Three songs: Numbers

The second installment of my music series. Line two on the original post asked for a song with a number in the title. Sometimes a number is a part of the story (see the first two entries below), sometimes it is just happenstance (the last of the three here), and sometimes it can be a direct reference to a number relevant to the song (an example would be the Nails’ “88 Lines About 44 Women”, which unfortunately did not make the final cut for this post). So, without further ado, three about numbers (see what I did there?)

Queen: “’39” – There have not been a lot of bands out there over the years, and certainly not within the mainstream, that have shown as many different facets to their music as Queen. Obviously, they had pompous bombast down pat (“Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Are The Champions”, “Somebody To Love”), but there was also the pop-oriented “Fat Bottomed Girls” (would a song with that title even make it to the radio today?), the sophisticated “Killer Queen”, the gym-stomper “We Will Rock You”, and the flat-out rocking “Keep Yourself Alive”. And through it all, Freddie Mercury was front and center – the focus of the band, regardless of who may have written the material. But one day, I chanced to flip my copy of the single “You’re My Best Friend” over to check the B side. And when it had finished playing, I had to check the label. Because this was *not* Queen. No way, nohow. Except that it was. Here, Brian May took over with his acoustic guitar-driven ballad about a group of time travelers. (Incidentally, if anybody was meant to write such a song, it would be May, who holds a PhD in astrophysics.) And to this day, when I play the song for the uninitiated, I usually get a “wow” reaction twice – once for the song, and once when I tell them who the band is:


Steve Young: “Seven Bridges Road” – Like pretty much everybody else out there, I first heard this song as performed by the Eagles on their live album. And it is still a favorite of mine, to be sure; the harmonies and that uptempo guitar line will never grow old for me. But it was – as acknowledged at the beginning of the track – a cover of a song by California songwriter Steve Young. Unfortunately, it took an online post from a friend following Young’s death a year ago to turn me on to his version…which was most certainly worth the wait. The feel is definitely different from the Eagles’ version – slower and darker, which very much meshes with especially the opening lines of the song. Which version is the keeper? Both of them, to be honest, each in their own way. You have heard the Eagles’ version, I am sure. Here, then, is Young’s version, from 1972:


Alison Krauss and Union Station: “The Lucky One” – My son Dan first turned me on to this one, probably when he was about fifteen years old. And I was quite impressed with his find here; this was one of many that he has passed along to me over the years that seem to cement the fact that, in terms of musical tastes, this particular apple did not fall far from the tree. On the first pass, my reaction was that this was a very pretty song, and definitely a keeper…and it remains so over a decade later. It took all of a second play, though, for me to conclude that behind the beauty of Krauss’ vocals lay some very bitter lyrics of a woman left behind. With that said, I have also seen comments implying that the singer is actually admiring the good fortune of the subject.  But, then again, a look at the video tells a different story…of a woman who knows exactly what she is looking at beforehand, and ultimately decides that she wants no part of it. As always, you be the judge:


(Postscript: I found another link to this song on YouTube with an intro ad.  Now, I fully understand and appreciate the need for brief ads to help keep YouTube viable.  In this case, though, the ad in question was of the political slander variety…a year and a half before the election.  Once again, democracy on sale…)


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