KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #346: Biko by Peter Gabriel.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

Song #346: Biko by Peter Gabriel.

When I was growing up on Cape Breton Island as a young man, I had no real understanding of the political atmosphere in South Africa. In those pre-Internet days, information was more difficult to come by. What I knew about South Africa came mainly from magazines like National Geographic that came to our house and from what was written in the set of Encyclopedia Britannica that I used for my school work. Conversely, in those pre-Internet days, it wasn’t always easy to get information out to the world if you had something to say. With the mainstream media sources being radio, television and newspapers and, with those sources often owned by companies that factored political considerations into what issues were covered and how, an activist could toil away in anonymity for a lifetime and never be heard outside of their own, immediate area. So, like many, the first time I ever heard the name, Steven Biko, was when his death at the hands of South African police was announced one evening on the CBC news. There was no follow-up coverage or in-depth probing of his death by reporters. His death was simply noted. The anchorman moved on to the next story and, that was it. It wasn’t until I had left Cape Breton and moved to Toronto for university in 1982 that I heard Peter Gabriel sing the haunting song, “Biko” for the first time. That’s when I started to understand more about what was happening in South Africa and what had happened, specially, to Steven Biko. That is when I started to grow up.

South Africa had been functioning under a government-sanctioned set of policies known as “Apartheid” or “Apart-ness”. These were policies that governed every aspect of life for all citizens of South Africa. The thing about Apartheid was that the policies enacted by the ruling National Party were aimed at helping white South Africans maintain a favoured status within the country. By extension, it meant that all black South Africans (the entirety of the native population) were forced to accept rules that restricted where they could live, where they could work, the amount of political organizing they could do, how much of their culture and history were permitted to be displayed and much, much more. The rules of Apartheid were inherently unfair; which was the whole point of those policies. Needless to say, most black South Africans detested those policies and looked for ways to fight back. One of those who tried to affect change was a young student activist named Steven Biko. Biko was a writer, speaker and organizer who worked for an alliance of student groups across South Africa. The ruling Party viewed him as a threat to the status quo and sought to silence him by forbidding him to publish his writing, meet with more than one person at a time and, as well, he was forbidden to travel beyond the borders of his small, homeland area. Biko refused to be gagged in such a way and continued to speak out. The Authorities arrested him and, in the course of being interrogated, he was beaten and left for dead in his jail cell. Steven Biko died on September 12, 1977.

Like me, Peter Gabriel heard of Steven Biko for the first time when his death was announced. But, unlike me, Peter Gabriel was already a worldly adult when Steven Biko was killed. At that time, Gabriel was preparing to write the songs that would become his third solo album. Previously, Peter Gabriel had been the lead singer of the original incarnation of the band, “Genesis”. Gabriel would go on to have a very successful solo career filled with hit songs such as “Solsbury Hill”, “Games Without Frontiers”, “I Don’t Remember”, “Shock the Monkey”, “Sledgehammer”, “In Your Eyes”, “Don’t Give Up (with Kate Bush), “Red Rain” and so on. But, it was “Biko” that launched Peter Gabriel into the stratosphere of cultural recognition and political activism.

The song, “Biko”, is a musical eulogy that tells the story of Steven Biko’s life and his death at the hands of South African police. It honours his legacy and makes a public vow to not forget who he was and why his work was important. “Biko” begins with a sample of a song sung in the South African language of “Xhosa”. All throughout the song, there is a sombre, forceful drum beat (heart beat). There are, also, synthesized bagpipes, of all things, that really act to raise the spirits of those listening, as if in a battle cry. In the course of the song, Gabriel talks about how he has been affected by what he has learned and about how the whole world is now aware of South Africa’s “dirty little secret” of Apartheid and the injustice and hardship those policies had caused. The song ends with an actual Xhosa song that was sung at Biko’s real funeral.

Because of this song, many people in the world became aware of what was going on in South Africa. Other artists, like Steve Van Zandt (of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band) helped organize boycotts by artists who had, previously, given concerts at a Whites-only resort called Sun City. Soon, pressure was applied internationally by governments from around the word, including Canada, in the form of economic sanctions against the ruling South African Government. As is often the case, money talks and not long afterwards, another long-time political activist named Nelson Mandela was freed after being imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island. Free elections were held and Mandela’s Party came to power thus, ending the policy of Apartheid in South Africa. It is probably not correct to credit the song “Biko” with ending Apartheid in South Africa. Life is more nuanced and complicated than that. However, Peter Gabriel’s song did play a significant part in shining a spotlight for the world to see and understand how an entire Race or group of people could be legally and systemically oppressed. It, also, helped many understand our own complicity in propping up such regimes because of our willingness to remain ignorant as to what was really going on, as well as, our continued economic support of what was, for all intent and purposes, an ideology based upon racial superiority. I have said it before and I will say it again, in times of darkness, it is often the poets and singers and artists of the world that lead the way into the light. Peter Gabriel did that by honouring a brave man who spoke out for those at a time when few were listening. Steven Biko paid for his courage with his life. May he always be remembered as a symbol, not only for South Africans but, also for people everywhere who find themselves under the thumbs of oppressors. In a perfect world, life should be fair and just. #215.

The link to the video for the song, “Biko” by Peter Gabriel, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Peter Gabriel, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Amnesty International…an organization decimated to advocating for political prisoners all around the world,,,,can be found here.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #350: Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendes.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

Song #350: Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendes.

