Cool Tunes You Might’ve Missed


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My friend Lesley sings in a band. She sings in church. She sings pretty much wherever she wants.

She loves music. Aside from her brilliant singing voice, she’s similar to a lot of us. Grew up listening to pop music on the radio, gravitated to albums, and Classic Rock. Likes discovering new tunes.

So, a few years back, she was running low on fresh choices for casual listening. She asked me to suggest a few new songs and artists. I never got around to it.

Well, better late than never, Lesley. I’ve compiled a list of some great tunes here that you might like. Most were never huge hits that received enormous air play on commercial radio. But they probably should have.

Even though I spent over 30 years as a Classic Rock morning radio host, I have no special qualifications here. I just enjoy music, same as you. My tastes are pretty eclectic, but I’m a sucker for rhythms and melodies.

So, this is for Lesley, and maybe for some others who gave up after Classic Rock’s heyday or wondered why they don’t write and produce good music anymore. Completely subjectively and in no specific order, here’s my list of Cool Tunes You Might’ve Missed:

Collective Soul, better known for other one-word titles “Shine” and “December,” is also singularly good with 1997’s “Blame,” beginning with a brief acoustic guitar piece by Ed Roland, who studied at Boston’s famed Berklee School of Music. Hang in for the great song that unfolds after the opening interlude.

“Stitched Up” from 2005 by John Mayer features the great Herbie Hancock on piano. The cut’s genesis sprang from a conversation Mayer had with a buddy, who used the phrase to describe a frustrating relationship.

In “Still Rainin'” Jonny Lang sounds nowhere near 17, which is how old he was when the song was released in 1998. Late Little Feat drummer Richie Hayward is on board here. (Lang’s duet with Joss Stone in the above album is also brilliant.)

“Many the Miles” by Sara Bareilles showed up on President Obama’s recently released playlist. But Conservatives and Independents should also dig this song. Much more textured and nuanced than her other 2007 mega-hit “Love Song.”

Hard to believe “Rosalie Come and Go” was just a bonus track on Ryan Adams’ 2001 “Gold” release. (Also check out “Gonna Make You Love Me” from that same album, which includes assistance from Tom Petty keyboardist Belmont Tench, guitar work from Stephen Stills’ son Chris, and Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz.)

Check out the powerful pipes on Marc Broussard in “Home,” a song Kelly Clarkson fell in love with and performed often in concert. Broussard was 22 when this song came out in 2004.

1999’s “You’re a God” was not even Vertical Horizon’s biggest hit from that year, but it’s their best song (and a favorite for me and my wife Beth). Movie fans will remember it from the Jim Carrey film “Bruce Almighty.” There’s also a cool acoustic duet of this tune with Richard Marx and Vertical Horizon lead singer Matt Scannell, who attended my high school.

If you search for 2005’s “Nothing But the Water” by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, make sure you find Part 2 instead of Part 1.

Here’s a live version of the irresistible 2006 duet “This Is Us” by country legend Emmylou Harris and Dire Straits’ front man Mark Knopfler. His guitar work, the blend of their voices, and her bemused look on that one snarky lyric–priceless!

Eric Hutchinson’s vocals have been compared to Stevie Wonder. Decide for yourself by taking a listen to his 2008 rocker “You Don’t Have to Believe Me” below, then prepare to be surprised when you see him in a live performance of the same song with Daryl Hall.

It was tough to choose which song to present from Fastball. There are catchy melodies and vocals from a LOT of songs by the pride of Austin, Texas. But here’s the video for 1998’s “Fire Escape,” with a funny cameo from sportscaster Pat O’Brien referencing the band’s biggest hit:

Just when you think Barenaked Ladies are done layering incredibly witty and creative lyrics on top of each other in 2000’s “Falling for the First Time,” they keep going….

There ya go. There’s a dozen of my Cool Tunes You Might’ve Missed. Sorry for the delay, Lesley. Hit me back with one of yours.

Dave Coombs hosts a Talk morning show with his wife Beth and Jay Aiello on 100.7 FM WUTQ/Utica-Rome. They often feature live music from local bands.

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