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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Unchained Melody by The Rightous Brothers

Is it true that the music of the Baby Boomers is a whole lot better than the music of Generation-X or the Millennials (Generation-Y)? Of course it's true. Those whippernappers couldn't touch the best music of the 1960s.

Here's a song that makes my top ten list, although I will admit that it's only #374 on 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. I'm pretty sure this must be a mistake. Rolling Stone also seems to have made a mistake with #9.

(For some strange reason, my son and daughter don't seem to appreciate the music of my generation. I don't know where I went wrong.)


  1. I'd like the song better if God were not in it: "God speed your love to me."

  2. Wha??? You don't like Nirvana? Musical tastes are so subjective that any 'best' lists are going to get arguments from just about everyone. Maybe 2 or 3 of Rolling Stones top ten would be in my top 25... (e.g."What'd I Say'. In fact, with about 65 years of "rock 'n' souI" to choose from, I would be hard pressed to create any top ten (or top 100) list. But I suspect it would include things like the Corsairs 'Smoky Places' and the Turbans, 'When you dance', Cannibal and the Headhunters, Mitch Ryder, Otis Redding, Jmaes Brown...

  3. I am a Gen X'er and I like pretty much everything from ragtime tunes from the turn of the century to *gasp* Katy Perry pop songs. My playlist would jump from Paul Anka to Pearl Jam and Black Sabbath to Backstreet Boys. Each generation has its classsic hits and also its stinky one hit wonder and fads.

    1. I like Paul Anka too. He grew up near my neighborhood. I didn't know him but I know people who did. He went to a different high school.

      I like ABBA. Is your taste that eclectic? :-)

      Not sure about Backstreet Boys but I once went to a New Kids on the Block concert.

    2. Yes, I love ABBA! I watched the Mamma Mia musical with my wife. People seem to have an aversion to Scandinavian pop, from ABBA to Aqua (Barbie Girl), but I like it. I just learn to leave prejudices behind when I play the stereo. Not that I like everything I listen to, it's just that I try to learn to appreciate different genres.

      (Begin Rant)
      People complain about the "manufactured songs" in today's pop music, yet we saw the same with 60s bubblegum pop (Yummy, Yummy, Yummy!). And speaking of some musicians being labeled derivative, most 60s and 70s crooners sing each other's hit songs trying to one-up each other! Frank Sinatra would sing a Matt Munro song, Engelbert Humperdinck would sing a Paul Anka song, or Tom Jones would sing an Andy Williams song. Everyone was copying everyone else!
      (End Rant)

      Speaking of musicals, I also enjoy showtune songs. Last week I had a nasty earworm after listening to "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" from YouTube! Ugh!

    3. Earworms are ugly.

      I'll be sure not to mention any showtune songs that might trigger one, like I Feel Pretty, Spoonful of Sugar, or Camelot.

  4. Ah, music... more contentious than any evo-creo debate! I have a theory that music stopped being great in 19x7, where x is the decade you had your first child. 1957, 1967, 1977, 1987, 1997 ... all frequently cited as The Year The Music Died. Me, I've tried my damnedest to keep finding something to like, in every genre - then I'm accused of trying too hard to keep down wiv the kids! My son, meanwhile, loves my old Prog Rock records.

    Tying the themes, I love Joni Mitchell's take on Unchained Melody and nostalgia: Chinese Cafe

  5. Maybe you'd prefer "Smells Like Teen Spirit" if it were a jazz cover (from the album These Are the Vistas by The Bad Plus).

    I'm amazed you even had the patience to go looking. I almost gave up flipping to #9 because of the layout of the page, where you could only advance 10 at a time. If they had some master list of their selections, I didn't see the link to it. But I think it's the capitalist model at work: these pages where you have to keep on clicking on buttons keep you on the page and it is hoped that you'll also be clicking on banners and sidebars and driving up ad revenues. Alternet has the same annoying format, but at least they have a single page link for every article.

    I have no idea if it made the list or not, because I couldn't be bothered to look, but I'm a Gen-Xer and my favorite song is "The Ballad of Easy Rider" (two best versions are Roger McGuinn's original and one by The Byrds, alternate take). That's what comes from watching counterculture movies at the age of 10. I didn't have the best of relationships with my parents, but one thing I'll give them credit for is going to bat for me to be allowed to read, watch, and listen to what I liked.

