A Song That’s a Classic Favorite

30-Day Song Challenge, Day 16: A Song That’s a Classic Favorite

The wording of this one seemed a little odd to me, so I had to spend some time parsing it to be certain of what it was asking for. I finally decided it should more properly be read as “a classic song that’s a favorite.”

As it happens, I like a lot of so-called classic songs. Of course, the definition of “classic” varies through time; these days, the oldies station is playing stuff that was popular when I was in college. Oy. For me, however, “classic”  is my parents’ music, the early days of rock and roll. It’s mom’s scratchy old 45s played back on a supposedly “portable” record player the size of a large suitcase, the one that needed to have a penny taped to the tone arm to keep it from skipping across the platter. It’s Chuck Berry drifting in and out of the static on a tube-driven AM car radio. It’s the soundtrack to American Graffiti, and the cherry Coke you drank at sunset with a hot summer breeze in your hair, and it’s the music that mom and dad’s DJ friend pumps out across the parking lot at their classic-car cruise night events.

Boiled down to a single tune, “classic” is Del Shannon’s “Runaway.” It’s probably one of the most recognizable songs of the early rock era, and it’s one of my favorites from any era. The song was a tremendous hit for Del in 1961, sitting at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks and coming in at number 5 for the year. It became a hit for him again in 1987, when Del re-recorded it (with somewhat different lyrics) for the producers of the television series Crime Story, which could be described as Miami Vice set in the early ’60s. Every week for two seasons, “Runaway” played over the opening-credits montage of Dennis Farina in a trenchcoat, neon signs, and tail fins. I barely remember the show itself, but those credits still play through my minds-eye from time to time.

However, it’s the earlier, decidedly more innocent version of the song that I’m going to place here. Obviously, it was recorded long before music videos, but I did manage to find a vintage clip from one of those teenage dance shows that were popular in the day. I’m not sure which show, exactly — I don’t think it’s American Bandstand, the sets don’t look right to me — but of course the point is for y’all to hear the song… so, enjoy. And let it take you back to those days when your relationship with your car was at least as important as the one you had with your best girl, and likely it was a more solid one at that…



3 comments on “A Song That’s a Classic Favorite

  1. melissa

    Yes, the wording is weird. BUT no weirder than “a cover by another artist”. By definition all covers are “by another artist”… So.

    I am also a big fan of classic rock. But if I’m delving into the territory of what my parents listened to as being classic, then it gets a little harder to pin down. My mom was into jazz, Ella Fitzgerald type of jazz, and my dad liked 60s folk music.

    I’m going to go with Leavin’ On A Jet Plane. The Peter Paul and Mary version. My dad had both this version and the John Denver version, but I think I like this one the best.


    A few years ago I was introduced to someone and the mutual friend told the stranger that I was a singer. He asked if I would sing something and I could not come up with ONE SONG that I knew I could sing. I decided later that night that if I ever got asked to sing again, it would be this song. That was in 2015 and I have not once been asked to burst into spontaneous a capella song. But I am ready.

  2. jason

    Next time I see you, I will ask you to sing “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane!” 😀

    I have had very little exposure to jazz or folk. My parents most assuredly were NOT fans of either (and really my dad isn’t much of a music guy anyhow, except to complain about what he DOESN’T like), so both of those genres feel like niche things to me, even though there are of course millions of followers of both.

    1. Melissa

      I will practice for after the pandemic! Or maybe a zoom meeting 🙂