Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity

I use emusic a lot and sometimes I just have enough money for one song at the end of the month. So here’s a question: if you had money for just one song, and it wasn’t on a record you or another normal person might already have, what would it be?

Here’s what we just got under these circumstances, because it’s not on any of Michael’s regular albums. But far more hip-and-obscure recommendations are welcome.

117 replies
  1. 1
    BGinCHI says:

    I have had Marty Robbins’ song “El Paso” stuck in my head all day.

    I so loved that Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs record when I was a kid.

  2. 2
    cleek says:

    Aldo Nova, Fantasy.

    because i ordered that album through the record club in 1981 but they never sent it to me.


  3. 3
    BGinCHI says:

    @cleek: He might be Canadian, which explains it.

  4. 4
    WereBear says:

    Play that funky music by Wild Cherry.

    Because they are one of those bands with ONE great song.

  5. 5
    The Dangerman says:

    Mark Cohn, One Safe Place. Not on any of his albums last time I checked.

  6. 6
    dedc79 says:

    Clearly it’s gotta be a very long song.

    Right Off (Pts 1 and 2) – Miles Davis
    One Sunday Morning – Wilco
    Heard it Through the Grapevine – CCR (extended version)

  7. 7
    Violet says:

    DougJ, I only just found out last week that you are on Balloon-Juice sabbatical, except for the music posts. I’m already missing your other posts, but good to see you here now.

  8. 8
    Alex S. says:

    Björk – Karvel (B-side of “I Miss You”)

    or maybe

    The Walker Brorthers – Archangel (B-side of the rare single “Deadlier Than the Male”)

  9. 9
    smintheus says:

    Marmalade, I See the Rain.

    Lyrics are a bit twee, but oh that twin bass sound! An early (’67) and mostly forgotten 45 from a band that eventually got onto the charts.

  10. 10
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    Dexy’s Midnight Runners Come On Eileen

    If I never heard another song from this one-hit-wonder, I wouldn’t care less. But this song? Fuck, man, it’s iconic for late Boomers and early GenXers.

  11. 11
    cervantes says:

    People might actually have the Roy Buchanan album Live Stock, but if they don’t, they should at least have Can I Change My Mind?

    One hit wonder, not exactly hip but a real catchy song, Smoke of a Distant Fire, by Sanford-Townsend Band, two session men who tried to make it as front men.

  12. 12
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    …Or this.

  13. 13
    DougJ says:



  14. 14
    the Conster says:

    Young Aretha singing I Say A Little Prayer For You on the Cliff Richard show from 1970, that I’ve only seen on YouTube. I’d love it remastered and basically put in liquid form so I could inject it.

  15. 15
    JCJ says:

    Vivaldi – Four Seasons

  16. 16
    DougJ says:


    Wow, Smoke of a Distant Fire is exactly what I had in mind, almost mentioned it as a possibility.

  17. 17
    Billy K. says:

    Del McCoury Band – 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

    I’m not a bluegrass fan, or even really a Richard Thompson fan (he wrote and recorded the original), but there’s something profound and transcendent about this song. Thompson said he wrote it because he felt England lacked ballads of common people. It’s something like if the story of Bonnie and Clyde were sung by Marty Robbins, but they lived in England and rode legendary motorcycles.

  18. 18
    SatanicPanic says:

    The Greatest Song in the World

  19. 19
    wasabi gasp says:

    This and that.

  20. 20
    Cassidy says:

    Is get the one of Tim Waits just growling for 30 minutes while a Nick Cave plays a jack in the box in the background.

  21. 21
    22over7 says:

    Paul Simon and George Harrison singing “Here Comes the Sun” on Saturday Night Live.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Bruce says:

    Try “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” by the Scissor Sisters. Just fantastic, and it’s something you likely don’t hear every day.

