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 #357: Be My Number Two by Joe Jackson.
Joe Jackson is one of Music’s most under-rated performers. He has enjoyed a career spanning almost forty years now that has seen him have hits in such diverse genres as Rock/Pop, Big Band/Jive, Jazz and Classical music. Joe Jackson burst onto the music scene in the late 1970s with a big hit called, “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”. He followed that up with a commentary of our consumeristic society called, “I’m the Man”. He has many other hits including, “Its Different For Girls”, “Breaking Us in Two”, “Stepping Out”, “Real Men”, “You Can’t Get What You Want (Til You Know What You Want)” and “Be My Number Two”. Joe Jackson has recorded over 20 studio and live albums. He has, also, been nominated for Grammy Awards, a total of five times.
Aside from his musicianship…..which is stellar……and his songwriting…..which is insightful, Jackson is most known for his unwillingness to follow the conventional paths that lead to lasting fame. All throughout his career, whenever Jackson has begun to taste success and notoriety, he has abruptly changed the course of his musical direction. In the early days of his career, when he was rising in the charts with “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” and “I’m the Man”, Jackson could have easily kept replicating his work and become a major star. But, instead, he swung away from Pop and released the jazzy, “Stepping Out”, which is about exploring the nightlife in NYC. Just as he was getting a reputation for Jazz, Jackson came back with the very political, “Real Men”, which offers one of the earliest takes on the subject of “Toxic Masculinity” and the role of men in our society. Not surprisingly, he received backlash for this, with many keyboard critics questioning his own sexual orientation. From there, Jackson backed away….a little….from the limelight and entered a “Big Band” phase which saw him release songs like “Jumping Jive” and “You Can’t Get What You Want (Til You Know What You Want”. Then, he disappeared from popular music, altogether, and spent more than a decade producing and performing classical music.
Regardless of what genre of music Joe Jackson has chosen to perform, he has always done so at a very high level of skill and of quality, when it comes to songwriting and musicianship. His versatility, while frustrating to those who feel more comfortable with labels and pigeonholes, is, in fact, Jackson’s greatest strength. Joe Jackson has navigated his way through his career, completely on his own terms. He is, indeed, the man! Please enjoy “Be My Number Two” which is a quiet, delicate gem of a song about heartbreak and renewal. It is just Jackson and his piano/keyboard in this video. What a phenomenal talent this man is! Here is Joe Jackson, one of the best and most under-rated performers of all time, with “Be My Number Two”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Be My Number Two” by Joe Jackson, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Joe Jackson, can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for supporting musical excellence from the likes of Joe Jackson. The link to their official website can be found here.