Folks, I don't want to impose a Sharia Law of pop music on you, but I can't help it! Because I dream of a world in which a few objective pop truths bind us all in a conscription service of love, just like those eyeliner-wearing Taliban mullahs in Afghanistan do, only with better drum beats and less clothes. Perhaps, maybe, someday, we'll all travel the spaceways together aboard this proposed SS Brotherhood, a futuristic spacecraft that pipes only the most objectively and provably beautiful music through its sound system of pure joy. What will we hear there? Hard to say. But let me make some reasonable suggestions.
1. Percy Sledge! The name alone evokes something right. I got this record out of my dad's basement last week. I direct your attention to the fabulous guitar work, which is straight outa Muscle Shoals. Can anyone identify who played on these? Whoever it is, he (she?) gets an extra gold bar on his SS Brotherhood space uniform.
Out of Left Field - Percy Sledge ("She was a lover and a free-end")
Cover Me - Percy Sledge
Dark End of the Street - Percy Sledge
2. I'm being coy by putting the most beautiful thing I've ever seen ever SECOND in my list of beautiful things you're likely hear on a spacecraft headed for cosmic bliss. Later you're going to write me an email and thank me profusely for showing you this. It's what's on public access TV in heaven. (Hat tip to Tim in Cleveland, O.)
Joni Mitchell - California (live, Quicktime Movie)
3. They say that "Please Let Me Wonder" is the first song Brian Wilson ever wrote under the influence of reefer. I say it's one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded. If that's the reefer talkin', then, Yay, reefer! From 1965's Today!, which I also yanked from dad's LP collection. He loved it so much he bothered to stick his name on it using one of those old-fashioned label makers.
Please Let Me Wonder - The Beach Boys
This is also beautiful, a clear precursor to "Wouldn't It Be Nice," with falsetto-minded young people wishing they could screw but being denied by state law.
I'm So Young - The Beach Boys
4. We love us some Eddie Holman here at The Driftwood Singers. That's because we wholeheartedly approve of male falsetto in all its forms. Feelings! Most of the time you want to keep them way down deep inside. And that's probably a good idea. But sometimes you let'em rip and the result works for everyone. Especially if you're Eddie Holman or The Delfonics. There's a very special "Cry of the Valkyries" flugel horn in this tune that will become much more common in the year 2525 when we're cruising the spaceways looking for the best place to park in the unified field.
I Love You - Eddie Holman
5. In all of this love talk, let's not forget the joys of painting it black and saying fuck you to some asshole who wants you to work for a living. When I was a teenager, my first punk LP was Who's Got the 10 1/2? by Black Flag from 1986. I was 15 years old when I was flipping through the vinyl stacks next to the scariest punk rock ne'er-do-well at my school, who told me to buy this. Trust me, I did it more out of fear than desire. When I got home, I was genuinely frightened by what I heard. Terrified! This was bad music for bad people. They were ecnouraging me -- a B+ student with a future! -- to kill and screw. Now THIS was rock and roll. Thus began a love affair.
My War - Black Flag
6. Okay, back to love. Got to be there. Gotta! If for no other reason than some arsehole on eBay bid me up BIG TIME on this album and I need you to download it and make me feel like it was worth it. From 1976's In the Dark.
Got to Be There - Toots & The Maytals
(Editor's Note: The author was drunk when he wrote this, but after seeing it in the cold light of day he's decided he can live with it, mostly. Some minor editing has been performed.)