This Challenge was a challenge! As much as I tried to not overthink each day’s entry, I am who I am, and precision in word and thought matters a lot to me. Not just that but on most topics involving music, my head explodes with ideas and stories – ask anybody who’s asked me what they thought was a simple music-related question.
The point is that on any day of The Challenge, there could have been lots of possible songs I wanted to write about but didn’t. I worked hard at going with my first impulse but on some Days, there were significant second, third and fourth impulses. In this encore Challenge, I’ll show you the songs that got left off the album, so to speak. If you want to check out the songs for yourself – and you should – I’ve included a Spotify playlist at the end of this blog.
Day 3 – A Song That Makes Me Cry. I did mention Rod Stewart’s Handbags and Gladrags as Honorable Mention in this Day’s blog. For forever I’ve said that Maggie May was my favorite Rod Stewart song but really it’s this one. Handbags and Gladrags has an interesting early history. It was originally written and released in 1967 by some guy named Chris Farlowe whose work I am not familiar with. The song failed to chart in the U.S. The producer was Mike d’Abo which matters because he also did the arrangement and played that pretty piano part in Rod’s 1969 version which mostly nobody knows about because the song again did nothing when it was released.
However, it was re-released in 1972 and did get into the Top 40. But really the only reason I wanted to talk about the song is the melancholy oboe at the beginning and end. Aside from Rod’s soulful singing, it’s the oboe that for me gives this song its special touch.
Day 12 – A Song You Feel Embarrassed to Listen To. I have to admit I cheated here. There was an immediate first choice for this Day that didn’t make the cut. Instead, I wrote about My Girl Britney and defended why I’m not embarrassed – although many think I should be (get thee behind me Satan!). But I cast aside that immediate choice when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to work My Girl into The Challenge – an unacceptable outcome.
That original choice I am kind of embarrassed by – The Backstreet Boys Larger Than Life from their third album Millenium which, yes, I proudly own. The cool backstory here is that Larger was supposed to be the lead single from that album but at the last minute it was replaced by the iconic pop culture classic I Want It That Way. Good move, there. As to Larger, it’s just a perfectly pleasing piece of pop confection. With a hysterically cheesy video.
Day 15 – A Song From a Movie Soundtrack. Disco Inferno was my choice and I mentioned other faves such as Goldfinger, the themes from Exodus, Peter Gunn and Shaft, and Car Wash. But it was a bad oversight to forget mentioning Superfly – the first 24 seconds of bass and percussion in the song are so freaking cool – and Pusherman also from the movie Superfly.
Day 16 – A Song With No Words. This turned out to be Mike Bloomfield’s Albert’s Shuffle which introduced me to the blues. But the original first choice was Santana’s Europa. And actually, the real original first choice was Santana’s Toussaint L’Overture but there is a repeated refrain in Spanish towards the end of it, so it doesn’t qualify for a song with no words. However, I knew Santana was going to be my obvious choice for Day 28 (A Song You Used to Hate But Love Now) so that created a spot in The Challenge for my love of the blues.
Day 22 – A Song with a Long Title. I went with my first choice of Sly and the Family Stone Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin). While it was a solid choice, I instantly regretted it when My Friend Wil mentioned Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In). It was a #5 Billboard hit in 1967 for the First Edition, a band with Kenny Rogers as the lead singer. Cool song.
But the major regret in not going with Just Dropped In is that I’m guessing My Friend Wil and I are probably the only two people in the world who know about two particular cover versions of the song: one by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings; and the other by Bettye LaVette. That’s why I should have used Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) for The Day 22 Challenge. #MajorFail
Day 26 – A Song That Helps You Fall Asleep. Truth by London Grammar barely won out on this day over Hana’s Underwater which I noted in the blog. But also up for consideration was Don’t Leave by London singer Tallulah who I’m frustrated about because she should be better known. I also could just have easily added her song I Feel Again because if I listen to Don’t Leave I’ll then have to listen to I Feel Again and vice-versa. Late at night, I LOVE the quietly sexy nature of both of these songs.
So this tidies up what I had left behind. There’s one final encore left – a reprise on My Girl Britney. Stay tuned. 🙂
 For the record, he’s one of my favorite singers. Go into the wayback machine back to 1968 and check out a young Rod on Jeff Beck’s Truth album. Dang.
 I DO NOT own the other two, so there.
 Nominated for three 2000 Grammys but lost to Santana each time.
 Superfly and Freddie’s Dead were the radio hits from Superfly, #8 and #4, respectively on Billboard but Pusherman always struck me as Superfly’s cool cousin.
 Yes, that Kenny Rogers.
 Sadly, Spotify doesn’t have it. 😦