Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Persona

The Greatest Song Ever Written

Recommended Posts

The greatest song ever written must be Light. So it must be a sixties oldie, it must be about love, must be sung by a sexy girl and stand as record of amazing performance. And doesn't hurt of being saluted by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and me. :gandalf:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're all wrong. That bridge in the minor key, then back to the major. The chord changes of the gods. This is the greatest pop song ever, all distilled down to 2:41 of perfection.

Fantastic choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're all wrong. That bridge in the minor key, then back to the major. The chord changes of the gods. This is the greatest pop song ever, all distilled down to 2:41 of perfection.

Fantastic choice.

Nice song, but I prefer the Sixpence None the Richer version, and lyrically it is a total dud. Sappy, boy-meets-girl, girl goes away and smokes cigarettes.

Again/Contain/Remains/Trains/pain, Andy, I'm really surprised at you.

And besides, it's nothing compared to the REAL Greatest Song Ever Written.

Since you've thrown out a female singer and a song from the early nineties, i'll toss out k. d Lang's "Constant Craving", which is a

Ichth

Might be a fun idea for a collective A&F mix cd (or iTunes playlist, I guess): Everyone contributes a single choice for "The Greatest Song Ever Written."

Oh oh, great idea!

If we ever get around to doing it...

We've done comp CDs in the past, I still listen to a B-3 CD Darren sent out years ago, although Iskip the fluffy wuffy hippie stuff, but I do like this idea.

The greatest song ever written must be Light. So it must be a sixties oldie, it must be about love, must be sung by a sexy girl and stand as record of amazing performance. And doesn't hurt of being saluted by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and me. :gandalf:

New Rule: Greatest Song nominations... no noms prior to April 7, 1970. Did they even have the ability to record sound back then?

Edited by Persona

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Problem is that after we must decide who's right and only keep one song. ::w00t::

It's not a problem; I'd be more than happy to decide who's right, if that would make things easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice song, but I prefer the Sixpence None the Richer version, and lyrically it is a total dud. Sappy, boy-meets-girl, girl goes away and smokes cigarettes.

Again/Contain/Remains/Trains/pain, Andy, I'm really surprised at you.

I'm a little surprised too, but this simply bolsters my position that lyrical content is not the most most important factor in determining "great" rock 'n roll. Not even close. Lee Mavers could sing that song in tongues ala Sigur Ros and it would be every bit as powerful. Babble nonsense to "These Are Days" and whatever energy is in that pop ditty crumbles like a house of cards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice song, but I prefer the Sixpence None the Richer version, and lyrically it is a total dud. Sappy, boy-meets-girl, girl goes away and smokes cigarettes.

Again/Contain/Remains/Trains/pain, Andy, I'm really surprised at you.

I'm a little surprised too, but this simply bolsters my position that lyrical content is not the most most important factor in determining "great" rock 'n roll. Not even close. Lee Mavers could sing that song in tongues ala Sigur Ros and it would be every bit as powerful. Babble nonsense to "These Are Days" and whatever energy is in that pop ditty crumbles like a house of cards.

Exactly. I'm a words guy, and I absolutely value lyrics. But there are many songs on my list over on that 50 for 40 thread where the lyrics are entirely secondary. "Hey ho/Let's go" as poetic excellence, anyone? The flip side of this coin is why Bob Dylan's or Joni Mitchell's lyrics often fall flat on the printed page, but unmistakeably come alive when they are accompanied by musical instruments and the human voice. It's a package deal, and sometimes the package leaves the lyrics out entirely. I love "There She Goes" by The La's (NOT by Sixpence None the Richer, although their version is okay) because of the chiming guitars and because of the inescapable hook of that melody. The lyrics? Who cares. Yeah, it's boy-loses-girl mopery. It's a theme that will always work, and this time it works because of the incredible music.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remembered this morning what the best song ever REALLY is. Strangely, it's not about love and loss and longing, but about

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remembered this morning what the best song ever REALLY is. Strangely, it's not about love and loss and longing, but about

I thought for certain you were going to be talking about a tune from I'm From Barcelona, and I was half way to, well, if not agreeing with you, at least admiring your choice.

