The iPod doesn't lie

Thanks to my webmaster Anne for figuring out the problem with the links. They should work now.

There’s no denying what the iPod says about my musical tastes. For the past year, I have been getting all of my music off the iPod. Now it tells me, in order, the top twenty-five selections I have played. The list below is nowhere near what I would have guessed. There is no Willie Nelson, and he is supposedly my favorite. There are no Rachmaninoff pieces, and he is supposed to be my favorite. And there are no pieces played by Vladamir Horowitz, and he is supposed to be my favorite.

The links to the top twenty-five are not necessarily the same recordings I listened to. Not everything is on Youtube. But the clips contain enough to give you an idea.

1. About one year ago, I discovered Alexander Scriabin’s Piano Concerto in F# minor. Since then, I have listened to it regularly. The first movement has been my favorite, according to the iPod.

2. And, the Scriabin Piano Concerto’s third movement is a close second. Scriabin was absolutely crazy. This piece was written early in his twenties, before he fell apart and started writing music which some people find psychotic. I find some of the early psychotic stuff amazing, but later when he was coordinating colors with specific notes and then prescribing particular kinds of incense for different parts of the piece--that's when Scriabin lost me.

3. No surprise to me that the Prelude and Fugue in E minor by Bach is on this list. It is a monumental work of art. I have posted recordings here before, first of the Prelude and then of the Fugue played by a very formal German player. The recording I listened to dozens of times in the past year, according to my iPod, is an audio-only version of what you see at the beginning of this clip by the great Virgil Fox. Watch the entire clip to find out why I am a fan of this somewhat wacky but wonderful musician.

4. This really is an entertaining Prelude and Fugue which should be played more often. Here is Virgil playing the Prelude and Fugue in A minor by J. S. Bach.

5. After years of listening to Bach, I came across this piece for the first time last February. The Prelude and Fugue in B minor by Bach isn’t played that often, but I found it entrancing. Fox recorded it only once, and that is what I listened to on my iPod dozens of times. However, that recording is not on Youtube, so here is some German dude playing the Prelude and the legendary Marie Claude Alain playing the Fugue.

6. If there was one rock and roll voice I would have if I could, it would be Nazareth’s lead singer in this classic from the 1970s, Love Hurts. Haunting.

7. As a third grader, I discovered rock music. It was all down hill from there. One of my first favorite songs was David Essex’s one hit wonder Rock On.

8. This Prelude and Fugue by Bach wouldn’t be one of my favorites if you asked me on the street, but the iPod doesn’t lie. I listened to the Prelude and Fugue in D major played by Virgil Fox dozens of times in the past year.

9. When I heard the George Jones version of Hello Darlin, I forgot all about Conway Twitty. The version on George's album is more solid than this performance on television. Seems George must have tied one the night before he went on this show.

10. The second movement of Scriabin’s piano concerto isn’t as fiery as the two which surround it, so that is why it fell to tenth place while the other two came in first and second. Taken together, the three movements form one of the greatest piano concertos ever written.

11. Now here is some good rock harmony. A superb high tenor voice leads the group The Outfield in their big hit Say It Isn’t So. The tone of the guitars reminds me of the group Boston, another favorite which I didn't listen to even once this past year. Maybe next year.

12. This is a repeat. Prelude and Fugue in A minor is on the list twice. Not sure whether it was the Prelude or the Fugue which was higher on the list.

13. We all have our guilty pleasures. Frankie Goes to Hollywood is a forgotten group, but their hit from the 1980s Relax has always been a favorite of mine.

14. Marie Claude Alain subs for Virgil Fox on the Fantasy and Fugue in G minor by Bach. Fox really makes it bounce, so I am sorry that you have to make do with Alain.

15. Last fall, I linked to the piece Dieu Parme Nous by Olivier Messaien. It is a barn-burner, but as I said then, I can’t expect many of you to enjoy it, much less make it past the first minute. Messaien is an acquired taste. Buy a decent recording and listen many times. Once you catch on to Messaien, you will be hooked.

16. Kitty Wells recorded the classic It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels in response to a song by Hank Thompson which talked up the sort of women who hang out in bars. Kitty Wells said, hey, those women aren’t that nice and furthermore, the men are just as at fault for divorces and affairs as the women. For those sentiments, this song, which seems harmless enough today, was banned by two networks. You don’t want to mess with male prerogatives.

17. Just discovered Ernest Tubb’s Waltz Across Texas last winter, and I must have gotten hooked.

18. This is on here twice. The Fantasy and Fugue G minor is split in two, so this is a repeat of #14.

19. I couldn’t find the final chorus of the St. Matthew’s Passion by Bach on Youtube. The recording I listened to so many times this year was the organ version arranged and performed by Virgil Fox, surprise surprise. The piece includes one of the strangest notes in Bach, a note so out of place that it sounds almost like Messaien.

20. America’s Lonely People is another haunting classic from the 1970s. This one surprises me as I don’t remember listening to it at all. Could the iPod be wrong? No way. Technology is always right.

21. A real favorite. Jackie Blue by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils is a one-of-a-kind classic. It brings back memories of fifth grade. In fact, it brings back a very specific memory of sitting in the car with the radio on outside of Calvary Baptist Church in Fargo, ND when my father used to fill in as their preacher. After services let out, I went to the car and listened to Q-98 while Dad and Mom fellowshipped away in the narthex.

22. I am a Willie Nelson fan, and he wrote this song, but for some reason, the version of Funny How Time Slips Away done by George Jones really was fun. I feel guilty that Willie didn't make this list. Willie, I will change my ways in the new year.

23. Round and Round by 1980s hair band Ratt reminds me of the south end of the fairgrounds where the loud music played on the real tough carnival rides. Oh, this music was evil.

24. Joe Walsh, eventually of the Eagles, recorded Rocky Mountain Way solo. “We don’t want the ladies cryin cause the song is sad,” is a classic line.

25. I do like Dixieland, so I guess it is no surprise that Up a Lazy River done by a Dixieland combo would make it onto my top twenty-five.