Tag Archives: John Denver

Music on a Monday // 1974 was a very good year

Yes, a very good year, indeed!

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I have a spreadsheet in the music file on my desktop called “Best Songs.”  I have listed hundreds of songs and the artists’ who sang them, the songs that collectively make up the melody of my life, tracking every possible emotion and moment in time.  Each song represents an era or strong memory.  Some are great, really noteworthy songs and some weren’t that special to anyone else, but they make me happy and stir up a wonderful concoction of highly-desirable happy-neurotransmitters for my brain.

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Everytime I randomly recall a portion of a song I have ever fancied, I throw it on the list.  And when I put the title there, despite the fact that I can’t tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday, I can remember where I was, what I was doing and who else was there when I heard it playing on the radio so many years ago.  Going over the list a few months back, I realized that there were an inordinate amount of songs from 1974, when I was 14 and attending Harding Junior High in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

1974, ahhh the 70s…

Who can know the mind of a fourteen year old girl?  She is silly and coming alive.  She is crushing and seriously in love with love.  She is forward-looking for the amazingly gorgeous hunk who will arrive and sweep her off her feet and they will dance to the romantic hits of the early 70s ~ forever.  *smile

Oh, my.  Yes, 1974 was a very romantic and good year for all that.  “You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics (my FAV group at the time) was at the top of my own personal hits list.  And John Denver singing “Sunshine on My Shoulders” or “Annie’s Song” (You fill up my senses like night in a forest, like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain…” swoooooon) just got me looking for some one to sing like that to me.  And wasn’t Olivia Newton-John just communicating what my silly-little-heart wanted to pour out to some unknown lover “I honestly…{wait for it}…love you“?  Oh yes, she was!

But 1974 also had some way light-hearted songs that are etched into my memory, like “My Girl Bill,” by Jim Stafford, considered pretty hilarious at the time, I think now would not get any play at, as politically incorrect as it may come across.  Of course, “Seasons in the Sun,” so melodramatically captured our emotional fancies.  And Ray Stevens was even able to turn the streaking fad into a hit single with “The Streak.”  Songs like that preserve history with humor.

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All in all, 1974 was a full-on chorus of melodies and lyrics that really have become “golden” if you’re talking oldies.

I made my list of my top, favorite LOVE-these-1974-songs, and there were about 50.  So, I was forced to edit myself to try to get the list to 20…or 25…and really truly rank them and am listing only my REALLY-SUPER-TOP-FAVORITE-1974 SONGS.  And oh, they just keep jumping past the count-barrier…Numbers 1-7 are probably in order of my TOP favorites, but the rest, just LOVE them all!!!  I have created a YouTube Playlist (for my own fun) that you may feel free to enjoy.  :)  And how could you not?  Enjoy it, I mean. Sooooooooo good!!!

1.  You Make Me Feel Brand New, The Stylistics

They sing “God bless you” in this song, which, preacher’s daughter that I was, gave it extra cachet with me.

2.  Hello, It’s Me, Todd Rundgren

Hello, Todd!  Riding the bus home after school…hoping that guy would call me…This song makes so many of my playlists, it’s ridiculous.  Love.

3.  Best Thing that Ever Happened to me, Gladys Knight and the Pips

This song is just high-quality classic.  I sang it to Dave just after our first anniversary.  He didn’t even know it before then.  Can you imagine?  Not knowing every Gladys-song???  He appreciates it now.

4.  Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Elton John

I wasn’t supposed to be listening to “secular music” but I convinced my mom this was based on the scripture “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath” and so she supported me listening to it as she drove me here and there.  And she used it as a teaching moment, the opportunity to present a devotional about never going to bed angry.  Oh, mamala, :)

Didn’t this song get even better when he sang it with George Michael in the 90s?  Just a good song.

5.  I Will Always Love You, Dolly Parton

Until Whitney Houston took this song to super-hit status for the film, Bodyguard, in 1992, it was not known quite as widely.  However, I like to think I know a good song when I hear it and I loved this song in 1974 even though I was certainly too young to even understand the full-on passion of it.  The song itself has always-always-always been one of my all-time favorites, and as for Dolly – I like it best of all her work.

5.  Sunshine on My Shoulders, John Denver  —  Annie’s Song, John Denver

Yes, I am cheating.  There are 2.  “Sunshine” was the theme for a movie which was a 1000-level *sniffer based on the true story of a dying mom leaving cassette recorded messages for her baby girl since she wouldn’t be there to raise her.  “If I had a day I could to give you…”  Ah, gentle and sweet!  As for “Annie’s Song,” she was John Denver’s wife, and I have never understood how she could FILL all his senses and then he could divorce her?  But really-check out the words and imagine being in the mountains of Colorado which is what he depicted, and beau-ti-ful!