I'll leave it at that.

PS The Greatest Song Ever Written must, and could only ever be sung by a woman. Sorry, folks, that's just the simple truth of the matter. Cuz when you put a 100% beautiful song with a guy singing beautifully next to a 100% beautiful song with a lady singing beautifully, well, duh!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PS The Greatest Song Ever Written must, and could only ever be sung by a woman. Sorry, folks, that's just the simple truth of the matter. Cuz when you put a 100% beautiful song with a guy singing beautifully next to a 100% beautiful song with a lady singing beautifully, well, duh!

This is one of the most profound posts to ever grace the A&F.

Then, my choice is this. I would go to war against a multitude, armed with nothing more than a wiffle ball bat, in order to insure this magnificent tune a spot. It has ridiculous chord changes for a modern pop song. It has strings. It has flippy hair. And it has a pained expression at :37 that could melt even the most snobby A&F music critic's heart. Stunning. And to answer the question, "yes I have Olvia... yes i have"

Edited by Greg P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PS The Greatest Song Ever Written must, and could only ever be sung by a woman. Sorry, folks, that's just the simple truth of the matter. Cuz when you put a 100% beautiful song with a guy singing beautifully next to a 100% beautiful song with a lady singing beautifully, well, duh!

I should point out that my choice still meets this criteria. And also, that when you put a 100% beautiful song sung by a lady next to a 100% beautiful song about someone trying to contact Harry Houdini through Spiritualism sung by a lady next to each other, well, d'uh!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My favorite song of all time is "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" even though it's not sung by a woman. ;) I'm a guitarist and a big fan of Steve Cropper who does some nice guitar work. I find this song musically interesting with the chromatic harmonic movement in the verse, and the chord progression in the chorus is interesting as well. Also, the mellow mood of the song fits well with the descriptive, picturesque lyrics and Otis Redding's soulful voice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My favorite song of all time is "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" even though it's not sung by a woman. ;) I'm a guitarist and a big fan of Steve Cropper who does some nice guitar work. I find this song musically interesting with the chromatic harmonic movement in the verse, and the chord progression in the chorus is interesting as well. Also, the mellow mood of the song fits well with the descriptive, picturesque lyrics and Otis Redding's soulful voice.

We will wonder forever what Otis was going to do musically before this damn crash. I've read somewhere that that song was the first of some stuff he had in mind, when his inspiration was suddenly challenged by The Beatles Sgt. Pepper (!). Hard to believe, as you apparently can't figure two worlds more different than Sgt Pepper and the Stax sound. Anyway, Otis died too soon, and I still believe he was the best of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sorry Greg, new rule: No Bell Bottoms Allowed.

I should point out that my choice still meets this criteria. And also, that when you put a 100% beautiful song sung by a lady next to a 100% beautiful song about someone trying to contact Harry Houdini through Spiritualism sung by a lady next to each other, well, d'uh!

I agree! Gotta go with the blessings-of-abundance 100% beautiful lady over the new age pagan hoofy woofy Houdini contacter! Well, duh!

My favorite song of all time is "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" even though it's not sung by a woman. ;) I'm a guitarist and a big fan of Steve Cropper who does some nice guitar work. I find this song musically interesting with the chromatic harmonic movement in the verse, and the chord progression in the chorus is interesting as well. Also, the mellow mood of the song fits well with the descriptive, picturesque lyrics and Otis Redding's soulful voice.

Hm. We may need to come up with a new rule now that women are involved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My favorite song of all time is "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" even though it's not sung by a woman. ;) I'm a guitarist and a big fan of Steve Cropper who does some nice guitar work. I find this song musically interesting with the chromatic harmonic movement in the verse, and the chord progression in the chorus is interesting as well. Also, the mellow mood of the song fits well with the descriptive, picturesque lyrics and Otis Redding's soulful voice.

