SOMETIMES GREAT SONGS ARE HARD TO PIGEONHOLE
When you're a country fan and thus not really into power ballads, you may hear an artist and think, yea, that's pretty good, but you're not exactly sure who he is, or you may have heard his name and thought, oh, that's the Lido Shuffle dude.
I seemed to do that a lot with Boz Scaggs. When I saw the movie Urban Cowboy with my mom in 1980, I wasn't in love with most of the songs, even though they were mostly country. The one I liked the most was "Look What You've Done To Me", even though I wasn't certain who sang it.
And unlike, say, syrupy Richard Marx, Boz Scaggs did power ballads up right. In 1988 he released this, which proves that good songwriting, great singing, and soul can make a ballad soar:
Ten years earlier, he released his version of his song, which became a bigger hit for Rita Coolidge (although I don't know why):
So, I learned over time that I really liked Boz Scaggs, even though I had to search my brain for his name every time I heard one of his songs on the radio. Everybody has an artist like that. "Hey, I really like this guy! Who is he again?"
In 1994 I worked in an office that had that awful piped-in music. It wasn't Muzak, thank God, but actual artists' tracks, although the sequencing was repetitive. Most of the time I tried to ignore it, but somebody in the bowels of the office had decided to slide up the volume lever so the tunes were impossible to ignore. My company didn't allow employees to talk (seriously, talking was considered an infraction) and therefore the absolute worst songs imaginable pummeled everyone's eardrums.
Since it was the nineties, the company that'd compiled the tapes mixed in some country-lite tracks among the easy listening selections. Thus I heard Steve Wariner's "The Weekend" approximately three thousand, two hundred and sixty-four times.
But there was one track that showed up a couple of times a day. I ignored it at first, but I soon found myself wishing for it to show up in the rotation. I had no idea what the name of the song was, nor who sang it, but ultimately I made up my mind to search it out at my town's one and only record store, Musicland.
I scanned the Top Forty chart posted on an end cap, but nothing on the list seemed remotely close, so then I listlessly flipped through all the CD's in the "rock" section (I knew it wasn't country). Still no hits.
Meekly, I sidled up to the counter and told the guy I was looking for a song. I didn't know the name of it or who sang it, but I said, "It goes, sometimes I cry, sometimes I fly like a bird."
"I think that's Boz Scaggs," he said.
Ahhhh. Of course! Boz Scaggs!
TIP: Whenever you hear something you like and you don't know who's singing it, just assume it's Boz Scaggs.
I dutifully toddled back to the rock section and thumbed through the "S's" 'til I found an album titled, "Some Change".
And there it was!
I took the CD home and played the track, then played it again. And then again. To be honest, I don't think I even tried out any of the other songs. In retrospect, the album isn't bad. If there's one thing Boz Scaggs can do, it's write.
But I believe "Fly Like A Bird" was heaven-sent.
This could very well, very possibly, most likely, be my favorite song ever. And I've heard a lot of damn songs.
Thank you, Boz Scaggs. I promise I won't ever forget your name again.
~ Michelle Anderson, Senior Country Editor