REWIND: It’s the third annual self-indulgent birthday column

Gordon Lightfoot

Pictured: Either Gordon Lightfoot or editor Daniel J. Willis. Physically, the two are around the same age. Emotionally, Lightfoot is much younger.

Good news! It was my birthday yesterday.

That means two things: First, it means that I’m somehow even older. You’d think there would be a theoretical maximum at some point at which I couldn’t conceivably be even more old, but here we are. But my sense of humor is still about 14 so don’t worry about that. If I haven’t matured yet it’s probably not happening anytime soon.

Second, it means that it’s the one week per year I can drop the pretense and just list some songs I like. I mean, yeah, I do that every week. It’s the point of the column. But once (or so) a year I don’t even bother faking a theme and just make you listen to some of my favorite songs.

Truly, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Metallica — “Master of Puppets”

Believe it or not, I did give myself one rule: Look up the previous columns so the lists aren’t identical. Which is mostly because there are so many great Metallica and Gordon Lightfoot songs that I don’t want to repeat them.

The first year I did it was, obviously, “One.” It’s my all-time favorite song. Last year it was “Creeping Death” for some reason I can’t recall right now; my second-favorite Metallica song tends to change based on my mood. This year I decided to pick one from my favorite album. And if I’m gonna do that, I might as well go with the title track.

Gordon Lightfoot — “If You Could Read My Mind”

We’re also to my third-favorite Gordon Lightfoot song.

In 2019 it was, obviously, “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” which is indisputably the best song about the construction of the Canadian railway system ever written. Last year it was “Carefree Highway” which is also an amazing song. If you don’t like “Carefree Highway,” you don’t like music. That’s just science.

This year I once again eschew his biggest hits “Sundown” and “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” to bring you a beautiful example of his skill as a songwriter and as a performer. And this year I once again demand you fire up Spotify (or equivalent) and do a deep dive into his catalog. The man is a master. I actually include about 10 Lightfoot songs every year.

Ghost — “Dance Macabre”

I’m actually a little surprised that I haven’t put a Ghost song on my shameless birthday list yet but, good news, that means I have my pick! Because even though I’ve used pretty much every Ghost song in the column. The only rule now is that it’s not a repeat from a previous birthday column.

Even with the whole universe of Ghost open to me, it’s still not easy to choose, so I’m just going with the song that’s been stuck in my head pretty much continuously for the last five weeks. Otherwise it probably would have been “Square Hammer.” Note to self in 2022: When you look up this column to find out which songs you can’t use, go with “Square Hammer.”

The Offspring — “All I Want”

In order to get inspiration, I consulted my Spotify “Repeat Rewind” playlist, which selects some songs you listen to a whole lot and gives them to you again. I’m usually skeptical of algorithms’ ability to pin down my taste but the first song on the list was “Square Hammer,” the second was by Metallica, and there were two Gordon Lightfoot songs in the top 20, so this one I’ll rely on.

This is the third song on the playlist and I must say, it’s an excellent choice. Thanks to the classic 2000 Dreamcast game “Crazy Taxi,” this is the best driving song of all time. Of all time. So yes, when I hook my phone to my car’s sound system, this song tends to get played a lot. Then I drive very fast.

Also, why hasn’t there been a remake of “Crazy Taxi” yet? Not a modernized version—that would just ruin it. I want the exact same game but with newer graphics. And with the exact same soundtrack. If they change the songs, it misses most of the point.

George Michael — “Careless Whisper”

Last year I vowed not to repeat any songs, then immediately repeated “Careless Whisper.” This year I at least saved it until the end.

Look, I know I should’ve known better than to cheat a friend and waste the chance that I’d been given. But let’s be honest here, my knees and back and ankle and shoulders and… well, pretty much my entire body is thrice my actual age, which is prodigious already. So odds of me dancing again were low to begin with. It was a low-risk play.

Now all you dang kids get off my lawn! In my day, we showed respect!

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