It's such a great song, isn't it? It's hard to top what Dave Marsh once wrote about it:

The tenderness Otis applies to his singing here is akin to the way a father's huge, calloused hands hold a tiny baby for the first time. Had Redding sustained such a fine balance of musicianship, intellect, and emotion for an entire album, he would have unquestionably made one of the greatest LPs of all time. But what we have is not a fragment. "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" is as whole, as fully realized and mature, as any record ever made.

Aren't the Stax musicians wonderful? One of my favorite musical moments of all time occurs in Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness." The arrangement and the musicianship of the players on this entire track is fantastic, but the part after Booker T. Jones plays that loud sustained chord on the organ at about the 1:57 mark, which lasts for about 40 seconds or so – the part, not the chord – man, it just does not get any better than this. The almost rhythmic call-and-response going on here between Isaac Hayes on piano, and Steve Cropper on guitar (with those quick, chopping licks), undergirded by Duck Dunn's bass, is pure genius. You want it to never end.

Because they deserve the recognition, here are all the backing musicians on Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness":

Andrew Love: tenor sax

Gilbert Caple: tenor sax

Wayne Jackson: trumpet

Steve Cropper: guitar

Isaac Hayes: piano (and arrangement)

Booker T. Jones: organ

Donald "Duck" Dunn: bass

Al Jackson, Jr.: drums

Edited by tenpenny

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Picking a "greatest song" is harder than picking a "greatest movie." Songs are typically just two or three minutes long, versus two hours or so for a movie. Songs are sound only, whereas movies are sight and sound both. The amount of collaboration needed to record a song is way less than that needed to film a movie. I think there are some perfect songs, although not very many, but there are no perfect movies. And when some things are perfect, how can you distinguish a "greatest" from among them? Perfect is perfect, brother.

But here's my offering. It's Howlin' Wolf's 1956 recording of "Smokestack Lightning." It's hard to believe that such a simple guitar riff (by the inimitable Hubert Sumlin) could be this extended and yet this effective. But it works a kind of hypnotic magic as the steel rail that Wolf rides on, and then soars over, with his unbelievable vocal. Sweet genius, this man could sing. Except that there's nothing sweet about Wolf's voice. It's more like a road grader, or hot asphalt poured over gravel.

Wolf wrote the song too, and it's haunting. The line "Whoa, oh, stop your train / let a poor boy ride" gets me every time. Wolf must have performed it thousands of times, and it's been covered by an endless parade of others, most of whose versions I admit I haven't heard, but it's hard for me to believe that anyone, including Wolf, ever topped the original Chess Studios release from 1956 for raw power – it's like the pain and hope from the souls of ten thousand thousand black men condensed into the grooves on the vinyl – but the following more extended version by Wolf in London, in 1964, though less haunting, comes close (also, check out the legendary songwriter Willie Dixon, on bass):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1FK620bS7A

This video allows us to see just how magnificent a performer Wolf must have been in person, in his prime. His moves, his expressions, all are matchless – every fiber of his being is dedicated to the song and its performance. It's amusing (and thrilling) to read through the reams of comments on YouTube. You can tell many young people had no idea that such excellence existed. Wolf essentially blows all performers today away. He makes 'em all seem like pretenders. Heck, that was true even back when Wolf was performing. No wonder, then, that Sam Phillips, who was the first to record him, at Sun Records, has always said that Howlin' Wolf (his real name was Chester Arthur Burnett) was the greatest talent he ever discovered: not Elvis Presley, not Jerry Lee Lewis, not Johnny Cash, not Roy Orbison, not Carl Perkins. Phillips said the following, in fact (emphasis mine):

When I heard him, I said, "
This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.
" He was about six foot six, with the biggest feet I've ever seen on a human being. Big Foot Chester is one name they used to call him. He would sit there with those feet planted wide apart, playing nothing but the French harp, and I tell you, the greatest show you could see today would be Chester Burnett doing one of those sessions in my studio. God, what would it be worth to see the fervor in that man's face when he sang. His eyes would light up and you'd see the veins on his neck, and buddy, there was nothing on his mind but that song. He sang with his damn soul.

