I mentioned last week that I intended to revisit the theme of down, and as nothing new has taken my fancy in the news this week it seemed a good chance to give you another selection of songs with down in their title. So here we go.
First one this week gets us off to the usual rousing start I like to make:
That is a superb live performance, but as it dates from 2019 and the record was released forty years previously I guess they’d had time to practise it. The song was on the ELO’s eighth album, Discovery, released in May 1979, which reached top tens around the world, including #1 in the UK, Australia and Norway, and #5 in the US. This was the third (of five) singles released from the album, and also made top tens in many countries, including #3 in the UK, #4 in the US and #1 in Canada. It is their highest singles chart placing in the US, and second highest in the UK.
Today’s next tune takes us all the way back to 1966, the year that England won the World Cup. I’m hoping that is an omen for the current Euro championships:
This was released in May of that year, reaching #10 in the UK and #13 in the US. The Yardbirds had a string of hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic through the mid Sixties, though they are probably most remembered now for being the launchpad of the careers of three great guitarists: Eric Clapton, who had left before this song, Jeff Beck, who played lead guitar on it, and Jimmy Page, who joined shortly afterwards. It would have been something special if they had all played in the band together, egos permitting!
I’ve shared a couple of songs by Oysterband before, and they were well received, so it seemed a good idea to include them in this set too:
The band has recorded two versions of this song. It originally appeared on their 1993 album Holy Bandits, and was then one of the songs they re-recorded in acoustic versions on The Oxford Girl And Other Stories, which was released in 2008. This is the promotional video they made for the second version, and I think it is superb. I just love it when the pub landlady is singing along, too! I’ve often said that one of the things I believe makes music special is its ability to bring us joy: this video proves my case, I think. This song was covered by the Newfoundland folk-rock band Great Big Sea, who had a #6 hit with it in Canada in 1997. It’s not bad – it is a great song, after all – but I prefer the Oysters: both versions.
That last one was probably new to you, but you may well know this one:
This was originally released as a track on the 1969 album, simply titled The Band. It became a concert favourite, though they only released it as a B-side single to Up On Cripple Creek, a US #25 and Canadian #10. Joan Baez covered it, and took it to #6 in the UK in 1971, and to #3 in both the US and Canada. Much though I respect Joan, I don’t think her version is a patch on the original. The lead vocals on The Band’s version are by drummer Levon Helm, with that distinctive voice of his. The last time the song was performed by him was on this occasion, which is from The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s documentary of the band. Helm refused to play the song afterwards. Although it has long been believed that the reason for that refusal was a dispute with Robbie Robertson over songwriting credits (Helm isn’t credited as a co-writer), according to their keyboard player, Garth Hudson, the refusal was due to Helm’s dislike for Joan Baez’s version. I get his point!
That one marked the halfway point for this week, as I’m giving you eight tunes again this time: there are just so many down songs I could include. I have featured Steve Earle before, and you seemed to like him, so here’s one I couldn’t possibly leave out:
That isn’t an official video, but the photos its compiler has used fit the song well. That was a track on Steve’s second album, Exit 0, released in May 1987. It reached #15 on the US country albums chart, #90 on their main chart, and #36 in Canada, but didn’t chart in the UK – he had to wait until the following year to achieve that, with his next album, Copperhead Road. The song wasn’t released as a single, but it has always been a favourite of mine.
When I posted my June review last week – Rosebuds From June – I borrowed the title from a song by Steeleye Span. As they are an English folk-rock band this was new to most who commented on the piece, but was well-received so I thought I’d share another of theirs with you. They have been going since 1969 and have always drawn heavily on traditional English folk songs for their repertoire, but they also cover a few other songs and write their own too. This is one of theirs:
The song was written by the band’s fiddle player, Peter Knight, who also sometimes played keyboards, as he is doing here. It draws on a fairly standard folk music theme – the loss of a sailing ship at sea, and the bravery and dedication of her captain – and I’ve always liked it. It was released in 1980 on the band’s eleventh album, Sails Of Silver, and also as the B-side to the single Gone To America. Neither of them troubled the charts, though. This video is notable for the return here of Liam Genockey’s beard, which made a popular guest drummer appearance when I included a song by Paul Brady in my post for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021.
A couple of you mentioned in comments last week that you might have expected me to include this next tune. Having found this joyful, boisterous live performance from 2013 it was a nailed-on certainty that I would:
Not a bad little backing band! That was originally included on Eric Clapton’s 1977 album, Slowhand, which peaked at #2 in the US but for some strange reason only got as high as #23 here in the UK. But many of his albums have done better across the pond, so maybe it isn’t that surprising. This was released as a single, reaching #3 in the US but only #39 here.
I may come back to the theme of down at some point, if I’m stuck for what to choose, but this is the last one for now. Again, one of Tom Petty’s songs – I Won’t Back Down – was mentioned in comments last week, but I’ve already played that one a couple of times. Luckily for me, Tom has another down song for me, and it is a great way to close this week’s selections:
A brilliant song, and a brilliant video to match it. This was a track on Tom Petty’s 1989 album, Full Moon Fever, as indeed was I Won’t Back Down. The album reached #3 in the US and #8 in the UK. It was his first official solo release, without the Heartbreakers, though they all appeared on it to greater or lesser degree. The album was very much a collaboration with Jeff Lynne, after they had worked together in The Traveling Wilburys. They co-wrote seven of the twelve tracks, including this one, which also has a writer’s credit for Mike Campbell, the lead guitarist. The track was released as a single, peaking at #23 in the US and #55 in the UK.
That’s all for this week and, as I said, the end of my down songs for now: I hope you’ve enjoyed them. I’ll be back next week with a new theme: after yesterday’s pronouncement by the blond buffoon I suspect that there will be several possibilities, and there are already a couple bouncing around in what I claim is my brain. Until then, stay safe and well. Take care 😊