Monday, September 28, 2020

Vassallo: "Those Wonderful Lyrics and the Stories Behind Them"

Out of my Top 100 Songs Of All Time list, four songs in particular contain what I believe to be the most incredible lyrics ever conceived. With hypnotic melodies that stand out in my mind, these songs are on the top of my chart.
These four songs are in a seven year cycle between 1967 to 1974 and overlap with my time as an Ole Miss student. For those of you old enough or who are familiar with these classics, see if you concur about the greatness of the following songs and lyrics:

Strawberry Fields Forever (1967)

Recorded by the Beatles and written by John Lennon with help from Paul McCartney, this song was considered to be one of John’s greatest accomplishment. I stumbled upon these lyrics painted on an airport wall in Panama City, Panama: “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.”
This was the first track recorded for the Sergeant Pepper’s album, but due to pressure to release a single, it never made it. Instead, the Beatles song “Penny Lane” was the flip side. The single reached #8 on the Billboard Top 100.  
Strawberry Field was the name of a Salvation Army’s children home around the corner from John’s childhood home in the Liverpool (According to Wikipedia). A memorial stands today in New York’s Central Park named in honor of this great song.

Sunday Morning Coming Down (1969)

Written by Kris Kristofferson and covered by Johnny Cash in 1970, it was the Country Music Association Award’s #1 Song of the Year in 1970.  Sunday Morning Coming Down reached #46 on the Billboard Top 100 pop songs.
Who could ever forget the lyrics? “Well, I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt. And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad so I had one more for dessert.”
This song’s success launched Kris Kristofferson’s career and contributed significantly to Johnny Cash’s legend.

Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine (1972)

Written and recorded by the great storyteller Tom T. Hall, this song reached #1 on the US Country Singles Chart and made the #93 Greatest Country Song Ever by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2014. Old Dogs was the second and final single from Tom Hall’s album, “The Storyteller.” Tom got the idea for this mega-hit from a conversation he had with a hotel employee in Miami Beach.
It’s difficult to single out any of the fantastic lyrics because there are so many, however I have selected just a few: “Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes and God bless little children while they’re still too young to hate.”
I lost count many years ago of how many times I have listened to this masterpiece.

Sundown  (1974)

Gordon Lightfoot took this classic to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. This song is supposedly inspired by one of his previous relationships.Gordon also placed this song among 34 other #1 songs of 1974.
This 1974 hit contains several great lines, but here are my favorite: “Sometimes I think it’s a shame, when I get feeling better when I’m feeling no pain.”
So there you have it, Oxonians! Four of my favorite songs that have such memorable lyrics planted into my mind. They all still sound so good….even with eyes closed!

Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at or call him at 985-852-7745.