We are 150 songs into this countdown! Thanks for your continued interest and support. As always, every 25th song goes to one of my girls so, today we will be talking about the #8 song on Sophie’s personal all-time Top Ten list, “Nothing Holding Me Back” by Canada’s own, Shawn Mendes.

For Sophie, this song brings back happy memories of one of the last times she can remember being in a large, social, party-type situation since Covid began. It was the occasion of one of her best friend’s birthday. Sophie was one of five or six girls invited to go out to another town for lunch and a matinee movie. As the gang of girls drove down the highway, they took turns singing songs that were coming on the radio. Sophie said that, “Nothing Holding Me Back” was one of the first songs played that all of the girls knew all of the lyrics to and, as such, it was the first song they all sang together as they drove. Singing out with your besties as you head on down the highway….well, it doesn’t get much better than that. The memory of it makes her smile to this day.

As a father, I am happy that my daughter has such good friends and such happy memories with them. I am, also, happy that some of those memories revolve around such a singer as Shawn Mendes. He is only 22 years old but has already accomplished much in his life. He was born in Ajax, Ontario, which is just 45 minutes west of where we live in Cobourg. His parents were/still are working professionals, in the real estate and restaurant business, specifically. Shawn Mendes was raised to work hard and to always do right by others. He went to public school. He played sports, like basketball and volleyball (because he is tall). He lived a fairly typical teenager’s life……with one exception….music. As Mendes was entering his teens, he became aware of the story of Justin Bieber. Bieber grew up not too far from Ajax, in a place called Stratford, Ontario. His story centres on him being “discovered” as he was busking on the streets of Stratford as a teenager. Bieber went on to become a professional musician and, by the time he was twenty, he already had several hit songs under his belt. Well, Shawn Mendes thought that he would emulate what Justin Bieber did only, he didn’t busk on the street corners of Ajax. Instead, like many young people these days, he turned to technology. In the early 2010s, there was a social media format called a “Vine”. “Vines” were six-second clips that pre-dated today’s “TikTok” clips that are so popular. Mendes began to create Vines of himself covering hit songs by people like Bruno Mars and other popular singers of the day. Because of his singing talent and good looks, the Vines that Mendes created became viral sensations which, in time, led him to being “discovered”, just like his hero, Justin Bieber, and being offered a record contract of his own.

As a professional musician, Shawn Mendes has enjoyed much success and, as he was taught by his parents, has used his fame to do much that is good in the world. His parade of hit singles includes songs such as, “Stitches”, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (with soon-to-be girlfriend, Camila Cabello), “Treat You Better”, “If I Can’t have You”, “Senorita” (with current girlfriend, Camila Cabello) and, of course, “Nothing Holding Me Back”. He has, also, been the musical guest on Saturday Night Live…twice! He has won ten Juno Awards, multiple MTV Music Awards, been nominated for serval Grammy Awards and has already been enshrined on Canada’s “Walk of Fame” in Toronto. Did I mention that Shawn Mendes is only 22 years old!!!!! When I was 22 years old, I still didn’t have my driver’s license. (I got that when I turned 24). He is quite the accomplished young man.

As mentioned above, Shawn Mendes was raised to believe in the philosophy of strengthening communities by giving back to them in gratitude for all that those communities provided to him growing up. Consequently, he has volunteered to be involved in numerous charitable organizations that help out with issues such as Mental Health awareness (www.dosomething.org), promoting schools in Africa and, more to the point, allowing girls the access to education that they need to climb out of poverty and succeed in life (www.pencilsofpromise.org), as well as, (www.nogirlleftbehind.com) under the banner of Global Citizen, with the support of Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Shawn Mendes regularly performs at benefit concerts for causes such as disaster relief, Aids and Cancer research, too.

So, if Sophie and her friends want to sing along with each other to the words of a Shawn Mendes song, I am ok with that. He is a good role model and is wished much future success as his career and personal life unfold. My wish for Sophie is that she gets to safely sing with her friends again soon. ***(This post was originally written prior to Covid vaccines becoming wisely available. Sophie is now double-vaxxed, as are her friends. As such, they have had a few happy get-together.) Those kind of happy times are among the most precious of treasure. In the meantime, here is the pride of Ajax, Ontario, himself, Mr. Shawn Mendes, with “Nothing Holding Me Back”. Good picking, Sophie! Enjoy, everyone.

The link to the video for the song, “Nothing Holding Me Back” by Shawn Mendes, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Shawn Mendes, can be found here.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #360: Born Slippy: NUXX by Underworld.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #360: Born Slippy: NUXX by Underworld.

Are there any truer, deeper bonds of friendship than those experienced by drunks at closing time?!

In those moments, when the words, “Last call!” threaten all that you hold dear, banding together with the like-minded among you always brings a certain type of comfort. Someone named “Buddy” or “Pal” or “Sweetheart” or “Babe” becomes your best friend at that moment, as you suddenly find yourselves out on the street and into a world of danger or adventure, where the only thing that matters is being able to continue that boozy buzz that fills your brain. I haven’t had many of those moments, myself but, I can recall, one time, having pancakes at 4:30 in the morning at The Golden Griddle restaurant, across from Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, with a group of people I met at a house party. I have no memory of who any of those folks were but, I do recall the amazing feeling of liberation I felt being with them as we ran amok in the empty streets of the city as the world slept all around us. For me, that one time, it was tremendously empowering to throw off the shackles of my everyday life and be somebody different. But, for some others, the opposite is true. That feeling of being disconnected from society, at large, is one that they feel most days. Unfortunately, for far too many, alcohol can be a cruel taskmaster.

