The Courier: 30 days of music - Day 16

Our writers share their "classic favourites" from the 60s to present day.

multiple writers
20th April 2020
Images: Instagram (@jamesblunt, @springsteen, @bobdylan, @thebeatles)
What is a 'classic favourite'? Who knows? We don't. So make of it what you will. Our writers have tried to push past the vagueness of the task and written about songs that it'd be rude not to love.

'Dancing In The Dark' - Bruce Springsteen

What a classic song with immaculate vibes of summertime and happiness. I can't put this song on without a smile on my face and singing along. The Sam Fender cover of it is also amazing and reminds me of the best gig I've been to. Springsteen's lyrics just remind me everything's going to be okay and it's just a very empowering song.

Hope Lynes

'American Pie' - Don Mclean

Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ is, in my opinion, the definition of a ‘timeless classic’. Recorded and released on the ‘American Pie’ album in 1971, the single unsurprisingly dominated the charts for many weeks.  The lyrics immortalise a (party biographical) account of America moving away from the idealised 1950s towards the bleaker 1960s, representing the ever changing culture of the U.S.A., which is still valid today. For me, however, the song reminds me of countless karaoke sessions with my mum, as she can recall every single lyric of the 8 minute song and proudly shows this off at any given opportunity, giving it a special place in my heart.

Amelia Thorpe

'The Times They Are A-Changing' - Bob Dylan

The magic of folk music is in its simplicity. That many folk songs are still so well loved to this day, despite their age and their usually basic instrumentation is a testament to the great songwriters of folk. Dylan is one such musician. That his music still manages to touch and inspire people after so much time speaks to his talent. ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ is not a deep cut but surely a classic, and for good reason. The barebones guitar/voice/harmonica leaves no space for gimmickry – it still lives on in people’s minds and hearts as it is simply an extremely well written song. 

Tom Leach

'You're Beautiful' - James Blunt

He might be more of a Marmite than a favourite, but ‘You’re Beautiful’ is a modern classic to me.

Taken from James Blunt’s debut album Back to Bedlam, the song is undoubtedly his best known, topping the UK charts back in 2005, and actually being the UK’s 39th best-selling single of that entire decade. Some people love it, and some hate it, but you can’t deny that you know it. And it’s infectious.

What makes this song so much better is that’s Blunt isn’t naive. He acknowledges that, musically, this isn’t one of his best works, and he isn’t aware of the reputation that his music, and this song in particular, has across the country. When I saw him live at the Utilita Arena, he wasn’t afraid to mock himself (“Elton John told me to just play my hits on tour, but I can’t play ‘You’re Beautiful’ 20 times”), and he’s become known for his Twitter persona where he excels at dry wit - just watch his appearance in the National Lottery advert campaign to see just how self-aware, and even self-deprecating, he is.

This song is maybe not quite a song romantic as it may first appear; on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006, Blunt said: "It's kind of miserable. It was about seeing my ex-girlfriend on the Underground in London with her new man, who I didn't know existed. She and I caught eyes and lived a lifetime in that moment, but didn't do anything about it and haven't seen each other since."

Maybe it does get played too much, but there is a reason for that. Just think about it.

Grace Dean

'Hotel California' - The Eagles

I'm honestly not too sure what a "classic favourite" is, but I'm guessing its an old mainstream song I enjoy? I'm gonna say fuck it and pick "Hotel California" by the Eagles. It's a pretty nifty tune I'm sure everyone has heard or at least heard about. Something about a slightly creepy hotel that you can never leave. The lyrics have a certain aura of mystery to me. I imagine Hotel California as the Hotel from the Shining, to be honest. Of course, the song's more literal meaning is about fame or something, but that's no fun! Just that opening riff is sure to strike a chord of familiarity in anyone that's heard the song.

