Sunday, April 08, 2012
Ten Great Songs From One Great Year
Songs About Kids
This week, a friend asked me to post songs that remind us of our children. Her little boy is in the hospital awaiting surgery to repair an issue with his stomach. While it is/was very scary for his worried-sick parents, the latest news is very positive and hopefully, he will be back home soon. Her request was that I create a list of songs that remind us of our children. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided not to personalize this list. While there are songs that certainly remind me of my own children, I prefer to list songs that would resonate with everyone.
Even if you aren't a parent, you can find real emotion and depth in songs written about kids. Of course, Country Music has the most songs written about kids and that is reflected in this list. If there is a song you feel I should have included, please feel free to let me know.
Tough Little Boys - Gary Allan (lyrics)
The song is about a father who has always imagined himself to be tough, even as a child. However, upon looking at his own child, the father starts to find himself worrying for the child's safety, admitting that "When tough little boys grow up to be dads / They turn into big babies again". Allan had it very tough the year after this song was released. In 2003, Allan and his wife, Angela Herzberg, moved to Tennessee from California. On October 25, 2004, Angela committed suicide after suffering from depression and migraines. Allan initially put his career on hold, but soon turned to music to deal with the loss of his wife. This resulted in 2005's "heart-wrenchingly personal album, Tough All Over. He included several songs which he wrote or cowrote, including "Puttin' Memories Away" and "I Just Got Back from Hell," which dealt directly with his grief.
Temptation - Billy Joel (lyrics)
Many songs can be thought to have different meanings. Some can be assumed to be about the relationship between a man and woman, but actually be about someone and G0d ("You Light Up My Life"). "Temptation" is one of these songs. At first glance, one can assume Joel wrote this about his love for his wife, Christie Brinkley, whom he has written numerous songs about. However, in this case, the songwriter is writing about his then-baby daughter, Alexa. In an interview I once saw (can not find the video), Joel talked about the incredible sadness he felt every time he to be away from his daughter and how much it changed him as a writer.
Run For the Roses - Dan Fogelberg (lyrics)
In 1981, Dan Fogelberg was enjoying the peak of his success. His last album, Phoenix, reached the top 10 and his first single for the LP, "Longer" peaked at #2. Due to throat surgery, his next album was delayed. The first single from The Innocent Age, "Same Old Lang Syne," peaked on the charts 8 months before the album's release. But all that did was manage to whet the whistles of his fans. The Innocent Age was clearly his most ambitious, and turned out, his most successful LP of his career. The album drew its inspiration from Thomas Wolfe's major novel "Of Time and the River." Fogelberg captured on this album Wolfe's protagonist's search for meaning, for self, and the inexorable passage of time and was done in a complete life-cycle of time. While "Run for the Roses" is not about a human child, the song is about the maturing process of a Kentucky Derby winner and fits right in the LP's theme. Sadly, Dan Fogelberg passed away in 2007, a victim of prostrate cancer. He was 56.
Butterfly Kisses - Bob Carlisle (lyrics)
Bob Carlisle wrote this song for his daughter Brook. Carlisle is a Contemporary Christian singer. The album is one of the best selling Christian album ever. Carlisle said on the liner notes of Wow #1 Hits: "'Butterfly Kisses' is not so much a song about fatherhood. It's more a song about gratitude and imperfection - 'for all I've done wrong, I must have done something right.' It's also a song about appreciation of time well spent. As with any good thing, there is a bittersweet sadness in letting go. I hoped to capture in this song the beauty of the relationship between father and daughter as well as its inevitable change. This song affected more than dads. After the first concert where I sang it, women surrounded me telling me stories about their fathers. I had always thought of the song from the perspective of a dad but I hadn't thought of its impact upon daughters." This song won the 1997 Grammy for Best Country Song.
Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) - John Lennon (lyrics)
Lennon wrote this for his second son, Sean, who he had with Yoko Ono, in 1975. The line, "Every day and in every way I am getting better and better" is a self-improvement mantra. It was popularized by a French psychologist named Emile Coue, who made his patients repeat it over and over. Richard Dreyfuss' character, Mr Holland, sings this to his deaf son in the movie Mr. Holland's Opus. In the scene, Mr. Holland is upset over the death of John Lennon and when his son asks him what is wrong, Mr. Holland explains that he wouldn't understand. The deaf son gets upset over this because he is not stupid, so Mr. Holland holds a concert at a school for the deaf and sings this song to his son. Notice the tribute in the song to Paul McCartney in the lyrics, "Every day, in every way, it's getting better and better." This is from The Beatles' song "Getting Better" - John's contribution to that song at the time was cynical and witty (his lyric was "it can't get no worse") but here he was sending a little message to Paul that Paul was right, life does just get keep getting better and better.
Cat's in the Cradle - Harry Chapin (lyrics)
This heart-wrenching song tells of a father and son who can't schedule time to be with each other, and it serves as a warning against putting one's career before family. The verses start out with a natural harmony and depict the tale of a father with his newborn son. Although dad gets the necessities of child rearing accomplished, he doesn't allow himself to put in quality time with his son because of his career. Initially, this seems like no big deal because of his hectic and oblivious life working and paying bills. The recurring verse has the son saying, "I'm gonna be like you Dad, you know I'm gonna be like you..." Over time, both father and son grow into a switching of life roles. The father realizes his son's ambitions and goals of college, grades, and driving and wants to spend more time with him, yet slowly grasps the reality that now his son has no time for such things. In the last verse, Chapin illustrates that the "son" is all grown up with a fast paced job and kids of his own. In a glaring twist of roles, we see that the son now has no time to spend with his father. Sadly, dad realizes that his boy has become just like him. This song is based on a poem that Harry's wife Sandy wrote. She told us: "'Cat's In The Cradle' was a combination of a couple of things. Whenever I was on a long drive I would listen to Country music, because words would keep me awake more than just music. And I heard a song… I can remember the story, but I don't remember who sang it or what the title was, but an old couple were sitting at their breakfast table and looking out the window, and they saw the rusted swing and the sandbox, and they were reminiscing about the good old days when all the children were around and then the grandchildren, and how it passed, and now it's all gone."