The song, “Born Slippy: NUXX” by Underworld, is one of the most famous electronic dance songs ever made. It was released in 1995 and was meant to simulate the experience of alcoholism. The song was written by a man named Karl Hyde, who is the vocalist for Underworld. He was battling alcohol addiction at the time and didn’t feel that anyone had accurately captured that feeling of living a fragmented existence, as he was. So, he wrote, “Born Slippy: NUXX” which is a song that combines fast, pulsating beats with slower, dream-like transitions, all tied together with a series of stream-of-consciousness-type phrases and slogans. The effect of this alchemy of elements is disorienting and exhilarating, at the same time. When it was released, “Born Slippy: NUXX” was hailed as being one of the freshest takes ever on an electronic dance music rave song. It is a song that tries to make communion out of isolation and sense out of madness . With the passage of time, critics have come to rate this song as one of the best of the entire decade of the 90s.

But, what truly elevated this song and took it to another level was its inclusion on the soundtrack to one of my favourite movies of all time, “Trainspotting”. “Born Slippy: NUXX” plays in the climatic closing scene of the movie and acts as a racing heartbeat as the action unfolds. “Trainspotting” is about a group of Scottish heroin addicts and is, at turns, funny, dramatic and heartbreakingly sad. The soundtrack is excellent! Music is interwoven with many memorable moments in this movie; of which, the closing scene, with “Born Slippy: NUXX” is the best. I will share a live video of Underworld performing the song at the Glastonbury Music Festival and, for any Trainspotting fans, I will share the final scene (along with “Born Slippy: NUXX in the background) that you can enjoy again. ***Obviously, the SPOILER ALERT rules apply for those who haven’t seen the movie and who may wish to at one point.

In any case, without further delay, here is Underworld with their iconic song, “Born Slippy: NUXX”. If you want to experience something completely different but, at the same time, something incredible then, please, check this song out! See you on the streets some day, my Buds!

The link to the video for “Born Slippy: NUXX” by Underworld, can be found here.

The link to the closing scene of the movie, “Trainspotting”, featuring the song, “Born Slippy: NUXX”, can be found here.

The official website for Underworld, can be found here.

Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. The link to their official website can be found here.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #361: Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #361: Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.

Some songs are judged by the number of records sold. Some songs are judged based on what position on a Top #40 chart the song managed to attain. Then, you have a song like, “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M., which is judged, most importantly, by the number of lives this song has saved.

Of all the things that we, as humans, do over the course of our lives, none matters more than the ability we possess to uplift those around us and make their lives better. “Everybody Hurts” is a song that came from R.E.M.’s 1992 album, “Automatic For the People”. It is a song about suicide. More to the point, it is a song that speaks to suicide prevention and, as such, has been used in various media campaigns regarding mental health and suicide prevention, since its release. You don’t have to look very hard to find YouTube comments, social media commentary or letters posted on R.E.M. fan websites that speak to the lives of people who felt lost (to the point of wanting to end their lives) but who found Hope, by way of the lyrics to this song.

The members of R.E.M., being honest, reject the claim that they deserve any special recognition for creating, “Everybody Hurts”. They all say that it was a time in their own lives when things were changing and it was becoming more difficult, personally and professionally, to hang onto the joy and the good times that characterized the first half of their career. Fame and parenthood and middle age and all the pressures and changes that come with that, are things that most people feel and, as such, the band thought that the idea for such a song was one that potentially had universal appeal. And while I can relate to the core message of having to bear the crosses of responsibility that come with adulthood, I am fortunate to have never felt so overwhelmed and filled with despair that I thought suicide was ever an option for alleviating my pain. But, some people do feel that way. For them, the words from a song that reassures them that they are not alone and that things will get better if they just hold on a little longer is, as it turns out, a message that has saved lives.

The band received lots of praise for the “official” video they released that accompanied the song. The idea of everyone being stuck in a massive traffic jam is meant to symbolize everyone being stuck with the ups and downs of surviving everyday life. There is, also, an orchestral feel to “Everybody Hurts” that gives it a grander, more noble air. Whatever the reason is that you may be drawn to this song, I hope that seeing this video brings you a sense of peace and of calm that you may need to better navigate your way through this day.

You are not alone. I am here.

So is R.E.M., with “Everybody Hurts”.

Have a wonderful day, all!

The link to the music video for “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M., can be found here.

The link to the official website for R.E.M., can be found here.

***IF YOU ARE FEELING DISTRESSED AND COULD USE SOMEONE TO TALK TO ABOUT LIFE…..the voices at the other end of this link may help. You are not alone. Click on the link here for help.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP, for supporting important music that brings light to the darkest corners of our lives. A link to their official website can be found here.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #379: Be My Baby by The Ronettes.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs In Modern Music History.

Song #379: Be My Baby by The Ronettes.

***Warning: The story of “Be My Baby” is not a happy one, as it turns out. It involves domestic abuse, among other things. If you are someone who would find this disturbing then, please, stop reading now and skip this post. Happier songs and stories await in future posts.

The story of “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes reads like one of those “Unsolved Mystery” television detective shows. It involves fame and love and kidnapping and murder and redemption, too. It is an epic saga that spans several decades and ultimately ends in vindication for the lead singer of The Ronettes, Ronnie Spector. But, more than anything, it is a very human tale of love gone wrong, opportunities lost and a lifetime of wonder at what might have been if things had evolved differently. Here is the story of Ronnie Spector, The Ronettes and their biggest hit, “Be My Baby”.

