These Songs Meet My Gold Standard

by Kevin Burton

   Should have known better than to listen to a Van Morrison tune without lyrics in front of me.

   I touched briefly on his mumbling last week in a post about my favorite song “Come On Eileen” (I’m Going To Hum This Tune Forever, Dec. 4).

   Morrison has a message worth hearing clearly on “If In Money We Trust.”  It’s your bonus track for today’s edition of Flying Colors, a listing of my favorite songs with the color gold in the title.

   His message in the form of a question; when death comes calling, how much value remains in your gold?  Got you thinking?

   OK, now, the gold countdown:

   8 “Power Of Gold,” by Dan Fogelberg.  If you look into some Fogelberg lyrics you’ll see some deadly bad theology, (see “Part Of The Plan”), but on this one he talks about the undue influence money has over just about everything. 

   7 “Golden Lady,” by Stevie Wonder.  Stevie’s pop side shows on this song.  I’m not in love with the lyrics, especially “I’m not afraid to try and go it.” But the song with its golden-throated vocalist is too smooth to ignore.

   6 “The Golden Age of Rock And Roll,” by Mott The Hoople. Top 20 in the UK in 1974 but it barely made the Billboard hot 100. A great old-style rocking love song to rock and roll. Never heard it until last week. 

   I would have taken three minutes off from the Barry Manilow, Hall & Oates, John Denver et al. rotation, had any American DJ cared to spin it for me.  Sheesh. Good find.

 5 “Gold,” by Britt Nicole.  Was going to put this new-to-me song on the maybe list until it grew on me.  I played it twice, it’s all grown up! It’s got the believe-in-yourself message, it’s got the groove. Only question, what else do I need to know by Britt Nicole? 

  4 “Golden Slumbers,” by The Beatles. This song has the stop-you-in-your tracks, factor that no other song on this list has. I am ranking it so low because it’s not a complete song. Had it gotten the normal Lennon-McCartney dual workover it could have been an all-timer. Blame it on Yoko, blame everything on Yoko.

  3 “Band Of Gold,” by Freda Payne. Separate rooms on the honeymoon, but she’s still hoping he will “walk back through that door.” That’s a rough one.  Because of a dispute with Motown, the writer’s credit reads “Ron Dunbar and Edyth Wayne.”  But there’s no mistaking the musical signature of the actual writers, the legendary songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland.

   A brief aside before we tune into the gold standard of gold songs:

  Thumbs up: “She Got The Gold Mine, I Got The Shaft,” by Jerry Reed. Some song titles just have to be. They sit there impatiently until someone makes them happen. “Friends In Low Places” comes to mind. This is another one. Hard to imagine this song not being one of the final two added to the gold list later.

   Thumbs down: “Gold,” by John Stewart and Stevie Nicks. John Stewart was in the Kingston Trio, so he knew good music when he heard it. He disowned Gold, saying he only wrote it to please RSO Records and calling it “empty” and “vapid.”

   Yep.  

   Bonus track “If In Money We Trust,” by Van Morrison.

   And now my top two gold songs:

   2 “Heart Of Gold,” by Neil Young. 

Somehow this growing-old song resonated with me before I turned ten. The harmonica part is accessible.  A good amateur player can pull it off. The song is in E minor and my harmonica is in C. That’s what is holding me back, right?

    James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt sing backup on the song.

   1 “Sister Golden Hair,” by America. Sang this song at a karaoke contest in Phoenix once and didn’t place. Afterward two women told me I got robbed.

   I love the song and have kept singing it even after I got married and the “I ain’t ready for the altar” lyric no longer fit.  

   Did your favorite gold songs make the grade?  If not, please list them in comments below. 

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