I’ve been a huge music fan all my life. As the youngest of seven children, born in 1961, I grew up with an amazing record collection right in my living room, combining the tastes of four older brothers and two older sisters. I still listen to music all the time. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been obsessed with Bob Dylan over the past couple of years. My oldest brother, Neal, was a big fan; I always liked and respected Dylan; but now I am fascinated, reading book after book, listening to the songs over and over again.
In April of 2007, I finally went fully digital with my work computer/iPod setup. The weird thing about an iPod is it keeps track of your listening history. I have precisely 26,198 songs on my iTunes library and I know for a fact that I listened to “Tell Me Why” by Neil Young exactly ten times over the past year, but somehow I’ve heard “Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones only once.
Here’s a list of the Top 20 Most Played Songs on the iPod. Not my favorites, not the coolest list I could ever come up with, just what I listened to the most these past fourteen months:
1. Positively 4th Street/Bob Dyan. The greatest kiss-off song ever written, supposedly in response to being jeered at Newport after he went electric. His goodbye to the folk community. “You got a lotta nerve/To say you are my friend . . .”
2. Romulus/Sufjan Stevens.
3. Little Martha/The Allman Brothers Band
4. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues/Bob Dylan. If you haven’t heard Nina Simone’s version of this, well, what have you been doing?
5. Lion’s Mane/Iron & Wine. Love this guy, very quiet, almost gothic singer/songwriter.
6. You Still Believe in Me/M. Ward. A pretty, quiet guitar song.
7. For No One/Rickie Lee Jones. Great Beatles cover.
8. Subterranean Homesick Blues/Bob Dylan. I shared a bedroom wall with my oldest brother, Neal, each on opposite sides. This song bled through that wall, night after night, when I was what? five, six, seven years old? I guess it made an impression. Neal passed away in 1993 and my family has felt off-balance ever since, a ship listing to one side. I still can’t listen to Dylan or the Stones or the Talking Heads without thinking of Neal — and that’s a good thing.
9. She Belongs to Me/Bob Dylan
10. Workingman’s Blues/Bob Dylan
11. Tell Me That It Isn’t True/Bob Dylan. His voice kills me on this track, off the “Nashville Skyline” disc.
12. Well-Tempered Clavier/M. Ward
13. King of Carrot Flowers Part 1/Neutral Milk Hotel
14. Changing of the Guards/Patti Smith. A cool cover of a Dylan tune; she nails it.
15. Film/The Bad Plus. A hipster jazz trio covers an electronica song by the Aphex Twin — and it is sublime.
16. To Be Alone with You/Bob Dylan
17. Girls in Their Summer Clothes/Bruce Springsteen. I love that this track doesn’t sound like standard Bruce; I like to see him stretch to learn new tricks.
18. I Lost the Tooth I Lost/Justin Roberts. Along with Ralph’s World and Dan Zanes, Justin Roberts is among my favorite children’s musicians. My Maggie loves this song.
19. Jackson Square/Mason Jennings
20. True Love Travels on a Gravel Road/Nick Lowe