Before The Ronettes came to be, the three singers were better known as “The Darling Sisters”. All three were family; lead singer Veronica Bennett, her older sister, Estelle Bennett and their cousin, Nedra Talley. Like many singers of colour back in the 1960s, The Darling Sisters performed at church basements and local community events. Many folks complimented them on their harmonies and their good looks. The girls were encouraged to try and take their talent to “the next level”, as it were and sing professionally. So, the girls began visiting night clubs and jazz hotspots in NYC. Soon, they were offered jobs as back-up dancers and back-up singers. One night, when the scheduled singer failed to show up for their gig, the nightclub owner asked Veronica if she had songs she could sing and, if so, would she mind filling in. She was delighted to sing her church songs, backed by a professional band. The audience took to her right away. Veronica and her sister and cousin were invited to come back to the club and take a regular slot performing with the band. One person who was in the audience that night and heard Veronica sing was a man who was becoming increasingly influential in the music business. His name was Phil Spector and he was about to change Veronica Bennett’s life forever.

Phil Spector was a record producer. He is best known for what became known as his “Wall of Sound”-style of music-making. Spector’s “Wall of Sound” created a full, rich aural experience by using all manner of instruments that produced sounds at all ranges of the sound spectrum. Thus, when you listened to a typical Phil Spector-produced song, you heard sounds in combinations that were fresh and original and awe-inspiring. Spector worked with everyone from The Beatles, to The Rolling Stones, to The Righteous Brothers, to Ben E. King, to Ike and Tina Turner and then, to a young girl named, Veronica Bennett. When Spector heard Veronica Bennett perform that night in the club, he immediately assessed her voice as possessing hit-making ability. He invited her to audition for him. Veronica was thrilled do so for a man of Spector’s renown. But, one thing that Phil Spector was known for, in addition to his talent at producing hit records, was his all-controlling nature. Typically, Spector handled all aspects of the recording of the songs he produced; everything from the recording of each track, to the sound mixing, the planning of rehearsal schedules, the booking of studio time…..everything! When he worked with male singers or bands, he was a hard task-master but he was professional, too. When he worked with females, Phil Spector was different. For example, he was very dismissive of Tina Turner. He claimed that she had no particular talent and that her husband at the time, Ike, could have trained any number of women to be his, “Tina”. So, when the small-town, young and inexperienced Miss Veronica Bennett showed up for her audition, Spector immediately began belittling her. He mocked all of her song choices. He ridiculed her vocal range. In the end, he told her that she would amount to nothing without his guidance and training. This was a pivotal moment in Veronica Bennett’s life.

Like many young women, when faced with power imbalances with powerful men, Veronica was being pressured into doing nothing less than relinquishing a fair degree of control over her life. Unsophisticated and unprepared as she was in that moment, she agreed to work under Phil Spector’s rules. The first rule he insisted upon was that she was to no longer share equal billing with her family members. In fact, she was to turn her back on her family ties, altogether. The intoxicating effect for Spector of having a female completely under his thumb caused him to propose marriage. Veronica was hardly in a position to argue so, not only did she change from Veronica to Ronnie but, also, from Bennett to Spector and thus, his new, legally-bound protégée, Ronnie Spector, came into being. While most people marry for Love, Phil Spector married for control. He insisted that she record and release the song “Be My Baby” and to tour relentlessly under his watchful eye. In the years that followed, “Ronnie” brought forth many other songs that she wanted to sing but, Phil Spector rejected her choices, time and time again. Often, he would give her song choices to other singers that he was working with, leaving her without any new source material to help advance her career. The song, “Be My Baby” became a #1 Hit and helped bring attention to “Ronnie Spector”, who was careful to always appear happy and upbeat when on stage and/or being interviewed by the media.

But, behind the scenes, she was being, quite literally, held captive within the walls of the home she shared with Spector. He even kept her shoes under lock and key so that she wouldn’t have anything to wear should she have ever decided to leave him. If she did wish to leave, Spector said he would kill her and her family. Eventually, with her mother’s help, she was able to file for divorce but, as a condition of divorce, she had to relinquish all rights to her hit songs to Spector. Even in divorce, she was subjected to years of abuse and control by Spector that would have continued ad infinitum if not for a serious event that happened to another female singer.

One day a 911 call was placed by staff who worked at Phil Spector’s studio. A woman had been shot in the mouth and ended up dying. Phil Spector was seen holding the gun in his hands, muttering that “I think I’ve just killed someone”. He was charged with murder and placed in jail. That unfortunate incident was what freed “Ronnie Spector” from her imprisonment. With Spector removed permanently from her life, Veronica was able to step back out into the real world and establish her own life again.

One of the first things that happened was that her song, “Be My Baby” was selected for induction in the Song Category of The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Previously, when Phil Spector was a free man, he actively campaigned against the honour, claiming that his ex-wife was undeserving of such an award and that, without him, she would still be “nothing more” than a back-up singer in small time clubs. But, now that he was in jail, Spector had no more influence on her life and, as such, she was free to accept the induction and to step back into the limelight.

