THE GREATEST OF ALL TUNES (G.O.A.T.) is a series of posts, producing my 100 favorite songs of all time. The master list is here, and I update it about every two weeks or when I have another 10 songs or so.
Today we’re celebrating Steve Winwood, born May 12, 1946!
Back in the High Life. It was a monster hit in the ’80s, and, damn it, it’s a great tune. 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.
But Steve Windwood has literally decades of material to weed out. Stuff with Spencer David Group, Blind Faith, Traffic…So, if I’m trying to narrow my list to no more than two songs by any one artist, what’s my #2?
Gimme Some Lovin, which little Stevie Windwood recorded with Spencer Davis Group (and Eric Clapton) at the age of 16. Twenty Years before he was Back in the High Life again.
Back in the High Life Covers: I love the Warren Zevon version, and I also love Nell “Gimme a Break” Carter’s version. But for very different reasons.
Gimme Some Lovin’ Covers: Olivia! Olivia! My guiltiest pleasure! And Hanson!