Jimi Hendrix, “Star Spangled Banner.” In making the anthem into his song, he made it our song. We usually hear this song at sporting events, but Jimi was playing at Woodstock.
Slim Harpo, “I’m a King Bee.” I’m not sure I even knew there was such a thing as the Grammy Hall of Fame, but this recording is in it. The first time Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi performed as The Blues Brothers, on Saturday Night Live, they sang this song. Well, they weren’t technically the Brothers yet ... they were dressed up as bees and billed as “Howard Shore and His All-Bee Band”.
Kanye West, “Power.” Imagine it’s 1969, and you’re in a prog-rock band that has just released its first album, which includes a song titled “21st Century Schizoid Man”. Prog-rock is something new, and your band is on the cutting edge. One day, you go to a fortune teller, who says that in the actual 21st century, a rapper will sample your song on a track he’ll call “Power”. You will not know what a rapper is. You will not know what a sample is.
DeBarge, “Rhythm of the Night.” Helped jumpstart the career of songwriter Diane Warren, who is, according to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, “considered to be the most prolific and successful contemporary songwriter of our time.” Take that, all of you talented but unprolific songwriters out there!
Van Morrison, “Slim Slow Slider.” It’s odd to remove any particular track from Astral Weeks. I do it all the time, especially with “Cypress Avenue”, but since I’ve been known to claim that Astral Weeks is the greatest album of all time, I feel obliged to actually listen to it as an album at least once in awhile.
Marianne Faithfull, “Losing.” People were surprised when the then 32-year-old Faithfull released Broken English, a great and memorable album from someone who had been mostly dismissed in the past. Who would have believed that 25 years later she’d release her 20th solo album.
The Capris, “There’s a Moon Out Tonight.” I used to say that if you didn’t like doo wop, you didn’t like music. Or something like that, I don’t actually remember any longer what I used to say. But it was about doo wop, and I was gushing.
The Shangri-Las, “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand).” You know, there’s a pretty good book out there about the Shangri-Las, Are You There God? It's Me, Mary: The Shangri-Las And The Punk Rock Love Song by Tracy Landecker.
Joy Division, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” There’s no getting around it: if he hadn’t killed himself, this song would mean something different.