Last year, I posted a list of the songs that were played at my daughter’s baby shower (you can click here to see it). An average of about 20 people per day have visited that page since then. Apparently there is a need to remind folks of some of the good songs you or I may have heard over the years.
There are some songs get stuck in my head so that I think about them over and over for several days, so I thought it appropriate that I should start posting a song of the week to try to pass what is going through my mind on to someone who is trying to find a song. This is my first try at doing that.
Since today is Halloween, it would make sense to choose “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett as the song of the week – especially since that was the first record I ever purchased. Or, since next week is national election day, I could choose the Byrds’ “I Wanna Grow Up To Be a Politician.” However, neither of those songs have been stuck in my head (until now, anyway).
Rather, last weekend, my wife, Cathy, and I were hiking with our dog, Darcy, at Staunton State Park, which is near Conifer, Colorado. As we were walking along, just looking at the scenery and listening to our footsteps, I started thinking about Jackson Browne’s old song, “These Days” – “I’ve been out walking/I don’t do that much talking/These days.”
“These Days” is a piece that I have long considered to be an “accidentally” good song. If you are familiar with it, you know that it gives a sense that the singer is world-weary and world-wisened. However, Jackson Browne wrote it when he was only 16 years old. If you listen to the words, or look at the lyrics (printed below) , you will find examples of his youthfulness showing through his words. For example, when he says that he thinks about the things that he forgot to do, he adds “for you”; and I always found that distracting. Similarly, when he says he will keep on moving because things are bound to be improving, it seems a good thought, but somehow out of place.
The song was first recorded by Nico in 1967. Jackson Browne was only 19 then, but Nico was an older woman. She was in her late 20s. Besides that, she had a foreign accent that gave the song a sense of gravitas. It introduced a segment of the public to Browne’s songwriting, but I never particularly liked her version.
A much better rendition was recorded in 1970 by Tom Rush. Though he was also in his late 20s, Rush has always had a voice and delivery that made him seem older and wiser than the listener. His version suffered a little from being over-produced, but I have always liked it.
Jackson Browne released his own version in 1973 on the album, For Everyman. He was 25 years old. I thought his arrangement also suffered from over-production, but it was done well (for one of his advanced age).
Recently, I came across the following “live” recording of Tom Rush singing “These Days,” with just a guitar accompaniment, when he was about 70 years old. I like it – and he does not say “for you” at the end of the fifth line. I like that, too.
“Well I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do for you
And all the times I had the chance to
“And I had a lover
It’s so hard to risk another these days
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life I have made in song
Well it’s just that I’ve been losing so long
“I’ll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
One of these days
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them.”
Words and Music by Jackson Browne
© 1973 Open Window Music ASCAP, Companion Music ASCAP
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