Blues legend Robert Johnson.

Blues legend Robert Johnson.

Music is memory. Hearing a song or a piece of music, like thinking about one of the twenty-seven used cars I’ve owned, chauffeur me into my past.

I learned Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago” on the guitar from my friend, Warren Wilson. I was living on a commune in New Hampshire. It was 1970, and I had never heard country blues before. Diddy-Dirty Money’s “I’m Coming Home” with Skylar Grey was the first rap tune I fell for unconditionally. It blends pop, with hip-hop and ballad.

I’m a sucker for ballads. I listened to the songs on this top-ten list of tunes about HOME while I was processing images and interviews for a film project I was working on with my wife, Joanne; it’s called Home Sick. I pretty near like everything Elvis ever recorded. His opening of Curly Putman’s “The Green Green Grass of Home” is so deep and sappy, it puts chills up my sleeve.

Paul Simon’s talent as songwriter and his harmonies with Art Garfunkel gave me a sense of musical hope when I first started writing songs myself in 1966. I was a sophomore in high school. Mohammed Ali declared himself a conscientious objector that year, and three years later when I dropped out of college, I did the same. In 1968 I heard Simon and Garfunkel perform together without a band, at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens, not far from where they grew up.

The surprise for me on this list – because new music always sneaks up me when I least expect it – is the hotel-room-recording by Cathy Burton and Eller van Buuren, “Surrender.” Simple and un-produced. I really can’t say enough about the other artists mentioned here, even John Denver. If there is something I love besides my wife and daughter, it’s music. I can’t imagine the world without it, or them.

1. Diddy-Dirty Money featuring Skylar Grey – Comin’ Home

2. Elvis Presley- Green Green Grass of Home

3. John Denver – Country Roads

4. Robert Johnson Sweet Home Chicago

5. Simon and Garfunkel – Homeward Bound

6. Dusty Springfield – I’m Coming Home Again

7. Cathy Burton and Eller van Buuren – Surrender

8. Joni Mitchell – Night Ride Home

9. Neil Young – Helpless

10. James Taylor – Carolina in my Mind


Jim Savio is a Lecturer in the NYUAD Writing Program. He publishes fiction, essays, and poetry.

[Image source: Wikipedia]

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