Muslim Taseer

'Yesterday' - The Beatles

A number of the songs I have used for previous days could also have gone here, A classic song, by my definition is a song that can be loved by everyone, be it because of the tune, the lyrics or just the feeling of the song. I had debated having The Who's classic My Generation because of how it will always be relevant, but in the end I couldn't pick anything other than Yesterday by The Beatles. An iconic song, the most covered pop song in history with over 3000 variations. A titan of music, a classic to the bone.

Patrick Harland

'Knockin' On Heavens Door' - Bob Dylan

“Classic favourite” is a tough one to define, but I’d argue that Bob Dylan deserves the label of classic artist, and ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ is one of my favourite songs from his extensive catalogue. Originally part of a film soundtrack, ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ quickly became one of Dylan’s most famous musical offerings, with its stripped-back style foregrounding the somber guitar and Dylan’s quite haunting lyrics. The song is dominated by an air of defeat and dejection that Dylan so poignantly evokes, another example of the incredible emotional weight that Dylan bestows upon each of his tracks. ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ is a classic favourite of mine, and if it’s good enough for Guns N’ Roses to cover (quite successfully, too), then it’s good enough for the rest of us musical mortals.

Tom Hardwick

'I Am The Resurrection' - The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses, amongst a packed field, are the best Manchester band of all time. Their music is absolutely legendary and their first album captured the North West like no other band ever has. ‘I Am The Resurrection’ is one of their most loved hits and as soon as it’s played on a night out people of all ages are up bouncing about and screaming along to it. They are, in my opinion, one of the last bands to gain truly legendary status and despite their small back catalogue they have probably made more classic hits than any other band of the last 30-40 years. ‘I Am The Resurrection’ is one of their best.

Stanley Gilyead

'Bohemian Rhapsody' - Queen

No amount of words, however eloquently put, will do this song any justice. It is a truly iconic rock song, which has shaped popular culture since its creation in 1975. It’s combination of six different sections, each with a different musical arrangement and melody, makes it such a diverse song. I wish I could forget it and listen to it for the first time all over again, just so I can hear all those sudden twists and turns. If you’re telling me you’ve never sang the call-and-response section of the song, with high falsetto and deep baritone, then I think you’re a liar. If you’re ever feeling down then stick Bohemian Rhapsody on and channel your inner ‘Wayne’s World’. It’s a guaranteed cure.

Tom Moorcroft

'Build Me Up Buttercup' - The Foundations

There were so many songs to choose from for this, but Build Me Up Buttercup just nabs it. This is one of my favourite songs ever, you can’t not listen to it without a smile creeping across your face. Released in 1968, the opening with the bouncing piano and drum beats before launching into some of the most singable lyrics ever make it a worthy classic favourite.

Rebecca Johnson

'The Downtown Lights' - The Blue Nile

From the 1989 album Hats, 'The Downtown Lights' is perhaps The Blue Nile's finest work and arguably, their most well known. Holding doubt at it's heart, this track tackles hope, fear and rejection whilst painting a haunting neon soundscape for the listener to lose themselves in. I think its the reassurance that panic can be necessary that the song projects which it makes it, to me, a classic favourite.

Joe Smith

'I Can Change'- LCD Soundystem

Having now read everyone else's take on what a "classic favourite" is there are two conclusions I can draw. Firstly, no-one exactly knows what it means and the people who made the challenge should probably have a rethink. Secondly, my pick is a lot more recent than everyone else's. Released in 2010 'I Can Change' is pulled from LCD Soundsystem's jaw-dropping album This is Happening. It's easily the most dancefloor ready song from the album, thanks to its synth-heavy groove that just puts a smile straight onto your face. James Murphy's vocals have a touch of echo on there to give them an extra pop too, as he gives a captivating overlay to the slick instrumentals. 'I Can Change' details the breakdown of a relationship, with the narrator saying they can change to keep the relationship alive. 'I Can Change' is without a doubt a classic in LCD's discography and probably my favourite song by the New York band. So I suppose that fits the brief. Whatever the brief was anyway...

Dominic Lee

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