We often allow ourselves the privilege of viewing celebrities as being different from us. We lend them an air of glamour that, in some cases, only serves to mask the human drama that exists in their private lives. From everything I have read, many people knew of Phil Spector’s treatment of Veronica but, because of his position as a Kingmaker in the music industry, no one reached out to help her throughout the years that they were married, including those years when they were divorced. Once Spector was jailed, people felt freer to approach Veronica. One highlight for her was a musical collaboration she did with singer, Eddie Money, called, “Take Me Home Tonight”. The song was a hit for them both. From that song, “Ronnie Spector” was accorded the respect given to veteran singers (such as Diana Ross or even, Tina Turner) based on the strength of “Be My Baby”. What most did not know until much later was that she had only a small career, with a few minor releases and collaborations, after “Be My Baby”. Veronica Bennett could have had a whole string of hits and Gold records to her name but, instead, was denied, again and again, by a man who sought to control her rather than promote her and help her realize her dreams. Of all of the stories behind the songs that make up this list of the greatest songs of all-time, the story of “Be My Baby” is, arguably, the saddest of them all.

Away from the glitz and the glamour, Veronica remarried and is now known as Veronica Greenfield. She lives quietly in Connecticut with her husband and family. She performs on occasion but tends to avoid the bright lights and the big stages. From everything I have read, she is now happy and content with her life. That is important. As for Phil Spector, he spent the remainder of his life being controlled by prison guards. Upon entering prison, one of the first things that happened to Spector is that the authorities took his shoes. He died in custody in January of this past year, having been incarcerated for longer than he had been married to Veronica Bennett.

The link the video for “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, can be found here.

The link to the website for The Ronettes, can be found here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. A link to their website can be found here.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #363: A Forest by The Cure.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #363: A Forest by The Cure.

In 1989, I began my first year of teaching in downtown Toronto. I was 24 years old, living and working in the biggest city in Canada. It should have been an exciting time in my life but, in the beginning, I found it overwhelming and lonely. Being a new teacher is always an overwhelming experience and I was no different in that regard. But, not having someone to lean on during those times made it harder, perhaps, than it needed to be. Anyway, in those pre-Internet times, it wasn’t as easy to connect with people as it is today. There was no Tinder or Bumble or E-Harmony or social media of any sort. The primary forms of media back then were TV, Radio and Newspapers. Sometimes, in newspapers, people would place classified ads, in which, they would seek a companion. Being shy, as I am, this seemed like an avenue worth exploring so I actually placed a “companion ad” of my own in the Toronto Star newspaper. From that ad, I received three responses. One was from a 19-year old girl, whose parents owned the General Store in Phelpston, Ontario (not far from Wasaga Beach). Initially, we corresponded the old-school way by writing letters to each other. In the course of those exchanges, we discussed Music. Based upon her desire that “a piece of her should be with me in my world”, she made me a mixed-tape of songs that meant something to her. The cassette was filled with songs by Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure and so on. In retrospect, it was an outstanding collection of music. Unfortunately, as is often the case with things of this nature, the mixed tape she sent to me turned out to be better than actually being together with her and it quickly became apparent that she was not The One I was hoping to find. So, she went back to Phelpston but, her cassette remained.

The first song on that cassette was, “A Forest” by The Cure.”The Cure” have been together as a band since the beginning of the 1980s. Lead singer, Robert Smith, has been the only member of the band to have been there for the entire duration of their career. Overall, “The Cure” have record sales approaching the 30 million mark in a career that has seen them release some of the most well-known songs in history such as “Pictures of You”, “Its Friday, I’m In Love”, “Love Cats”, “Let’s Go To Bed”, “Lullaby” and “Just Like Heaven”. They were inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.The song, “A Forest” comes from their second album called “Seventeen Seconds” which saw the band start to dabble a bit in more of a darker, almost “Goth-like” sound. “A Forest” is one of those songs that is almost an instrumental song (even though it has lyrics) because it is the guitar playing and keyboard work that are what makes this song sound so special. Smith is quoted as saying that he was trying to create an “atmosphere” with “A Forest” and he is bang-on with his assessment. “A Forest” is a super-sounding song. It is a song that you can listen to with your eyes closed and allow your imagination to create marvellous stories in your mind. The actual song lyrics describe a boy being lured to the edge of a forest by, what he believes, is a girl beckoning him forth. Does he go past the tree line? Is there really a girl on the other side for him to find? I will leave the answers to those questions for you to explore on your own when you listen to the song below. “A Forest”, while not a big hit, chart-wise, is none-the-less, one of the most popular songs that “The Cure” play live. It has been a fixture on their set lists all throughout their career. Without question, the “sound” of this song has become synonymous with the sound of “The Cure” as a whole.

As for me, back in Toronto, all things happen for a reason. I didn’t end up with the girl, at the time but, I ended up with a decent story to tell and a stellar mixed tape to own. Whether my Phelpston flame was trying to lure me across her tree line and into a whole new world with her selection of “A Forest” as song #1 on the mixtape, I can’t be sure. All that I know is that I didn’t end up following the path she laid out before me and, instead, turned away to a brighter future that included, eventually, finding my true love, Keri who, at the time all of this was unfolding, was in Grade 6 in Trenton, Ontario, of all places. One never knows what life has in store. But, the lesson is, I suppose, that the right path to follow is the one you follow with your heart. Here is, “A Forest” by “The Cure”. Enjoy.

A link to the music video for “A Forest” by The Cure, can be found here.

A link to the official website for The Cure, can be found here.

Thanks to KEXP for supporting the music that becomes the soundtrack to our lives. A link to their website can be found here.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #213: Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #213: Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure.