  24. 24
    The Dangerman says:

    This came off a fine record (as you’ll see, duh) as a studio track…

    …but this is the best version of The River (Springsteen, also probably duh) ever. Solo/Acoustic/Live, I don’t think it’s on any album in this configuration:


  25. 25
    The Pale Scot says:

    Don’t Nobody Move (This Is a Heist)–Tony Powers

    Edit: Just thought about this a day ago for the first time in 25? years

  26. 26
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Cross eyed cat
    by Muddy Waters and Johnny Winters


  27. 27
    piratedan says:

    @BGinCHI: that’s an awesome album, I have a hard time picking a favorite from that LP, but I have to go with Running Gun, but Utah Carol and Strawberry Roan are right up there too.

    but in keeping with the original thread topic… I don’t have this one, but I will some day.


  28. 28

    @DougJ: I have a suggestion, how about a math post, once in a while?

  29. 29
    GregL190 says:

    “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” by the Allman Brothers. Any live version, preferably the one from “Wipe The Windows, Check The Oil, Dollar Gas”. You can just feel the stress of the day melting away…

  30. 30
    DougJ says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I’ll think about it.

  31. 31
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Or maybe

    Leave her alone
    Junior Kimbrough


  32. 32
    gogol's wife says:


    Isn’t it amazing how many great songs Harrison wrote?

  33. 33
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    you or another normal person might already have

    OK, let’s cut to the chase. I might be normal, but the rest of you are bonkers.

    ON topic: Bette Midler, “You’re Moving Out Today”.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @SatanicPanic: That would be “Happy Birthday” as performed by Dietrich Buxtehude on an organ in a baroque church somewhere in Saxony.

  35. 35
    Aaron says:

    Comfortable by Fleming and John. Or almost any song of theirs. Not a well known group, but amazing music.

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): Three key changes. Three!

  37. 37
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I was referring to the Tenacious D song, but apparently they can’t remember how it goes

  38. 38
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Or even

    Voodoo chile
    Jimi Hendrix


  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: OK, perhaps also, too, Buxtehude’s version of “In-A-Gada-Da-Vida”

    “Wait a minute this sounds like Rock and/or Roll!”

  40. 40
    Gindy51 says:

    Dead Man’s Party, Oingo Boingo. One of my all time faves and has a nice beat to it plus really cool lyrics. No wonder Tim Burton loves Danny Elfman
    What Do You Want From life by The Tubes
    Just Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke

    Well that’s three from someone who is not all that into music to begin with.

  41. 41
    Amir Khalid says:

    Off topic, sorry, but The Guardian is reporting something I think many of us had feared: the separatists in Ukraine are working to cover up the traces of their involvement in bringing down MH17.

  42. 42
    beth says:

    Liza singing The World Goes Round. Always puts me in a much better mood after a crappy week like this.


  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amir Khalid: What a surprise.

    Uncle Vlad’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.

  44. 44
    Alex S. says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    It’s probably their end. They’ve gone too far. Putin will have to cut them loose.

  45. 45
    burnspbesq says:


    Two winners there.

    I would probably go for the London Symphony/Gergiev recording of “Bolero.”

    Or maybe the live version of Los Lobos’ “Cumbia Raza,” from the Live at the Fillmore album.

  46. 46
    Xjmueller says:

    Sweet Jane, Lou Reed. Live version.

  47. 47
    The Dangerman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Uncle Vlad’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.

    Seems to me that shooting down a civilian airliner qualifies for War Crimes; Putin, or, more correctly, his unfortunate underlings that get tossed under the bus, can explain in The Hague (which, of course, is in The Netherlands, how apropos).

    ETA: Or, we can get Uncle Vlad to shit his pants by having the Netherlands invoke Article 5.

  48. 48
    Princess says:

    Bolero Lava “Inevitable”
    Because it is pretty much unavailable, but here it is on youtube:


  49. 49
    Roger Moore says:

    I’m surprised nobody has given the obvious answer.

  50. 50
    Keith G says:

    Re the question at the top: To cheat, it would be any song written and performed by Tom Odell.

    Forced to make a choice in would be his Sense.

    Had a chance to meet and share a drink or two. He oozes fun, as well as talent, from every pore.

  51. 51
    Keith G says:

    @Roger Moore: That seems like a cry for help.

  52. 52
    James E. Powell says:

    Isn’t Russia the international version of “too big to jail”? Even if every European nation agrees – and how likely is that? – what steps could they take that would change Russian policy?

