Friday, May 18, 2012

#560: The songs they love to sing

There's been way too many music people dying lately. Most of Donna Summer's work never did much 4 me -- back in the day I'd agree she had a strong voice, but she was everywhere, every song she did was SO popular, we heard her 24/7, it was all too much. Even if I did think that her multiple-Donna-chorale ending 2 the long version of "Love to Love You Baby" was pretty great....
When her ON THE RADIO/GREATEST HITS album came out, we played it 2 death in the record store (just like we did with BAD GIRLS), & I braced myself 2 get sick of Donna. But 2 songs really stuck with me....
"Heaven Knows" was a really nice duet that showed some signs of real feeling rather than her producers' usual mechanical, pounding thump-thump-thump. And then there was "I Love You," which got ZERO airplay in our area as the follow-up 2 "I Feel Love." As romantic & sentimental & idealistic as a Dream Come True, I was knocked out by it, & was also stumped that something that great peaked at #37 as a single. But somebody at Casablanca Records was smart enuf 2 add it 2 the best-of. I ended up buying a single that had those 2 songs back-2-back. Much later, I bought the album, 2nd-hand.
Later on, I was a sucker 4 Donna's overproduced "State of Independence" -- as silly as it was, there were some great moments in it, especially her vocal on the verses & her repeating of the line "This state of independence shall be...." It peaked at #41.
Those 3 songs stuck with me, & I played all 3 of them at work Thurs nite after I heard Donna had died. "I Love You" is still a knockout, & the other 2 still sound pretty good. But then, a lot of Donna's work -- like a lot of disco -- probly sounds better now that it's 30+ years later & we're not hearing it 24/7. A little distance helps.
I also think this is a good illustration of my theory that there R some songs that recording artists R just MEANT to do -- it's the reason they were put here, if you will. 4 me, Donna Summer IS "I Love You" & "Heaven Knows" & the chorale ending of "Love to Love You Baby," & the best parts of "State of Independence." She might have some other great songs I haven't heard yet, + there R all those HUGE hit singles from '79-'80 that maybe someday I'll B able 2 hear without my ears closing involuntarily. But 4 now, those 3+ songs sum her up 4 me.
This works with a lot of other artists, 2. It seems 2 work especially well with folks I don't like that much. But everybody has (at least) 1 song they were MEANT 2 sing.
Whitney Houston was meant to sing "I Want to Dance With Somebody," the only thing of hers I've ever come close 2 enjoying.
John Denver was put here 2 sing "Rocky Mountain High."
Paula Abdul was put here 2 sing "Blowing Kisses in the Wind."
Celine Dion was meant 2 sing "Nothing's Broken but My Heart."
Vanessa Williams was meant 2 sing "Save the Best for Last."
Marvin Gaye was put here 2 sing either "Ain't That Peculiar" or "What's Going On." (& I LIKE him....)
Tom Petty's Ultimate Song is still "Even the Losers." I can hardly stand anything else of his that I've heard.
Jim Morrison was put here 2 sing "People are Strange." Or possibly "Light My Fire." Perry Como should have sang The Doors' "Touch Me."
Gladys Knight was put here 2 sing either "If I Were Your Woman" or "I Heard it Through the Grapevine."
I think Elvis was meant to sing "Promised Land." You may of course have other nominees....
...This game seems 2 work best with artists you Rn't that thrilled with. The more you like a recording artist, or the longer or more varied their career, the harder it is 2 pin them down 2 1 "Ultimate Song." I couldn't pin down the Beatles, & wouldn't want 2. Same with the Moody Blues. Heck, I can't even pin down Tommy James and the Shondells....
But I've always thot Aretha Franklin was put on Earth 2 sing 2 stunning classics: "Daydreaming" & "'Til You Come Back to Me." But I admit that as I get older I'm starting 2 really appreciate "Think" & "Chain of Fools" & "Respect." So....
The silver lining here is that EVERY artist has 1 great moment, no matter how bad you might think they are. I can only think of 1 Xception: Engelbert Humperdinck was apparently put here 2 sing NOTHING. Too bad that didn't work out. But I feel the same way about Gary Puckett....
Tom Jones was put here 2 sing "She's a Lady."
Kenny Rogers was put here 2 sing "Love Will Turn You Around." Or possibly "I Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In."
Kim Carnes MAY have been put here 2 sing either "Voyeur" or "Draw of the Cards."
Tina Turner was surely put on Earth 2 sing "River Deep, Mountain High." Oh, & "Nutbush City Limits."
Frank Sinatra was put here 2 sing "That's Life."
Dean Martin's Ultimate Song was "Ain't That a Kick in the Head."
Bruce was put here 2 sing "Born to Run."
David Bowie's ultimate was either "Suffragette City" or "Changes" or "Modern Love" ... or "Space Oddity."
4 me, AC/DC was put here 2 do "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap."
The Band were put here 2 do "The Weight."
I think Lynyrd Skynyrd was put here 2 do "Tuesday's Gone."
ZZ Top was put here 2 do "La Grange."
There R some I'm having a little trouble with....
I GUESS Van Halen was put here 2 do "Jump," but I sure ain't no Xpert. & really don't want 2 B.
Sammy Davis Jr. was NOT put here 2 sing "The Candy Man." But I don't have a back-up nominee.... Maybe "I Gotta Be Me"...?
What do you think? Any other nominees & the songs that sum them up?

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