Continuing the chronological presentation of my 25 favorite songs…
‘Take On Me‘ – A-Ha (1985)
1985 is the second year to place two songs on my list of favorites, the first being Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ and the second being one of today’s featured tracks, A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me.’
Some songs on this list are here because of the excellence of a specific version. ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ is a good example. Both the original demo and cover versions by others pale in comparison to the magic created by Simple Minds on the definitive recording.
Lucinda Williams’ seventh studio album, World Without Tears, is my #8 album of 2003. This record was Williams’ follow-up to 2001’s plaintive Essence, and it finds her in a very different mood.
Much of World Without Tears is relentlessly bleak, touching on sexual abuse, drug addiction, domestic violence and historical atrocities. Fun!
Lucinda Williams is back with her first new material since 2016’s The Ghosts of Highway 20. I featured that album track-by-track on the blog, much to the consternation of some loyal readers.
Ghosts was a very meditative, delicate album, full of sad remembrances and long guitar solos. I think the Trump years have made an impact on Williams, because Good Souls, Better Angels is the opposite — loud, angry, confrontational.
This track, from Lucinda Williams’ 2001 album Essence, is a perfect example of that record’s spare, haunting loveliness.
Like many songs on the album, ‘Are You Down’ has few lyrics and a whole lot of atmosphere. The interplay of guitar and drums on this track has a distinct Dire Straits vibe, which is certainly a good thing in my book.
My list of favorite albums in recent years is so dominated by female artists that it’s a shock to look back at 2001 and see how bro-tastic my tastes were then.
Lucinda Williams’ Essence, my #6 album of that year, is the only work by a woman in my top ten.
Now, in my defense, I haven’t found a lot of strong female contenders among the albums I missed out on in 2001. Maybe it just wasn’t a strong year for women in music. But it is striking, especially coming off of a year when five of my top seven albums were by women.