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Throwback Tracks -- November 23, 2017


The Guys from {MUSIC}

Throwback Tracks -- November 23, 2017

David R. Smith

Once again, I'm trying to get a jump on TBT for the month. As I said in last week's, I'm in tech this week so if this is one less thing I have to worry about, I'm down with that. What's most amusing to me is that I'll have finished last week's and today's TBT before I even consider writing the one that will have come out 2 weeks ago. It's tricky to wrap one's head around something like that, but such is the way it goes. And since I'm on a writing roll, I just figured I'd take this ball and run with it! So, as per usual, here are more songs for your weekly enjoyment!

There is a theme this week: Songs written by one person (or people) but the version most famous belongs to somebody else. Enjoy!

Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin

First things first, I'm going to say how weird it is that an artist who died decades before computers - let along the internet - were really a thing, has a website. I mean, I get it. But it's weird. 

Sidebar over.

So who wrote this song? Kris Kristofferson, of all people! But it does have his country flair to it. Even Janis' has a country feel to it. It's remarkable how people can take a song, written by somebody else, and make it their own. So much that the original pales in comparison. Now; in this instance, Janis still maintains a feel of what Kris sang. But there are others on this list (see the next song) that completely made their own. 

Man, Janis could wail, hey? Some of her songs just have that banshee cry that she was so famous for. She may not have been a stunner, she may have lived an extremely hard life, but when it all comes down to it, she was a hell of a rock star. 

All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix

Okay. We all know that my man Bob Dylan wrote this song, but Jimi made it famous. I've seen Pearl Jam cover this song, and it was the Jimi version. Because that's the version everybody knows and loves. And let me tell you, in true Dylan fashion, it's hard to find a legit recording of him doing this song on YouTube. I found him singing it at Woodstock in '94 but it's... different. You can at least hear the difference in strumming compared to Jimi. And it doesn't have the crazy psychedelic distortion that we're all used to from Jimi. 

It's no secret that I love Bob Dylan as a songwriter. I think he is/was phenomenal. But it's also no secret that I think many of the songs he wrote are infinitely better when sung by somebody else. Hell, the Byrds' greatest hits is essentially an entire album of them doing Dylan's songs better than he did.

That's not to take away from the lyrics. They're perfect. But then, in history, there are some who hear brilliant lyrics like that, and then go, "You know what? I'm going to make this amazing." And that's what Jimi did.

Blinded by the Light - Manfred Mann

I'm sure some of you are sitting there going, "Wait? Actually? Then who wrote this song??" Bruce effing Springsteen. Seriously. His version is... okay. It's not bad. But man, Manfred Mann made this song amazing. I don't get the happy feelings when I hear Bruce's version as I do when I hear Manfred Mann's. 

Bruce wrote a story (which he does so well) but M-M (I'd call him M-squared but that nickname is reserved for the true M-Squared.) takes you on a journey. From that first organ riff, through to the weird instrumental "solos" in the middle... you just feel like you're going on a trip without actually needing to take any drugs. 

It took me years to learn that this song I love so much was written by one of the most prolific songwriters in American history. I'm glad Bruce wrote it, but I'm even more glad (I know that's probably terrible English) that Manfred Mann took it and made it his very own. And what a job he did. 

Twist and Shout - The Beatles

Seriously. Even the Beatles would cover songs. And they did a great job on this one. The men who wrote it were Phil Medley and Bert Berns and here's the original group to record it, the Top Notes. Weird, isn't it?

Now you take that song, add a great guitar opening and John Lennon screaming the lyrics, and it's an instant classic. (I don't care much for John Lennon, but I do love this song...) 

It's funny that arguably one of the songs most notable for the Beatles was written by neither George, Paul, or John; three of the greatest talents of all-time. (And I put them in order of their talent in my opinion.) What's even more interesting is that arguably the most famous use of this song came well after Beatlesmania had died down...

This Flight Tonight - Nazareth

Who wrote this song? Would you be surprised to hear that it was Joni Mitchell? When you first hear that, you kind of think, "No way!" but as you listen to this song, it makes a lot of sense. Particularly about 2:15 into the song when they start singing "Goodbye baby, baby bye bye" it's almost a dead ringer for the way Joni sings it in her version. It's a nice tip of the hat to the original writer. 

Apparently this song is about a person who regrets getting on a flight and leaving their lover behind. I never thought of it like that but when you listen to the lyrics, it all makes sense. 

Joni's version is great, but it's nothing compared to Nazareth's. 

What I really like about this list this week is that I bookended it with songs by Canadian songwriters. That wasn't my plan when I first set out to do this. I just figured Me and Bobby McGee would be a good song to start this week's TBT and it just sort of fell into place around Janis. Sometimes that's the way these lists go. I hope you enjoyed this little bit of Rock and Roll history this week. It was definitely a fun list to write about. 

Here are all the TBT playlists. They're getting aplenty, which is fun because there's plenty of hours of great music for you to listen to. If you want them all in one convenient location, give us a follow on Spotify. They're all there!

October 2017 TBT Playlist (and the October 2017 Spotify), September 2017 TBT Playlist (and the September 2017 Spotify), August 2017 TBT Playlist (and the August Spotify list), July 2017 TBT Playlist (and the July Spotify List), June 2017 TBT Playlist (and the June Spotify List), May 2017 TBT PlaylistApril 2017 TBT PlaylistMarch 2017 TBT Playlist February 2017 TBT Playlist


Throwback Playlist for Dec 16/Jan 17October 2016 Throwback PlaylistSeptember 2016 Throwback PlaylistAugust 2016 Throwback PlaylistJuly 2016 Throwback PlaylistJune 2016 Throwback PlaylistMay 2016 Throwback PlaylistApril 2016 Throwback Playlist

-D (@davidronn)

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