Posts Tagged ‘Gram Parsons’

Rolling Stone Top 100 Project Pt. 15

May 23, 2022

84. James Taylor – Fire and Rain

In general, this has never really been my kind of music. Taylor is a bit too soft but I recognize his musical talent. I was obsessed with a punk cover of this song when I was a teen. I like the composition of it and Taylor’s guitar work is impeccable. I also always really liked the symbolism of this song. Fire and rain are such good terms for the bad times. Bad times are not all one thing. Sometimes they are the dreary and unrelenting drenching rain that freezes you deep so you think you will never be warm again. Sometimes they burn hot with a more sudden and immediate pain that leaves a scar forever. The song details the trials and tribulations in Taylor’s life and how he overcame them including the suicide of a dear friend, drug addiction, and the depression that came with fame and fortune.

85. Black Sabbath – War Pigs

It is hard to think of Black Sabbath without Ozzy Ozbourne and for sure Ronny James Dio had a lot of hits as their lead singer. However, this is the song that I keep coming back to when I think of the band. When I was a teenager, I was struggling to figure out my own philosophies. I had long discussions with a teacher about being anti-war. It really helped that Black Sabbath was teaching me about these corporate and political greedy pigs who do not care whether we live or die. It was during a time when I was embracing heavy metal and politics. I still had a long way to go but this helped. Aside from the lyrics, the driving guitar lives rent-free in my head forever. The driving beat just makes this sound like a very epic anthem.

86. Tupac – Hit ‘Em Up

This one is kind of sad as it was a diss track written by Tupac and his crew when they were sure that Biggie Smalls had ordered the hit that put Tupac in the hospital. Tupac thought this because Biggie had released a song called “Who Shot Ya?” right after the incident. It ended up being James Rosemond but Biggie and Tupac’s friendship was already shattered. Still, this is one of my all-time favorite rap songs. Tupac’s flow and lyrics are on point and just go together so well. Part of that is also the backing track which includes a great bass line provided by a sample of Dennis Edwards formerly of The Temptations. This track goes hard and is a bit shocking not only in how violent the threats are but also the believability of those threats being carried out.

87. Gram Parsons – Streets of Baltimore

My first reaction to this artist is “who?” because, although the name was vaguely familiar, I could not place it. Then I realized I was thinking of The Alan Parsons Project. This parsons is a country musician so it makes sense that I was not really familiar with his work. So, I started cruising YouTube to see what I could see, and low and behold, he wrote a song about my beloved Baltimore and I actually kind of recognize it. I am truly a sucker for any time that anybody mentions my hometown and current base of operations. The song is very catchy and speaks of Gram’s lover wanting him to take her to Baltimore City. One of the reasons that this song is familiar is that it has been heavily covered since Bobby Bare first sang it.

88. Miles Davis – Burn

Miles Davis had a long and influential career where he schooled the world on just how much a trumpet could do. He was a jazz musician but, like musicians, in his later years, he adapted and evolved. This track is absolutely an example of that as he played jazz fusion live on stage for charity. That guitarist? That is the legendary Carlos Santana. The fusion of jazz and rock definitely earns the name “Burn”. Davis was a true musical genius and everything he did shows that.

89. The Yardbirds – Over, Under, Sideways, Down

This is a band that I always recognize but I can never remember any of their songs even though they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was an absolute supergroup of musicians. This incarnation was led by Jeff Beck (later to be replaced by Jimmy Page) and his guitar work is excellent. The squealing riff he came up with is so unique and catchy. As are vocals by Keth Reif who uses a dark, deep voice kind of like a rockabilly Jim Morrison here. Steady drums by Jim McCarty who is the only one still in the band after all of these decades. This was written during a time when a lot of rock and roll was still heavily influenced by the blues and it shows. 

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