When I asked my pop-music-obsessed friends to pick a favorite melody from the past 50 years I overbooked, assuming that a fair number would have better things to do. But what could be more important for a pop-music obsessive than weighing in on this crucial issue? And so our correspondents continue to name those tunes. (A final installment will be hopelessly devoted to the melodies of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.)
Two respondents paid homage to their friends/mentors. Songwriter/producer Chris Braide says "Tempted," a nifty number by Glen Tilbrook, is "incredibly complex and yet totally simple." Tony-winning playwright/lyricist Steven Sater selects the haunting Butch Cassidy instrumental "Come Touch The Sun," from the pen of Burt Bacharach.
Master of time, space and satellite radio Andrew Oldham isn't stuck in the '60s, when he managed and produced the Rolling Stones. He picks Dido-Rollo Armstrong-Rick Nowels' 2003 "White Flag."
Memorabilia maven/author Jeff Gold writes that "I Love You More Than Words Can Say" (Eddie Floyd/Booker T. Jones) is a particular fave because "It's been stuck in my head for decades, with no sign of abating." TV writer-producer and songwriter John Mankiewicz gives a similar rationale for settling on Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue": "It's the kind of tune you can't get out of your head and you don't care that you can't."
Songwriter Franne Golde and writer Lynell George dipped into the Antonio Carlos Jobim catalogue. Franne picks the sinuous "How Insensitive," which is subtly based on a Prelude by Frederick Chopin, who channeled beautiful tunes directly from the heavens. Lynell writes that "Waters of March" is "deceivingly complex in its simplicity -- playful, buoyant, introspective, sexy -- it's a saunter through a changing state of mind."
Music consultant Tom "TV Tom" Vickers wasted no time in choosing the sublime "Waterloo Sunset" by Ray Davies. Writer Sam Sutherland agonized for a week before, at the very last moment, picking Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day." (Davies and Thompson were repeatedly mentioned as among our greatest and most underrated songwriters.)
Dick Rudolph, producer/songwriter and dad of the fabulous Maya Rudolph (mom was the amazing Minnie Riperton), loves all things Ivan Lins, but singled out "Love Dance" for its melodic splendor. Music journalist Peter Keepnews writes of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints": "Structurally it's nothing more or less than a minor blues in waltz time, but it has a mysterious power that is as hard to explain as it is to resist." Writer/political activist (and wife!) Wendy Block wonders "Who could conjure sounds as sweet as 'Tupelo Honey'?"
Writer Donnell Alexander picked Allee Willis/Maurice White/Al McKay's "September," opining that "The way (the melody) relates to the song's bouncy rhythm puts me in mind of an R&B Beatles." Songwriter/producer Robbie Leff opted for Fischoff-Powers' "98.6" -- the title of Keith's one hit is no typo; it's a way of expressing a love that's got the singer back to normal.
Writer/editor/Merry Prankster Paul Krassner has family reasons for picking the Jerry Garcia vehicle "Ripple" -- he used to sing to his daughter, who now sings it to her daughter. Zane Kesey, son of novelist/Merry Prankster guru Ken Kesey, wants to make sure we know that that Brian Wilson's "Good Vibrations" actually causes good vibrations.
Awesome singer Lyn Sigman (sister-in-law) says "Wind Beneath My Wings" (Jeff Silbar-Larry Henley) "stands alone and tells a story without the lyrics." Awesome singer and dancer Sarah Sigman (niece) chose "Feeling Good" (Bricusse-Newley), finding a "Very simple catchy somewhat haunting melody." Business partner Randy Sigman (brother) selected Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Former Louis Prima gal Friday Terry Sigman (mom) and musician/business partner Jeff Sigman (brother) will make their Lennon-McCartney faves known in Part III. (Hints: Jeff says "Hey" and mom's birth name is Eleanor.)
Finally, we reached out to Lamont Dozier and he was there. The composer of dozens of No. 1 hits -- along with Brian and Eddie Holland -- got right to the point: "My favorite melody of all time is in my song 'Reach Out, I'll Be There.' I love the way Brian and I shaped the melody by creating the song in a ballad form first. We wrote the melody to move between a minor key Russian bolero feeling in the verse to a major key gospel feeling in the chorus. This provided the listener with a sustained tension and an emotional journey."