121. Rod Stewart

When I was a kid, we used to play Name That Tune, usually when going somewhere in the car. Here’s how we played. Move the FM radio dial from one end to the other, stopping when the next song appears. First one to name the tune gets a point. First to name the artist gets a point. Name both song and artist before anyone else for a three point play. Silly game, but it managed to keep us amused quite a few times.

One of the great moments in Name That Tune history came in the car with my friend Beep and my sister Betsy. This was a long time ago; I was maybe 19 or 20, Betsy was maybe 16. Flip the dial, and maybe a second of Jeff Beck’s trademark “wah-wah” plays before Betsy blurts “I Ain’t Superstitious, Jeff Beck” from the back seat. Whoa, Betsy, slow down, Ms. Big Stuff! Where the hell did that come from? Betty, Betty, Betty!

Rod Stewart on Wikipedia

Jeff Beck’s album Truth features the unique gravelly voice of Rod Stewart, who went on to fame and great fortune, first as a rock star in his own right, followed by a long career as an interpreter of pop standards. He also has a kanck for keeping the comoany of unusually beautiful and tall women. Like most artists, my collection is interested in his early career, when he made unique, groundbreaking music.

Here’s a fine interpretation of “I’d Rather Go Blind”:

Reviewing his music took me back to my childhood, sitting in my family’s living room at night by myself, listening to FM radio stations like KSJO, KSAN and KPFA, with cassette recorder ready to click on as soon as a familiar, desired song appeared. I built much of my music collection as a kid by recording songs off the radio. That’s how we did it back in 1972.

On those cassettes, I’m sure I recorded “Maggie May”, “You Wear It Well”, “Stay With Me” and “Mandolin Wind”. Probably a couple others. These are powerful and satisfying memories for me. My childhood was a wonderful and creative time for me, before the troubles young adulthood brought my way.

Even in his prime, Rod Stewart was first and foremost an interpreter of other people’s songs though he did write a handful of lovely songs.

One last anecdote. After high school, I went to college in Davis, California. I played basketball for the college team. A friend from the rival high school across town went on to play basketball for UC Riverside. As a sophomore, we traveled down to Riverside and played their team. My friend Ralph and I knew each other well, and I went over to his apartment to have a couple beers after the game. This is during the winter of 1978-79. He had this beautiful gal with him, who was clearly waiting for the room to empty out (meaning me) so she could have her way with Ralph. Anyway, this was the first place I ever the song “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”, which became a huge hit. Boy those were lean times for good music, I must say. I never liked that song very much, and have debated whether to even include the song, and how to rate it I’m just not down with the overt message. Enough singing, just get down with the getting down already!

Maggie May is Rod’s biggest hit. I have debated whether to rate it four stars, but I can’t justify it. Very good song, a unique sound among big pop standards, but no better than his other best work with the Faces. Here’s the list:

Maggie May, Rod Stewart ✭✭✭
You Wear It Well, Rod Stewart ✭✭✭
Mandolin Wind, Rod Stewart ✭✭✭
Every Picture Tells A Story, Rod Stewart ✭✭✭
The First Cut Is The Deepest, Rod Stewart ✭✭✭

Stay With Me, Rod Stewart (or Faces) ✭✭
Reason To Believe, Rod Stewart ✭✭
I’d Rather Go Blind, Rod Stewart ✭✭
Tomorrow Is A Long Time, Rod Stewart ✭✭
Man Of Constant Sorrow, Rod Stewart ✭✭
Lost Paraguayos, Rod Stewart ✭✭
Gasoline Alley, Rod Stewart ✭✭
Handbags & Gladrags, Rod Stewart ✭✭
(I Know) I’m Losing You, Rod Stewart ✭✭

Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright), Rod Stewart
Street Fighting Man, Rod Stewart
Young Turks, Rod Stewart

Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?, Rod Stewart

Songs with Jeff Beck:

I Ain’t Superstitious, Jeff Beck ✭✭
Morning Dew, Jeff Beck ✭✭

Related songs:

Reason To Believe, Tim Hardin ✭✭
I’d Rather Go Blind, Etta James ✭✭✭✭
(I Know) I’m Losing You, The Temptations ✭✭
Street Fighting Man, The Rolling Stones ✭✭✭✭
I Ain’t Superstitious, Howlin’ Wolf ✭✭✭✭
Morning Dew, Grateful Dead ✭✭✭
Morning Dew, Lulu ✭✭✭

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