It was the last day of high school exams and I was in charge of the playlist. My class ran the morning announcements and also was given permission to play music on the PA during the passing-time between the first two classes and right after school.
The daily one-song DJ for 2,000 students became a popular job and students would often sign-up days in advance. The songs needed to be G-rated, and most of the times they were. Once a wrong lyric slipped through my radar and the phone rang within 5 seconds of the violation and I needed to issue a general e-mail apology to the building.
Successful songs included the occasional Disney hit (Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You). It was fun to stand in the halls and see the students mouthing their childhood memories. We even had our own student bands premiere their songs and get instant feedback from 30 brutal music critics in their next class.
But it was the last day and nobody had a song to play. My wife and I had been to hear a great local band (and Hazel Park ’83 alumni of my wife’s alma mater) Dr. Smith. They played a song I hadn’t heard in a long, long time–Redbone’s “Come and Get Your love.” The next day, I’d been humming it all day until I finall purchased it on my phone.
Its opening has an automatic sing-along factor that engages the audience immediately and I’m always fascinated by that. What is it that makes certain songs’ beats and lyrics live on? What song puts you in a great mood immediately? Is there a formula. Other songs for me include:
- Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September”
- Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”
- The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside”
Similar to the crowd going into Disney World at 9 a.m. is the crowd leaving a high school on the last day of the year. It was enjoyable to see their usual smiles but also see some heads bobbing to Redbone’s beat and even a few singing along–even if they’d never heard it before. When I returned to my computer, I’d already received three emails from faculty who complimented me on that day’s choice–telling me that they were instantly grinning, remembering the 70’s and tapping their feet.
What other songs would you nominate for this list?