This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Honourable Mention Song #9: Truly by Lionel Richie (as Nominated by Bonnie McQuarrie).
You know how there are some people who are part of you life for only a short while but, in that time, they end up making a lasting impact for years to come? Well, Bonnie McQuarrie is someone who is like that for me. I met Bonnie during my second year of teaching. I started off in downtown Toronto but, I had dreams of being a homeowner and having a nice yard, etc., and knew that wasn’t going to happen in downtown Toronto. So, I joined a new school board an hour or so to the east and went to work at a little Jk-3 school in Courtice, Ontario. I was hired to teach a Grade 2 class. To be honest, at that stage of my career, I was not yet a good teacher. Not many brand new teachers are. But, I had two things going for me that saved me in the end. First of all, I had some really sweet kids in my class…..kids who put a smile on my face and helped give me the courage to keep fighting my way through it all each day. Secondly, I was surrounded by good colleagues, like Bonnie. Teaching can feel like a lonely profession, at times but, in a good school, you are never truly alone. For me, I got to watch a whole group of excellent role-models, like Bonnie, practise their craft. Because of their professionalism, I grew as a teacher. Because of their calmness, I steadied myself. Because of their friendship, I felt not so alone and, moreso, I felt welcome and included. Bonnie was a big part of helping that to happen. My gratitude to her and to everyone else is infinite.
The funny thing about it was that, all throughout that year, in the background, was the fact that a brand new school was being built and that all of us, as staff, were going to be divided up among three schools for the following year. Bonnie and I ended up going different ways after that one year. In due time, I got my act together and turned into a reasonably competent teacher. But, the kindnesses shown toward me that second year of my career saved me and made all else that followed possible. In subsequent years, my involvement as a Union Steward, as well as, being a Mentor for teacher candidates by hosting them in my classroom, were all activities that developed as a direct result of my gratitude to my profession and my desire to give back to it now that I was in a better position to do so. So, Bonnie McQuarrie, it may have only been one year of time together as colleagues but, it was a lifetime of respect earned. Thanks for being there when I needed you to be. It gives me tremendous pleasure to share your favourite song with everyone today.
Bonnie has nominated the song, “Truly” by Lionel Richie. Lionel Richie has enjoyed one of the most successful careers ever. He has sold over 100 million albums, placing him in the Top Ten all-time for album sales by a solo artist. But, Lionel Richie was not always a solo artist. He has enjoyed two distinct phases to his career. He first came to my attention as a member of the Funk/Soul/R&B group known as The Commodores. They started out with Funky hits like, “Brick House” but really found fame and fortune with ballads such as “Sailing” and “Three Times a Lady”. Lionel Richie left the group and embarked on a solo career that saw him continue to release ballads such as “Truly” and “Hello”, along with dance-oriented Pop songs such as “Dancing on the Ceiling” and “All Night Long”. He has won numerous Grammy Awards, had many #1 songs and has settled into latest phase of his career by being a judge of music reality shows such as American Idol. In fact, there are also a whole generation of folks who know him more for being Nicole Richie’s adoptive father than as a singer. *(Nicole Richie gained fame being the partner of Paris Hilton in the reality/comedy series, “The Simple Life”. When Nicole was a toddler, she was adopted by Lionel Richie and his wife).
In any case, the song, “Truly” was Lionel Richie’s first song that he released as a solo artist and it went straight to #1 on the charts. It is a very romantic ballad about a man committing himself to loving his partner “Truly” and forever. It is a song that has been at the centre of many a romantic moment between couples, such as being played with proposals of marriage are being offered…..as was the case when Bonnie’s husband, Ian, proposed to her. So, as it turns out, “Truly” has become one of those songs that, long ago, ceased being a Lionel Richie song and has, instead, become a Bonnie McQuarrie song. It has often been said that one of the prime reasons we have music in the first place is to have stories that touch our hearts and change our lives. Sometimes, we have people to do that for us, as Bonnie and the staff at Courtice South Public School did for me. At other times, we have Pop superstars like Lionel Richie to do it for us with their heartfelt melodies and lyrics, as he ….and Ian….did for Bonnie. I am happy, either way.
Thank you, Bonnie, for trusting me to share your story. I also wish to thank you for all of your comments, shared stories and general support of this countdown project since Day #1 when it all began with Song #500: “I Shot the Sheriff” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. But, most of all, thanks for throwing me that lifeline of friendship, along with all of the others, when I was so very much in need of support back in those early days. It meant the world.
So, without further delay, here is a song that has touched a great many hearts along the way, “Truly” by Lionel Richie. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Truly” by Lionel Richie, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Lionel Richie, can be found here.