This post is not really genealogy related (unless my great-grandson happens across it 100 years from now). It is, however, a response to Randy Seaver’s weekly Saturday Night Genealogy Fun at his Genea-Musings blog. This week, Randy’s prompt asked readers and fellow bloggers to answer the following questions:
- What is your all-time favorite song? Yep, number 1. It’s hard to choose sometimes. If you made your favorite all-time Top 40 music selections, what would be #1?
- Tell us about it. Why is it a favorite? Do you have special memories attached to this song?
- Write your own blog post about it, or make a comment on this post or on the Facebook entry.
I am an avid music fan, and in my younger days self-published a music magazine, and even reviewed music for other magazines. Perhaps a discussion of my musical interests would be appropriate. I must first preface this discussion by stating that I was born in 1976.
When I was a child, as children will, I listened to whatever my parents were listening to: most of this (that I can remember) consisted of Billy Joel. The first song that I remember hearing and thinking, “this is mymusic,” when I was about 8 or 9 years old, was Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew’s “The Show.” Soon after this, the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, and other Def Jam artists, and D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince confirmed that I loved hip-hop, and I have continued to do so for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, the genre has regressed quite a bit over the last ten years or so, and filthy, commercialized violence and hypersexualized nonsense.
My current musical interests are much more diverse: in my car’s 6-disc CD changer are Michael Jackson’s greatest hits (R&B), the greatest hits of Louis Prima (1940s-1960s New Orleans jazz), Bob Marley’s Legend (roots reggae), and the newest disc by Jay-Z, Blueprint 3(hip-hop). But I would not consider any of these albums to contain my favorite song.
How does one define his favorite song? It would be much easier to create a top ten by genre – I have a top ten hip-hop songs, top ten R&B songs, top ten rock songs, top ten blues songs, top ten jazz/crooner songs, top ten reggae songs, etc. Trying to compare these songs to come up with one list would be like comparing apples to airplanes. Which I would prefer at any given time would depend on my mood at that time.
But none of this can excuse me from completing this mission…
I decided to choose one song, for reasons I will discuss below. First I would like to name a few honorable mentions:
(1) Frank Sinatra’s “Young at Heart.” I first heard this song in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, in the ultimate “Corey” movie, starring both Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, with Jason Robards, Dream a Little Dream, and I instantly fell in love with the song. But the reason that it holds an honorable mention here is strictly personal: When my daughter was born in 2005, we discovered that when she was crying, my singing would calm her down. She seemed to also love this soothing song, and for the first three years of her life, I sang it to her every night when I laid her down to sleep. Even now, she will still sometimes ask me to sing it to her at bed time.
(2) A Tribe Called Quest’s album Low End Theory. Had the mission this week asked for a favorite album of all time, it would have been a toss-up between this and The Beatles’ Let It Be. Released in 1991, this album was the pinnacle of the career of a group who made a name for themselves by trying to elevate hip-hop music to a new level of consciousness. It culminates in the hit “Scenario,” a collaboration between Tribe and the Leaders of the New School. “Scenario” basically launched the solo career of rapper/actor Busta Rhymes, and is one of the greatest hip-hop collaborations of all-time. You can even see Spike Lee in the video. I can still to this day, start at the beginning of this album and remember every word. (Don’t challenge me😉 )
All that being said (drum-roll, please), the winner is…
Method Man “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need to Get By” featuring Mary J. Blige
For several reasons, this is my favorite song (at least as I write this):
- The song is a remake of the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell classic from Motown. In choosing this song, I am also able to honor both Marvin Gaye (like myself, born in Washington, D. C.) and a living legend, one of the greatest R&B songstresses of all time, Mary J. Blige.
- This song was released as a single only, not appearing in this form on Method Man’s album Tical. A version of the song without Mary J. Blige, but containing an additional rap verse, appeared on the album. The single version is far superior.
- Released in 1995, this song was one of the biggest hits of that year – a year I consider the peak of hip-hop. The genre improved every year until ‘95, then began its fall from grace. After 1995, the quality of hip-hop lyrics declined. The Bad Boy-Death Row beef that was portrayed as an East Coast-West Coast war, and the subsequent deaths of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls/Notorious B. I. G. signaled a death-knoll for hip-hop as I had grown to love it. The rise of Master P’s lackluster No Limit Records to the top of the charts was the final nail in the coffin. There have been some rappers in recent years with the talent and mind-set of those pre-1995 days, but when Lil Wayne captures the record for most records sold, you know that something is wrong. This song by Mef & Mary reminds me of what was once right.
- The song describes a devoted but not idealized love between a man and a woman. The dream of a man to have a realistic relationship with a woman based on mutual respect. The desire of a man to take care of his family. I can associate with all of these sentiments.
BONUS SONG: I wanted to mention another song due to its genealogical tone. Arrested Development’s “Tennessee” (1992) describes a young man’s search for his roots in the South.