Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published April 17th 2021
Not just thinking about music
I recently mentioned that I am being dragged into a world of dating, and so the first thing I look for physically is the eyes. But that is not the most important thing. I like someone who is intelligent, and also hopefully at least a little creative. So, because I did a column about eyes, I thought I'd do one about brains and all that goes along with that as well.
I decided to look for songs about the mind. I set myself songs that were not about negative things with the mind, brain or intelligence, so 'Brain Damage' by Pink Floyd misses the cut. These had to be songs about having things on the mind or being clever. Once I put those limits in place… I made it really, really hard for myself! Still, I found enough tracks in my collection to make for an interesting list… Here's a dozen songs about being clever or knowing or the mind or stuff like that.
'Do You Want To Know A Secret' by Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas (1963)
Knowing a secret! That's what many desire. This cover of a Beatles tune is maybe not as good as the original, but John Lennon didn't like the original, and so I used this. Besides, it lets me use a Beatles song later on. Kramer and the Dakotas do a good version of this, for what it's worth – probably one of the best of the early Beatles' covers.
'Wake Up My Mind' by The Uglys (1965)
A bit of psychedelia that could well be about waking the mind up through the use of substances that were not illegal at the time, and yet are now. How's that for being oblique? Still, this is a great tune but is one of many that seems to have fallen through the cracks of time. (By the way, the band's name is variously spelled as Uglys, Ugly's and Uglies; I used the nomenclature on the album I own.)
'Tomorrow Never Knows' by The Beatles (1966)
Probably pushing the limits of knowledge and the mind and all that, but I never let up a chance to include my favourite Beatles' song off the classic Revolver album. It is a song about expanding your mind and finding what you don't know by going beyond. And it sounds awesome. Lobe this so much.
'God Only Knows' by The Beach Boys (1966)
From the album Pet Sounds (which I should do a classic album review of one day), this beautiful song about not knowing the future but not really caring, is one of the best performed of the Beach Boys' canon. It just sounds magnificent, and there is a good reason the Beatles felt pushed by The Beach Boys.
'Gentle On My Mind' by Glen Campbell (1967)
A nice piece of country-pop before that was really a thing, from Glen Campbell. Apparently, it was a cover version, but I have no idea of the original, and to me, it is a Glen Campbell song. It is a gentle piece and is a great song for mellowing out to. Its music and lyrics fit together perfectly. And I have maybe a dozen versions of it. Glen's is still the best.
'If You Could Read My Mind' by Gordon Lightfoot (1970)
This beautiful song about wanting a partner to be able to read the singer's mind so it would make knowledge easier is something I am sure many of us can relate to. This is a song that I still hear played on classic rock radio occasionally. I also recommend most heartily the cover version done by Johnny Cash on American V… and ignore the cover version by Stars On 54.
'Always On My Mind' by Elvis Presley (1972)
Yes, I've mentioned the Pet Shop Boys' version, and I was tempted to put that here, but I've been listening to post-1968 Elvis lately and this song is a definite highlight. His matured, deep voice soars in this track and he makes it virtually his own. It's tracks like this that make you realise how good he really was.
'Knowing Me, Knowing You' by Abba (1977)
One of my favourite Abba songs, this is a sad song about knowing one another too well, leading to a relationship breakdown. The harmonies are the usual perfection from all involved, and the lyrics are intelligent and the music is not a standard basic rock/pop music styling. Abba are often underrated for their song-smithery. This track is a strong example of how good they can be.
'Making Your Mind Up' by Bucks Fizz (1981)
Winner of the 1981 Eurovision song contest, and one of my favourite Eurovision songs, this song is about making a decision. As I said, it's just a nice bit of 1980s pop. And I'll tell the anecdote again: in year seven (as an 11 year old), I learnt the dance with a girl from school and we did in front of people (including me taking the dress off her to reveal a mini-skirt). Still like the song.
'Brain Brain' by Mental As Anything (1983)
This might be a little bit of a cheat, but it is a guy wanting the help of his brain to make things right with his girl. It's a desire for intelligence in himself… and I can relate to this all too well. While not one of my favourite Mentals songs, it's still a good tune.
'When The Heart Rules the Mind' by GTR (1986)
Great guitar playing, and with lyrics at the core of many relationships, this is a great piece of 1980s' rock that is sort of forgotten today. With guitarists Steve Howe (Yes) and Steve Hackett (Genesis) at the helm, it had all the makings of a late era prog-rock juggernaut… and it fell apart. Still, they left us with one great album and this single.
'Got My Mind Set On You' by George Harrison (1987)
A cover of the old James Ray track, this one is another in a long line of cover versions that I prefer over the original. And, oddly, it is one of Harrison's best-selling songs since leaving The Beatles. Still, fun track and another I own on 45.
The brain, the mind, is something I find very attractive, but maybe I am in the minority because there were not a real lot of songs to choose from for this column. Having said that, the songs here are great tracks and all are well worth listening to. Not as many, but the quality is really high.
Thinking in songs and music. Maybe we need more. After all, the mind is a gorgeous thing.