debg gave me "W."
"Waterloo Sunset" -- The Kinks
But I don't need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise
Heh, this has to be the most predictable choice on the list. Ray's masterpiece about a man who sits by his window making up stories about the people he sees actually having lives is one of my all-time favorites. I like everything about this song, from Dave and Pete's dueling basslines in the intro, to the harmonies in the middle, to the Nicky Hopkins piano crescendo at the end.
"What Did You Learn In School Today?" -- Chad Mitchell Trio (written by Tom Paxton)
I learned that war is not so bad
I learned about the great ones we have had
We fought in Germany and in France
And someday I might get my chance
Tom Paxton writes such gentle songs that you never see the edge of the blade coming until it's way too late. I was counter-indoctrinated early on when my mother brought home the Mitchell Trio album with this song on it. I was ten or so at the time, and I played that record until I wore it out. Decades later, when I finally found a copy of the album as an adult, I found that I still knew most of the songs by heart.
"The Winter Long" -- The Strawbs
Hold onto me.
I'll hold on to you.
I will be the one,
Who will always see you through.
This was the song that the ex and I chose for our wedding dance. It's a lovely, romantic song, and the bandleader assured us that as long as we provided them with the music, they'd play it. Well, the Strawbs were never especially popular, so there was no sheet music to be had. Deb spent a couple of days at her piano transcribing the music so the band would have something to work with. They again assured us it'd be fine.
Come the big day, we're introduced for the first time at the reception, and the band kicks into our song. Of course we'd never even considered the possibility that Bernie Goydish and his Jersey Polka Stars would play the song to a polka beat with an accordion as lead instrument. Oh. As usual. Dear. They only played about twenty or thirty seconds of the melody (probably just as well, because my head was on the verge of exploding), and never even tried to sing the words, which kind of defeated the whole purpose of a wedding song. I really should've taken it as an omen.
At the time, the in-laws were thrilled to get Bernie, because he was supposedly something of a star in polka circles. I googled Bernie this morning, and sure enough, he's in the International Polka Association Hall of Fame. Not only that, he appears on the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, of all places. Huh.
"Wilbury Twist" -- The Traveling Wilburys
You put your hand on your head
Put your foot in the air
Then you hop around in the room
In your underwear
A silly song by some serious musicians. Can't you just see Dylan hopping around in his underwear?
"Walking the Cow" -- K. McCarty
I really don’t know how I came here...
I really don’t know why I’m stayin’ here...
Oh, Oh, Oh. I’m walking the cow...
I've been listening to a lot of Daniel Johnston's stuff lately, and this song is representative of that. Kathy McCarty did an entire album of Johnston covers which is just excellent. Covers are the best way to get into Johnston, because, well, the man just can't sing. He makes Stefin Merrit sound like Pavarotti. But the songs are fabulous, and well worth a listen.
Honorable mention: "We Can Work It Out" -- the Beatles
A zip file of these five songs can be found here.
Next up - "R"