My iPod’s Most Listened To Songs for 2011

It’s New Year’s Eve, which means it’s that time again.

Time for the yearly peek at my iPod/iPhone for the “most played” songs for 2011.

As with most years, there’s a delicious assortment here. The fun is in looking at the list and determining exactly why these songs made the list, and remembering the times and places I first got haunted by them.

So, without fanfare, here goes….


Eric’s “Most Listened To Songs” for 2011
(The list includes: Song Name, Artist, and CD/Album) I have included urls for some of the folks I most hope you’ll check out…EF)


1. “Keep It Simple” Roy Schneider Erleichda
Roy Schneider has been a Kerrville New Folk Finalist a few times now. He and Kim are lovely people, and it was so great to see them around the Camp Nashbill fires…and, frankly, all over The Ranch too.
This song is FAR AND AWAY the most-played of 2011. By that, I mean, almost twice as much as #2 or any of the rest of the songs on this list. I have a great memory of singing this song around campfires.


You should get this song. (And CD) It’s just such a great, great message. If you’re depressed, it might just singlehandedly pull you out of it. (I’m really not kidding…) Singing the chorus will lift you up. Promise.


I sang this at the top of my lungs on many a bike trip around White Rock this past year.

“Keep it simple. Everything don’t have to be insane.
All the drama. Get’s a little taxing on the brain.
Unplug your head, take a walk
Far from the TV, and all the talk…talk….talk…talk…talk.
Look around, take it in.
Let it all be real again.
And breathe in the sunshine.
And breathe in the sunshine.
Breathe.”


 I promise you, you’ll find yourself singing along. And, you might find yourself compelled to get your butt outside into the world, and feel that lovely Sun.


2. “My Maria”    B.W. Stevenson & Larry Mjhoberac    Radio Hits of the ’70s
Some of the songs that make this list each year do so because they’re songs that Connections is working on for a new show. I’ve been sworn to secrecy about the new show (which debuts in late January, down in Kaufman County…), but for obvious reasons, this would be an awesome one for me personally to get to sing in a hypothetical “Super Hits of the 70s, Part II.”
You know, hypothetically.


3. “For My Wedding”    Don Henley    The Very Best of Don Henley
I was surprised to see this one at #3. I stumbled on this older song, when I downloaded “The Very Best” from iTunes. It lands at number three, because I spent a lot of time learning it this year. I’ve said before that Henley’s “Heart of the Matter” is, far and away, the most emotionally mature song ever to make the pop charts. (I’d love to hear any other nominations that anybody thinks can beat it…)


This is another great one. Clearly written for his wedding some years back, it’s another great message.


“To want want I have,
Take what I’m given
With grace.
These things I pray
On my wedding day.”



And every day since too.


4. “All I Want Is A Garden”    Brother Sun    Brother Sun
Brother Sun –with members Joe Jencks, Pat Wictor, and Greg Greenway– burst on to the folk scene this year. I think their CD is likely to be a number one seller on folk charts this year. They were just releasing it, back in May on The Ranch. Getting to be in a song circle with them one night, and hearing them in several other circles, was a great treat.


And, of course, we Camp Nashbill folks are always ready to burst with pride for our own brother, Joe Jencks. (And, for Pat, who often stops by to visit…)


This song closes out the CD, and really features their great harmonies. The chorus floated around in my head for weeks after Kerrville. Get this great CD and watch it float around in your head too.


5. “Wichita Lineman (feat. Billy Joel & Jerry Douglas)”    Jimmy Webb    Just Across the River
This CD is listed as a 2010 release. But I think it must have been very near year end. If you’ve ever loved Jimmy Webb’s songs, Everybody loves Jimmy Webb songs, and this is something of a definitive collection, featuring he and a whompin’ load of stars, putting our fresh versions of his best ones. The production is crisp and clean, and everybody provides great, great covers of these classic songs.


This song is by far my favorite on the record.


I mean, before I even heard the track….just the concept..
.Jimmy and Billy Joel singing?
Jerry Douglass playing his sweet Dobro?
Are you kidding me?
It doesn’t get much better than this.


If you don’t have this CD, you owe it to yourself.