6.  You’re Having My Baby, Paul Anka  —  One Man Woman/One Woman Man

And I am cheating again.  Two songs for the continually prolific singer/songwriter, Paul Anka, who’d actually started charting hits as far back as when my mom was a teenager.   He hit a whole new audience in the early 70s and his songs were just so singable.  Duets.  I love duets.  I want to sing with all the great people.  Maybe Paul Anka will come to town and call me from the audience to sing with him?  I am ready Paul, for both of these songs!  The show, Glee, covered “You’re Having My Baby” a couple years back.  Slightly less “innocent” version.

7.  I Honestly Love You, Olivia Newton-John  —  If You Love Me, Let me Know, Olivia Newton-John

Omygosh, I cannot be trusted.  Here I am trying to shorten the list and now I have given Olivia Newton-John two songs on my list.  Well, some of these people were just hitting their stride that year, obviously.  My hands are tied.

8.  Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks

A dying friend is traumatic for a young, teen girl.  Add that the song was French. Bon!  Tres bon!

9.  Rock and Roll Heaven, The Righteous Brothers

“Helluva” band in said rock-n-roll heaven.  My parents would not have been happy.  But these guys sang with such great passion.

10.  Takin’ Care of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Driving to youth camp, windows down.  Fun to sing and easy to dance to.  Which I was not allowed to do. Haha.

11.  Billy, Don’t be a Hero, Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods

Two words: Bill Roby.  I was fourteen and crushing on the class president like crazy  (he wore size 13 shoes, mine were size 6 and only went to his instep…I know this for we compared them) and a song with his name?  Come on!  Doesn’t matter how lightweight it may have been, it HAS to make my list.

12.  Rock and Roll Baby, The Stylistics

Such a Stylistics fan!  I wanted to have one (a rock-n-roll baby)  and I got him: Rocky!

13.  Then Came You, Dionne Warwick and the Spinners

I really loved early 70s soul music, or rhythm and blues.  Yet Dionne was a classy pop singer.  The  mix makes this song easy and fun to sing along. Happy day.

14.  Good-bye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John

Debating the meaning of lyrics ws a fun thing in the 70s.  I am not at all sure what they meant, but you can’t plant me in your penthouse, doggone it!  Don’t even try.

15.  Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd

The Harding Keys even performed this.  They were the dancing-singing early 70s version of Glee Club.  They wore white and chartreuse and were probably just opposite of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  But this song is just so much fun to sing.  I taught it to my kids blasting it on the very good and loud limo stereo in the early 90s.  I am now singing it with my grandkids.  Because it is a song that gets better with age.

16.  Honey Honey, Abba

The lyrics make me blush now, sure.  But then, it was just fun.  “I feel like I wanna sing when you do your thing…”

17.  Angie Baby, Helen Reddy

Oh, how mysterious.

18.  Bennie and the Jets, Elton John

Elton was just prolific!  I remember the girls locker room after PE, all of us sining away getting ready for the next class.

19.  A Love Song, Anne Murray

My dad actually introduced me to Anne Murray, and she, like Karen Carpenter before her, sang in my range. One of the greatest voices ever.

20.  Please Come to Boston, Dave Loggins

Passionate pleading.  Please-please-please come here!  This minute!!!

21.  I Love, Tom T. Hall

I wasn’t really able to admit to liking anything country at that time (how uncool it might seem), but this song crossed over, so it was sort of OK.  I love it way more today than then, because now I have experienced some life and he is really right about all the things there are to love. And I love country.  So, there.

22.  Come Monday, Jimmy Buffet

Spring.  Slight breeze…I recall an outdoor art class painting project and this song.

23.  Cat’s in the Cradle, Harry Chapin

The singer-songwriter, thought-provoker-type was waning to a degree (following the folk songs that had shaped social thought in the late 60s), but this one was too powerful to ignore.

24.  The Streak, Ray Stevens

People just got naked and ran through public places and events.  Scandulous!  Ray Stevens gave us an historical and humorous song to remember it by.

