A Dozen Musical Givings

There are several lists of “Thanks” songs out there (though I haven’t found “Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf’ on any of them), so I thought I’d do “Giving” instead.

Give Me Just a Little More Time, Chairman of the Board. Begging for a few more seconds on the clock, a perfect anthem for a day on which football is avidly played.

Simply Beautiful, Al Green: “If I gave you my love, /I tell you what I’d do /I’d expect a whole lotta love outta you.” This long just melts me, despite its arguably selfish intentions. Its romantic negotiations actually get rather complicated, despite the simple luscious chorus “simply beautiful” repeated a billion times.

Give It to Me, J. Geils Band. The cowbell percussion was to have some bad influence on future jam bands, but overall the J. Geils Band were tight and focused, not solo-hounds, a lesson in not overstaying at the party.

Simple Gifts, composed by Elder Joseph Brackett. The Shakers constantly came up with new music and artworks as vehicles of praise. They weren’t looking to build a canon, and most of their creations were considered disposable. The melody has endured due to the keen ears of Aaron Copland, Michael Flatley (by way of Sydney Carter),Weezer and others. “Simple Gifts” has been a gift to contemporary classical music, Christian folk masses and radio pop. What must it have sounded like when first sung at a spirited assembly by the controversial “Shaking Quakers”?

The Riddle Song (I Gave My Love a Cherry), Animal House soundtrack. When Steven Bishop plays this on the staircase of the fraternity house, John Belushi s grabs the guitar and smashes it into smithereens against the banister. I always wondered how those who understand such high musical standards and passions as to craft that joke could even have allowed the insipid singer/songwriter Steven Bishop onto the set. How Belushi reacted to Bishop’s as a bad folksinger is how I react to Steven Bishop albums.

Marvin Gaye, Got to Give It Up. Became more profound after Gaye’s subsequent songwriting work became more spiritual.

Madonna, Give Me All Your Love. The new current Madonna single, Greedy and garrulous, with a Toni Basil new-wave spin that Madonna eschewed herself as an ‘80s pop artist.

The Who, A Quick One While He’s Away. “You are forgiven.. forgiven forgiven forgiven…” Great family-based bombast in Townshend’s first rock opera.

Tenniscoats, Oetsu to Kanki no Nanoriuta (Given Song by Sob and Joy). I discovered Tenniscoats via their collaboration with one of my favorite bands, The Pastels. Winsome and whimsical, their bare-bones lo-fi approach is something I can’t stand in a lot of other bands but which I’ve come to appreciate through them. Thanks for that.

Keb ‘Mo, Hand It Over. Bluesy, prayerful and demanding: If your problems
won’t go away/ and you’re worried/ both night and day/ hand it over/ get on your knees and pray.

Gimme Dat Ding, The Pipkins. It’s a mystery why The Pipkins were a one-hit wonder band. Gimme Dat Ding is so obviously ripe for sequels and spin-offs! “Gimme Dat Other Ding.” “Gimme Dis Ding.” “Take Dat Ding Back.”

Indian Giver, 1910 Fruitgum Company. A true Thankgiving carol about racial misrepresentation, cultural stereotyping and neighborly relationships laced with suspicion. Covered by The Ramones and Joan Jett.