shades of red, orange, yellow, blue and purple. I'm not a drinker but I do think the Tequila Sunrise cocktail is nice to look at and aptly named. The Eagles song of the same name is a triumph in mellow and most often enjoyed around The Hideaway after the sun has set along with "Peaceful Easy Feeling". Hear Glenn and his fellow Eagles strum their way through "Tequila Sunrise" live from the Netherlands in 1973. They even added an extra verse! 
"Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day" These lyrics hit me like a ton of bricks nearly ten years after they were first sang in Pink Floyd's "Time". I was a inexperienced horny teen male high on nothing but the sight and unfulfilled fantasies of teen females and the lyrics of  each song on Floyd's epic The Dark Side Of The Moon spoke to me. Given that my primary form of listening to music at the time was via cassette through Walkman and headphones, the sonics of the album made a huge lasting impression as well. Despite all that and my love for past and future Pink Floyd albums, "Time" just may be my favorite PF song, beginning to end.
The crowd noise was added after the recording but it sounds pretty convincing I think. "Bennie and the Jets" sounds very good on a quality playback system and it sounds really, really nice and immersive in The Blueberry. Even the junky 5.1 surround 2.1 stereo system I use as my PC playback system benefits from the ambiance of the high definition track. Even after listening to the song for more than 40  years I don't know nor do I care what the lyrics are. It's fun to sing along with friends and have each person sing different words. Watch Elton John sing "Bennie and the Jets" live on Soul Train from May 17, 1975. He is noted for being the only the fourth "off-white" performer on the show as well as one of the very few artists permitted to sing live over a backing track rather than lip syncing as nearly every other artist did on the show.
Remember that game we used to play on Sesame Street - One of these things is not like the others? Seems that there isn't a decent scan of the Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See" 45 on the whole world wide web so I went with a picture sleeve from some dadgum foreign country. Love the melancholy song, especially while driving at night. One of the many recently released Music Vault video clips is a September 10, 1973 performance of "Can't You See" from the Grand Opera House in Macon, Georgia, filmed in black & white.
If you don't love the voice of Mavis Staples, we cannot be friends. That voice ignites fires deep within my soul, activates the release of them feel good brain chemicals and sends blood rushing to my nether regions. It surprises me not one whit that Bob Dylan asked for her hand in marriage. This is an awesome testament to her and her singing family, The Staple Singers. If all gospel music was as awesome and life affirming as "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)", they wouldn't have to file it apart from Pop/Rock. It could all just be music, wonderful music. Watch Mavis and her fam invite us along with their performance of "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" on Sooooooooooooooul Train from June 8, 1974.
An protest song disguised as a fable and dressed as a pop song - that's what "One Tin Soldier" is to me. Used to love it when the song came on the radio, singing along with "Go ahead and hate your neighbor/Go ahead and cheat a friend/Do it in the name of heaven/You can justify it in the end" was fun. Can't speak as to the Billy Jack movie connection because I never wanted to watch it though kids on the playground used to call me "Billy Jack" cause I was a little badass. And my middle name is William.  
A few years ago, I reconnected with an old friend through another friend. As we became reacquainted and caught up on on the last thirty years, I asked her what her favorite songs were and she answered "Clowns to The Left Of Me" which I instantly recognized as a line from "Stuck In The Middle With You" so I asked if that was what she meant and she said no and began typing the lyrics and the lyrics she typed were for "Stuck In The Middle With You". I sent her a YouTube link and she didn't click on it but replied that I probably wasn't familiar with the song because it was in that movie Reservoir Dogs "with all the men named after colors" and she remembered I didn't like violent movies. I told her it was nice to talk to her again and wished her well. Will have to catch up with her again in another thirty years. Watch Gerry Rafferty and his fellow Stealers Wheel(ers) lip sync their way through "Clowns To The Left Of Me" on an episode of Top Of The Pops originally broadcast on the BBC on May 18, 1973.
I've written lovingly of the first time I heard the Fly Like An Eagle album but if I had to wager, I'd bet most of my money that "The Joker" was the first Steve Miller song I ever heard on the radio. It was popular in record stores of the time, too or at least I remember it that way, out on the hunts with Dad. It might have even been on the jukebox at Cow Talk. I know my Uncle Sam dug the track as he may have been a midnight toker. The spacey slide solo is the secret sauce in this one along with Miller's vocals and the loping rhythm. Hear Steve and the his band perform "The Joker" live on The Midnight Special from January 25, 1974.
Dad loved his music, I love his music and you should love Jim Croce's music too. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" was HUGE back in 1973. Wrote about Dad and Croce here. See Jim and his partner Maury Muehleisen play and sing "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" on the June 15, 1973 airing of The Midnight Special which Croce also hosted.
There are three absolutely gorgeous songs on Stevie Wonder's Talking Book album from late 1972 though the entire album is most definitely worth your time. The album's opening and closing songs are just about the sweetest, most sincere love songs anyone has ever committed to tape but it is that third song, the first track on Side 2 of the Talking Book album that brings us here today. As funky as it is innovative "Superstition" features the aptly named Wonder playing every instrument except the two horns. It is said that Stevie wrote the song for Jeff Beck in exchange for his playing on a track on Talking Book. The plan called for Beck to release his version first but a series of mishaps for Beck provided Wonder with the opportunity to get his single out first. A third Rock Hall Of Famer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, released his live version of "Superstition" on his Live Alive album in 1987 while Macy Gray released her slow and spooky cover of "Superstition" when she covered the entire Talking Book album in 2012. Watch Wonder perform a red hot live version of "Superstition" with a full band, including Michael Sembello on guitar and Deniece Williams among the backing vocalists, in an appearance on the German show Musik Laden from 1974.

No comments:

Post a Comment