Play This More Often is a series of essays meant to highlight songs that deserve more attention and appreciation, all in the humble opinion of this music listener of course. Some of them may be neglected by the public at large, some not taken seriously enough by music writers or some plainly overlooked because of their obscurity. Whatever the case, suggestions via the comments from you are always welcomed.
1) Bob Dylan – Mr. Tambourine Man
One of the most annoying and false clichés that Bob Dylan fans have to endure is the belief that every cover of the man’s music is better than the original. Perhaps the most famous proof of that mentality is the constant reaffirmation that The Byrds took Mr. Tambourine Man to a whole new pop-hit level when they added the melody, the jingle-jangle guitar sound and the harmonies to their cover. What has the Byrds version always felt to me? Like taking a really classic novel, cutting it in half (it seriously never bothers anyone that they omitted 3/4 of the lyrics?!) and wrapping it in a more colorful and attractive cover. The original Dylan-sung Mr. Tambourine Man is one of those songs that you simply can’t improve upon, a captivating trip about the take-you-somewhere-else effect of music featuring some of Dylan’s most memorable imagery.
2) Queen – The Prophet’s Song
I’ve always thought of The Prophet’s Song as Brian May’s answer to Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody within the A Night at the Opera album. Both are lengthy and complex compositions that see Queen pushing the pop limits. Yet both are perfectly accessible at the same time, with plenty of hooks to remember. The Prophet Song’s main strength is that it perfectly conveys its message – the world’s coming to an end and Freddie’s apocalyptic vocal performance in the way it keeps on building and rising is the perfect announcement for that. Even the lonely, desperate voices in the song’s acapella mid-section add to that atmosphere despite sounding slightly outdated in retrospect.
3) The Beach Boys – Forever
As much as I enjoy and connect to Dennis Wilson’ music, I’ll be the first to admit that he’s never matched his brother’s, Brian’s song-writing in terms of innovation and creativity. However, there are certain songs in which he takes what he learned from him and adds his own passionate personality in creating something truly original. Forever is such an example, a love ballad where Dennis’ gruff delivery becomes charming, the hummed harmonies seem to be taken from The Soundtrack of Heaven and the lyrics wouldn’t be out of place on a love-you greeting card.
4) Elton John – Tiny Daner
There are certain songs that become forever immortalized when used in movie scenes, so much so that they’ll be directly associated with that from then on. Be My Baby in Mean Streets. Perfect Day in Trainspotting. Where Is My Mind in Fight Club. And there is no reason why Tiny Dancer shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as those. The Almost Famous scene that uses the song perfectly captures both its bitter-sweet atmosphere and its sing-along vibe. It’s also good to see Elton’s excellent 70s music being revived in the 00s, after two decades of disappointments from the man.
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