6. “Ghost”  Amy Speace    Land Like a Bird
I’ve known of Amy for some years but, believe it or not, we never met until this May at Kerrville. I was in a great, great song circle with her one night, along with the aforementioned Brother Sun, Tom Prasada-Rao, Cary Cooper, and Eric Berger. It was a personal highlight of my festival.


Live long enough, and you certainly come to appreciate this song. It’s lovely, haunting, and deeply true:


“Some people move through our lives and then they’re gone like the morning rain.
Some stand with the stillness of a soldier at their post and never change.
Some dance along the waterline like waves against the coast.
Some forever haunt you like a ghost.”



O my, yes.


Great memories of being in quiet, late-night Kerrville circles, where a dozen voices provided beautiful, quiet and tender harmonies on this…


7. “The Coast”  Court Yard Hounds Court Yard Hounds
I was a bit surprised to see this one back on the list this year. Courtyard Hounds, two thirds of the Dixie Chicks, dominated last year’s list with several songs.


I think this one makes it back on this year because I made a playlist for us to listen to on our vacation down at Port Aransas. We spent several days down there….myself, The Judge, and The Divine Miss M, along with her good friend, Miss C. This one was on that playlist, and so that’s why it made it.


But it’s just a great, great summer song. And, if you’re taking a beach trip, it needs to be on your playlist.


8. “Fugitive”  David Gray    Draw the Line (Deluxe Version)
This CD was released in 2009, but I just found it this year, after watching David on “Live from the Artist’s Den.” (btw, that’s a show not to miss on your TiVo…)


I’ve always been a big David Gray fan. I just love his style of having a driving beat/rhythm, but of allowing the acoustic interments (guitar/piano) to shine through. It’s just so beautiful and haunting.


This song is a great, great example of David Gray’s classic style, and the first song on the CD. So, it got lots of plays.


May I say, David Gray makes great biking music too.


9. “Galveston (feat. Lucinda Williams”)    Jimmy Webb    Just Across the River
Another great cut from the aforementioned Jimmy Webb CD. I promise you. You need to get this CD.


10. “Ramblin’ Man”    The Allman Brothers Band    A Decade of Hits 1969-1979
Hypothetically, this song would make a great addition to the new Connections “Super Hits of the 70s, Part II.” And, since it has at least three layered electric guitar parts, hypothetically, I might need to listen to it a lot in order to learn a part.


Hypothetically.


11. “Land Like a Bird”    Amy Speace    Land Like a Bird
Another great song from Amy Speace’s CD. This time, the title track. I LOVE songs that “build” slowly to a crescendo. This is one of those songs, and it builds beautifully.


BTW, besides being a lovely human being, great songwriter, and an amazing voice, Amy is a gifted blogger too. I often find real jewels on her blog, and you will too.


12. “It Takes the World”  Andrew Tinker    It Takes the World
This is an extremely late entry onto this list, and the fact that it makes it all the way to Number 12 speaks volumes.


Andrew Tinker was one of the very talented musicians I met at the “Winter SolstiCelebration,” earlier this month. Man, what an amazing event that was. What a blessing to play two of my songs, and have the chance to hang out with such talented musicians and artists.


Andrew played piano and sort of organized the “house band” for the night. So, I looked him up and found that, among other things, he was once Polyphonic Spree, and also has this AMAZING CD. I mean, amazing. I love, love, love his music.


This is the second track on the CD, and features his great piano, along with some mighty tasty production.


You should definitely get this CD.


13. “Fear Of Wasted Time”    Court Yard Hounds    Court Yard Hounds
Wow. Another CYH song. I do love this song. It was on the list last year. It’s kinda hard to make the list two years running. So, I guess this one means a lot. It’s a lovely sentiment about how some of us are constantly moving not because we’re obsessive, but because we know and understand just how precious each second of life is. Nobody lives like that every second. But, the more we can, the richer life is.


This song is about that, and about trying to explain it to somebody else.


The Judge has become very adept at buying t-shirts with funny sayings on them to give to our family members at Christmas. They’re always some cute expression that seems to perfectly fit their personality somehow.


The one she got me this Christmas says:


“Relish Today.
Ketchup Tomorrow.”



