1 I Feel Fine - The Beatles
Dad got it about the same time he got me, so there were no records before the middle of 1963. What we did have was a run of Beatles singles and EPs, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, the Twist and Shout and All My Loving EPs, Can't Buy Me Love and We Can Work It Out. We did have some other singles, including my all time favourite, Fuzzy Wuzzy Wuz A Bear (on orange vinyl, 78rpm) and other things like the theme from Fireball XL5 and the Flintstones (another on orange vinyl that met a sad end when I sat on it and cracked it).
I Feel Fine didn't enter my consciousness until the sixth form when the BBC showed a season of Beatles movies over Christmas 1979. I watched the Shea Stadium film and heard I Feel Fine there and on Radio 1 a day or so later. I couldn't get it out of my head (I'd had a similar reaction to Nowhere Man a few years before) and decided, in the way that you do, to hear some more Beatles. It led to buying Magical Mystery Tour a few weeks later and the rest, as they say, is history.
2 Refugee - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
My first impression was of how weird he looked. My second impression was how great the song was. I haven't changed that opinion since. Refugee is a great song and the Live Aid version was, and perhaps still is, my favourite version of it. Having seen him live twice (once backing Dylan and once on his own tour), I can confirm he is a consummate performer and definitely one to go and see. Oh, and he has a sense of humour, which is a good thing in the Sellar and Yeatman meaning of the phrase.
3 It Makes No Difference - The Band
It wasn't until I saw the film of their 1976 farewell concert that I "got" The Band. The interview sections certainly helped. What perhaps helped even more was this song. It is one of the rare love songs they recorded. It's a tear jerker, sung in the plaintive voice of Rick Danko. The Band were five times blessed: they had three of the greatest voices of rock music, they had five of the greatest musicians, one of the greatest songwriters, had one of the luckiest breaks when they were invited to back Bob Dylan and got Martin Scorcese to film their break up gig. The Last Waltz is the best concert film bar none that I have ever seen. And this song is, in my opinion, the best bit of the entire show.
4 As Cool As I Am - Dar Williams
Dar Williams is moderately successful in the US and little known in the UK. No hits, no albums that have more than scraped into the bigger record stores, but she deserves better, I think, because she writes intelligent songs, songs that have a point other than to sell songs. Therefore she has no chance of being successful, you'd think. Well, I can't see her having a hit but you never know. Stranger things have happened, but with the charts pretty much made up of forgettable pieces of fluff, and the odd bit of grit, it's unlikely.
5 IDTTYWLM - Loudon Wainwright III
Loudon Wainwright has been a very productive man: singer, songwriter, new Bob Dylan, actor (in MASH no less), wit, raconteur, husband to a famous folk singer, father to two more singers. How does the man fit it all in a still have time to make jokes. Find and listen to his Talking New Bob Dylan, then go and buy the album.
I think humour is very important. I'm glad there is someone who makes funny songs out of the grim reality of modern life.