    It's because of their broad-mindedness and their having a fight with the library to allow me to check out anything I wanted that I was able to hear my other favorite work at 10, Charles Ives' First Piano Sonata. I was sick of the classical warhorses in my parents' minimal collection and hearing the same thing on the radio, so I determined to find something new at the library, and I certainly got it. It was so new in style that it was struck me as alien, weird, and disagreeable at first, but finally after repeated listenings I realized that I was making the mistake of expecting it to conform to 19th century melody and harmony, when it was really emphasizing rhythm and timbre. Once I realized that, I became fascinated (and eventually heard the melodies previously buried under dissonances) and listened to it through twice at a single sitting and many times thereafter. Then I grabbed everything Ives-related that the library had, with many more LPs and CDs, and even a biography, and then branched out by reading more about 20th century music in order to understand this new thing I had stumbled on and checking out the works mentioned whenever I could. I'll never forget the look on the face of the clerk at a local Tower Records when I was 12 years old and had walked up to the desk to ask him to order the recently released Singcircle version of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Stimmung. Great times—I miss that place so much. It was enormous with a classical section about the size of some entire stores. Shopping on the internet just isn't the same because there's little possibility for the serendipitous discovery.


    1. I'm amazed you even had the patience to go looking. I almost gave up flipping to #9 because of the layout of the page, where you could only advance 10 at a time.

      Scroll down to the bottom of the webpage. It allows you to go directly to any group of ten.

    2. The weirdest choice on the Rolling Stone list for me is #3. How can you pick a solo song by an ex-Beatle over everything by The Beatles themselves?

    3. I daresay it might have something to do with political correctness. "Imagine" is a good song, but I agree that it is a strange choice.

      ~~ Paul

  6. Actually, as a Nirvana fan, I'm somewhat disappointed by #9 myself - yes it was probably their most famous song, but not their best. As for "Unchained Melody", it's a nice song, but spoiled by my association of it with the Patrick Swayze film "Ghost" - that's one problem with older songs - they get reused in movies and even worse, commercials and often it is hard to not think of this when hearing them.

    1. ...that's one problem with older songs - they get reused in movies and even worse, commercials and often it is hard to not think of this when hearing them.

      If you ever liked CCR, you may hate me for pointing this out, but what this puts me in mind of was Wrangler using Creedence Clearwater Revival's song "Fortunate Son" in a flag-waving advertisement for its jeans. Lots of red, white, and blue with emphasis on the white to judge from their choice of actors, and the lyrics "Some folks were born | made to wave the flag | ooh, the red white and blue!" Then a voiceover with Wrangler's trademark: "Real. American. Jeans."

      Two thoughts occurred to me:
      1) "Yeah, I suppose they're still technically American even if you've laid off all your U.S. workers and moved the plant to Mexico to cut overhead by paying poverty wages and not following the [nonexistent] safety regulations."
      2) What happened to "IT AIN'T ME"?!?! Seriously, they took a protest song and sold blue jeans with it. What's next? Nike selling trainers to the strains of the Internationale?

  7. I prefer Al Hibbler's earlier version of Unchained Melody.

  8. Acuracy in origin issues should lead to accuracy in measurement of the best decades for songs.
    Indeed it was the 60's and followed by the 70's.
    It was about 150 songs per years that have stood the test of time by way of classic radio and any repeating of songs from those years.
    Now only some 20-40 songs per years at best seince the mid 80's.
    There are p[practical reasons for the higher achievement.
    I t was the bRits who raised the level starting with the beatles.
    I diodn't look at the rolling stone list but a few years back I noticed it was wrong and had middle aged liberal motivations.
    the winners are clear in songs, unlike movies etc, because the song is only three minutes long and a great sifting takes place with a decade or so and after that determines its status.
    Its possible to reintroduce a song but any song there is a great song.
    likewise today singers dominate more as they did before rock and roll.
    musical achievement really comes from segregated circles of concentration and then ideas from that. This is why all great music comes from the english speaking world and then circles within it. great music is not a cross section of anything anywhere.
    Today there are fewer segregated circles and so fewer great songs.
    Its truly bad today.
    it should be better by great percentages with the mere fact of having more people and more money and more technology.
    for a while Rock and roll is done like the dodo.