Night-time is the loneliest time... especially if you're a songwriter.
This was a really tough one to put in order.
10. The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
When Gibbard's girlfriend moved out, to a whole different district of Washington, this was his response.
You seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complexCovered by lots of people, though obviously I prefer Frank Turner's version.
A stranger with your door key, explaining that I am just visiting
And I am finally seeing
Why I was the one worth leaving
9. James Taylor - Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
James Taylor made this sort of thing look really easy.
The Isley Brothers did an excellent cover too.
8. Blake Shelton feat. Ashley Monroe - Lonely Tonight
Glossy and as shamelessly bling as the worst of contemporary r 'n' b, it's hard to explain why I dig the poppiest artist in modern country music as much as I do. This one's an outrageously schmaltzy power ballad that harkens back to the 80s (with 21st Century production values) and, frankly, the video made me choke on my Wotsits. But Blake Shelton can do no wrong in my eyes, because he writes pop songs that are catchy as the plague and TELL ACTUAL STORIES. I have no further defence.
7. Dr. Hook - I Don't Want To Be Alone Tonight
Tells basically the same story as the Blake Shelton number, but without the glitz. You see, you can't really believe Blake Shelton would be the guy in this story. Dennis Locorriere, though? He's a true hard-luck hero.
6. Harry Chapin - There's a Lot of Lonely People Tonight
Every time I think there might be a little justice in the world, I remind myself of Harry Chapin: a supremely talented singer-songwriter from the 70s who should have been as big as Elton John or Billy Joel, but for whatever reason never quite made it. (The same could be same of Harry Nilsson. Maybe there's a curse on Harry's. Maybe Cliff was right to change his name.) There's A Lot Of Lonely People Tonight is from the excellent album Short Stories, and while it's nowhere near the best track on there, it's still beautiful. There's a fragility to Chapin's work you don't find elsewhere. You feel like he's lived these stories, every one of them.
5. Justin Townes Earle - Am I That Lonely Tonight?
Top Charity Shop Buy of the week, the 2012 album Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now by Steve Earle's son, Justin (his middle name is a tribute to legendary country singer Townes Van Zandt). Excellent acoustic Americana that reminds me very much of Ryan Adams' debut (and best) album, Heartbreaker. The CD cost me 75p, but I'll definitely be buying more of this artist's work in the future. If I ever have any money again.
4. Richard Hawley - Lonely Night
Nobody else does loneliness like Sheffield's answer to Roy Orbison. This is from his first full-length album, released in 2001... though it could just as easily have been released in 1957.
3. Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Originally written in 1927, and recorded many times before The King got his hands on it, Are You Lonesome Tonight? was a huge hit in 1960... but is arguably remembered more for the live version recorded in Vegas in '68 where Elvis cracks up laughing and can't make it through the song.
2. John Cougar Mellencamp - Lonely Ol' Night
A single from probably my favourite Mellencamp album, 1985's Scarecrow, this was apparently inspired by the Paul Newman film Hud. Apparently, the wife of one of JM's pals told him not to feature "pretty girls" in the video as it wouldn't be realistic to suggest they had lonely nights. Mellencamp responded by offering her a role. She accepted, and played his girlfriend.
She calls me babyNow. Is it a better song than Elvis's masterpiece? Definitely not. But it means a little bit more to me - and that's what this blog is all about.
She calls everybody baby
It's a lonely ol' night
But ain't they all?
1. Paul McCartney - No More Lonely Nights
Well, here's a first. As previously mentioned, I have a kind of love/hate relationship with Sir Paulius Thumbs-Aloft, and though I respect all he's given us... sometimes, he doesn't half get on my wick. No More Lonely Nights - a majestically schmaltzy slice of 80s balladeering that Collins would have given his right drumstick for - really ought to be awful. You may well argue that it is. And yet, I have a huge fondness for it, from the shiver-inducing a cappella intro to the Dave friggin' Gilmour guitar solo at the end. Plus, if you read between the lines, it's as good a stalker anthem as Every Breath You Take...
And I won't go away until you tell me soThe video, which begins with a long sequence in which Macca plays some kind of lonely but jolly Clive Dunn character working the nightshift as a projectionist in a low rent cinema... before jumping into a Victorian dream sequence in which Ringo goes over a waterfall in a rowing boat (and then things get really weird)... almost made me bump it down to #2. (Although it's not as bad as the video to One Lonely Night by REO Speedwagon, which was SO bad it got them disqualified from this whole Top Ten.)
No, I'll never go away...
Hopefully, those ten songs made you feel a little less lonely tonight...