As a guitarist / musician/ songwriter, songs are incredibly important and inspirational to me (I do mean individual songs rather than an album of songs). My interest is quite wide and a little eclectic. My favourites are (in a loose order):
1) Love is Here to Stay by George and Ira Gershwin
Beautiful melody and lyrics. Perfect combination of the two.
“In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, they’re only made of clay…”
‘Nuff said, except that Ella Fitzgerald owns this one.
2) In My Life by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Intensely moving and sublime. Poignant lyrics with which everybody can identify. I often wonder what the Beatles would have been without George Martin’s guidance?
As performed by the Beatles (obviously).
3) Manhattan by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Pretty tune with lyrics by my favourite lyricist ever. Blossom Dearie and Ella are tied over this one.
4) Pride (in the Name of Love) by U2
Great lyrics and echo-plexed guitar part. Written about a personal hero, Martin Luther King Jr.
5) Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Rodgers and Hart
Songwriters / lyricists knew how to use words effectively when this was written. “Couldn’t sleep, was dyspeptic…” Again, Ella owns this one.
6) Something in the Way She Moves by James Taylor
I wish I could have written this one, it would have been autobiographical.
“And if I’m well you can tell she’s been with me now.
She’s been with me now quite a long, long time and I feel fine.”
Instant calming for me. James is the only person who can perform this.
7) Fair Annie (traditional)
As I’ve stated elsewhere on this blog – my favourite traditional tune. A ballad that tells a simple tale and one where the heroine triumphs. Martin Simpson’s version on “The Bramble Briar” is perfect.
8) The Magnificat from the Gospel of Luke
A canticle from the days when I was a child and was a member of a church choir. The words have such beauty.
9) Sand and Water by Beth Nielsen Chapman
Beth’s gorgeous song about her late husband. It is the song that Elton John chose to sing after he retired “Candle in the Wind”. For this, Beth wrote additional lyrics.
10) Wrapped Around Your finger by Sting / The Police
I just love the lyrics and the simplicity of Sting’s songwriting in The Police. Very atmospheric thanks to Andy Summer’s guitar and Stewart Copeland’s percussion!
11) Carried in Sunlight by Martyn Joseph
Martyn’s deeply moving song about his father’s illness.
12) Tea in the Sahara by Sting / The Police
This was also a big influence on my love of “World Music”. Atmospheric echoing guitars and lyrics inspired by the Paul Bowles novel “The Sheltering Sky”. Like “Wrapped Around Your Finger” it is easily played on an acoustic guitar with rudimentary chords!
13) The Boxer by Paul Simon
Lyrically, just a masterpiece. Intensely moving.
14) Man of the World by Peter Green
Beautiful voice, beautiful guitar, melancholic lyric. I sometimes perform this with just an acoustic. On good days, my voice breaks on the highest note.
15) Fall at Your Feet by Neil Finn / Crowded House
One day I’ll perform this solo. Wonderful lyrics and a great melody / chord sequence. The bass never plays an obvious note!
16) Secret Journey by Sting / The Police
Andy Summer’s dark and brooding echoplexed chords are magnificent on this – palm muted and compressed electric guitar but I love the lyrics too.
17) Fire and Rain by James Taylor
Supremely relaxing and melancholic. A record of JT’s struggle with depression.