- Top 5 Songs of 2008
- Killing the Blues by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: “Leaves are falling, just like embers, in colors red and gold they set us on fire.” The opening lines to this song touch my soul but I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because of the beautiful imagery or maybe it’s a reminder of the even finer chorus to come. More likely it’s the wondrous way that Robert Plant and Alison Krauss blend their voices. Of course, it’s all of those and more. Accompanied by a sublime slide guitar and a restrained rhythm section, Plant and Krauss turn this John Prine song into their very own.
- Last Month of the Year by the Blind Boys of Alabama: This song epitomizes everything I love about the Blind Boys: a jumping rhythm section, call & response vocals, great singing and the unique sound that only the Blind Boys can deliver. If you’ve never heard them, check out their appearance on Austin City Limits if you get a chance. There is nobody like the Blind Boys of Alabama.
- Little Wing by The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Although I’d heard Jimi’s original version of this song (from Axis: Bold As Love), I never grew to love it until I heard Stevie Ray Vaughn‘s instrumental cover a few years ago. Last year I discovered that the Jimi Hendrix Experience Box Set has two different versions of “Little Wing.” My favorite has to be the sublime live version which reminds me greatly of the SRV cover.
- Stewball by Peter, Paul and Mary: I first heard this song when I was a teenager in the 80’s. It appeared on the legendary “Hangman Album” by Mason Proffit. While that version is good, it only begins to hint at the beauty of this version by Peter, Paul and Mary. In the PP&M canon, this song is right up there with “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “500 Miles”. You can find it on their third album, In The Wind, or on one of several greatest hits compilations.
- Da Da Da by Trio: Fifteen years before Volkswagen used it in their 1997 ad campaign, my old friend Arnie Walthoff introduced me to this strange song. In a music landscape dominated by MTV, Prince, Michael Jackson and Huey Lewis, it was a revelation to my teenage ears. Shortly after I arrived at Wartburg College a few years later, I stumbled upon a reel of tape at our college radio station with this song and other German pop songs. I played it on my radio show announcing it only as a cool song for which I did not know the artist. Within minutes several people called in to tell me that the artist in question was German band, Trio. It took until this year before I was finally able to lay my hands on the CD but it was well worth the wait.
Click the song titles to hear a sample of the song in the iTunes Music Store. You can get iTunes here.