Top 10 singles – Teh Jayhawk

This was provoked by the Guardian’s clickbait top 100 No 1s of all time, which was so contentious that it sparked off another 100 lists. This is something which changes as you go along and there are some songs in mine which used to be up there which now just aren’t, who knows why. Plus people have favourites which make no sense to other people, what can you do. Oh, and some of my favourite musicians just aren’t really singles artists, ie Bob Dylan, John Martyn, Joni, Paul Simon, Van, Zep etc.

11 Son of a preacher man – Dusty Springfield. I know. But The Dustmeister is just unapproachable as a pure pop singer, and had to be in there, and what a great song. “The only one who could ever reach me”. Plus it could be about me… https://youtu.be/dp4339EbVn8

10 Ride a white swan – T Rex. This was their breakthrough, post hippy dippy elf shenanigans, and being a prog fan at the time I hated them. This sounds like it was recorded yesterday and is just perfect. I was wrong. https://youtu.be/tHom-7eL_DA

9 When Doves Cry – Prince. Just an all round genius, incredible talent. Any number of his singles could make my list. I love the space in this one, and he could make it as a guitarist without any of the rest of it. https://youtu.be/UG3VcCAlUgE

8 Hit me with your rhythm stick – Ian Dury and the Blockheads. I had the privilege of witnessing this incredible band at extremely close quarters (6 feet approx.), sadly without the man himself. Awesome, and lyrically very clever as well as funny. Ridiculous bassline Norman!, twin saxes, plus co-writer Chaz Jankel went to my school. https://youtu.be/0WGVgfjnLqc

7 Cloudbusting – Kate Bush. “Every time it rains, you’re here in my head, like the sun comin’ out”. A truly unique artist who keeps her fans waiting (9 years again Kate…), and a song which always gives me goosebumps, particularly the ending with the train whistle, I can’t explain why. Oh, and The Actual Donald (Sutherland) is in the video. https://youtu.be/pllRW9wETzw

6 No woman, no cry – Bob Marley and the Wailers. “I remember when we used to sit in the government yard in Trenchtown”. I first discovered this through the album version, but the slowed down live version from the Lyceum concerts in 1975 is The One. Head and shoulders above all the reggae artists I’ve ever heard. https://youtu.be/bLm7dfBBPVo

5 Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell. “I am a lineman for the county, and I drive the main roads”. Written by the legendary Jimmy Webb. I’m not a fan of country or Americana in any way, but this is just a timeless classic which crosses all the boundaries. https://youtu.be/Q8P_xTBpAcY

4 Ashes to Ashes – David Bowie. “Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, we know Major Tom’s a junky”. Bowie was never really on my radar until the 80s but I’ve gradually appreciated how far ahead of anyone else he was. This is one of his most complex hits musically, and lyrically references earlier work. Sometimes songs can wear out from hearing them too often, but I never get tired of this. Check out the great live version from Later with Jools. https://youtu.be/WmiXjoknHDA

3 Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles. “Then the fireman rushes in, from the pouring rain, very strange.” I grew up buying Beatles singles for six shillings and threepence, and any of them could be on here. This is a great example of their genius, especially lyrically. https://youtu.be/S-rB0pHI9fU

2 Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys. I can’t really describe this, you have to hear it. So far ahead of it’s time, and probably will never be bettered. A pop symphony in 3 minutes. Quite how Brian Wilson achieved it is a mystery. https://youtu.be/mdt0SOqPJcg

1 My Brother Jake – Free. “Your candle is burning, the wheels of time are turning, what you gonna do?” Probably unfair on the rest of them, but I think it’s a perfect record. A great song, and the musical contributions from Andy Fraser on bass and especially piano, and Paul Kossoff on lead, Simon Kirke on drums, plus Paul Rodgers vocal, make it number one, for me at least. https://youtu.be/ddDGj1Xko_c

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