Sometimes I miss the old days of cruising around in my parent’s car, listening to golden oldies. Oldies stations are disappearing — late ‘70s and early ‘80s are the new oldies, but they are imposters. Every once in a while, I discover a true oldies station I can cruise to. Here are some songs I look for in a “good times and great oldies” station.
I Only Want to Be with You – Dusty Springfield
An old-timey voice with clear, rock hard annunciation across the backdrop of an orchestra make this song impossible to keep turned down. You’ve started something, Dusty, and I can’t get enough. This song is one of the greatest ways to brighten up a cloudy day.
This Magic Moment – The Drifters
On a whim, I bought a Drifters Greatest Hits CD in high school, and I discovered a treasure trove of favorite songs — none more so than “This Magic Moment”. The song combines all of the emotion and magic of that first kiss.
The Joker – The Steve Miller Band
Crisp, clean rock ‘n’ roll — not too hard, not too soft — and Steve Miller has a masterpiece. My blood just quickens every time I hear the entry bass line. Aside from this song, the whole Greatest Hits album is just fantastic.
Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner – Warren Zevon
Steeped in fake folk lore, this song electrifies listeners with its deep opening chords —“The deal was made in Denmark/On a dark and stormy day” — and enthralls them with the story of Roland, the Norwegian mercenary who keeps fighting after his death.
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan
Come gather ‘round people, wherever you roam. Dylan is at the peak of his young, prophetic anti-war soap box. A hard rain’s a-gonna fall means times are going to get harder. It was true when he recorded the song in 1962, and it’s true today.
I’ll Get You – The Beatles
Not where you thought I’d go with the Beatles, is it? This little-known gem was the b-side of the single “She Loves You”. I discovered it in my parent’s record bin. It’s a sweet song—an innocent, crooning rocker from the early sixties, declaring to some lost lover, “I’ll get you, I’ll get you in the end/ Yes I will, I’ll get you in the end/ Oh yeah.”
Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter – Herman’s Hermits
Herman’s Hermits should be near the top of the list of greatest imports from the British Invasion. Mrs. Brown has a wonderful little rhythm. It’s bright and upbeat, even if it’s a terribly sad song.
Everyday – Buddy Holly
I love this song. From the trilling little xylophone to the rolling lyrics and beyond. Holly’s voice is just so smooth, while still maintaining its honesty.
The Comedians – Roy Orbison
I’ve heard it said that, when listening to Roy Orbison, you can’t tell if it’s rock ‘n’ roll or opera. This song is perhaps the greatest example.
Cripple Creek – The Band
This song is just a good time. It’s fairly silly, and the lyrics don’t make a whole lot of sense, but the meaning is there. “Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me/ If I spring a leak, she mends me/ I don’t have to speak, she defends me/ A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one”. It has a pleasant country feel while maintaining southern-rock integrity.
Kasen Christensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org