Isn't She Lovely - Stevie Wonder (lyrics)
Wonder wrote this to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Aisha. In 2005, Aisha (last name: Morris, which is Wonder's real name) sang a duet with her dad on his song "How Will I Know." The baby crying in the beginning is Aisha. Also, in the end of the song, Stevie says, "Come on, Aisha. Get out of the water, Baby," which is a memorable moment with Stevie and his daughter.Wonder had Aisha with Yolanda Simmons, who he mentions near the end of the song: "Londi it could have not been done, without you who conceived the one." Although this was one of Wonder's most popular songs, it was never released as a single because he didn't want to edit down to a radio-friendly length. However, the song did make the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts as an "album cut," entering the AC Top 40 on January 8, 1977, staying there for five weeks and peaking at #23.
There Goes My Life - Kenny Chesney (lyrics)
This song is a story told by a man who faces an unplanned pregnancy with his girlfriend. When he first receives the news, all he can think about his how his life has seemingly been ruined. The story proceeds from the man's daughter being born, all the way to the day she leaves for college. By the end of the song, the man's daughter has become his life. The song depicts how our life priorities rapidly change over the years. This song spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Country Music charts and an astounding 7 weeks at #1. It also made the crossover to #29 on the Hot 100 chart. Over the life of his career, Chesney has been honored with numerous awards from the Academy of Country Music (ACM), Country Music Association (CMA), American Music Awards (AMA), Country Music Television (CMT), Billboard Music Awards (BMA), People's Choice Awards (PCA), and the French Country Music Awards (FCMA). Chesney has received six Academy of Country Music awards(including four consecutive Entertainer of the Year Awards from 2005 to 2008), as well as six Country Music Association awards. He is one of the most popular touring acts in country music, regularly selling out the venues at which he performs. His 2007 Flip-Flop Summer Tour was the highest-grossing country road trip of the year. The Country Music Association honored Chesney with the Entertainer of the Year award in 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Other notable awards include the Academy of Country Music's 1997 New Male Vocalist of the Year, 2002 Top Male Vocalist of the Year, and the Triple Crown Award in 2005. He was awarded his fourth consecutive Entertainer of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music on May 18, 2008.
In My Daughter's Eyes - Martina McBride (lyrics)
McBride was raised in Sharon, Kansas, a small town with population of about 200. Her father, who was a farmer and cabinetry shop owner, exposed McBride to country music at a young age. Listening to country music helped her acquire a love for singing. After school, she would spend hours singing along to the records of such popular artists as Reba McEntire, Linda Ronstadt, Juice Newton, Jeanne Pruett, Connie Smith and Patsy Cline. Around the age of eight or nine, McBride began singing with a band her father fronted, The Schiffters. As Schiff grew older her role in the band progressively increased, from simply singing, to also playing keyboard with them. She enjoyed performing in her early years. McBride began performing with a local rock band, The Penetrators, in Wichita instead. Then, in 1987, Schiff gathered a group of musicians called Lotus and started looking for rehearsal space; she began renting space from a studio engineer named John McBride. In 1988, the two married. After marrying, the couple moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1989 with the hope of beginning a career in country music. John McBride joined Garth Brooks's sound crew and later became his concert production manager. Martina occasionally joined her husband on the road and helped sell Garth Brooks souvenirs. In 1990, impressed by Martina's enthusiastic spirit, Brooks offered her the position of his opening act provided she could obtain a recording contract. During this time, while her husband was working with country artists Charlie Daniels and Ricky Van Shelton, he also helped produce her demo tape, which helped her gain a recording contract with RCA Nashville Records in 1991.
Watching Scottie Grow - Bobby Goldsboro (lyrics)
Goldsboro had many pop music hit singles in the mid to late 1960s, including his chart-topping song, "Honey", in 1968. By the early 1970s, he had begun to achieve success on the country chart as well. According to Goldsboro, he met music producer Jerry Fuller one day in Los Angeles, and Fuller encouraged him to meet one of his associates in the music business, Mac Davis. When the two met, one of Davis' songs that stood out to Goldsboro was "Watching Scotty Grow". Goldsboro decided to record the song, but an executive with United Artists Records questioned the potential of releasing it as a single, stating that "I just don't think anyone will buy a record about a father and a son." After the release of Goldsboro's album We Gotta Start Lovin' in late 1970, "Watching Scotty Grow" began to receive attention from radio stations in the United States. Goldsboro stated: "They put it out and within two weeks, it was being played like a single." The record label quickly issued a 45rpm, and the song began ascending American record charts during the Christmas shopping season. It reached the top of the Billboard Easy Listening chart on January 9, 1971, where it remained for six weeks. The song also peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February of that year and climbed to the top ten on the Billboard country music chart as well. The song was Goldsboro's tenth top 40 hit on the U.S. pop chart.