25.  Until You Come back to Me (that’s what I’m gonna do), Aretha Franklin

Aretha!  Come on – “Though you don’t call me anymore, I sit and wait in vain…” because every 14-year-old girl was waiting the THE call!  :)

26.  Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur

I didn’t know what it meant, but it sounded a little naughty.  But you know, Cactus is our friend.  {???}

There.  I have tempered all I can possibly temper.  And if you count accurately, there may or may not be 29  (30?) songs in actuality…

OH, WAIT!!!  I just realized I failed to include Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot //  Rock Me Gently, Andy Kim  //  The Air that I Breathe by The Hollies // or The Night Chicago Died, Paper Lace (which my own kids love).  Oh, forget it.  1974 was just an incredible year for music that moved me. 

Here is the playlist, you can listen to it all. or pick and choose.

Dang it!  How can I not add “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song,” Jim Croce?  And I was not allowed to like Mac Davis’ “One #### of a Woman,” but I actually sort of did/do.  :)

Notably: at least 4 songs from my Telephone-Songs Playlist were from 1974, which may or may not have been a telephone high-usage year for me.

Oh, yes:

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 True story.  Which ones do you love with me???



Music on a Monday // Home Sweet Homes

My TOP TEN songs about house and home.

This playlist is a huge category.  There are soooooo many songs about hearth and home or houses and hometowns.  Quite overwhelming, actually.  I had to leave off another 8 or 9 that I really liked (like “Lucky” Jason Mraz and Colbie Callait – to be used on a future list)  just because I was determined to keep this list at 10.  There is a playlist from YouTube at the end of this blog that includes each of the songs I have written about here.

I’m a home-grown, home-loving, home-girl.  I don’t necessarily mean a house, either.  I mean home the feeling, home the peopleHome.  Sweet home.

LORD, it seems You have been my home forever, from ‘once upon a time,’ to ‘happily ever after,’ (from before the mountains were formed until time is no more), You are God and You have been my God and my home.  Psalm 90.1-2, my paraphrase

Check out my top ten songs and why they made the cut.

#1  Back Home Again, John Denver

Long story, told as sparingly as possible.  The rest are shorter.

Why do I love this song?  There is a whole family story.  I cannot capture it here, but suffice it to say that my brother Joe (yes, that Joe), ran away from home.  My dad had accepted a church far, far away from any home we’d ever known and there was some culture shock and he was a HS freshman and of course, we showed up mid-year, so it is hard.

It tore our family up – days of Joe just missing.  But after the better part of a week, he was found and the police were putting him on a plane and my parents drove to New Orleans to get him and he wasn’t there.  The airline said he hadn’t boarded.   We all mourned even more.  My mom was sick with sorrow.  We assumed he ran again after the police delivered him to the airport.  There was a heavy darkness at our house.

Then a phone call: the flight he’d been on was cancelled – he arrived late (airlines can be dumb).  We all climbed in the Ford Station Wagon and went to get him.  What a relief.  There was much love and my dad took us to a really nice steak house and we feasted on the fatted calf, so to speak.  The son had come home.

It was nearing midnight, I think, as we drove back to Robert, Louisiana, past our school-night bedtime.  The excitement was quieting down and we were just so happy he was there.  The family was settled in listening to the radio, still, as the car hummed along.  Just as we pulled in to the driveway, John Denver’s voice filled the car

There’s a storm across the valley, clouds are rollin’ in

the afternoon is heavy on your shoulders.

There’s a truck out on the four lane, a mile or more away

the whinin’ of his wheels just makes it colder.

He’s an hour away from ridin’ on your prayers up in the sky

and ten days on the road are barely gone.

There’s a fire softly burning; supper’s on the stove

but it’s the light in your eyes that makes him warm.

My dad put the car in park, but none of us moved, not a muscle.  We all sensed the holiness of the moment, the serendipity of this particular song at this distinct second in time…and we just sat there…in the driveway…in the late night – listening, knowing somehow God was blessing the boy coming home.  We listened to every single word and note of that song, almost afraid to even breathe…

It’s the sweetest thing I know of, just spending time with you

it’s the little things that make a house a home.

Like a fire softly burning and supper on the stove.

And the light in your eyes that makes me warm.


Hey, it’s good to be back home again

Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend

Yes, ‘n, hey it’s good to be back home again.

It was a moment barely spoken of for years, for it was too precious.  And it was this monumental transcendent time-fragment we’ll never forget.  Because for all of the fear and sadness and rejoicing those days had brought, that moment became the time we knew we were together, all those miles from our kin and the life we’d known before, and we were home.

And the brother I loved was safe.  My little Joey.

So how could I not love this song?  It’s my number one song about home.

