So May We Start

So May We Start

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Sparks (featuring Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, & Simon Helberg): “So May We Start” Play this track

This is such an unusual song … but not for Sparks. It’s catchy despite itself. Recorded for the soundtrack to the film “Annette,” those are indeed some of the actors singing along with Ron Mael. A great video was made for this song; The YouTube link is on our Web page for this podcast. Check it out. —Rock Stamberg

Unconventional song structure, minimal lyrics on a loop and Broadway vocals on top of pop hooks. What a treat. Reminds me of Todd Rundgren’s fascination with Gilbert and Sullivan. — John Stix

NRBQ: “Boozoo, That’s Who!” Play this track

Ahh, NRBQ. What can I say? Their self-described “Omnipop” is in fine fettle on this bouncy offering. —RS
A cartoon song with lyrics right out of Cat in the Hat and Merrie Melodies like we heard as kids on Saturday morning television, all played with a wink and a smile. — JS

Traveling Wilburys: “Maxine” Play this track

This outtake was included on the two-disc Traveling Wilburys Collection a few years back and I think it’s every bit as great as the songs the released in the albums themselves. This is really good stuff. —RS
A newly discovered George Harrison gem (at least for me). That 6/8 lilt gets me every time. — JS

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band featuring Levon Helm: “The Weight” Play this track

This track comes right out of my “best versions” folder and puts a great coat of fresh paint on a shop-worn classic. — JS

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band featuring Mark Farner: “Some Kind of Wonderful” Play this track

We talk about voice and guitar, and voice and piano being the true test of a great song. How about voice and bass? Now we’re thumpin’. John Entwistle and Mark Farner rock the joint without needing any help. — JS

Here’s what’s funny: Grand Funk’s original studio version featured drummer Don Brewer on lead vocals, not Mark Farner. Shows what a great song and arrangement can do no matter who’s singing it. —RS

The Kinks: “Life on The Road” Play this track

Simply put, this is one of my all-time favorite Kinks songs and it’s absolutely perfect, in my opinion. Perfect. —RS

The Monkees: “Listen to The Band” Play this track

There are several different versions of this song that were released around the same time (1969-1970), but this is the one. Believe it or not, this is what I’d call the stripped-down version of the song. What a beautiful melody. Good on you, Michael Nesmith. —RS
This sounds like it was pulled right from the ‘60s. Love that pop/rock country bounce. — JS

Neil Young: “All Along the Watchtower” Play this track

I was so inspired by this performance that when Neil toured with Booker T. & the MGs soon after the “BobFest” concerts I bought tickets. I also bought the bootleg recording! — JS

The Rolling Stones & Stevie Wonder: “I Don’t Know Why” Play this track

I did not know this Stevie Wonder composition but the juxtaposition of the bands in a call and response as the song goes along makes it NHT material of the first order. Who knew? Now you do. — JS
I’ve always loved the Stones’ version but had never heard Stevie Wonder’s original version. What a great song. —RS

The Doors: “People Are Strange” Play this track

Jim Morrison gets so much attention it’s easy to forget that the music of the Doors was made by the other band members. In this music bed you almost hear all the vocal lines and musical accompaniment because they’re so ingrained in our memories. It’s hard not to sing along. Duh, that’s Karaoke dummy. Sorry, I should have known. — JS

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band featuring Dave Edmunds: “I Hear You Knocking” Play this track

I asked Rock to pass on this version because I felt the recording was ragged, all guitars and voice, and parts of the solos are out of tune. It was not a fun listen for me in the car. I understand Rock’s almost out of control and out of tune take on guitar solos. To me it was just noisy. The song was a hit in England and deserved to be. — JS
Let’s rock! —RS

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band featuring Gary Wright: “Dream Weaver” Play this track

I’ve always had a real soft spot for this tune and the wonderful low, low bass tones Gary Wright achieved with the ARP keyboards he used. Ringo’s human touch makes this classic swing without losing any of its original mojo. —RS

Herbie Hancock, Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks: “Space Captain” Play this track

Killer performance, and it was on TV to boot! Tedeschi/Trucks do versions of Mad Dogs, Delaney and Bonnie and Derek and the Dominoes better than anyone else around. That Herbie Hancock was smart enough to bring them into his orbit with this song, reinforces his genius. — JS

Crosby, Stills & Nash: “Taken at All” Play this track

Thanks for the recommendation, Graham! He said this deserved more attention than it got. This version from the CSN Box Set sounds like it would sit nicely among the tunes on their first album. What do I love about this band? Whatever you’re hearing right here. — JS

Roger McGuinn with Richard Thompson: “Wild Mountain Thyme” Play this track

What a find. I have always enjoyed The Byrds take on this tune. Now, this one goes into that “best versions” folder. For me, it’s the kind of tune that screams NHT. — JS
This is a real surprise for me. Stunning. And I had no idea what a spellbinding supporting musician and singer Richard Thompson could be. —RS

T. Rex: “20th Century Boy” Play this track

Another perfect rock ‘n roll concoction. T. Rex rules. —RS

Bob Dylan & Grateful Dead: “Man of Peace” Play this track

According to the bard his-self, he walked out of rehearsals with the Grateful Dead and wasn’t going to go back because he felt he had lost it and was done. Like, done. It happens he had a change of heart after chancing upon a singer in a bar and the event transformed him, he has said. He went back to the rehearsal space where the members of the Grateful Dead routinely challenged him to play songs of his that were well off the beaten path … like this one, which was originally released in 1983’s Infidels album. —RS

I had heard on good advice that Dylan toured with the Dead because he would get all the money going to his share of the take. Not a great reason to tour with another band. The show I saw didn’t hold my attention, so I was thrilled when I discovered this performance from the rehearsals. This is a real NHT treat. — JS