Entries by Bob Marshall

18. Stop! In the Name of Love, The Supremes

Polished commercial perfection and deeply expressed emotion don’t often come together, but when they do, as they do here, it is a gem. The Motown rhythm section chugs along with Southern-school marching band precision and the Supremes are given a readymade dance move, with gloved hand extended at every “Stop!” But then, before each verse, […]

19. I Wonder Why, Dion and the Belmonts

A Morse-Code barrage of “din-din-dins” announces one of the great bass lines in rock, a line that flares and swoons but never lets up. The last “din” in the opening line morphs into the first word of “don’t-know-why-I,” with each word adding a singer to the mix, in harmonic thirds. All join together then for […]

21. Midnight Train to Georgia, Gladys Knight & Pips

Silky-smooth and warm-hearted, this song tells a tale of love that chills me every time: “I’d rather live in his world…than live without him in mine.” This is to Motown as Bonnard is to the Impressionists; it incorporates the innovations but adds the veneer of a later decade. The Pips in the background echo the […]

22. Don’t Be Cruel, Elvis Presley

This is the first song whose opening bars made me run to my room, close the door and sing along – yes, often in front of the mirror – pretending, or hoping, to be a rock star. I am not ashamed: Elvis had that effect on many, and Don’t Be Cruel is the quintessential Elvis. […]

23. Gone Country, Alan Jackson

A sprightly guitar is joined by a pedal steel that wails then meanders through the song introducing this happy parable of musicians abandoning pop, folk and classical (?), respectively, to hop on the country bandwagon – “the whole world has gone country,” by the end. There’s an insistent backbeat that relates to rock, but the […]

24. Walk Away Renee, The Left Banke

It is hard to think of another under-three-minute pop song that draws one more quickly or more surely into its ethereal world of lost romance. After years of rapt listening, I have only the vaguest idea what the singer is singing. Something about a “sign that points one-way” and “your name and mine inside a […]