In a world filled with toxic masculinity, one of the surest ways to change things is by allowing young boys to show their emotions, without fear of ridicule or abuse. But, as we all know, that is easier said than done. As a boy, we are told to “Walk it off!” when we are hurt and, furthermore, that playing hurt is what tough guys do and, after all, it is tough guys who win championships. When boys experience loss, they are told to “Get over it!”, to “Suck it up!” or, best of all, to “Be a man!” Emotions such as sadness or feelings such as empathy must be suppressed for the sake of appearances because, to cry, is to show weakness and to show weakness, as a man, is to be a disappointment to those around you who demand that you exude strength at all times. I would never claim that life is easy for women or girls but, at the same time, society doesn’t make it easy for young boys, either. Sometimes, allowing ourselves, as men, to be vulnerable is the greatest feat of strength imaginable.

When the members of “The Cure” were growing up in England, the prevailing sentiment was that boys should never cry. If you have ever seen a photo of Robert Smith, the lead singer of “The Cure”, you will quickly notice the wild hair and the make-up and realize that his upbringing was steeped in abuse, based upon his appearance. As a result of “not looking like a normal teenage boy”, Robert Smith channeled his emotions into his music which was, at first, described as Punk rock-ish. But Smith, and his bandmates, Lol Tolburg and Michael Dempsey, never sought to confine themselves to one style or genre of music…even in their very earliest days as a band. So, the combination of wanting to create all manner of songs, along with his need to express his frustrations with how males were being trained to behave in society, caused Smith to write one of the great pure Pop songs of the early 80s, “Boys Don’t Cry”.

When “Boys Don’t Cry” was first released, it didn’t chart at all. That was primarily because the nature of the style of the song didn’t mesh with the expectation that “The Cure” would put out Punk or Goth tunes as a general rule. But, a few years later, the song was re-recorded for a Greatest Hits album. At that time, Robert Smith’s voice had matured so the song sounded better and, as well, “The Cure” had established themselves as a top band based on a string of hits that straddled the lines of many genres. Because of all of that, “Boys Don’t Cry” was accepted with open arms and charted very well.

I have two personal connections to add to this post. If you recall, I wrote a post about another “Cure” song called, “A Forest”. In that post, I mentioned that I once dated a girl in Toronto who made a mix-tape for me and that, even though the relationship wasn’t meant to be, that mixtape was awesome and was my introduction to many great songs. “Boys Don’t Cry” was one of the songs on that tape. When I was given the tape, I was told that “Boys Don’t Cry” was included because, even though we had only just met, she could tell I wasn’t one of those guys who kept his emotions all bottled up inside. I took that as a compliment. Thus, “Boys Don’y Cry” makes me smile.

Secondly, I follow a site on Twitter called, “Bright Wall, Dark Room”. It is an on-line magazine-type site devoted to movies. If you like watching movies and talking about movies with other cinephiles then, @BWDR is for you. I don’t tend to get too worked up about movies so I don’t engage in any of the debates and discussions that go on. However, once a week, they ask a survey question about some “trivial” aspect of movies. For instance, one survey was about “your favourite use of the colour Yellow in a movie”. People answer in a tweet and, generally, add a Gif or still image of what they are talking about. These Twitter threads make for highly enjoyable reading. The survey question last week was, “Have you ever ugly-cried because of a scene in a movie? If so, what was the movie and what was the scene?” It was amazing to be reminded of, movie after movie, containing special scenes that touched your heart. For me, it was a chance to remember a few scenes in which I have cried while watching. *(My ugliest cry, being “Cinema Paradiso” but, also, I cried at the end of “Toy Story 3”, as well as, “Coco”; neither film being “just a kid’s movie, I’ll have you know!” My girls have seen me cry while watching movies or TV at home. I hope that they feel that this is normal behaviour for good men and that, when their time comes to start dating, they won’t tolerate any of the “you must keep all emotions inside to be a man”-type of guys who are still out there.

In any case, being an emotionally-healthy person means that, at times, you will cry. That is what Robert Smith was getting at when he wrote, “Boys Don’t Cry”. It was what that long-ago girlfriend was getting at when she put that song on the mixtape she made for me. It is what I believe all men should feel free to do in front of their family and friends and heck, even in front of complete strangers. What do you think? Is an occasional teary moment a sign of weakness in a man? Feel free to speak your piece in the comments below, if you feel so inclined. For now, here is “The Cure” with one of their very first hits, “Boys Don’t Cry”. Enjoy.

The link to the music video for “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure, can be found here.

The link to the official website for The Cure, can be found here.

Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. A link to their website can be found here.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #385: YMCA by The Village People.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

Song #385: YMCA by The Village People.

The other day, Keri asked me if I was going to include, “YMCA” by The Village People in “my” list of the Top 500 songs of all time. I told her that “YMCA” did not rank, according to those who did the original voting but that, just the same, I had a way to include some songs that resonated with people, like her, who like their songs to be fun. So, here is the story of one of the most widely-known and beloved songs to come along in modern music history…..”YMCA” by The Village People.

“YMCA” is a song that creates an almost instantaneous reaction from crowds at sporting events, from children at school assemblies and from people at parties and clubs. That reaction is to dance, sing along and raise your arms into the air in the shape of the letters that spell, “YMCA”. For many, their interest in the song ends the final time they form an “A” in the air with their arms. Then, sweaty and satisfied, they await the next song or else, return to their seats and their thoughts turn to something else. “YMCA” is dangerously close to falling into the category of a “novelty song” but, because of the story behind it, “YMCA” is much more that a novelty song and much more important than merely being a party song, too. The real story behind “YMCA” begins in New York City in the 1970s.

