If I Could Only Take One

My desert island tune by Poco

Happy Wednesday! Are you ready for another imaginary desert island trip? To me that sounds like an attractive proposition, except once again, I have the near-impossible decision to make which one song to take with me – not an album, just one tune!

For first-time visitors of this weekly feature, there are some additional rules to the madness. And they don’t make picking a song any easier. At the same time, going through this exercise is kind of fun, since I usually end up highlighting music I haven’t covered before or only noted in passing.

My pick must be by an artist or band I’ve only rarely written about or not covered at all. Additionally, I’m making the selections in alphabetical order, and I’m up to “p.” This means eligible artists (last name) and bands must start with that letter.

Looking at my music library revealed artists and bands like Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, The Pointer Sisters, The Police, Elvis Presley, Pretenders, Prince and Procul Harum. And my pick is Barbados by Poco.

Admittedly, I’m bending my own rules a bit this time, since I covered Poco before (though rarely), unlike Plain White T’s who also showed up in my search, and I do like Hey There Delilah. But the desert island theme and a tune titled Barbados just looked like a perfect fit. And I think it’s a great song!

Barbados was written by Paul Cotton, Poco’s lead guitarist and one of the band’s vocalists, who first joined the group in 1970. The tune appears on their 11th studio album Legend, released in November 1978. My former German band mate and longtime music buddy gave me this great record on vinyl in the late ’80s. I still own that copy!

I loved Barbados and the entire Legend LP from the get-go, and it was actually my introduction to Poco. It’s puzzling to me why Barbados was never released as a single. Three other tunes were, including the title track, Heart of the Night and Crazy Love. The last tune became Poco’s biggest hit. In the U.S., it topped Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart and reached no. 17 on the mainstream Hot 100. In Canada, the tune peaked at no. 4 on the adult contemporary chart and climbed to no. 15 on the main pop chart.

Interestingly, I couldn’t find any more information on Barbados. Songfacts instead features a song of the same title from 1975 by a British duo called Typically Tropical. Apparently, “their” Barbados, the duo’s debut single, became a no. 1 in the UK. Since they obviously don’t own the name “Barbados”, I really can’t imagine this had anything to do with the decision not to release Poco’s song as a single.

Poco were one of two bands that emerged in 1968 following the break-up of Buffalo Springfield. The group’s former guitarists Richie Furay and Jim Messina formed Poco, together with Rusty Young (pedal steel guitar, banjo, dobro, guitar, mandolin, vocals), Randy Meisner (bass, vocals) and George Grantham (drums, vocals).

Poco in 1971

Meanwhile, Stephen Stills, David Crosby  and Graham Nash founded Crosby, Stills & Nash. Neil Young launched his solo career and, of course, later joined CSN on various occasions, resulting in the mighty Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Buffalo Springfield might as well have been called “Buffalo Springboard”!

Poco are considered to be one of the pioneers of country rock, years before the Eagles popularized the genre. Their debut album Pickin’ Up the Pieces came out in May 1969. By the time it appeared Meisner already had left the group, angered by Furay’s insistence to be excluded from the final mix playback sessions for the album – egos in music! Meisner went on to join the Stone Canyon Band and became a founding member of the Eagles in September 1971.

Meisner was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit who later joined the Eagles as well. Messina left Poco in 1970 and was replaced by Cotton. The group’s line-up kept changing. It took Poco until their third release, a live album, to enjoy some chart success: No. 26 and no. 42 on the U.S. and Canadian charts, respectively. Appropriately, the album was titled Deliverin’.

Poco were active until April 2021 when Rusty Young passed away at the age of 75. Technically, he had retired in late 2013 but participated in reunion concerts thereafter. Paul Cotton died in August that year. He was 78. Altogether, Poco released 19 studio albums, nine live records and multiple compilations. In January 2015, Poco were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Unlike the Eagles, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, Poco has yet to receive that recognition.

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts; YouTube

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14 thoughts on “If I Could Only Take One”

  1. I do remember Poco from way back…its funny about Schmit who kept replacing Meisner in both bands. I think both of them got together in the 80s and sang on other artists’ records. Good song Christian.

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  2. a good, and unexpected choice… I like the little I heard by Poco. I think I vaguely recall this song but probably have heard it less than a dozen times total. For me, “P” would be Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, if going for an album, but something by the Psychedelic Furs if just one song…likely ‘Sister Europe.’

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  3. I always loved that song Heart of the Night. I think it’s beautiful. But for some reason I always forget who did it, and then I remember it was Poco.

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  4. Another one they did that I love is Rose of Cimarron , which I never knew was an old Poco song even though I always loved the version by Emmylou Harris. I was so surprised when I found out it was by Poco . This Barbados song was kind of nice too. I never heard it before.

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    1. The title looked familiar, but I don’t recall the song. Poco definitely had some nice tunes and are worthwhile exploring. Their very first album “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” is really good – check out that sweet harmony singing on “What a Day”.

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  5. I had a friend who was heavily into the Dead and Poco. While I never became a particularly big Dead fan, I did like ‘American Beauty’ which he turned me onto. Back then I was in the middle of my ‘not crazy about country rock’ phase so I never much got into Poco. But I dug CSN from Day One. Better songs, I thought, more rock, less country, with a bluesy feel. Never heard ‘Barbados’ but it sounds pretty good, pretty Eagle-y.

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    1. Me too. I could never get into the Dead either even though I really tried a lot of times cuz my brother is a Deadhead and he used to try to shove it down my throat all the time but it never worked. They’re the kind of band that I’ll just take everybody’s word for it that they’re good, and leave it at that. ha ha!! They have two songs that I like though, Truckin’ and A Touch of Grey. I really like both of those a lot.
      I also thought Poco sounds very Eagley, but they never really came up with more than a couple good songs. The couple good ones are very good though.

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      1. I should qualify that statement to say that I came to somewhat appreciate them much later. They have a station on Sirius that I sometimes listen to. Great when you’re on a long drive as they can seemingly play one song for three hours. But I’ve come a long way from where I couldn’t listen to them at all.

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    2. I’ve also listened to some of Poco’s early music, which I like as well. It took them a while to have some chart success, though they came anywhere close to the Eagles in that regard.

      I’m also not a Deadhead, even though I once jokingly proclaimed I had become one after I had explored some of their music. I like some of their earlier songs.

      In general, I find jam rock can get challenging. I’m okay with a couple of tunes, but listening to 10-minute-plus jams with one solo after another can make me impatient!

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      1. You had to be pretty stoned to enjoy the Dead’s wanderings. It took me a long time to realize the Dead were more about the journey than the destination. I can see where the jams could get to be too much. But I went to a Dead tribute show after I did a Dead series a few years back. (At that point in time I, for some reason, thought that I had to write about everybody.) There were older fans (with tie-dyed T shirts) who got up and danced continuously no matter how long the jam was.

        Note – I will have more to say about Dead and ABB in a future post. Stay tuned.

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