Hi kids, Vic Steffens here.
Maybe it’s because I crossed a 70 year milestone this year, but I find myself taking inventory of defining things in my life. People, events movements….of course music….songs, records, performances, performers.
I see them as ‘The Ones”, and i thought I would share some of mine with you, and perhaps you with me. It's never too late to find a new “one”.
Having been blessed to spend really my entire life in music, something never to be taken lightly, my first point of reference is always the great song, Not the good, or very good, but great, All of the songs I will mention today have a single direct point referencing a universal point of the human experience. Something we all share. And I am talking here about pure songwriting….where the unadorned word makes the case.
Having thought long and hard, I arrive at my number one….Bridge over Troubled Water as written by Paul Simon. Pail Simon has many great songs…many more clever or creative. But NONE so simple and powerful. The ultimate statement of compassion, “Like a bridge over troubled waters I will ease your mind” spoke volumes to me the moment I heard it.
“Wichita Lineman” As written by Jimmy Webb. So many great Jimmy Webb songs. He comes to the Kate Theater once or twice a year and dazzles with his personal renditions and stories. See him. As to this song, the absolute ache of the lyric is one of the most memorable moments in the American songbook. Have to say I was disappointed in the James Taylor cover….it just didn’t get it….
“The Tracks of My Tears”. Smokey Robinson is often overlooked as a milestone writer, but not here. Spend some time with his words explaining human emotions. Who else said “My smile is my makeup I wear since my break up with you. Baby take a good look at my face”. Crushing. Been there.
“God Only Knows” as written by Brian Wilson. I think the simplest and most poignant expression of love ever. “God only knows how I feel about you”. Period. Sometimes “Caroline No” or “The Warmth of the Sun” creep into my thoughts on Brian…but this is “the one”
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” as written by Mike Reed and Alan Shamblin for Bonnie Raitt. Aside from the passing of my parents, the absolute toughest, blackest day of my life was the I had to face the truth of this statement. I think the song saved my life, because it explained it so eloquently. And thanks to Bonnie Raitt for speaking with me.
“A Case Of You” as written by Joni Mitchell. “I could drink a case of you, and still be on my feet”. More than anything else, Joni knew how to experience life and love. and she knew how to express those feelings. Who else would say…..”If you want me I’ll be in the bar”?
“Maybe I’m Amazed” as written by Pail McCartney. One of the most joyous statements on the list, there are many Paul songs that could make the list, and you know them all. Except this is “the one” “Maybe I’m amazed at the way you love me”. Simplicity
“In My Life” as written by John Lennon. Yeah it said Lennon McCartney….but this is pure John. “All these places have their moments, of lovers and friends we still can recall”. Yes.
This is a large swath of the experience of my life…..there are of course more, but this is a nice cross section. And there are great recordings, performances, that elevate good songs to great records, many in fact. But that’s for another day….. Preview……” Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks. “Sail on Sailor” by The Beach Boys, as sung by the great Blondie Chaplin…who I have had the pleasure to record…