Here’s another 1973 album I recently revisited on the blog, after the film Rocketman sent me down an Elton John rabbit hole.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ended a run of six excellent and highly successful albums, all released before John was out of his mid-20s. Few artists have pulled off a streak like that (next week, I’ll write about another who pulled it off).
I’ve written about another of my favorite 1973 albums a number of times already. In fact, this is the fifth track from Bruce Springsteen’s The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle I’ve posted as a Song of the Day. And the album has only seven songs.
In one of those posts, I described this as “an album bursting with musicality, theatricality and an infectious creative energy. Springsteen spins his street-smart character sketches with staccato bursts of bruiser poetry. The lyrics could pass for stream-of-conscious if they weren’t so meticulously shaped. Musically, the newly formed E-Street band tore through multiple genres, but mostly settled into a jazz-rock groove that makes every track feel like the world’s coolest lawn concert.”
It’s time for the next installment in the Decades series, where I do a deep dive into the same year across the past four decades. I’ve done the 0s, 1s and 2s, and for the next several weeks I’ll tackle the 3s. First out of the gate is 1973.
As always, I will first offer up songs from my favorite 1973 albums and then songs from albums that received commercial and/or critical acclaim but with which I am largely unfamiliar.
About a month and a half ago, frequent commenter Dana noted that The White Stripes seem to show up on Random Weekends in numbers higher than blind chance would suggest.
Indeed, at that point seven of their 40 songs in my music library had made the Random Weekend cut, three times as many as you’d expect. I’m not sure how today’s selection — their eighth Random Weekend appearance — affects the math, but they are definitely up there as one of the most represented acts.
Demolition, Ryan Adams’ collection of outtakes from earlier albums, is as solid as many artists’ top tier work. Today’s track is a particular standout, a song about a man tentatively moving on after a failed relationship (he personifies the women as cities in these lyrics).
This is the second Ryan Adams song to pop up on Random Weekends since he was exposed as an alleged predator and harasser who derailed the careers of many female artists. It’s hard not to at least mention that fact, even as I appreciate his work.
Concluding my countdown of the songs on Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell.
2. ‘How to disappear’ – This is another track that was released, in a way, well before the album came out, when Del Rey and Jack Antonoff performed a piano-and-vocals version live at an Apple event. That recording is a thing of beauty, but the studio version is just as transcendent, adding ramshackle instrumentation that reminds me of the work Jon Brion did with Fiona Apple back in the 90s.
Continuing my countdown of the songs on Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell.
5. ‘Mariners Apartment Complex’ – This was the other single released a full year ago, and it has been a definite favorite of mine ever since. In fact, if I had heard this song for the first time as an album track it may well be at the top of this list. But I’ve known it for so long now that I’m giving the newer songs an edge for the accompanying sense of discovery.