Tag Archives: Music

Top Ten Summer Songs

Obsession of the Week: Summer Songs

I’ve actually been obsessing over summer songs for weeks now. When my seven-year-old’s school let out, I thought I’d add some new songs to his i-pod. As it was, this year he was introduced to The Beach Boys by his music teacher (Thanks Mr. V.) and had spent the better part of spring singing “Surfin Safari” and “Barbara Ann” everywhere he went (my dad should be proud).

In thinking of songs to add, I figured he needed something beside the Beach Boys’ greatest hits so I started making a list of songs about summer. The list quickly turned into an endless download nightmare. I decided to limit myself to only songs about summer that had summer in the title. I’ve always tried to vary my son’s i-pod selection (click here to read more about it) so he’s introduced to a wide variety of music.  I  wanted to make sure the list included hits from as far back as the 60s and included as varied a selection as possible. As it turned out most are from the 70s. Go figure. So here’s my list of  the “Top Ten Summer Songs” in alphabetical order by artist.

  1. Alice Cooper “School’s Out (for Summer)”  
  2. Bananarama “Cruel Summer” (1983) 
  3. Chad& Jeremy “A Summer Song” (1964) 
  4. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince “Summertime” (1989)
  5. Don Henley “The Boys of Summer” (1984)
  6. Kid Rock “All Summer Long” (2008)* 
  7. Mungo Jerry “In the Summertime” (1970) 
  8. Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta & Cast “Summer Nights” (1978)* 
  9. Ray Lamontagne “For the Summer” (2010)
  10.  Seals & Crofts “Summer Breeze” (1972) 

* this selection made the list but didn’t actually make it on my son’s i-pod due to content and the possibility of him singing the lyrics at full volume. There are certain things you don’t want to hear your seven-year-old sing about even if he doesn’t understand the context.

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Obsession of the Week: Miranda Lambert’s “Heart Like Mine”

From her multi-platinum and Grammy-winning album “Revolution,” Miranda Lambert’s latest single, “Heart Like Mine,” is a great message song about the judgment of humans toward the weaknesses or “sins” of others and how a person’s fate and salvation is really between them and their God. 

Lambert admits the song about a “sinner” who drinks and smokes is autobiographical. Lambert grew up in a Christian church and admits she doesn’t always live the life of a “model” Christian as reflected with lyrics that go:

Even though I hate to admit it
Sometimes I smoke cigarettes
Christian folks say I should quit it
I just smile and say, “God bless”


‘Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine
I bet we’d get along just fine
He could calm a storm and heal the blind
And I bet He’d understand a heart like mine

Daddy cried when he saw my tattoo
Said, he loved me anyway
My brother got the brains of the family
So I thought I’d learn to sing

The song ends with: These are the days that I will remember, when my name’s called on the roll, they’ll meet with two long stem glasses and make a toast to me coming home.

The fundamental truth is everything we do is really only between us and God and no matter what others may think or see on the outside, God knows our heart and that is all that matters.

The song while having a Christian message is charting elsewhere. Billboard has it as the #3 song on the Country Chart, #33 on the Radio Play Chart and #45 on the Hot 100 Chart. Its message seems to be resonating with more than just Country and Christian listeners. 

I am far from perfect and just love songs that keep it real. We’re far too judgmental of others and their “evil ways” when in fact we struggle with our own faults both known and unknown. Like a parent who loves his daughter in-spite of her tattoo, God loves us in-spite our vices and weaknesses just the same.

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“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use “obsession” because aren’t we all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it and make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.

Reach Out of the Darkness: New Examiner Series

With this week being the start of the Holy Week of Easter, I am relaunching a popular article series that ran locally on Examiner.com last year. This year the series is entitled “Reach Out of Your Darkness” and is about appreciating differences. The series first ran this time last year as “No Matter Our Differences: God Loves Us All” and was hugely popular. 

This year, I am using the old Friend & Lover song, “Reach Out of the Darkness” as my inspiration. It’s a great song about peace and learning to appreciate our differences. So much of what we focus on these days is what divides us (our religious differences, our political differences, our sexual orientation, our citizenship status, etc…). What the bible reminds us time and time again is that we are all God’s creation. All created for good. This needs to be our theme for this Easter season.

Who did Christ die for this Easter season? A select group? He died for the salvation of everyone. In the spirit of this, I launch this series this week.

Click here to read \”Reach Out of the Darkness: God Loves Everyone!\”

Obsession of the Week: Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” Grammy-Winning Album

Maybe you were like me on the night of the Grammys, in shock that the band Arcade Fire won the “Album of the Year”. Certainly, their Grammy night performance was nothing remotely inspiring and seemed overtly like it was trying too hard. Since that night and their huge upset, I’ve been listening to their “Album of the Year” again and again and again and I’ve become a huge fan.

