No matter how I struggle and strive. #PlagueSongs, no. 11

Given that I’ve played all of these on an acoustic guitar, you’d think I’d have covered a country song by now. But this song, co-written by Hank Williams and Fred Rose, is the first. Williams recorded “I’ll Never Get out of This World Alive” in June 1952, the single was released in November 1952, and…

If you just call me. #PlagueSongs, no. 9

Some of Bill Withers’ songs seem always to have existed. It is as if they were always out there in the ether, but needed him to bring them into the world. “Grandma’s Hands,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and “Lean on Me” — the song I’m performing for this week’s #PlagueSong. Here’s the late, great Mr. Bill Withers…

Kick at the darkness. #PlagueSongs, no. 7

This week, a song from a different dangerous time that speaks eloquently to our present one. “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” is one of two hits from Bruce Cockburn’s Stealing Fire (1984). The other is “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.” “Lovers…” was the bigger hit in his native Canada, and “… Rocket Launcher” was the…

There doesn’t seem to be anyone around. #PlagueSongs, no. 5

🤦🏼‍♂️ After last week’s #EpicSkaFail (my apologies to music-lovers everywhere), I’ve chosen a song that I can perform adequately. Composed by Ritchie Cordell, “I Think We’re Alone Now” was a big hit for Tommy James and the Shondells in 1967. The song was again a major hit for Tiffany in 1987 — the singer’s biggest hit,…

It’s later than you think. #PlagueSongs, no. 4

This week’s #PlagueSong is a cover of Prince Buster’s “Enjoy yourself” (1963). But I first heard the Specials’ cover version (1980). That said, Prince Buster’s version is itself an adaptation of Guy Lombardo’s 1949 version, which reached #10 on the US pop charts in 1950. Prince Buster retains the chorus of the 1949 song (music…

The Bright Side. #PlagueSongs, no. 3

This week’s #PlagueSong is dedicated to my mother, Gloria Hardman. This is her favorite song, her motto, and very good advice. The song is funnier when sung as Eric Idle’s “Mr. Cheeky” character (as it is in The Life of Brian). I suspect the song’s mixture of irony and sincerity is one reason it resonates…