THE GREATEST OF ALL TUNES (G.O.A.T.) is a salute to the greatest songs of all time. One song per artist, with suggested further listening and covers!
It was a close call picking this song instead of Gimme Some Lovin, which little Stevie Windwood recorded with Spencer Davis Group (and Eric Clapton) at the age of 16, but this tune was covered by Warren Zevon, so it gets the prize. Not to mention that, other than LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out, it’s probably the best career-reviving song in history.
By 1986, Steve Winwood had been in several blockbuster supergoups: The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Blind Faith—all of which had major classic rock hits. He had also had a few hit records—as late as 1982’s Talking Back To The Night—but the reality was that he wasn’t as famous as many of the folks he had come up with. Eric Clapton had several huge albums in the 1980s and was working with Phil Collins, who was the biggest solo act around. Stevie Nicks’ solo career was also on fire. Roger Waters was selling out Madison Square Garden. So when Windwood recorded his multiple-Grammy winning album, he might have had something to prove—that “all the doors that closed one time, will open and let me in.” And they did. Oh, and by the way, that’s James Taylor singing with him in harmony.
Further listening: He’s had a bunch of minor hits like Talking Back to the Night and Roll With It, but I’m going to say that only these could possibly qualify as GOATs: Gimme Some Lovin’ (Spencer Davis Group), The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys and John Barleycorn Must Die (Traffic), Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith), The Finer Things (solo).
Covers: I love the Warren Zevon version, and I also love Nell “Gimme a Break” Carter’s version. But for very different reasons.