Yep. That’s the way to live, alright.


14. “Aspen / These Days”    Dan Fogelberg    Captured Angel
Wow, really? I mean, yes, this is one of my favorite Dan Fogelberg songs. But I have no idea how it made it to Number 14. Except that it was on a bike ride playlist and, like David Gray, makes great biking music.


If I could “cover” (on a CD) one Fogelberg song, this one would a finalist. (And likely fight with the song below, at Number 20)


15. “First Chance”    David Gray    Draw the Line (Deluxe Version)
Another great song from the “Draw the Line” CD. Another great reason to get this CD is that it’s not only got great studio tracks, but the iTunes version also includes some fantastic live cuts of Gray’s most favorite songs.


16. “I Receive”    Israel Houghton    The Power of One
I grin that this song ends up next to David Gray. David Gray is an avowed, and proud, atheist, but I love his music far more than much of the drivel that passes for “Contemporary Christian Music.”


Two years ago, however, I discovered Israel Houghton, after seeing him live at the “Justice Revival” in Dallas. Israel has become one of the lone “Contemporary Christian Artists” that makes it on to my iPod.


O my Lord. What an artist. This song is another one that was on my “bike mix” and I think that’s why it’s back on the list. It’s my favorite from him, and is a song that simply builds to an amazing crescendo. I know that his theology will not sit well with everyone I know, but the musicianship is just so amazing.


And the way the rhythm track builds….it’s mesmerizing….something you have to listen to over and over just to get the timing down.


Amazing stuff.


17. “Doctor My Eyes”    Jackson Browne    Jackson Browne
What a great, great song. Just the lyrics along make this one worth listen to, and listening to again.
But, hypothetically, it would also be good for that new “Connections” show too.




When was the last time you heard such a great and thought-proving lyric in a radio song today, btw? Does this make me sounds like an old fart?


Don’t care. It’s the truth.


18. “Wake Up Everybody (feat. Common & Melanie Fiona)” John Legend & The Roots Wake Up!
This song made it on to my “bike ride mix” too. This album, from The Roots and John Legend, is well worth your time.


19. “Don’t Explain It Away”    Susan Werner    The Gospel Truth
Somehow, I missed this great CD when it came out a few years back. “The Gospel Truth” are all songs that focus on faith and God. They all have some kind of theological/spiritual theme to them. How did I miss this?!


It’s hard to know exactly where Susan Werner comes out on the whole faith/God question. It’s clear that she’s got no time for the rigid fundamentalism that, IMHO, is so damaging in our culture and in others. But she seems to be leaning toward the “there’s something more and we should pay attention.”


This is the song that most captures that essence. What I like about it is that it starts with that common experience of “something more” that so many people have, whether or not they can logically call that “God” or whether or not they are comfortable with the dogma of an organized religion.


“And you need someone to guide you
When you have gone astray
Well, that still small voice inside you
Don’t explain it away

Don’t explain it away
When the moment mystifies you
Don’t explain it away
And the feeling will surprise you
Don’t explain it away

If you find yourself at the water’s edge
And you’re listening as the waves break on the shore
While a sea of stars rolls above your head
And you realize you’re part of so much more

And you’re struck dumb with wonder
Can’t find the words to say
Don’t break the spell you’re under

Don’t ”


Word.
And if you can start listening to that voice? Not explain it away? It can take you all sorts of amazing places.


20. “Icarus Ascending”    Dan Fogelberg    Full Circle
This song was Number 2 on last year’s list. I suppose I just wasn’t done listening to it. It’s on the “bike ride mix,” and is one of the songs I’d most like to cover, as I said above. I wrote a lot about this song last year. So, if you want to read that, head here.


BTW, the chord progression of this song inspired my new song, “Changing.”
(At least the first two chords….)


21. “Love Is The Reason”    Brother Sun    Brother Sun
Another amazing song from the amazing “Brother Sun” written by our Camp Nashbill brother, Joe Jencks. I’m so glad to see all the Brother Sun folks get their success. But I count Joe as a good friend, and am especially pleased for him.


Did I mention you should get this CD? Yeah. You should.


22. “Draw the Line”    David Gray    Draw the Line (Deluxe Version)
Another from David Gray’s great CD.