What makes a truly great album is the connectivity of the songs to one another (think of “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac among other “Album of the Year” winners). This album has it. Like the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” (Yes, I’m making the connection to this classic album), the songs are unique and offer a unique variety of sounds. With sounds heavily influenced by the great sounds of the 70s of Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles (try “Rococo” and my favorite “Modern Man”) and the disco sounds of ABBA (“Sprawl” and “Sprawl II”), the album transcends a confined musical style or definition. The band’s influences include those from the 50s (Ray Orbison), the 60s (the Beatles), 80s (The Ramones) and 90s (REM). I think this album really has something for everyone. I challenge you to listen to it and not find an appreciate for the multiple of influences on this album.

With 16 tracks, I could name nearly every songs as some of the best. Try the title track, “Modern Man”, “Wasted Hours”, “Deep Blue”, “Suburban War”, “Empty Room” and “We Used to Wait” for starters (haha!). If, like me, you weren’t even familiar with Arcade Fire, I encourage you to give them a shot. The Suburbs is really an incredulous album and worthy of the Grammy for “Album of the Year” (sorry Eminem and Gaga fans).

“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use the term obsession because we’re all obsessive and fanatical about things we like so much that we saturate ourselves in it until we make ourselves sick of it and then move on to something else.

Obsession of the Week: Ray LaMontagne

Last week, the Grammy nominations were announced, one of the “Song of the Year” nominees really stuck out for me. I’d heard the song “Beg Borrow or Steal” by Ray LaMontagne but couldn’t believe this traditional folk artist was up for song of the year. It’s a great song but not your typical Pop, R&B, flash-in-the-pan song that usually gets nominated for a Grammy.

More than likely you’ve never heard of LaMontagne or his music, but you may be surprised to find that this music has been around for the past six years and has been featured on various television shows including this season of “Parenthood” on NBC. For “American Idol” fans, you’re likely to remember Taylor Hick’s version of LaMontagne’s “Trouble” as he performed it on the show to rave reviews.

LaMontagne is the type of singer/songwriter that we haven’t seen the likes of since the 1960s and 1970s. His sound is very much reminiscent of the ballads of Cat Stevens (who LaMontagne also looks like), Loggins and Messina, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. It is said that LaMontagne heard Stephen Stills “Treetop Flyer” and quit his regular job to become a singer/songwriter full-time.

I think the pureness of his music and poetry of his lyrics are genius. His music is both mesmerizing and hypnotic. For a sample of some of my favorites try this year’s Grammy-nominated “Beg, Borrow or Steal”, as well as “For the Summer” from this year’s album, God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise.  Also try “Be Here Now” and “Empty” from his 2006 album Till the Sun Turns Black, “Sarah” from his 2008 album Gossip in the Grain and “Trouble” from his first studio album of the same name. Take a listen and let me know what you think.



Obsession of the Week: The Music of Sara Bareilles

Here’s the thing – this week’s selection isn’t necessarily the most “manly” selection I could come up with but the truth is that I can’t seem to get Sara Bareilles’s haunting sound out of my head. The truth is that I’ve been obsessing over her music for the past couple of weeks now so I think it begs acknowledgment.

Sure you may know Sara Bareilles from the peppy and sickening sappy “Love Song” from it’s heyday in the summer of 2008 (I still can’t stand that song) but do you know any of her more acoustic work? I heard her cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” on an itune radio station and immediately had to check her out. When she’s not doing something upbeat and kitschy, her voice is crisp, pure and haunting. It’s the type of music once made popular on the Album Alternative stations (101.9 in LA) that were moderately popular in the 90s and now long gone. I guess I still have a serious thing for the chill’n at the coffee house sound that just doesn’t seem to be popular anymore.

Check out “Gravity,” “Between the Lines,” “In Your Eyes,” and her great jazzy cover of Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” (she has a ton of cover songs on youtube.com that are worth checking out).  These songs best representation her smoldering coffee house sound. As a writer, I think her lyrics are smart and effective because they work on multiple levels. The way she sings both “Gravity” and “In Your Eyes” give the songs a lingering spiritual quality. The lyric “Leave unsaid unspoken” from her song “Between the Lines” sounds like a great title of a literary novel.

I’ve found her music great for writing when I need something melodically simple in my ears asI search for the words to type. I’d encourage you to check her out. Let me know what you think. Again, she’s not the most masculine selection but her music has been addictive and so she is this week’s obsession.

“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use  obsession because aren’t we’re all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it so much that we make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.