Second Hand News

Since 2006, I’ve been using LastFM to keep track of the music I listen to on the laptop, and it’s catalogued nearly 112,000 songs in that time. It provides a variety of analytics that permit a listener to probe beneath the surface of his general taste, and to narcissistically inflict his taste on others.

No, wait, that’s music blogging.

Of my ten most-listened-to artists, six are rock acts and four are jazz players. Here are the five songs I hear the most by those six rockers. These statistics will be skewed by the number of times a song appears in the library, and my library doesn’t always differentiate between live and studio versions of the same song. But it’s close enough. (We’ll omit the jazz players: Jimmy Smith, Grant Green, Jimmy McGriff, and Kenny Burrell.)

Van Morrison:
1. “Into the Mystic”
2. (tie) “Madame George” and “When the Leaves Come Falling Down”
4. “The Way Young Lovers Do”
5. “Wild Night”

Comment: Some albums you can’t fully appreciate until you’ve learned a few things about life, and so I have reached the age where I am now capable of having my mind blown by Astral Weeks. That said, “When the Leaves Come Falling Down,” from Back on Top, remains my favorite Morrison song by a nose over “Into the Mystic.”

Elton John:
1. “Your Song”
2. “Skyline Pigeon”
3. (tie) “Tell Me When the Whistle Blows” and “Curtains”
5. “Take Me to the Pilot”

Comment: This list is weird, and definitely a function of the number of versions available in the library. But two cuts from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy is not weird at all.

Fleetwood Mac:
1. “Say You Love Me”
2. “Monday Morning”
3. (tie) “Silver Springs” and “Sentimental Lady”
5. (tie) “Second Hand News” and “Over My Head”

Comment: Playin’ the hits. You got a problem with that?

Rolling Stones:
1. “Tumbling Dice”
2. (tie) “Memory Motel” and “Brown Sugar”
4. (tie) “Happy,” “Fool to Cry,” “Angie,” “Street Fighting Man,” and “Gimme Shelter”

Comment: While I bought “Brown Sugar” on a 45 back in the day and have loved it since, it wasn’t until relatively recent years that I fully grasped the greatness of “Tumbling Dice.” It’s what every adult who worried about the corrupting influence of rock ‘n’ roll was concerned about: the Stones pack every attractive vice you can imagine into three-and-a-half minutes. Sin never sounded like so much fun.

Steely Dan:
1. “Deacon Blues”
2. “Do It Again”
3. “Bodhissatva”
4. “Dirty Work”
5. “Josie”

Comment: Steely Dan is the only band on this list for which I own every recorded note, plus a ton of bootlegs and live shows. The latter are tagged so haphazardly that this list is an estimate at best, and it strikes me weird besides. “Bodhissatva” is a song I liked more when I was younger, and “Josie” has always been the track on Aja I like the least. Songs I like better than my shuffle function does include “Black Cow,” “My Old School,” and “Black Friday,” all farther down the list.

Beatles:
1. “Across the Universe”
2. “Get Back”
3. (tie) “Dig a Pony” and “Two of Us”
5. (tie) “Got to Get You Into My Life,” “The Long and Winding Road,” and “If I Fell”

Comment: With both Let It Be and Let It Be Naked in the library (and three different versions of “Across the Universe”), there’s lots of duplication, although if this were a list of favorites instead of a list of shuffle’s favorites, “Two of Us” would make the list anyhow. If forced to pick a favorite Beatles song, “If I Fell” would be in the semifinals, although I’m afraid “Got to Get You Into My Life” would probably win strictly because it was such a big part of my favorite summer.

We now return you to whatever you like to listen to, already in progress.

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