Eastword column: Jim Jones asks what's on the soundtrack of your life?

October 7, 2012 

It was way back in1977 that I wrote my first column, and it was on the smoking, chewing and dipping habits of the colorful cast of characters who served on the county commission in Glades County.

It was probably that same year, among other columns and editorials that had to do with everything imaginable in the Clewiston-Moore Haven-LaBelle area, that I threw in a ringer: a column on my favorite rock 'n' roll songs.

Why? I think it was a protest against a plague that had descended upon the land. It was called disco music.

Don't tell me to "Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake your booty."

I missed the rock music of the '60s. I prayed for the Beatles to reunite. I yearned for my generation to make it a better world.

Whatever happened to all you need is love, peace and understanding? Obviously, there were lots of disappointments ahead.

On a near annual basis after John Lennon was killed in 1980, I wrote a column on my Top 10 list of rock songs. Not an easy thing to do. My Top 10 changes minute to minute. It would be easier to write a Top 10 on the songs I detest. On the top of that list, I would place the abominable "Fixing to Die Rag" by Country Joe and the Fish.

Because Lennon's birthday is Oct. 9 -- he would have been 72 -- here are my Top 10 favorites list for 2012:

1. "Imagine," by John Lennon, 1971. I remember hearing Imagine for the first time on my car radio after returning to Fort Gordon, Ga., from the Vietnam War. The beauty of the song and the lyrics that gently preached peace and coexistence grabbed me immediately, like the best of the Beatles.

The lyrics are as profound today as ever. The video played movingly during the closing ceremony for the London Olympics.

2. "Jumping Jack Flash," by the Rolling Stones, 1968. Heard this on the car radio for the first time in Jacksonville, Fla. I was home on leave after leaving from Germany en route to Vietnam. It seems like "Reach Out of the Darkness" by Friend and Lover was on, too.

Jumping Jack Flash hits you with Keith Richards' greatest power chords ever, and then Mick Jagger frantically shouts "What's Cha," or is it "Watch It"? Gets the adrenalin pumping every time.

3. "She Loves You," by the Beatles, 1964. This is one of the songs that made me a lifelong Beatles fan back in high school. It's got a tasteful bit of snarling guitar by George Harrison and those gorgeous close harmonies and yeah, yeah, yeahs by the boys. Before the Beatles, popular music to me was "How Much is that Doggie in the Window?"

4. "Be My Baby," by the Ronettes, 1963. Perfectly reflects young love, leaving the question, why can't love burn this intensely for a lifetime? Sometimes it does.

5. "Unchained Melody," by the Righteous Brothers, 1965. Incredible, emotive singing that hit vinyl the year I graduated from high school. Not the first or the last version of this song, but the best.

6. "Manic Depression," Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1967, hard-rocking song that to me almost seems in waltz time. Can't resist getting into my air guitar mode. Sadly, you can download as a ring tone for your cell phone. I would never do that with any music I care about for fear of ruining the experience.

7. "Da Doo Ron Ron"by the Crystals, 1963. Incredibly revving song,like a red-lining 500 hp engine. Heard LaLa Brooks recently sing this song on PBS as a grown-up. One of Phil Spector's best.

8. "Good Vibrations,"by the Beach Boys, 1966. Brian Wilson's greatmini-opera. Some hoped that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young would become America's version ofThe Beatles. I think that honor belongs to the Beach Boys.

9. "The Last Carnival," by Bruce Springsteen, 2009. OK, maybe this isn't the Boss' best song, or even typical of what he's known for, but it's my favorite today. He's a great artist from my generation whose genius and creativity remain fully intact.

10. "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," by Melanie, 1970. Rock song with a passionate, fervent gospel feel. A reflection on Woodstock and the Vietnam War.

So, that's my Top 10. What's on your iPod? Tweet to @jajones1

James A. Jones Jr, East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.

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