    And what would be the consequences of taking those steps?

  53. 53
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Amir Khalid: CNN just showed a video of a BUK crossing the border from Ukraine into Russia with only two missiles. Someone’s toy has been taken away.

  54. 54
  55. 55
    raven says:

    @GregL190: Great minds.

  56. 56
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:
    Put it another way: Someone’s smoking gun is going to be tossed down a well.

  57. 57
    Amir Khalid says:

    It just occurred to me: we haven’t heard a peep from our man in Portland all day, have we?

  58. 58
    p.a. says:

    Joe Ely plays a Butch Hancock song.

  59. 59
    p.a. says:

    I’m getting ‘post failed’ messages, but they do load. Anyone else?

  60. 60
    Cassidy says:

    @p.a.: IPhone?

  61. 61
  62. 62
    James E. Powell says:

    @The Dangerman:

    If I’m going to go acoustic Bruce, it’s got to be Thunder Road

  63. 63
  64. 64
    p.a. says:

    @Cassidy: I wish. MotoRazr, VzWitless carrier.

  65. 65
    p.a. says:

    @Amir Khalid: he’s formulating a response. Or waiting for one to be communicated to him.

  66. 66
    Alexandra says:

    Theme from the best soundtrack ever:

    Angelo Badalamenti – Theme from Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me


    Or maybe Sycamore Trees, with Jimmy Scott.

  67. 67
    Janeform says:

    @the Conster: there’s a version of say a little prayer on the album Aretha’s Gold. I’ve always loved it.

  68. 68
    FridayNext says:

    Jon and Vangellis

    Friends of Mr. Cairo.

    Nobody has this on any album everything else these two did together is boring pap. But I always I liked this song and enjoy running to it.

  69. 69
    Mike E says:

    @p.a.: Yep, same…motoRAZR Verizon.

    eta I always ignore the “unsuccessful” when submitting by smart phone, and refresh to see the comment has been (almost always) posted.

  70. 70
    raven says:

    @Janeform: That’s funny. I watched the Muscle Shoals documentary the other night and it has a good bit about her. When they first introduce her they have her singing on Hullaballoo or some such show. She’s singing some over-produced song with heavy string and I said “they were trying to make her Dionne Warwick”! Thankfully the Swampers got ahold to her and this was the result.

  71. 71
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @The Dangerman: Ah the ol’ NATO ‘An attack on one member is an attack on all’ ruse.

    Wake me up when EU members of NATO finds the cash for that little excursion, ‘mmkay?

  72. 72
    Keith G says:

    @p.a.: I have been getting some really slow load times over my cable/modem connection this afternoon. I just figured it has been Comcast punishing the serfs.

  73. 73
    KG says:

    something old and bluesy, like so old that no matter how many times they’ve tried to remaster it, the recording still sounds old. the singer’s name probably wouldn’t be his actually name and likely include a word like “blind” or “old” or “young” or “deaf”. because if it’s my last song ever, it might as well be something like that.

  74. 74
    GxB says:

    Ran across this just recently, A young Stevie Wonder doing Superstition on Sesame Street. Not only is it a stomping version, but you get a couple shots of a young headbanger that instantly put it in my must preserve for future generations pile.

  75. 75
    Mike E says:

    Funky Drummer – In The Jungle Groove, JB…pretty sure it’s outa print and the source recording may have deteriorated beyond repair, so, that one.

  76. 76
    tybee says:

    alex harvey: hoodoin’ of miss fanny de berry/ritual of miss fanny de berry



  77. 77
    Trollhattan says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    Least surprising news, ever. Suspect the missile debris is Priority the Firstest, although the smaller bits are going to be impossible to gather amongst such a huge amount.

    This reminds me of the company boys who went into the Big Branch Mine after the explosion to cover their tracks of misdeeds. Mostly got away with it, too.

  78. 78
    p.a. says:

    @Mike E: mine started last week. recent OS upgrade, but don’t remember the upgrade timing vis the issue.

  79. 79
    Anoniminous says:

    Definitely Suite per orchestra n.5 op.34 “Dans les rues” by Hanns Eisler.