First things, first…..The Village People were all Gay. I am not sure if this is news for any of you but, if it is then, SURPRISE!!!!! It is true. The name of the group comes the area of NYC known as Greenwich Village, which was known as the epicentre of “Gay Culture”. At that time in the 1970s, homosexuality was, not only frowned upon but, it was actually illegal to be caught performing homosexual acts. In June of 1969, NYPD officers raided a Mafia-run “Gay bar” called, The Stonewall Inn. The raid was very violent in nature and many patrons were injured in the melee that followed. Then, for several days afterward, patrons of the Stonewall Inn mounted counter-protests. The ensuing confrontations became known as The Stonewall Riots and served as the first time Gay men actively organized and fought back against oppression. The Stonewall Riots helped galvanize the Gay Pride Movement (in fact, the Pride Day that is celebrated in our local communities each June is held at that time to honour the anniversary of The Stonewall Riots) and was the first step taken on the long journey toward enacting laws that recognized Gay Rights as Human Rights.

In the decade that followed The Stonewall Riots, it became a little more “acceptable” for people to publicly revel in their sexuality. One of the ways that manifested itself was in the appearance of a music genre called Disco. Clubs such as “Studio 54” in NYC, for instance, openly encouraged people to display the artist in all of us and to be open about loving who you wanted to and, often, to act upon those desires in an immediate manner. Disco music filled the air in these clubs. People such as Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor made careers for themselves based upon the culture at play in discos. The Village People took that music out of the disco clubs and onto the national stage. By appearing on shows like, “American Bandstand” with Dick Clark, The Village People did their part to de-stigmatize homosexuality. They proudly wore their uniforms. They danced well. They were all healthy and strong and handsome. They made good music such as, “YMCA”, “In The Navy” and “Macho, Macho Man”. It is amazing to me that they were so open about their male-on-male desires and stereotypes and yet, at the same time, they were so readily embraced by audiences all across America and the world. I guess it goes to prove good old Dick Clark right….if a song has a good beat and is easy to dance to then, people will like it no matter what. And, people liked “YMCA”: and they still do to this day.

The road to equality and racial and sexual justice is a long one. As a society, we have come a long way in changing our attitudes regarding what is viewed as acceptable conduct between consenting adults. However, there is still much work to be done because the world remains an unsafe place for those who think and act in ways that others may perceive as “different”. I have said this before and I will say it again…..I believe that Love is the most important thing in the entire world and if you are fortunate enough to find Love with another then, you have won Life’s lottery. I will always be happy for those who find Love in whatever form that takes. I will always stand by those who seek Love in a different form than I did because that way is what works best for them. The Village People have helped to contribute toward the growing acceptance of non-heterosexual Love, in all of its forms. The song, “YMCA” is about one of the ways that Gay men were able to safely find each other in the days before Same-Sex Marriage laws became more common. So, as you throw your arms up into the air and spell out the letters to “YMCA” have all the fun in the world but, know that each time this song is played and people react with positivity and pleasure, you are helping take a step toward creating a more accepting and tolerant world. So, thank you very much. Without further delay, here are The Village People with “YMCA”. Enjoy.

The link to the music video for the song, “YMCA” by The Village People, can be found here.

The official website forThe Village People can be found here.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History….Song(s) #394: Baba O’ Reilly (+) Behind Blue Eyes (+) Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song(s) #394: “Baba O’Riley”/”Behind Blue Eyes”/”Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

If you know “The Who” at all then, you are probably familiar with all three of the songs listed at the top of this post. “Baba O’ Riley”, “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” have been staples of live Who shows and of Classic Rock radio since their debut in 1970 from the album, “Who’s Next”. Normally, I would pick one song and talk about it because most songwriters create individualized songs that stand alone to act as their outlet for creative expression. But, truth be told, all three Who songs mentioned above are inextricably linked and spring from a common foundation of inspiration and, as such, the story of one of these songs is, in fact, the story of all three of these songs. So, let’s unravel the mystery of the album, “Who’s Next” which was never meant to be an album at all.

In the 1960s, the UK was home to three of the greatest rock bands of all time: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. The Who consisted of lead singer, Roger Daltry, Lead guitarist/singer, Pete Townsend, Bassist, John Entwhistle and legendary drummer, Keith Moon. While The Beatles were creating Blues-based Pop perfection and The Rolling Sones were producing Blues-based rock, The Who were taking the time-honoured tradition of the “concept album” to its logical extension by creating a rock opera known as, “Tommy”. Pete Townsend, who was the principal songwriter for the band, was not writing songs in small, independent chunks, like most bands. Instead, his vision for storytelling was to tell grand stories on an epic scale. So, to follow up on the success of “Tommy”, Townsend began writing songs for a new rock opera called, “Lifehouse”. As the 1960 drew to a close, all three of the top UK rock bands began to explore their spirituality by following mystics from India. In the case of The Who, Pete Townsend fell under the influence of a man named Meher Baba. Baba (which is where the song title, “Baba O’Riley comes from) believed that all humans gave off a cosmic signature that was unique to them. He called this signature a “vibration”. Since music is built upon a foundation of sound vibrations, Baba felt that the path toward nirvana for individuals was to come together collectively through music. He postulated that when perfect harmony had been achieved, a “universal chord” would be struck and we would collectively experience a rapture-like uplifting and fulfillment of our minds and souls.

