Dick Clark (of American Bandstand) has said "Music is the soundtrack of our lives." Having enjoyed music since my childhood, I decided to dedicate a page to my favorite artists and their music. I've listened to their music, learned from them, and enjoyed them over the past many decades. This is my soundtrack....
My first musical crush, singing ballads such as "Hey There" and "This Ole House". Both reached No. 1 on Billboard. My father liked her music and so did I. Remember her in "White Christmas"? My father once told me "I only regret that I didn't collect all the music I grew up with". I've remembered that through the years and have collected every song by the original artist that I enjoyed from my childhood, teen and adult years. Rosemary Clooney was one of those earliest memories.
"You know I'd go from Rags to Riches" is the opening line of one of my all time favorites. I enjoyed "Rags to Riches" in elementary school. Tony Bennett remains popular today.
The "Chairman of the Board" was belting out great ballads in the 1950's and 1960's. I enjoyed many of his ballads including "It Was A Very Good Year", "Summer Wind", and "That's Life". There I was, a teenager listening to the Beatles, and enjoying songs about the passage of time and the phases of life.
During the musical transition years, after Elvis entered the military and before the Beatles, I found my self interested in historical music. Marty Robbins and his album "Gunfighter Ballads" was a favorite on my college turntable. By 1960 I memorized the words to "El Paso" and "Big Iron". Other historical favorites include "Sink the Bismarck" and "Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton. My Father and I both loved "Big Bad John" by Jimmy Dean.
Jay Black and the Americans
Jay and the Americans
Up until the release of the Jay and the Americans song "Come A Little Bit Closer" (No. 3 on Billboard in 1964), I collected Marvel comic books. Bitten by the rock and roll bug, I traded in my comic books (worth $$$ now) for my first album - "Come A Little Bit Closer". I was about fifteen at the time. I still have that vinyl disk although it's hardly playable. Favorite songs were the title cut, "Cara Mia", "Sunday and Me" and "Some Enchanted Evening". Jay and the Americans disbanded with a few members becoming Steely Dan and others becoming morticians. Jay Black still tours and I had the honor of seeing him perform in northeast Pennsylvania during the summer of 2006. He could still hit the high notes on "Cara Mia".
The Animals, later Eric Burdon and the Animals
The group that produced some of the first rebellious teen music of the sixties such as "It's My Life" and "We Gotta Get Out of This Place". Teens were identifying with "Don't Let me Be Misunderstood" and "Don't Bring Me Down". The Animals also produced perhaps the most intense slow-dance ballad of the sixties - "The House of the Rising Sun". It was at this time that I began to notice that music could say something.
It was impossible to attend high school during the mid-sixties without being influenced by the Beatles. I saw my first "music video" on the Ed Sullivan Show - the first appearance of the Beatles in the USA. That was one of those flashbulb memories for my generation. They transfigured from singing about holding your hand to the point that radio stations played nothing but Sgt. Pepper for twenty-four hours straight. My favorites: "We Can Work It Out" and "Yesterday".
The Four Tops
The Four Tops
Fantastic vocals on such songs as "Ask the Lonely", "Baby I Need Your Lovin'", and one of my favorites "Bernadette". The Four Tops paved the way for vocal groups for decades to come, creating an interest in vocal groups while garage-band rock and roll groups dominated the charts. Their version of "Walk Away Renee" (1968) didn't go as far as the original by The Left Banke (1966) but was vocally stronger. I liked them both.
Perhaps the first hard-rock, heavy-metal group, the hard-driving music of The Kinks was guaranteed to irritate your parents. Pounding and repetitive in beat, "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All the Night" appealled to a lot of teens in the sixties. Their songs probably started "hard rock" although we didn't realize it at the time.
The Young Rascals
The Young Rascals
Their music was often called blue-eyed soul. Later known only as "The Rascals", this group produced some of the classics of the "hippie" era. "Good Lovin" reached No. 1 in 1966 and they moved into political-theme songs with "People Gotta Be Free" and "Ray of Hope". The Rascals produced the theme song of the pre-protest youth in the laid-back, free-loving 1967 hit "Groovin". I once counted seven songs in my high school era that had "Groovy" in them.
The Byrds and the Beatles started moving us in the direction of political philosophy and spiritualism. The Byrds offered "Turn Turn Turn" which reached No. 1 in November 1965 and was based on the book of Ecclesiastes in the Christian Bible. The song assured us "To everything there is a season" and the sixties proved that to be true.
Three Dog Night
Three Dog Night
Considered a "cold night" in Alaska, Three Dog Night was popular during my college years at Ohio University. I saw TDN in 1970 and again in 2001. The group and I still knew the words to their classics like "Out in the Country" and "Easy to be Hard". The group produced an anthem for the Vietnam War - "Mamma Told Me (Not to Come)". Their most remembered song, however, was about a bullfrog.
