works of pop confection which nearly achieve absolute emotional, melodic, and lyrical supremacy. in no particular order. as always, 100% subjective.
  1. "waterloo sunset", the kinks, 1967. insanely appropriate closer to sublime "something else" lp. so important to me that on my first (6-hr) trip to london i made a pilgrimage to waterloo station. just to feel it.
  2. "america", simon & garfunkel, 1968. is there any more evocative exploration of our troubled yet resilient nation? i think not. wistful and defiant, questioning and resolute, this is a lyrical tour-de-force married to a tune both listing and martial at the same time.
  3. "september gurls", big star, 1973. tunefully concise and hummable, while a trenchant evocation of personal longing and regret. make's one's heart break every time it's heard.
  4. "rain", the beatles, 1966. known more for backwards tape trickery than its genius, driving melody and insightful lyrics (perhaps lennon's finest with the beatles?), this b-side is the best counter to the ringo-detractors out there as his inspired fills are a propulsive undercurrent to a largely laconic endeavor.
  5. "o-o-h child", the five stairsteps, 1970. perhaps best utilized (although the valerie carter version) at the end of the 1979 youth-in-dismay film "over the edge". maybe the most optimistic expression of hope-through-despair ever committed to vinyl.
  6. "everything merges with the night", brian eno, 1975. it seems criminal to single out any one track from the blissful masterwork "another green world", but one is drawn endlessly to the beauty and infinite majesty of this dadaist gem.
  7. "to love somebody", bee gees, 1967. plenty of superb covers of this gem testify to the power of its structural integrity. still, it's barry gibb's strained, plaintive, pleading delivery that raise the original above all comers. touching sentiment and brilliant hooks.
  8. "expressway to your heart", the soul survivors, 1967. early triumph from the gamble & huff team, as this terse & powerful a-side bowls us over with its pre- and post-chorus switch from major to minor keys. earnest vox, driving piano-led rhythm section buttress ascendant melody along towards all-too-brief fade-out, shy of resolution.
  9. "baby blue", badfinger, 1971. my childhood favorite was the mccartney-penned-produced 1970 classic "come and get it", but later discovery of this ode to loss & longing meant a new badfinger favorite forever cemented itself as ace #1. has any guitar tone challenged the riff here for all-time "ringingest"? is that even a word?
  10. "day after day", badfinger, 1971. 2nd pete ham track from "straight up" to make this list. ham was perhaps too deferential to george harrison's slide-playing, as his own slide abilities were stellar, but maybe the double-tracked leads are what push this gentle yet powerful ballad over the top. leon russell's piano & rundgren's deft mix also aces.
  11. "a song for you", gram parsons, 1972.
    not to be confused with the leon russell composition of the same name, parsons' most tender, bittersweet song bursts with ache. the sublime emmylou harris harmonies work in perfect symbiosis with gram's crackling tenor. pastoral, evocative, memorable.