Ron Onesti: What are my favorite 'singalong' songs?
What are my favorite songs? I get that question a lot. Obviously, I have several ways of answering this, depending on the perspective. There are hundreds I love to hear, and probably more I like to sing along with.
I know it is cliché, but I DO love pretty much all music. Each genre has something I like, depending on my mood. And I have managed to find tunes that move me and allow me to belt out my own renditions in each one.
I must say, singing out loud at our live shows is one of the biggest pleasures for me! And as a child of the '70s classic rock era, I have a few faves I join in with the lead singer and once again prove to all that I belong more in front of a microphone than behind one.
The band Chicago was pretty much at the top of my list of singalong bands when my 15-year-old coming of age, musically, happened. So many hits with so many lyrics I could understand! Plus, with three vocalists and three distinctively different sounds, I could work on my range! That is if I had a range!
Robert Lamm singing "Saturday In the Park" and "Beginnings," Peter Cetera and his high-pitched performances of "Just You 'N Me" and "If You Leave Me Now," and Terry Kath with his legendary "I'm A Man" and a little known song about his daughter, but one of my all-time favorites, "Little One," give me goose bumps every time I sing along. Possibly my favorite is the socially responsive duet by Kath and Cetera, "Dialogue, Parts I & II."
"Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys are two of many I can remember singing into a hairbrush in front of my dresser mirror. Add "Surfin' Safari," "California Girls" and "Little Deuce Coupe" and it's like I am amped on a tubular shack of a bomb wave! What? (I've never surfed in my life.)
But when it came to "hairbrush singing," I really love the "old school" R&B tunes. When that deep, brassy opening of the Rev. Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" starts, I ALWAYS stop whatever it is I am doing at that time and join in.
Luther Vandross has always been one of my favorites. His soulful tunes of romance, "Superstar" (also made popular by The Carpenters) and "A House Is Not A Home," still have that same effect on me, if you know what I mean! And those powerful ballads and high falsettos by the Stylistics in their songs, including "You Make Me Feel Brand New" and "You Are Everything," make me hit notes I never knew I could hit! (What they sound like in my head versus what they actually sound like when they come out of my mouth are probably two wildly different things.)
"Just My Imagination" by the Temptations, "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love" by Barry White, "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips and "Easy" by the Commodores are other R&B super-faves of mine. I could go on with gems from Heatwave, Parliament, Kool & The Gang, Stevie, Michael and Smokey!
OK. I am going to say it. Yes, I AM A ROCKER! But, because I feel so close to you, I must bare my soul to you. I can't help but sing along to the Carpenters' "Don't You Remember You Love Me Baby," Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You," "Mandy" or "I Write The Songs." I DO draw the line at "Copacabana," though, so don't judge me!
Ever since I heard the line, "Oh Candy and Ronnie, have you seen them yet, Oh well they're so spaced out" in "Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John, I have been a fan. "Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting" and "Rocket Man" really get me going.
I remember when Billy Joel's huge breakout album, "The Stranger," came out. It was another major sing-along-packed masterpiece! "Movin' Out," "The Stranger," "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" (one of my all-time faves), "I Love You Just the Way You Are," "She's Always a Woman," "Only the Good Die Young" and, although not on that album, how can we leave out, "Piano Man?" Are you kidding me?
When the band America plays at the Arcada, I know it is like turning on a classic rock jukebox of hits. "I Need You," "Tin Man," "Ventura Highway," "A Horse With No Name," "You Can Do Magic" and "Lonely People." Dewey and Gerry still got it after 50 solid years!
I do not have enough space to touch on the practically countless singalong tunes from Journey, Boston, Foreigner, Kansas and Kiss. Of course, classics from Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rush and Yes come to mind. Do we even try to touch on Guns 'N Roses, Poison, AC/DC, Metallica, Motley Crue or Aerosmith?
Oh no! Then I have to mention two sets of four lads from England! What about my garage-rock favorites from my buddies the Buckinghams, Ides of March, New Colony Six, Cryan' Shames and Shadows of Knight?
I love a lot of country hits too! So many including those from the Man In Black's (Johnny Cash) "Ring Of Fire" to "The Thunder Rolls" by Garth Brooks. I ALWAYS sing those songs from start to finish!
What about those catchy tunes from the Go-Go's, Pat Benatar or Joan Jett?
I can't stop! My head is going to explode!
With all those hits from the past 70-plus years out there, why not spend some of your time focusing on them? Listen to them before bed, in the car or in your basement. Use them to take your mind off the craziness of today, even if it is just for a little while. It will be then when you truly realize the power YOUR music really has!
Face it, the time will come when your favorite songs to sing will go from "Stairway To Heaven" and "Hey Jude" to "You Are My Sunshine" or "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Maybe even Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade!" It is inevitable. Enjoy your ROCK now! It will feed your soul and keep you young. When have you ever needed it more than now?
And if you should hear what sounds to be fingernails on a chalkboard, it is probably me nearby heartfully and passionately belting out my impersonation of vintage Steve Perry doing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'!"
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of the Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.