23. “Pretty Maids All In A Row”    Eagles    Hotel California
Wow. Really? How’d this one make the list? I have no idea. Other than it’s one of my favorite Eagles songs, and one that I’d love to sing in a show sometime. Such great harmonies.


This song now always reminds me of Kathleen Baskin and the blog I wrote about her following her death. Maybe I was remembering her? Maybe I was remembering other friends? Who knows.


“My, but we learn so slow
And heroes, they come and they go
And leave us behind, as if we’re s’posed to know
Why?” 

It’s a great song, and I’m glad to see it here.


24. “Turning Too”    Grace Pettis    Grace Pettis
O man, Grace is such a talent. She was a New Folk winner this past year at Kerrville. She’s one of Camp Nashbill’s own. And this is one of my favorite songs from her last CD. I just love the production, and her lovely, lovely voice. 

Start with this song, and you’ll be hooked and end up buying all her stuff.


25. “Sunday Mornings”    Susan Werner    The Gospel Truth
Last but not least, there’s another great song from Susan Werner. I’m really glad this one made the list, because it allows me to preach for a while…to preach about the reality of so many people in our world, and the reality of how so much of the “organized church” doesn’t get it.


I continue to maintain that, if the Church (capital “C”) has any future it desperately needs to understand what’s happening among the many “spiritual, but not religious” folks out there. It (The Church) needs to understand why our children grow up and leave church altogether. It (The Church) needs to begin to understand just why so many people are saying “No Thank You” to all organized religion. See, we who are in the church keep thinking this is about our own personal denominations…and we theorize that it’s because we’re too liberal, blah, blah, blah…


Those of us who still embrace an organized religion need to get out more, associate with those we don’t understand, and, above all, listen to them. (ie, stop preaching at them…)

End of sermon.


This beautiful song from Susan Werner achingly describes the disconnect/dissonance that so many people feel, between their inherent spiritual nature (which God gave them), and their unwillingness to stomach a Christian faith that too often fails to make room for doubt, ambiguity, and questions.


The lyric is so good, I’ve included all of it here:


“sunday morning
there is someplace that ‘m supposed to be
keeps returning
the feeling keeps coming over me
just like music
or like sunlight on a distant memory
sunday morning
sunday morning

my mother choosing what to wear
my father combs his jet black hair
we are their little prizes
in our mary janes and clip on ties
we hurry down the aisle
the neighbors smile because we’re
late again

on sunday morning
there is someplace …

daddy prays because the money’s tight
mama prays she’ll raise her children right
and my brother prays he’ll change
so he won’t feel so very strangely out of tune

and i went back the other day
closed my eyes and tried to pray
but a voice spoke loud and clear
“you ask too many questions, dear”
and i said, “you ask too few”
that’s why i still don’t know quite what to do

on sunday mornings
there is someplace that ‘m supposed to be
keeps returning
the feeling keeps coming over me
just like music
or like sunlight on a distant memory
sunday morning
sunday morning”



If you are a member of an organized church, and don’t have a clue as to why this song is so lovely, poignant, and true. please hear this next phrase with all the love and kindness that I write it:

YOU are part of a the problem.


Five more that didn’t make the “most played” list, but got played quite a bit and deserve mention:


“Anything Can Change” by Robin Hackett
“Everything is Alright”by  Rahim Quazi
“Respect” by Lainey Bernstein
“Balance”by  Kerri Arrista
“Love is All There Is” by Shanti Webb


All five of these were a part of the “Winter SolstiCelebration, an event that, as I’ve said before, I was honored to be a part of. This year featured a lot of original music that was handpicked by Amy Martin for just the right moment in the show. You can get Kerri’s songs online, but I believe that the rest of these are still yet unreleased…perhaps coming to a CD near you soon?


What great, great music this all is, and you should check them all out.
≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

As always, it’s a fun exercise to look back at these songs, and to find an arc to the year through what I was listening to, and what the iPod-gods tell me I played the most.

Hope you enjoyed it too.


And, as always, hope you’ll check many of these folks out, if you haven’t already.


(As always, if you like this post, then “share it” or “like” it on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too…)

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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