  80. 80
    Johnny Yuma says:

    It depends on your mood, of course. A heart tugging-in-a-sweet way song is Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney singing Some Enchanted Evening. I love both singers, and the collaboration was inspired. But even had I been unaware of them, and was hearing each sing for the very first time as they performed that duet, my abiding reaction would still be: “those two are in love”. They worked on the same wavelength in their rendition, and sang as though from one heart. It’s just beautiful. Again, you’ve got to be in the mood. If you ever are, give it a listen.

  81. 81
    Janeform says:

    @raven: That is funny. Yeah, strings would wreck it.

  82. 82
    MomSense says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Awesome song choices!!!

    I am in the very fortunate position of having a musician in the family so I never have to worry about choosing just one song. He even learns songs I like so I can sing with him.

  83. 83
    Dick Move says:

    Actually, I once had a $.99 credit at Amazon’s music download store, and I used it to buy THIS VERY SONG. I’ve been wearing out my vinyl LP of Destiny since about the day it came out, and wanted a digital copy. Since then, I’ve been using any additional music credits to fill out the album.

    Good Choice!

  84. 84
    Amir Khalid says:

    More Russian fun and games. (Link goes to Slate.) If there is nothing to hide, why work so hard to hide it?

  85. 85
    Mike E says:

    @SatanicPanic: Tribute.

    eta This is not the Greatest Song In The World…

  86. 86
    Janeform says:

    @raven: Very nice. Here’s Say a little prayer. I hope it works. I’m link challenged.

  87. 87
    Anthony says:

    Bicycle – St. Vincent

    Which I had to rip from that youtube video with a stereo cable because it only exists as a bonus for downloading the whole album on amazon.

  88. 88
    gogol's wife says:

    @Johnny Yuma:

    Thanks for that — Clooney is exquisite. But I just don’t get Frank Sinatra. He sounds flat and unengaged to me.

    My favorite version of that song is Bernadette Peters on her Richard Rodgers recording. It’s not on YouTube. This is a poor-quality video of her singing it live: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwo25dOiPfg

  89. 89
    Trollhattan says:

    If there’s a more joyous live performance than Muddy at Newport in ’60, I don’t know what it might be. He definitely had his Mojo Workin’. His best band, playing at their peak.


    (The less I encounter Michael, the dead pederast, the better.)

  90. 90
    Suzanne says:

    Everclear ‘s “Happy Hour”.

    Do not have full internet here in Mexico, but look it up—I swear.

  91. 91
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    This one, it should be the theme song of every progressive campaign from now until forever. I still think that it should have been Obama’s campaign theme but they ignored me.

    John Farnham “You’re the Voice”


  92. 92
    gbear says:

    I’d also occasionally those get 99 cent credits from Amazon for music downloads when I bought something else.

    The song that I wanted the most without having to buy an album was ‘Ode To Billie Joe’ by Bobbie Gentry. That record just stood out for it’s incredible atmosphere when it came out, and it still holds up now.

  93. 93
    Janeform says:

    @raven: Very nice. Here’s Aretha Say a Little Prayer. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq3yi2kF6d0

  94. 94
    john fremont says:

    Led Zeppelin in their first year covering Garnett Mimms “As Long As I Have You” It would segue into Spirit “Fresh Garbage”, Modern Jazz Quartet “Bags Groove”, Cream “Cat’s Squirrel” , Chuck Berry “No Money Down” and Muddy Waters “Manish Boy”. A pretty intense live recording I’ve only heard on You Tube.

    Also too, Wes Montgomery with a full horn section doing “West coast Blues” on the BBC

  95. 95
    James E. Powell says:


    I like the Robert Mitchum version better.

    I saw that movie at the theater when I was a little kid. I read it got bad reviews, but I liked it a lot.

    The poster for the movie inspired Bruce to write his song by that title. He claims not to have seen the movie, but I can’t believe after all these years he’s never checked it out.

  96. 96
    the Conster says:


    Can’t go wrong with Aretha and one good one deserves another, but my favorite version is this one – more soulful I think.