Blood Sweat & Tears
Blood Sweat & Tears
While Led Zeppelin was blasting from college dorms, BS&T produced some of the most beautiful music to ever grace "vinyl" - for younger readers those are the "records" that played on a turntable. I saw them at Miami University (Ohio) in 1970 and again in 2001. Favorites include "Sometimes in Winter" and "I Love You More Than You'll Every Know".
Crosby Stills & Nash
Crosby Stills and Nash
The album pictured became the anthem of my college years at Ohio University. "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", written by Stephen Stills for Judy Collins, quickly became one of my all-time favorite songs. The CD...now MP3, has always been in my automobile - a form of time machine that takes me back to my undergraduate years when the only stressors were no money and getting to and from class in a worn-out automobile.
There has only been one Led Zeppelin. This group was so far above the rest in 1969. That might have been expected considering the talents of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. They recorded what has generally been considered the best rock and roll song of all time - "Stairway to Heaven". The album "Led Zeppelin II" was my favorite of their many albums.
As I moved in my "mellow years", I listened to Harry Chapin, James Taylor, and Jimmy Buffett. James Taylor wrote about ordinary life. He described what we go though as time passes - love, lost love, friends, and living. My favorites include "Frozen Man", "Only a Dream in Rio", and "My Romance".
What can you say about this guy? Full of Margaritas, cheeseburgers, and shrimp; he offers us a picture of the fun, stress-free life. I've been to his concerts where fans wear Island clothing, wear parrots on their heads, and push beach balls. It's impressive to watch teenagers, college students, young adults, and those over 45 singing the words of the songs together.
I've always enjoyed her music. I've seen her in concert several times. "Songs for a New Depression" included some great tunes.
It's hard not to like Journey. Saw them in concert in Las Vegas during New Years Eve of 2000. I've always been fond of loud and dramatic music and with the exception of Meatloaf - it doesn't get much louder and more dramatic than Journey. Favorites include "Faithfully", "Open Arms", and "Ask the Lonely".
The king of musical drama with songs written by Jim Steinman, his songs include orchestras, crashing cymbals, and even motorcycle sound effects. Meat Loaf did the dramatic music and Jim Steinman provided the dramatic lyrics such as "There were endless winters and my dreams would freeze". He produced a great image of the late night bar scene with "Midnight at the Lost and Found".
Just when I think I've moved away from my Led Zeppelin years, along comes Van Halen. There are times when a 60's guy must put James Taylor in the CD case, open the sunroof, and crank it up! The energy in Van Halen songs is awesome. I thought "Born to be Wild" was the best highway song but then comes "Dreams" by Van Halen. I have learned a lot listening to Van Halen...like keep your foot off the accelerator.
Probably too many years in psychology caused this but I've always like music by the "excitable boy" - Warren Zevon. On of my favorite albums is "Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School" which is a collection of some very strange songs.
After enjoying her first major airplay song "Fast Car", I purchased her albums. A fantastic folk and R&B singer/songwriter. She won Best New Artist at the 1988 Grammy Awards. Her quiet and beautiful song "The Promise" is my of my personal soft favorites.
I've been following this guy for thirty years. From "Piano Man" to his most recent albums. Great ballads such as "Until the Night" and fun tunes as well. He's hard to beat.
"The Boss" is one of a kind. His music was once considered the future of rock and roll and "Born to Run" was the anthem of the rebellious youth of many generations. We have watched him age and mature, later offering songs such as "My Hometown" which describes a parent reviewing his life in a troubled small town.
In the last two decades, while I've continued to love ballads, I've moved in the direction of country music. For ballads and country music, Garth Brooks is the best. He writes fun tunes like "Friends in Low Places" as well as tearjerkers. I've got all his CD's as well as some of the concert discs. He's a great entertainer as well as a songwriter.
A major emphasis of my clinical work has been with "emotional memory" - the neurological mechanism of experiencing the details and emotions contained in a memory. Trisha Yearwood has the best song for emotional memory, entitled "The Song Remembers When". Beautiful songs, including the intense "Down on My Knees".
One of country music's best. Like Garth Brooks and James Taylor before him, he writes of ordinary people in their daily lives. Like Trisha Yearwood, he has songs about Emotional Memory with "I Go Back" - an adult with flashbacks of his younger years. I have yet to hear anything from this artist that I don't like.
I hope you've enjoyed this journey though my musical soundtrack. Our musical interests have a way of reflecting where we've been and who we are today.
Consider making your own musical soundtrack. I think you'll find it fun to see where your musical journey takes you.
Joseph M Carver, Ph.D.