Editor’s note: When Palisadian Alan Eisenstock is not researching and writing one of his nonfiction books (18 thus far!), he pursues what he calls “a crazy labor of love side project” that he started in March 2020: sending a weekly Covid-themed playlist of songs to his family and friends. These playlists (which can be downloaded on Spotify CLICK HERE. span rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the 1950s to 2020, and Eisenstock adds one or two lines of commentary about each song that is clever, amusing and informative.)
More than a year ago, Feb. 27, 2020, to be exact, your former president said this about COVID: “One day–it’s like a miracle–it will disappear.” How’s that going? We’ve seen no miracle and no magic. What to do? Idea. Here are 24 “miracle” and “magic” songs. Listen up!
- “Shop Around” The Miracles. The first successful group signed by Berry Gordy for Motown, this hit written by Gordy and lead singer Smokey Robinson became a smash in 1965. A reporter once asked Bob Dylan, “Who’s your favorite songwriter?” He said, “Smokey.”
- “Do You Believe in Magic?” The Lovin’ Spoonful. Also from 1965. Written by John Sebastian. LOVE the Spoonful, iconic rock/folk band. I saw them live. My parents brought me to the concert in a stroller.
- “This Magic Moment” The Drifters. NY R&B, doo-wop, and soul group. This 1960 hit was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, maybe their most famous song. Jay and the Americans had a bigger hit a few years later but I prefer the Drifters’ version.
- “Strange Magic” Electric Light Orchestra. British rock group led by Jeff Lynne. He wanted to combine rock and classical, which explains why he didn’t call the group the Electric Light Band. Great song from 1976. Isn’t all magic strange?
- “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” Deniece Williams. R&B great Williams, once described as having “one of the great soul voices,” covers this Teddy Randazzo song originally intended for Little Anthony and The Imperials. Deniece, from Gary, Indiana, has a brother named Denephew.
- “Magical Mystery Tour” The Beatles. The title song from the Lads’ 1967 psychedelic follow-up to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This album is actually a soundtrack to a TV film. The whole album inspires edibles.
- “Could This Be Magic” The Dubs. Five guys in Harlem formed this group and released this doo-wop classic, their biggest hit, in 1957. The intro to the song sounds like the opening to a cheesy horror movie.
- “Magic” Coldplay. British alt-rock band formed in London, led by Chris Martin, the former Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow. Goop, Gwyneth’s specialty shop in Brentwood, CA sells candles for $75 that smell like a woman’s… never mind. Who would buy that? P.S. They’re sold out. P.P.S. Love the song.
- “Magic” Bruce Springsteen. Give me the Boss, every time. He says this song isn’t about magic; it’s about tricks we play on others and the ones others play on us.
- “Magic Bus” The Who. Famous British rockers sing this 1968 song written by guitarist Pete Townshend. The song features a cool Latin percussive style and beat. It was covered in 1985 by Alvin and the Chipmunks for their TV show. Maybe for a future playlist?
- “Magic Moments” Perry Como. TV star, popular crooner, and former barber, Como sings this huge hit from 1957 written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. My parents loved Perry and as a kid, I used to do an uncanny impression of him.
- “Black Magic Woman” Santana. San Fran-based Mexican-American Carlos Santana formed this band in 1966. One of the great rock-blues-psychedelic guitarists, Carlos covered this song in 1970, written by Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac and recorded a couple of years earlier. Santana had the bigger hit.
- “Magic” The Cars. From Boston, led by rock god Ric Ocasek. Ric wrote this cool song in 1984, our third song in the playlist entitled “Magic.” You can already guess the poll question.
- “I Put A Spell on You” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Born in Cleveland, Jalacy “Screamin'” Jay Hawkins, was a singer, actor, boxer, and all-around colorful character. Supposedly, he was drunk at the 1956 recording session of this song, resulting in all the grunts, groans, and insane cackling. He claimed he didn’t remember any of it. He later recorded a song called “Constipation Blues.”
- “Magic” Pilot. Make that four songs entitled “Magic.” This Scottish band from Edinburgh recorded this hit in 1974. Selena Gomez covered the song a few years later.
- “Puff, The Magic Dragon” Peter, Paul & Mary. One of my all-time favorite bands. LOVE them. This 1962 smash was written by the group based on a poem by Leonard Lipton, a 19-year-old student Peter knew when they were both at Cornell. Many people think this is about smoking pot. Let me clear that up. It’s definitely about smoking pot.
- “That Old Black Magic” Louis Prima, Keely Smith. Louis, famous singer, bandleader, and trumpeter from New Orleans needed a new vocalist in 1948. Keely Smith walked in. He hired her and then married her. Well, he married everyone. Their 1958 version of this Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer Academy-Award nominated song became a huge hit.
- “Miracles” Jefferson Starship. A spinoff of San Fran rock collective Jefferson Airplane, this hit song was written by Marty Balin. He was supposedly inspired by a guru he spent time with. It was 1975 and everyone in San Fran had a guru. Famous song that never ends.
- “Miracle of Miracles” Herschel Bernardi. NY-born actor/singer Bernardi released an album of songs from Fiddler. Heshy was nominated for two Tonys and was the voice of “Charlie the Tuna” in those old Starkist TV commercials.
- “Miracle of Love” Eurythmics. In 1980, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart left their former band The Tourists and formed their pop duo Eurythmics in Wagga Wagga, Australia. This was a modest hit in 1986, but I can’t get it out of my head.
- “When The Spell Is Broken” Richard Thompson. British singer, songwriter, virtuoso guitarist, and one of my favorites. I chose the acoustic version of this excellent 1985 song. As I have mentioned, Sir Rich used to live in Pacific Palisades. I nodded at him once.
- “Pocketful of Miracles” Frank Sinatra. The Chairman of the Board sings the 1961 Academy-Award winning Best Original Song, written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, from the film of the same name. The movie starred Bette Davis, Glenn Ford, Peter Falk and was directed by Frank Capra. What a lineup! I’ve never seen it.
- “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” The Police. British trio led by Sting sings this 1981 hit from the album Ghost in the Machine.This song became noteworthy because it includes a piano, unusual for a Police song.
- “Magic Carpet Ride” Steppenwolf. Canadian-American band featuring John Kay singing lead on this song, from 1968. The song begins with silence, builds into a jangly guitar riff, then sort of goes and goes. Later, John Kay admitted to the Wall Street Journal, “I may have smoked a joint.”
And there we have it… full playlist of “miracles” and “magic.” Some advice…
Don’t Forget to Disinfect and … PLAY IT LOUD!
The link again: CLICK HERE
Deniece Williams did not have a brother named Denephew. Although she should have.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s store Goop does sell a candle that she claims smells like a woman’s… I think it’s overpriced.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins did write a song called “Constipation Blues.” It features the lyric “Let it GO.” It’s really disgusting and really funny.
LAST WEEK’S POLL QUESTION:
The Stones’ “I’m Free” defeats “The Who’s version.
THIS WEEK’S POLL QUESTION:
Pick a “Magic” song. Who you got? Springsteen, Coldplay, The Cars, or Pilot?
Until next week!