What's the Best Sax Solo in Pop Music History?

Slate's Culture Blog
May 23 2011 6:15 PM

What's the Best Sax Solo in Pop Music History?

Today in Slate , Jonah Weiner considers the return of the saxsolo to pop music . Lady Gaga'snew album Born This Way featurestwo prominent saxophone appearances on the songs " Hair "and " Edge of Glory " courtesy of the E Street Band's ClarenceClemons. This after Katy Perry's 2010 single "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," which features an "ingenious" sax solo around the three-minute mark, a "flurry of ecstatic screeches" that serves as "a goofy blast from the past" promptingWeiner to propose that the beleaguered woodwind may finally be emerging fromits long, Kenny G-induced P.R. nightmare and becoming cool again. (Since the '90s, it has been "the wimpiest weapon in thesmooth-jazz arsenal," he writes.)

Weiner goes on to name-check several of pop music's mostnotable saxy sax cameos,such as:


The Rolling Stones' "Can'tYou Hear Me Knocking"

Creedence ClearwaterRevival's "Long As I Can See The Light"

Bruce Springsteen's "Bornto Run"

Billy Joel's "NewYork State of Mind"

Lou Reed's "Walk onthe Wild Side"

and INXS's "What You Need"

Readers , in turn, cried out in support of such sax-friendly groups asMorphine, Quarterflash, and the Dave Matthews Band, and offered their ownnominations for inclusion in the Sax Solo Hall of Fame:

The Rolling Stones' "Waitingon a Friend" (sax solo by Sonny Rollins, notes commenter Still Anonymous)

Gerry Rafferty's "BakerStreet"

and Foreigner's "Urgent"

Personally, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't include George Michael's Careless Whisper , a song that I love only semi-ironically:

And now, we're throwing it to you. What's the best sax solo in pop music history? Which rock songs have been elevated by the saxophone's "irreducible  musicality ," as Weiner puts it? Give us your nominations in the comments, and if we get enough for a solid playlist we'll round up the best in a future post.

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