It’s kind of a horseshit premise to begin with, isn’t it? Is there anyone who has an all-purpose, favourite song anymore? A song they always want to hear in any circumstance, that has never gotten overplayed, that they don’t skip on their iPod when it comes on? Who are these people? As one friend put it when she read the schedule last post, “If someone has one favourite song that they can easily name, I probably don’t like that person.”
But I am nothing if not sporting, friends. So I’m trying to narrow it down.
Even as I make this selection, I don’t know if it’s my favourite song. But I know it contains all the things I love a great song to have.
1. The lyrics speak truth to power.
2. The music conveys a sense of drama.
3. It has soul. This is a big one for me. I can forgive faults in melody and songcraft if the song has soul, which is one of those things that can feel impossible to explain, you just know it when you encounter it. It’s the way the song strums that cord that connects you to the great convulsing mass of humanity walking, sleeping, working and fucking in all the corners of the planet, the way the song makes you attuned to the commonality of our experience. This is usually assisted by the last component.
4. The vocalist sings it like their goddamn life depended on it. And no one did that like this man.
It’s your world. But it wouldn’t be nothing without that person who gives it meaning. It’s the same song we’ve been singing for a hundred years. I just like the way the Godfather phrased it.
Is it my favourite song of all time? Probably not. Is it a song I’m happy to hear every time I encounter it? Yes. It has lost none of its power, as evidenced by the tribute performance given by one of our greatest female vocalists at the Grammys in 2007, after Brown’s death. It’s a song that always gives me chills and reminds me what a wonder it is to love and be loved.
Whew. Thank God that one’s out of the way. We continue tomorrow.