Edited by tenpenny

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The greatest song ever written is "She's Real" by Kicking Giant. http://www.last.fm/music/Kicking+Giant/_/She's+Real+(version)

I can't see how it could be improved upon. The way it acknowledges, comments upon and transcends its influences. The way it makes room for sincerity and deconstruction in the same gesture. The slow build.

Edited by Holy Moly!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to go Olde Schoole here, specifically back to the 1770s and the Scottish ballad "Willie O'Winsbury." This is, unquestionably, the greatest tune ever written, and I'd offer its longevity and its flexibility as evidence. And since apparently only women can be nominated for this award, I'll offer not one, but two. Sandy Denny sings the tune as "Farewell, Farewell" on the 1970 Fairport Convention album Liege and Lief, and Kate Rusby does the impossible and sings it as well as Sandy on her 2007 album Awkward Annie. Kate's version is called "John Barbury." That's the cool thing about folk music. You can take the same tune and attach different words to it, kind of like singing the words to "Stairway to Heaven" to the theme from Gilligan's Island, neither or which should be confused with The Greatest Song Ever Written.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to go Olde Schoole here, specifically back to the 1770s and the Scottish ballad "Willie O'Winsbury." This is, unquestionably, the greatest tune ever written, and I'd offer its longevity and its flexibility as evidence. And since apparently only women can be nominated for this award, I'll offer not one, but two. Sandy Denny sings the tune as "Farewell, Farewell" on the 1970 Fairport Convention album Liege and Lief, and Kate Rusby does the impossible and sings it as well as Sandy on her 2007 album Awkward Annie. Kate's version is called "John Barbury." That's the cool thing about folk music. You can take the same tune and attach different words to it, kind of like singing the words to "Stairway to Heaven" to the theme from Gilligan's Island, neither or which should be confused with The Greatest Song Ever Written.

I often wondered whether "Farewell, farewell" was an original tune, what with it sounding ageless, and unfathomably sad and beautiful. I take back all I said about about Mike Oldfield's ridiculous eighties disaster, 'Moonlight Shadow'. It sucks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to go Olde Schoole here, specifically back to the 1770s and the Scottish ballad "Willie O'Winsbury." This is, unquestionably, the greatest tune ever written, and I'd offer its longevity and its flexibility as evidence. And since apparently only women can be nominated for this award, I'll offer not one, but two. Sandy Denny sings the tune as "Farewell, Farewell" on the 1970 Fairport Convention album Liege and Lief, and Kate Rusby does the impossible and sings it as well as Sandy on her 2007 album Awkward Annie. Kate's version is called "John Barbury." That's the cool thing about folk music. You can take the same tune and attach different words to it, kind of like singing the words to "Stairway to Heaven" to the theme from Gilligan's Island, neither or which should be confused with The Greatest Song Ever Written.

I often wondered whether "Farewell, farewell" was an original tune, what with it sounding ageless, and unfathomably sad and beautiful. I take back all I said about about Mike Oldfield's ridiculous eighties disaster, 'Moonlight Shadow'. It sucks.

I've always thought Richard Thompson was a rather cheeky guy for claiming authorship for "Farewell, Farewell." The words are certainly his. The melody? Ummm, no. Have you heard that Kate Rusby song, Stu? Sometimes I despair of anyone ever singing as well as Sandy Denny, but then I listen to Kate and think she has a chance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've not heard it, no, but I'd love to. I heard the first track from that album, and loved it, but then had to give it to the person I bought it as a present for.

