Song of the Day #3,904: ‘Hard Times in New York Town (Demo – 1961)’ – Bob Dylan

My #3 album of 1991 is admittedly a bit of a cheat, as most of its songs were recorded decades earlier. But Bob Dylan’s The Bootleg Series, Vol 1-3: Rare & Unreleased 1961-1991 marked the first time most of these outtakes and demos were officially released.

This three-disc set covered Dylan’s earliest years up through his spotty 80s output, and found hidden gems throughout. Incredible songs inexplicably left off of mediocre albums, alternate takes of all-time classics, demos recorded before anybody knew the name Bob Dylan.

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Song of the Day #3,903: ‘Harpies Bizarre’ – Elvis Costello

My #4 album of 1991 is the mostly mediocre Elvis Costello release, Mighty Like a Rose.

Ranking this one was tough. I had to balance the warm bath of nostalgia with the sobering effects of time, then sprinkle in a dash of ‘one amazing song lifting up a whole album.’ Given all that, fourth place feels about right.

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Song of the Day #3,902: ‘When You’re Not Around’ – Joe Jackson

Well, this is a bit awkward. When checking to see which songs I’ve posted from Joe Jackson’s Laughter & Lust, my #5 album of 1991, I realized that in a previous Decades post I named this my #4 album of 1990.

I double-checked, and the album was indeed released in 1991 (April, to be exact) so I’m not sure how I mistakenly shifted it a year early back then. At least I’m consistent with the placement.

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Song of the Day #3,901: ‘Phoenix’ – Aimee Mann

In one of those moments of sublime serendipity, the Random iTunes Fairy has offered up an Aimee Mann track exactly one week after the last random Aimee Mann track. You won’t hear me complaining.

In fact, back before Random Weekends, when I dedicated weekend posts to specific artists (The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, among others), Aimee Mann was one of the artists I considered. At the time I was looking for artists with voluminous discographies and hers was a little on the lean side, but she easily could have carried several months’ worth of posts.

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Song of the Day #3,900: ‘She’s Out of My Life’ – Michael Jackson

My second Michael Jackson post in a little over a week, this one comes from Jackson’s classic 1979 album Off the Wall, arguably his overall best release.

Written by Tom Bahler, ‘She’s Out of My Life’ became the fourth top ten single from Off the Wall. Producer Quincy Jones originally intended to give the song to Frank Sinatra but he wanted to see what Jackson could do with a mature ballad. Jackson famously couldn’t help but tear up during the song’s final lines, and you can hear his voice cracking on the final version.

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Song of the Day #3,899: ‘Not the Only One’ – Bonnie Raitt

My #6 album of 1991 is the female counterpart to yesterday’s selection of Marc Cohn’s debut album. As with that record, I haven’t spent a lot of time listening to Bonnie Raitt’s Luck of the Draw over the years, but there’s no denying its greatness.

Raitt has such a great voice and sound that you can listen to her singing anything and come away satisfied. One of my co-workers tunes her Alexa to the Bonnie Raitt station every time it rains, and I totally get why.

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Song of the Day #3,898: ‘True Companion’ – Marc Cohn

My #7 album of 1991 is the debut of Cleveland-born singer-songwriter Marc Cohn.

This is a bit of a left-field pick for me because I haven’t given Cohn’s album much thought since it came out. But scanning my music library’s 1991 titles for this week’s posts, I was struck by the greatness of this album. It’s a gorgeous collection of poetic piano balladry.

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