Here’s my life in music as defined by what I had decided was “the greatest song ever” at the different ages in my life.
1. When I was 6, it was “Ride My See Saw” by the Moody Blues. All my siblings were much older than I was; there was a great deal of hippie influence in their dress, friends, and music; and I remember them putting this record album on the turn table on our little study. Perhaps because the song used an image a six year old could comprehend — a see saw — I decided this was the best song ever.
2. When I was 11, it was Kodachrome by Paul Simon. I’ve told before how I listened to and loved this song while on a long car ride wiht my dad in 1973. He surprised me a few months later by giving me the record album for my birthday. Three confessions: 1) I originally thought the name of the song was “Portachrome”; and 2) it wasn’t until much later (like my 20s) that I learned kodachrome as a kind of film; 3) I still love the song.
3. When I was 18, it was, of course, “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. I’d gone through the album rock phase and I thought this was the seminal moment of that genre. I believed that every great song had to be at least six minutes long, have a variety of musical tempos and styles, and feature lyrics that sounded both profound and obscure at the same time. By those standards, “Stairway” scored a perfect trifecta.
2. When I was 30, it was “The Boys Of Summer” by Don Henley. I was a big fan of the Eagles when I was a teenager — “Take It To The Limit” could have easily made this list — but a bigger fan of Henley’s solo work. This song is the major reason why. Remember the list of what makes a great classic song from #3 above? This song packs so much energy into just a few minutes that it blows that theory out of the water. Makes “Stairway” seem so tedious in comparison . . . or maybe it’s just because when I got older I had less time to listen to the music. For fun, enjoy this acoustic version:
1. When I am 50, it’s “Where The Streets Have No Name” by U2. The haunting keyboards, the ringing guitar riff, the soaring vocals, and the lyrics that capture our longing for a slice of heaven on earth make this one sound as good today as it did when I first heard it.
How about the version from the 2002 Super Bowl? Comes on after after “Beautiful Day” and combines the music with a tribute to the victims of 9.11: