by Kevin Burton
Red is a color of many emotions, from seeing red (anger) to painting the town red (celebration). A red light means stop, a red-letter day is a great and special day.
Red is all over the place. But if I could just level with you here, if you write a good tune tomorrow with red in the title, it could jump way, way up my list. You catching me?
Your bonus song is “The Cincinnati Shuffle” by Cincinnati Reds Radio Network.That’s a wonderful short tune played before games in the 70s when the Reds ruled and all things were still possible for me.
Best lyric, “Johnny Bench will hit one for you long and deep, Joe Morgan stealing second base with a sweep. Pete Rose is driving all the pitchers insane and when Sparky does his shuffle they’ll be crying for rain.”
And so we go from the sublime Big Red Machine to the red list.
8 “Little Bit of Red,” by Serena Ryder. Very catchy song by the Canadian singer. She told www.songfacts.com that, “Really the essence of that song is about a balanced life, about not always seeing things as black or white. It’s about allowing yourself to feel.” Pretty good song for the ear. Nice hooky hook. Forgettable lyrics.
7 “Red Queen,” by Frank Carillo and the Bandoleros. Carillo sometimes collaborates with George Kooymans from Golden Earring. I’m seeing evidence of a good lyricist even if I don’t understand this song. I think it’s a condemnation of gambling, with lyrics such as “All the kings horses and dead presidents won’t fill up that space inside you.”
Another lyric I like: “Everyone said the old ways are dead and love has a brand new hairdo.” Voice, attitude and style remind of me John Mellencamp.
6 “Red River Rock,” by the Ventures. I like this version better than the one by Johnny and the Hurricanes. It’s on my favorite instrumental album, The Ventures Play Telstar and the Lonely Bull. The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Did you know that? Bit of a surprise to me.
5 “Red Rubber Ball,” by The Cyrkle. Cool turning-the-page love song. Paul Simon co-wrote this song with Bruce Woodley of the Seekers, according to Wikipedia. Number two hit in 1966.
4 “The Red Eye Blues,” by Redeye. Do yourself a favor and find whatever you can of the two records put out by Redeye in the early 70s. I love the Beatlesque harmonies on Red Eye Blues and some of their other stuff. Wish we had more from them.
3 “99 Red Balloons,” by Nena. I was aware of this anti-war song when it climbed to number two in 1984. Hearing it now it strikes me as funnier, mocking the war machine with a message as happy as balloons floating on a dreamy Saturday. It was released first in West Germany where it also hit number two.
Two red regrets before we get to my top two:
Thumbs down: “Red Sails In The Sunset,” by Fats Domino. Sorry Fats. There are singers on this who don’t belong on a Fats record. This was his final Top 40 song. You can tell he was losing steam.
Thumbs down: “Condition Red,” by The Goodees. A very, very, poor man’s Leader of the Pack. Is this a spoof? Please tell me this wasn’t really recorded on Stax Records.
Bonus track: “The Cincinnati Shuffle” by Cincinnati Reds Radio Network.
And now the best of red:
2 “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress),” by Helen Reddy. How would you like to be in an elevator with Helen Reddy’s bunch, Delta Dawn, Angie Baby and Ruby Red Dress? Of that three, who’s your prom date? This was a big AM radio hit though, a fixture on the soundtrack to my early days.
1 “Little Red Corvette,” by Prince. “It was Saturday night I guess that makes it all right,” is among the many Prince lyrics that are philosophically and morally bankrupt, but he took them all to the bank. Well-crafted song. It could have been quite a bit less dirty and still been a great song. Just saying.
If you know of better red songs, please list them in comments below.