I distinctly remember my father having a CD – white background and hand-drawn people on the cover. At the time, it was just another CD. When I inherited his collection in 2000, I realized it was the Greatest Hits from America. It became one of my favorites.
The Backstory of America and Me
Since my father had the CD, I have heard America songs my entire life. I’m not positive, but he probably had a dozen of their vinyl records. I’ve grown to love the cam folk sound of their songs and through some research, not surprised I love a lot of their songs because of their producer – George Martin.
Collecting the Discography – One Song at a Time
Let me preface by saying this is not the right way to do things in the modern-day. It was also not the right thing to do in the early ‘00s – but tell a minor this! Yes, I used Kazaa and Limewire. By no means did I have enough money to purchase CDs, yet I wanted the entire song collection of all of my favorite bands.
When Napster first came out, I remember downloading songs. I had enough storage to have maybe 50 songs on my computer. Since that time, technology evolved and you could store far more on your hard drive. When I realized I had a powerful enough computer to store an unlimited amount of songs, I created a task.
I went to the Internet and printed out the entire song catalog (discography) for my favorite bands. This would give me every song, to sample, and to burn a CD with my favorites. I started with groups in alphabetical order. Guess what? America was on that list.
This was not an easy process. Finding some obscure songs shared by other users was a task. I ended up doing several artists at once and hoped the one user that had the file I wanted wouldn’t stop that download.
This process didn’t last long. I did, in fact, get all of America, but the headache wasn’t worth the end result. Turns out most songs on albums are not worth listening to – let alone giving a spot on your 20-song CD-mix.
Disclaimer for any legal entity out there: I no longer have any of these songs or downloads. My hard drive crashed many, many years ago and all of my songs are acquired through legal sources.
Taking Songs Literal
I’ve loved parody videos (see Weird Al) since I was a kid. I love sketch comedies that do parodies and even music videos that are complete parodies. Of course, I had an idea that involved making parody music videos.
The little known song “99” by Toto inspired me. I always envisioned a man singing to the number 99 – as done in classic Sesame Street letter/number form. You know, on a stick with some eyes… If you took the long literally, you had a ridiculous video. I ended up having over a dozen of these ideas, but maybe an America song was the most obscure.
During the several weeks that I thought this was a viable idea, “Sister Golden Hair” played on my shuffle. I listened to the lyrics closely and didn’t have much of an idea…until I thought about the lyrics – ‘well I tried to make it Sunday’. This was not a love story, it was a story about a failed-name of the week. Let me explain.
There obviously was a council of people in charge of giving names to the days of the week. Every member of the council was in charge of coming up with a list of names. Names that were approved were Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc… The song is being told by the man that suggested a day of the week be called Sister-Golden Hair Surprise.
Unfortunately for him, it was too radical of a name for the council and was shot down for Wednesday. He still dreams about his failed attempt to make history and how he should have played it safe or compromised.
Yes, this is the dumbest thing you have might have ever read….but imagine if we had Sister-Golden Hair Surprise instead of Wednesday.
America Now vs. America Rank In 2007
It’s a bit odd now and even then that I have America ranked so high. It just doesn’t seem like I would include them in my top 20 if someone asked me with no prep. Yet, they managed to do well in both ranks.
Check out where they rank on my current list.
By The Numbers
- Qualified Songs: 190
- Greatest Hits: 8
- Four Star: 43
- Three Star: 130
- Two Star: 9
- One Star: 0
America had some great songs and some mediocre songs (maybe more mediocre than most). They didn’t experiment too much or do anything so radical to get a 1-star song. This will probably keep them just under the ‘great’ bands and artists, but above the majority.
A Deep Dive Into the Current Score
America started hot and as many ’70s groups that lasted several decades dropped during their latter years. Although there isn’t a for-sure great album from top to bottom, Homecoming had the best overall score. Back Pages was a nice album with some quality covers that helped jump their score. It is fair to say that America had a few hits or decent songs on each album, but never produced a Sgt. Peppers.
America Podcasts for Reference
To be honest, there were a variety of interview-style podcasts with the members of the band – but they were all promoting upcoming tours. There was not a single great long-form podcast talking about the history, great songs, or album.
I will keep checking in the future and update if something comes my way.
America Videos for Reference
Cover Story (YouTube) – I love people that have old VHS tapes from 1984 because that is how we have this gem. Steve Perry makes an appearance, but this is the only true documentary I could find about the band. I guess they didn’t have enough sex, drugs, and rock and roll to get featured on VH1.
The Battle of America Albums
The albums by America were all okay. One or two good songs were on each album (a few had great songs) but not a single album stood at as so much better than another.
|View From the Ground||30.00%|
|Here & Now||16.67%|
The Greatest Hit from America
A classic tournament was in order. With eight total 5-star songs, it will be an easy single-elimination tournament.
Previous Greatest Hit
Although America didn’t have 50 songs to fight for the top, it was difficult to determine the single greatest song. Much like a lot of songs, I think it comes down to your mood and preference for the day. “Lonely People” finished in the top three in this tournament, but finished #1 in 2007.
“Sister Golden Hair”
This was such a tough call. Between “Lonely People”, “A Horse With No Name”, and “Sister Golden Hair” – the new favorite was a difficult decision. I can imagine this changing in a month or maybe in a year. Either way, it will probably always finish in the top three.
America is a great band with some great songs. They had a few sleeper hits, but most of the songs were just okay. They managed to score in the positive, but they will get lost in the shuffle compared to other artists of the same era. America’s music is great to put on to relax and even better when taking a summer drive in your car.
December 28, 2019
There are a few songs that might need a second listen to see if they qualify for a five-star. “You Can Do Magic” is a good song, but unsure if it is a 4 or a 5. Only time (and play counts and skips) will tell.