I was browsing through the discount CDs at a local department store, hoping to find something to satisfy my recent bout with nostalgia. Most of the 60s and 70s CDs available were ones that I had already purchased over the years. I was surprised to see several of them, having been albums that sold millions of copies and are now considered classics. There was Boston, Bob Seger’s Night Moves, and Jackson Browne’s Running On Empty, all of which are still popular on classic rock radio stations.
I realized that each of those is now more than 30 years old, so the chance of someone paying the modern price for them is probably slight. Later, I found a Smash Mouth CHD with “All Star.” Then I began to compile a list of other songs that contained the word star in their titles.
10. “Star Baby” by The Guess Who: Burton Cummings and his band were well past their prime when they recorded this song, but the tune and delivery is very catchy. It might lack the innocence of “These Eyes” and the anger in “American Woman,” but the song makes up for it with fun.
9. “Star Collector” by The Monkees: The song is about a groupie, sung with all the fun that went along with The Monkees both on screen and on vinyl. In spite of the fun, though, the song does have a serious aspect. The girl is interested in you when you’re at the peak of fame, departing from you when your star begins to fade. The guy claims not to mind, admitting “It won’t take much time before I get her off my mind.” The impression must not have been so easy to dismiss, for he ended up writing a song about her.
8. “Highway Star” by Deep Purple: Machine Head is the best Deep Purple album, and not just because it contained “Smoke on the Water.” This tune actually has better guitar work, Ritchie Blackmore driving the rhythm at a fast pace as if he indeed were pounding the accelerator in a car on a highway.
7. “Shining Star” by Earth, Wind and Fire: This was the first big hit by the popular 70s soul band. The harmonies are excellent, foreshadowing what the band would later do on hits such as “Fantasy” and “Serpentine Fire.” The best part of the song is when the music stops, leaving the singers to reiterate the song’s uplifting message: “Shining star for you to see, what your life can truly be.”
6. “So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star” by The Byrds: The message has always seemed conflicting to me. In one line Roger McGuinn and his band try to dissuade you from aspiring for rock stardom, for you have to “Sell your soul to the company.” Yet later they admit that the girls will be all over you. The last part certainly sounds nice, but I never wanted to be a rock and roll star. I just wanted to write for Associated Content.
5. “Starlight” by Electric Light Orchestra: It seems like everything this band put out in the 70s was great. This track from Out of the Blue was overshadowed by “Sweet Talkin’ Woman ” and “Turn to Stone,” but it has a beautiful melody that serves a calming counterpart to those other tracks.
4. “Ziggy Stardust” by David Bowie: Even without the costume and stage set, Bowie’s song about a singing guitarist fronting the Spiders from Mars is a great song. Bowie’s voice has a raspier tone that blends perfectly with one of his most memorable guitar riffs.
3. “Starry Starry Night (Vincent)” by Don McLean: This beautiful song about the troubled artist Van Gogh is embellished by McLean’s soft, compassionate voice. This could very well have been the song McLean was singing when he inspired Roberta Flack to record “Killing Me Softly with his song.”
2. “Dark Star” by Crosby, Stills and Nash: The trio’s harmonies never sounded better than on this song from the album simply titles Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The acoustic guitar provides a perfect background for the blending of the voices.
1. “Shooting Star” by Bad Company: This song opens with one of the catchiest guitar riffs in rock history. The song is also aided by Paul Rodgers, who was perhaps at his best as a vocalist. The lyrics, while not great, do evoke some sympathy, tracking the life of Johnny from the time “Love Me Do” inspires him to buy a guitar to his rise to number one to his death in the last verse.