Sandy Denny's singing on that track takes my breath away, though. That one, and her version of 'The last thing on my mind', which is on some pre-first-album album I have - an alternate take, in fact. I think it's the restraint, and purity of it. It's on this one. My Dad had a vinyl version of it, and so I picked up the cd, and found the alternate take. She goes all quiet and wispy in the last verse and chorus, and it's beautiful.

p.s. Just listening to it on youtube. And before we finish the folk love-in, I have to ask - have you listened to The Unthanks (or Rachel Unthank)? I'd be surprised if you didn't love them. Very surprised.

p.p.s. Here is a track from the first album:

Edited by stu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So it turns out we were all wrong. The greatest song ever written is 'The Queen of Argyll' by, er, some loved-up Scottish bloke from many years ago. I heard the version by Silly Wizard, and it has plenty of what Andy Whitman calls 'the yarragh'. The yarragh enters, in the version I've heard, in the second chorus, with the slightly gruff harmony on the line 'boys, if you had just been there'.

This is a perfect song. The perfect song.

Gentle men it is my duty

To inform you of one beauty

Though I'd ask you of a favor,

Not to seek her for a while

Though I own she is a creature

Of character and feature

No words can paint the picture

of the Queen of all Argyll.

CHORUS

And if you could have seen her there,

Boys if you had just been there

The swan was in her movement,

and the morning in her smile.

All the roses in the garden,

They bow and ask her pardon

For not one could match the beauty

of the queen of all Argyll.

On that evening that I mention,

I passed with light intention

Through a part of our dear country

Known for beauty and for style

Being a place of noble thinkers,

Of scholars and great drinkers

But above them all for splendour

Shone the Queen of all Argyll

So my lads my needs must leave you,

My intention's not to grieve you

Nor indeed would I decieve you,

Oh I'll see you in a while

I must find some way to gain her,

To court her and to tame her

I fear my heart's in danger

From the Queen of all Argyll

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to go Olde Schoole here, specifically back to the 1770s and the Scottish ballad "Willie O'Winsbury." This is, unquestionably, the greatest tune ever written, and I'd offer its longevity and its flexibility as evidence. And since apparently only women can be nominated for this award, I'll offer not one, but two. Sandy Denny sings the tune as "Farewell, Farewell" on the 1970 Fairport Convention album Liege and Lief, and Kate Rusby does the impossible and sings it as well as Sandy on her 2007 album Awkward Annie. Kate's version is called "John Barbury." That's the cool thing about folk music. You can take the same tune and attach different words to it, kind of like singing the words to "Stairway to Heaven" to the theme from Gilligan's Island, neither or which should be confused with The Greatest Song Ever Written.

I just discovered Meg Baird's version of 'Willie O'Winsbury'. She puts it in 3/4, and I like it. Thom Jurek enthuses about the album Dear Companion at length on AMG.

However, Wikipedia informs me that 'Willie O'Winsbury' wasn't normally sung with this tune. Andy Irvine, of Sweeney's Men, recorded Willie O'Winsbury with the tune normally sang with 'Fause Foodrage', apparently by mistake, slightly adapting the tune of 'Fause Foodrage' in the process. And then everyone else jumped on board, and we end up with Richard Thompson, and Kate, and Meg. That's a pretty good example of live tradition.

I've also just worked out that 'O little town of Bethlehem' goes quite well with the same tune. Folk Christmas album, anyone?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So it turns out we were all wrong. The greatest song ever written is 'The Queen of Argyll' by, er, some loved-up Scottish bloke from many years ago. I heard the version by Silly Wizard, and it has plenty of what Andy Whitman calls 'the yarragh'.

It's common to mistake "Queen of Argyll" for an ancient folk song, but it was written by Andy M. Stewart, lead singer of Silly Wizard (along with "A Lover's Heart," "If I Was a Blackbird" and a handful of other ballads that sound like they came from the 1700s). Surely "Queen of Argyll" IS a great song, but it might depend as much on Stewart's amazing voice as on his pen ... I've heard cover versions and they don't measure up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...