Performer: John Wesley Harding
Songwriter: John Wesley Harding
Original Release: Just Say Da
Definitive Version: John Wesley Harding’s New Deal, 1996
As I mentioned, this isn’t the first time that I’ve done a song list. The first time was in 1998-1999 to commemorate the end of the millennium. It was a top 500 list, and it was difficult to assemble, because it predated iTunes, so I had to get the list down mostly from memory and guesswork. Now, you can A/B two songs and flip the order—even up to the last moment. Consequently, this list is much better.
My motivation for doing the first list was different than this one. I recounted some memories in email to Jin, Scott, Shani and John—none of whom are reading this blog for all I know—but it was more about the songs themselves. Because this also predated Wikipedia, I had to do some serious legwork to assemble the background information, and in a couple of cases, the information remained elusive.
But the best part of doing the first list was that it sparked the various members among the email group to start a conversation about music and assemble tapes of stuff to send around just to give everyone a taste of what folks were listening to at the time.
Naturally, Jin’s tape was the most eclectic and featured more stuff that I didn’t know of anyone’s. The most notable inclusion among her songs was The Mummers’ Dance by Loreena McKennitt. That was my introduction to her ethereal Celtic music, and it was love at first listen.
I would have at least a half-dozen of her songs on this list if I included her among the acts considered, and you could argue that because Mummers’ was played on a rock station in Chicago (and probably elsewhere), it ought to be included. I decided to pass, but if I included it, it would be in the top 300 or 200, I suppose, and three songs—The Highwayman, All Souls Night and Beneath a Phrygian Sky would be above that. (Check her out if you aren’t familiar with her.)
Anyway, on that same tape was this song, and I liked it right away. How can you not, right? It’s a fan’s cynical (and very funny) take at what would happen if his favorite legendary band reunited, and I could relate, except my version would be when The Jimi Hendrix Experience Hit America or Led Zeppelin or Genesis (the 1974 lineup).
Actually, I listened to this song a lot more later on, post-breakup with Debbie, when I was in need of regular cheering up, but I’ll get to all that stuff soon enough.