#2  The House that Built Me, Miranda Lambert

This was the Country Music Awards song of the Year in 2011, I believe, maybe 2010.  Such a great song.  It is the story of adult going back to the house she grew up in and asking the owner to let her come inside to look around.  She calls it “the house that built me” because of all the memories of her experiences growing up there.  It immediately, when I heard it, reminded me of 1723 York Street, an address which, if you read this blog, you’ll recognize {the house of my carefree-childhood memories}. A quick search and you will see the address shows up regularly here…I wonder how many times?  :)

And I have always wanted to go back there, to my house-that-built-me and see if I could go through it.  And if the owners now ever stumble on this blog – I hope they won’t think I am crazy.  I hope they’ll just watch the Miranda Lambert video and be able to understand that many-many-many years ago, I was a little girl there, and the memories are sweet and fine.  O, the projects I planned and the dreams I dreamed and adventures I experienced there

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it

This brokenness in me might start healing…

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave

Won’t take nothing but a memory from the house that built me.

#3  Home is Wherever I’m with You, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

This song is so fun-gritty, backwoods-country-AND-modern and did-I-mention: fun.  The sentiment is that “home” is where your “people” are, the ones you love the most, not so much a location and street address.  And that is a true thing!  Cute-cute-cute!

#4  Who Says You Can’t Go Home, Bon Jovi

Well Bon Jovi is a great rocker who wrote and performed this song, which highlighted the work of Habitat for Humanity.  I like him a lot.  Crank it up and roll down the windows and sing loud while you are enjoying your neighborhood.  You can go home again!

#5  I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Carpenters

Everybody and their dog has performed this classic Christmas number.  This song, written about a WWII soldier coming home from war for Christmas, was first recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943.  But then the likes of Amy Grant, Anne Murray and Andy Williams recorded it, too.  Other covers were made by the Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Brad Paisley.  Neil Diamond, Kenny Chesney and Elvis sang it, too.  Hundreds of people have recorded the song and it is a lovely,melancholy tune recalling, with great affection, the beauty of “home.”  It speaks of a longing, a homesickness, that resonates for all of us when we just wish we could be with the people we love, in a place we’re together.

Dave and I were talking about the renditions we heard most growing up.  And though I feel like I heard the Johnny Mathis version a lot, we determined The Carpenters was the primary version we grew up with, that Karen’s haunting voice was the smooth sound that made this song relevant in the 1970s and beyond.  She interpreted well and as far as songs about home, this one has to be in the mix because, Christmas or not – sometimes dreaming and remembering is the only way we actually get to be with our families, our loves.

#6  Home, Phillip Phillips

Phillip Phillips won 2012 American Idol.  He was good and my pick from early on.  He is very earthy and young, but also sort of timeless and seasoned and when the 2 finalists got to pick a song they’d release in case they won and I saw him perform this song, I was like, “O-my-gosh he will positively win this!”  He just killed this song.  In a good way.

And you know how sometimes when you first hear a song it takes a while to grow on you?  This song was not like that. I loved it immediately!  It speaks of some one making a place for you, a home, a safe place.  LOVE it.

Hold on, to me as we go

As we roll down this unfamiliar road

And although this wave is stringing us along

Just know you’re not alone

Cause i’m going to make this place your home


Settle down, it’ll all be clear

Don’t pay no mind to the demons

They fill you with fear

The trouble it might drag you down

If you get lost, you can always be found


Just know you’re not alone

Cause i’m going to make this place your home

#7  Green, Green Grass of Home, Tom Jones

It was the 1960s…and this song just sucked me in. I couldn’t seem to hear it enough back then and the surprise ending got me every. single. time.  Tragic.

#8  Home, Michael Buble

Just smooth and sweet, sung by the super-suave crooner of the day.  He is on the road (trying to write her letters) and and he is missing his love and he just wants to get on the plane and go home.


#9  House of Love, Amy Grant and Vince Gill

They sang this in 1994 way before they married and I do not really understand the official video (the little house thing?), but I just enjoy this hope-filled song.  I had a friend going through a break-up when this was on the charts and this was the song we prayed through.  And it is a fun song to sing and “the lights are coming on in the house of love.”  And they did for my friend!

#10  Taking You Home, Don Henley

The gravely-soulful drummer-boy of the Eagles.  “Take my hand, love, I’m taking you home, Taking you home.”

Come on.  Let’s go home.  :)

Embedded // the WHOLE playlist, in no particular order:

“For me, home is the coming together of my past memories and experiences, of my love for my children, husband and friends;…my optimism tangibly expressed in life-enhacing ways, room by room…” –Alexandra Stoddard