So, as The Who toured in support of “Tommy”, Townsend began watching the reactions of their fans and started formulating plans for a new rock opera based upon Baba’s teachings and his own experiences playing for adoring crowds. The new rock opera was called “Lifehouse”. The plot summary for “Lifehouse” is, as follows:

It was set in a time when London had become so polluted that everyone was forced inside. The Government had created a system of providing for the complete needs of everyone as long as they stayed indoors. But, by staying indoors, they people became captives and their minds became stupefied, as if they were drugged. The only resistance came from freedom fighters who manned pirate radio stations that transmitted the spirit of Rock music to those still capable of free thought. The path to self-actualization then, comes through music (just as Baba taught). The three songs listed above all play significant roles in the musical.

“Baba O’Riley” opens the play. It is sung by a pair of Scottish farmers who have learned that their teenage daughter has answered the siren song of the pirate radio broadcasters and has left the safety of their pollution-free Scottish farm to attend a rebel concert at a place called, Lifehouse. The lyrics open with the farmers singing, “Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals, I put my back into my living.” The song ends with the husband saying to his wife, “Sally, take my hand. We’ll travel south across the land. Put out the fire and don’t look past my shoulder. The exodus is here.”….which is when the parents decide to go off and rescue/keep their daughter safe. ***A bit of trivia here, the opening synthesizer notes that give the song such a distinctive sound, were meant to symbolize the incorporation of the audience’s unique “cosmic signatures” directly into the structure of the song, itself, so that the band, the song and the audience could achieve singularity.

“Behind Blue Eyes” closes the first act of the play. It is sung by the villain in the play…a character called, “Jumbo”. Jumbo is in charge of the world the Scottish daughter has run toward. He feels wrongfully characterized as a villain and expresses his frustration at being misunderstood. “No one knows what its like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes. No one knows what it’s like to be hated, to be fated, to telling only lies.”

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” is the closing song in the musical. In that scene, the main character has died, leaving the Government and the Army to face off. This leads to the famous line of the “new boss being the same as the old boss”. The play ended with the message that putting your faith in revolution is misguided and is not the way forward. The spirituality obtained via togetherness and music is the true Light.

Initially, Townsend’s idea for bringing the “Lifehouse” Project to fruition involved creating a communal experience inside of a theatre in which the audience and band would live together for as long as it took for the essence of their being to harmonize. Audience members would become incorporated into the music in ways that suited their cosmic signatures and all would become as one (as John Lennon once famously said). However, the logistics of pulling this off proved too daunting and the project, eventually, had to be abandoned. Pete Townsend suffered a nervous breakdown. The songs from the play were salvaged and cobbled together in the form of a traditional album, which became known as “Who’s Next”. And the rest, as they say, became History.

As much as some of what Townsend was trying to to achieve sounded wishy-washy, the concept of a Government-lead, captive/stupefied population trying to be saved by renegades, sounds to me a bit like the concept behind “The Matrix” trilogy (not to mention, the conspiracy theory behind many of today’s anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers). Furthermore, the idea of melding the individual traits, desires, like and dislikes of a society and creating something new and universal at the conclusion sounds to me to be a lot like how the Internet works today. If you substitute “cosmic signature” for “algorithms”, you have, pretty much, the same outcome. I have often maintained that there is a thin line that separates genius from madness. While Pete Townsend eventually suffered a mental breakdown from the Lifehouse Project, the grand scope of his vision has left us musical treasures that remain important and popular half a century later. So, below, I will start with a video for “Baba O’ Riley” and then, I will play, “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Three individual songs, linked together from a common foundation that was forged in the belief that the path to salvation for us all was through music. Enjoy.

The link for the video for the song, “Baba O’Reilly” by The Who, can be found here.

The link for the video for the song, “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who, can be found here.

The link for the video for the song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who, can be found here.

A link to a website devoted to the band, The Who, can be found here.

Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire the creation of this post. A link to their terrific website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: Song #500…I Shot the Sheriff by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Intro:

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, 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. 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.

KEXP: Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #500: I Shot The Sheriff by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

You know that this is going to be a good list when it starts out with a legendary performer like Bob Marley. Whenever the topic of Reggae music comes up, Bob Marley is usually the first person most people think of. His influence stretched far from his Jamaican roots. He became world-wide phenomenon and was responsible, along with compatriots like Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and Bunny Wailer, with helping Reggae to become one of the most recognizable and popular musical genres of all time.

My first introduction to Bob Marley’s music came in the form of his album, Legend. Legend was essentially a greatest hits album that included such classics as “One Love”, “Get up, Stand up!”, “Buffalo Soldier” and the gorgeous live version of “No Woman, No Cry”. “I Shot the Sheriff” was on that album, too. Legend is the #1 selling Reggae album of all time.

The song, “I Shot the Sheriff” is widely regarded as being about marijuana and the importance of that crop in the Rastafarian culture that permeates so much of Jamaican/Reggae culture. But, there has, also, been talk that this song is about birth control and that the “sheriff” in question is actually meant to represent doctors who terminate pregnancies. Regardless, “I Shot the Sheriff” is one of the most popular rock music songs of all time and a worthy recipient of being placed on this great list.

The video I am including shows Marley at his most charismatic. What a stage presence he had! What a storied career. What a legend!

Thanks to KEXP for the inspiration to do this blog series. The link to KEXP is here.

Thanks to Bob Marley for making some of the best and most important music of all-time. The link to his website can be found here.