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Five random songs off my iPod

May 23, 2014 - Zach Baker
1. Stay the Night, Benjamin Orr Why it's here: I'm a sucker for Cleveland artists, and Orr, best known for his work with the Cars, has a great voice to go along with the pop sensibilities he gained in his long career with the group.

Orr really isn't deviating much from "Drive," his mid '80s hit with the Cars. Three chords or so in, you have a basic idea of when this song is cut. The song has a subtle intensity that isn't lost in its somewhat lavish production. Orr performs this in a way that just fits with the material. It's catchy, even if it's from a genre that doesn't exactly qualify as one of my favorites.

2. Pressure, David Bowie, Queen Why it's here: Um, I wanted to download Bowie's Modern Love but couldn't without buying all of "Best of Bowie." Happy? This song doesn't really do it for me, despite loving each of the respective artists. This recording has two of the best rock voices ever on it. But it leaves me flat. Well, except for the final verse, sung by Bowie, which served as the background music for John Cusack staring at a baby in the movie Gross Point Blank. I do really like that movie.

3. I don't believe you (She acts like we never have met), Bob Dylan. Why it's here: This is from The Last Waltz, with Dylan being backed by The Band. The song is notable because it tells the story of a man who thought he had a connection with someone, only to find out that whatever moment they shared meant nothing to the other person.

And who hasn't been there.

This song hits a remarkable groove right away, as Dylan and his former backing group are in sync almost from the start. The almost angry guitar solo from Robbie Robertson makes the whole recording. Dylan holds his own with an inspired vocal, which isn't always there in his live performances.

4. Hold on to me, John Denver.

Why it's here: Oh, I can feel my credibility just sliding with some people here. Truth is, I've always felt Denver doesn't get his due as a songwriter, or a performer. He was overexposed in the 70s and early 80s, until the masses screamed "ENOUGH" in unison. But John, rest his soul, did record one of my favorite albums, Rocky Mountain High, a big reason why I picked up an acoustic guitar when I was 16. This song is overproduced, with a totally unneeded saxophone. But hey, the catchy chord progression is there, and it's upbeat and positive. Sometimes you just need to forget about everything and just let your ears tell you the truth.

5. Ziggy Stardust-- David Bowie.

Why it's here: From Bowie to Denver and back to Bowie. The reason this song is here is primarily because it has one of my favorite lines in rock:

"He took it all too far. But boy, could he play guitar."

Bowie is at his creative peak here, letting his creativity run wild and producing some imaginative stuff. The thing is, this song has a catchy guitar riffs, a well sung vocal and a story that is quickly memorized. It is a classic.


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