The Home Team: Music to his ears: The Top 300 revised
Published 5:36 am, Monday, September 21, 2015
Never say never.
This is one of the truest aphorisms ever coined — but it seems I have to keep relearning it. When I released my first Top 100 back in 2012 (“The Making Of The Top 100, June 1, 2012), and friends asked if I planned to revise it as the years went by, I said, “NEVER!” I said I went with my gut, and I’m gonna stick with it. I said I was sure my list would hold up over time.
I’ve been living with that original playlist — as well as its 2013 and 2014 successors (songs Nos. 101-200 and Nos. 201-300) — for a few years now. Those compilations have been the soundtrack for three cross-country road trips and countless Montauk beach weekends. And there was some selections, and some placements, that were just ... wrong.
Here are some of the factors that induced me to revise My Favorite 300 Songs Ever:
• I went a little overboard on stuff that was currently popular that first time around. Too much Lady Gaga, Adele ranked too high, etc.
• I allowed peer pressure and fan reaction to coax me out of putting some truly great songs (Patti Smith’s “Gloria,” for one) near the top, where they belong.
• I felt compelled to represent certain genres (e.g., Motown) that I once loved but that just don’t do it for me anymore.
• Likewise, I didn’t want to overlook some faves from my rock-and-roll youth (Del Shannon’s “Runaway;” Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover”), but finally realized they’re better off staying in my rock-and-roll youth. Ditto for some more recent tunes (Keith Carradine’s “I’m Easy”) that haven’t stood the test of time.
So this time around, I went in fresh. And I put the songs where they deserved to be. For me. Didn’t matter what anyone else said. Didn’t matter where I ranked ’em last time. As a result, a few tunes fell off the face of the earth. Others made quantum leaps all the way to the Top 25 ... even the Top 10.
I’m not going to make that same mistake and say I’ll never update this list. It might still be flawed. Maybe, for instance, Patty Smyth & Scandal benefitted from the halo effect after their concert in Amagansett a few weeks ago. Patty dedicated not one, not two, but three songs to our table after I’d emailed her that our oldest son Matt used to air-guitar and lip-sync to “Goodbye To You” on MTV when he was 2 years old. Also: It’s an open secret that I’m in love with one Trish Murphy, the silver-throated Austin singer-songwriter who played a private gig for my wife’s Big Birthday Bash. Did her music get over-represented as a result? I suppose it’s possible.
All right. Now let’s get to Mount Rushmore.
The idea came from Matt. He and I were listening to my original Top 300 this past April on my fourth cross-country-road-trip-with-dog, and that prompted him to ask me who’d be on my rock-and-roll Mount Rushmore. I knew three who’d make it right off the bat: The Boss, the Stones and Tom Petty. But who was the fourth face? Neil Young? John Mellencamp? Sheryl Crow? John Fogerty? Ohmygod ... could it be Taylor Swift?
So I went back over my 2014 rankings and calculated, by virtue of number of songs in the Top 300, that there was a four-way tie for fourth between Young, Mellencamp, Fogerty, and yes, T-Swift. When I re-did the list for the new presentation, though, Neil Young moved to the head of the pack with eight songs. But ... that includes two of his songs with Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and I’m not sure if that’s really kosher. Swifty has seven, so if you take away those two CSN&Y from Neil, that puts Taylor ahead, seven to six. Hmmm. I’m still trying to resolve this controversy.
One final note: Most of you regular readers know that for the last several years I’ve been heavily into country. I’ve heard a lot of complaints that country gets way too much love on my list. Some even claim it’s a whole separate genre, and shouldn’t be considered. My answer? It’s my list, and country’s still rock-and-roll to me. So deal with it.
In my next column: The new Top 300, revealed.
“The Home Team” appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank’s adventures on his blog, “Beagle Man,” on the Westport News website, at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman. To reach Hank, e-mail him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.