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.
Immediately after posting ten of my favorite songs, I started regretting the omissions. Given another chance I could post ten completely different tracks and feel just as good about the list.
But the omission that hit me the hardest — the one that would have been in the top five if I hadn’t completely blanked on it — is Lucinda Williams’ ‘Side of the Road.’
My final song of this two-week series comes courtesy of the great Lucinda Williams. ‘Side of the Road’ covers some of the same territory as yesterday’s Miranda Lambert track — the idea of wondering what might have been.
But ‘Side of the Road’ — one of my very favorite songs by anybody — focuses less on those untaken paths and more on the need to sometimes step aside and find yourself.
Three albums of the twenty I’m featuring in this series are what I would call heartbreak records. They stem from and focus on the end of a relationship. The first is Beck’s 2002 Sea Change.
This album represented a major stylistic and lyrical shift for Beck, whose previous work blended hip-hop, funk and folk-rock and featured absurdist hipster poetry. Sea Change was a mostly acoustic affair with straightforward lyrics about love and loss. And despite all of the inventive ground-breaking music he’d released to that point, it felt immediately like the best thing he’d ever done.
Lucinda Williams has a new album in stores today (Little Honey), so I’m celebrating the occasion by highlighting one of my all-time favorite songs — ‘Side of the Road’ from Williams’ classic self-titled album.
I discovered Williams 10 years ago, when Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was released to unanimous critical acclaim. I saw that album on every single year-end top ten list along with the tale of how it had taken her six years to record and release it because she was never quite happy enough to let it go.
I enjoyed it well enough after my first listen but something else must have come up because I set it aside and didn’t really think about it again for more than a year.