Saturday Singles Nos. 54 & 55

Originally posted February 2, 2008

Well, having no other ideas this morning as I sat down to find a single, I decided I would let the RealPlayer run randomly until it did one of two things: Find me a song from the years 1950-2000 with the word “shadow” in its title – a measure of respect to the legendary groundhog who will come out of his burrow today and scoot back in for another six weeks should his shadow startle him – or else find me a song by playing a second track (from that same stretch of years) from any one artist, in tribute to the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, in which Murray lives the same day over and over.

So, we’ll see how long it takes. I prime the RealPlayer by sorting the 22,988 files by length. Then I play the shortest clip – a recording of Al Shaver, the play-by-play announcer for the Minnesota North Stars for the entire time the team existed. From sometime between 1967 and 1993, Shaver exults, “He shoots, he scores!”

And the player moves on to the Grateful Dead, singing “Brokedown Palace” from American Beauty (1970). A mellow start to the day. We get a 1969 track from Pearls Before Swine, an interesting group, and then “Hard Times” from Eric Clapton’s 1991 live bonanza, 24 Nights. “Fannin Street” is a nice bit of 1964 folk blues from Koerner, Ray & Glover. And then an obscure 1967 track from Del Shannon: “New Orleans (Mardi Gras)”

Some Aretha, followed by Little Feat, John Hammond, Steely Dan, some unreleased Derek & the Dominos, then some Howlin’ Wolf. Fred Neil sings “It Looks Like Rain” from 1967, which is at least about the weather. And repetition of a sort comes along with Nancy Sinatra’s “You Only Live Twice,” also from 1967. But no prize, so on to the next tune, which turns out to be Dan Fogelberg’s 1982 track, “Empty Cages.” Followed by songs from Marvin Gaye, Three Dog Night, the Bee Gees, Boz Scaggs, Duncan Browne and the Ray Conniff Singers (“Somewhere, My Love” from 1966).

Led Zeppelin comes up next, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition. Then the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama, followed by Tim Hardin, Wishbone Ash and a current day blues performer called Molten Mike. Sixties R&B legend Baby Huey wanders past, as do Crabby Appleton, Moby Grape and an obscure Sixties group called the Fabulous Bachelors (“Not Like She” from 1966). Ellen McIlwaine from 1973, Supertramp’s “Logical Song” from 1979. Candi Staton from 1970. This might not have been a good idea.

We get Bob Dylan live. Well, that’s hopeful, as I have more tracks by Dylan – 465 – than by any other artist. Then we get some Swedish pop from 1989, Buddy Miles from 1970, Mother Earth from 1969, some Dusty Springfield, Bonnie Koloc, Jefferson Airplane, Robert Cray and then Bobby “Blue” Bland with “Stormy Monday” from 1961. Nice listening, especially that last, but we click on.

And then, here comes Bob Dylan with “A Simple Twist of Fate” from 1975’s Blood on the Tracks. One of the points of Groundhog Day (if not the main point) was that living the same day over and over would quickly turn life to boredom and – in my opinion – eventually to horror. I know people who feel that way about listening to Bob Dylan.

I don’t, of course. The raw number of mp3s says that Dylan is my favorite performer, and that’s likely true. Others frequently say they like Dylan’s songs but prefer to hear others perform them; the Texas Gal is in that camp. So, for those folks – and in the repetitive spirit of Groundhog Day – I’ll post a second version of the song, a sprightly take by Joan Baez from her 1975 album, Diamonds & Rust.

Here, then, are your Saturday Singles:

Bob Dylan – “Simple Twist of Fate” [1975]

Joan Baez – “Simple Twist of Fate” [1975]


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