  97. 97
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Rosetta Hightower — “A Little More Line”

  98. 98
    the Conster says:

    @the Conster:

    Also, Burt Bachrach said something like he didn’t really appreciate what he’d written until he heard Aretha sing it.

  99. 99
    Johnny Yuma says:

    @gogol’s wife: I suggested that song from memory, and it had been years since I last heard it. I actually just took my first listen after all that time after reading your response. I do understand what you mean about Sinatra’s delivery, but counter with this observation.

    Humility is not a quality one associates with Frank Sinatra, but the man respected and was always generous in his public acknowledgements of musical talent (his snide initial comments about Elvis aside). My guess is he deliberately understated his bit with Clooney, because she was so damned brilliant and he admired her accordingly. He did it again a decade later (circa ’65), when he left the spotlight to Ella Fitzgerald in their TV special duet of The Lady Is A Tramp. Sinatra, understanding Fitzgerald could run rings around any delivery of his, simply left her to carry the tune while he filled in the bits. Frank (that is, Mr. Sinatra) always knew the score musically.

  100. 100
    gogol's wife says:

    @Johnny Yuma:

    Could be.

  101. 101
    Louis says:

    Finger Poppin Time by Hank Ballard and The Midnighters vs. any of a number of versions of Tippatina by Professor Longhair.

  102. 102
    condorcet runner up says:

    Bullring Brummies – The Wizard (Sabbath cover with Butler, Ward, and Halford, and also Jimmy Wood on harmonica)

  103. 103
    condorcet runner up says:

    Bullring Brummies – The Wizard (Sabbath cover with Jimmy Wood on harmonica)

  104. 104
    JenJen says:

    Leonard Cohen, Dance Me To The End Of Love.

  105. 105
    Debbie says:

    Vassal Clemmens’ version of Orange Blossom Special with the Flying Burrito Brothers.

  106. 106
    debbie says:

    Sigh, Vassar Clements.

  107. 107
    JerryN says:

    I run into that situation on emusic every once in a while. I tend to download catchy pop tunes from albums that I’d never buy. Songs like the Bananarama version of I’m Your Venus and Dancin’ In The Moonlight by Orleans have ended up on my music disc that way.

  108. 108
    Spike says:

    I’m not a huge fan of Josh Ritter, but The Curse blew me away when I saw this video a few years ago.

  109. 109
    Panurge says:


    I have a close friend who knows Fleming and John personally; I’ve gotten to meet them myself and hear them live. Definitely a band that should’ve seen better fortunes, but at least John apparently makes a good living as a session player and producer in Nashville. But I think they still do things together occasionally.

  110. 110
    Jane2 says:

    Frank Carillo – With her Pyjamas on.

  111. 111
    angelfoot says:

    “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” by Dylan, from Biograph. “Percy’s Song” is a strong contender, but, yeah.

  112. 112
    gogiggs says:

    @Xjmueller: Sweet Jane is my favorite song and that is my favorite version, closely followed by the Mott the Hoople version.
    Although, why that’s a song you wouldn’t normally own is beyond me. Rock n Roll Animal is a great album.

    My choice is Dave Edmunds version of Elvis Costello’s Girl’s Talk. I own 4 versions (Edmunds, Costello, Ronstadt and Sweet/Hoffs) but Edmunds’ is the best and it’s the only song of his I have outside of the Rockpile album.

  113. 113
    Ramalama says:

    1) The group Labelle – Chameleon

    2) Material (the band) with Whitney Houston singing the paint off of the wall.

    3) The Smiths – Well I Wonder

    4) Simon Bousquet – Tes accords défilés

  114. 114
    jm says:

    @cervantes: Was that Billy Vera singing?

  115. 115
    Bill Murray says:

    I’d go with Doreen Shaffer backed by the Skatalites for probably anything, but to go fairly hard to find Adorable You


    or You’re Wondering Now or The Vow

  116. 116
    reboho says:

    Maggot Brain from Funkadelic http://www.emusic.com/album/fu...../10924700/ If you don’t know, it’s your loss…

  117. 117
    Bill says:

    Look Away, from Game Theory’s album Lolita Nation

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