I realize that the sax went out of style in 1989…and I’m okay with that. You don’t hear too many bands with a horn section anymore. But there are a few, such as The National and Spoon, who use a horn section and a few bands who still implement the sax here & there. So…I figured I’d present my Top 10 favorite songs that include the coolest, uncool instrument out there…
10. Al Stewart – “Time Passages/Year Of The Cat”
Oh…I know…that’s 2 songs! That’s cheating! But not really. If you think about it, the sax in both is eerily similiar and I love both songs equally. They both clock in over 6 minutes, both have a sax solo in the middle and both are the title track of each album from which they were released. Basically…they’re the same freakin’ song! But Al managed to sell them as 2…so I am saying BOTH belong here!
9. Violent Femmes – “I Held Her In My Arms”
Quirky isn’t exactly how I would describe this band. Everyone knows “Blister In The Sun”, but this track from 1986 is one of their best and the sax really kicks it up a notch!
8. The English Beat – “Mirror In The Bathroom”
With its bouncy beat and the catchy rhythm, I can’t NOT bop my head anytime I hear this little ditty.
7. Michael Stanley Band – “Someone Like You”
For the opening alone, this song belongs here. Seriously, the first 30 seconds reminds me why I love this instrument so much. It sounds like a heart yearning for love. It’s THAT good!
6. Oingo Boingo – “Dead Man’s Party”
Ok…if you are ever at a party at MY house, and this song isn’t playing at some point, you are allowed to kick me in the head as hard as you want. Because it is NOT a party until some Boingo has been played. It’s inevitable. And the sax in this song kicks butt. And it’s not just the sax…but the entire horn section that is just cool.
5. Eddie Money – “I Wanna Go Back”
Remember THIS little tune from a guy who could have been bigger if Huey Lewis hadn’t stolen his thunder? Okay…that might be a stretch, but I love so many of Eddie’s songs and no one ever plays them anymore? But I hear plenty of Huey Lewis on the radio. WTF?!? Whatever, this tune has a great sax intro and then it reappears at the end. LOVE it!
4. Bruce Springsteen – “Born To Run”
Oh Clarence. Where would the sax be without you? I mean, you could take just about ANY pop song, have Clarence blow on his wonderful sax and it would make the song 10 times better! And then you stick him with The Boss and you really can’t go wrong. So many songs to choose from, but I choose the signature song simply because his sax is the heartbeat of Bruce’s amazing tune.
3. Morphine – “Whisper”
This band was never gonna be huge. They weren’t built that way. 3 guys. That was it. And 1 of ’em played sax. They played what some called “low rock”. It’s as underground sounding as any music I’ve ever listened to and, if lead singer Mark Sandman (it’s even a cool name for a lead singer!) hadn’t died of a heart attack in 1999, this band would still be playing in smoky bars all across the world! This track is amazing! But it’s only one in a whole listing of great songs by Morphine.
2. R.E.M. – “Fireplace”
Not a band to use the sax, Michael Stipe & Company surprised everyone (and by everyone, I mean me) with this gem on their awesome album, “Document”. Quite possibly my all-time favorite REM track, and it IS because of the sax.
1. Gerry Rafferty – “Baker Street”
Think about it. If you are thinking “sax song”, where does YOUR mind drift? Seriously, the sax at the end of this song is so prolific in my mind, that it might very well be the reason I love the instrument so much. Just a little sidenote…according to Wikipedia, this song inspired a resurgence of saxophone use in music and commercials known as “The Baker Street Phenomenon” in 1978. Sax sales also jumped and the song itself went to #2 in the U.S. Soooo…some might consider this to be a one-hit wonder from the 70’s. I consider it to be a classic song that has always been an important part of my musical growth! Plus….it was covered by the Foo Fighters. And that automatically makes it cool…
Honorable Mention & late additions from readers….
Wham – “Careless Whisper”
Pink Floyd – “Us & Them”
Dire Straits – “Your Latest Trick”
Sade – “Is It A Crime”, “Smooth Operator”
Paul McCartney – “Silly Love Songs”
Skipper Wise – “Standing Outside In The Rain”
Breathe – “Hands To Heaven”
Bob Marley – “Roots, Rock & Reggae”
Kenny Loggins – “Danger Zone”
Ian Gomm – “Hold On”
Collective Soul – “Better Now”
OMD – “So In Love”
Billy Idol – “Catch My Fall”
All my life – Phil Collins
Sad Cafe – The Eagles
Bad to the bone – George Thorogood
Die Trying – Dave Matthews Band
Crack in time – Calvin Harris
River of time – van Morrison
You aint smiling – Audience
House on the hill – Audience
Inside Out – Pink Floyd
The Edge Of Glory – Lady Gaga
Last Friday Night – Katy Perry
Time – Culture Club