Living where I do (the San Francisco Bay Area), the Napa Valley is quite close to my abode.Á‚ If youÁ¢€â„¢ve ever been to a winery (or participated in a wine tasting), sometimes they do vertical tastings of wines from various years to highlight how different one vintage is from another.Á‚ Since itÁ¢€â„¢s a new year, and I wanted to stay away from a Á¢€Å“Best of 2008Á¢€ mix, I thought I would do a vertical tasting/listening of songs that were released in years ending in the number nine.
As I surveyed the musical landscape from 1959 to the present, I was struck by the way in which a musical style essentially peaks around this time of a decade and then lingers a bit into the new decade only to be eclipsed by another style.Á‚ And even though the songs in this mix arenÁ¢€â„¢t necessarily the most popular or most representative of what was going on in popular music, they were popular enough that they reflect the zeitgeist of that particular year.
Á¢€Å“I Need Your Love Tonight,Á¢€ Elvis Presley (download)
Before Elvis became a mythological figure (or an object of comedic ridicule), his songs of loving and longing were wonderfully solid and, as they used to say on American Bandstand, Á¢€Å“Had a great beat and you can dance to it.Á¢€Á‚ I have to admit, however, that because IÁ¢€â„¢m not a big fan of The King, I hadnÁ¢€â„¢t heard this tune before.Á‚ But after repeated listens, I do love the lyric: Á¢€Å“I got the Hi-Fi high, and lights down low.Á¢€Á‚ Clearly, Elvis was not shy when it came to Á¢€Å“business time.Á¢€
Á¢€Å“Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,Á¢€ The 5th Dimension (download)
In The 40 Year-Old Virgin, this song was used to end the movie and it was clear that, yes, itÁ¢€â„¢s very easy to make fun of a song like this.Á‚ However, I was reading Born Standing Up by Steve Martin over the holidays, and he wrote that Á¢€Å“The Age of AquariusÁ¢€ was something that he and those around him took very seriously. 1969 was certainly a tumultuous year, with amazing things like the moon landing and the Woodstock music festival.Á‚ But there was also the inauguration of Richard Nixon, large-scale protests against the Vietnam war, horrific murders committed by the Manson family, and, of course, the incorporation of Wal-Mart.Á‚ Martin was living in Laurel Canyon at the time, so maybe, for brief moment, love could steer the stars.
Á¢€Å“Dim All the Lights,Á¢€ Donna Summer (download)
Disco, disco … good, good!Á‚ This was the year when disco music started its downhill slide into a period of large-scale public ridicule and derision.Á‚ But there were a number of disco songs that came out in 1979 that you still hear at parties and wedding receptions to this day.Á‚ Á¢€Å“Dim All the LightsÁ¢€ may not be in high rotation as a disco classic, but thereÁ¢€â„¢s no doubting the long shadow Donna Summer was able to cast from the mid Á¢€Ëœ70s to the decadeÁ¢€â„¢s end.
Á¢€Å“Bust A Move,Á¢€ Young MC (download)
When you consider the street cred of Public Enemy in the history of rap, I donÁ¢€â„¢t blame you for being insulted that Á¢€Å“Bust A MoveÁ¢€ is representative of 1989.Á‚ But hear me out on this one, okay? In 1989, I was doing a lot of mobile DJ work where I played my fair share of middle and high school dances. And I gotta say, even though Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, and Public Enemy were hits with Á¢€Å“the kids,Á¢€ Young MCÁ¢€â„¢s Á¢€Å“Bust A MoveÁ¢€ was the song that really packed the dance floor.
Á¢€Å“Candy,Á¢€ Mandy Moore (download)
While MandyÁ¢€â„¢s career eventually veered into the acting realm, her debut as a singer in 1999 was seen as another entry in the parade of Á¢€Å“Barbie DollÁ¢€ singers of the Britney/Christina/Jessica variety.Á‚ Á¢€Å“CandyÁ¢€ certainly screams late Á¢€Ëœ90s pop, but also demonstrates a certain soulless excess thatÁ¢€â„¢s surprisingly delicious.Á‚ Another reason this song is included is because our editor-in-chief, Jeff Giles, has a total boner for Mandy Moore. (I hardly think I’m alone in this. –Ed.)
Á¢€Å“Heart and Soul,Á¢€ Gary Go (download)
Now that Coldplay is getting ready to call it a career, if Gary Go plays his cards right, he might be able to grab some of their fan base when the curtain comes down on Chris Martin, et al.Á‚ Á¢€Å“Heart and SoulÁ¢€ comes from Gary GoÁ¢€â„¢s forthcoming release (due in February), and itÁ¢€â„¢s tough to say if this tune signals a style thatÁ¢€â„¢s going to be popular for the next few years, or one, like many of the songs featured in this mix, its decline.