ok, I lied, the triumphant return is today, the 20th.
Yeah, I can't believe it either...it's been a while. So why am I returning, you ask? Ah, good question, young lady. I return to bring you my list of the fifteen greatest songs ever.
Another list? Didn't you already exhaust yourself with that stupid "Top songs of the 90's?"
Now, this list is kind of different. It's not enitirely based on musical value, but more on the value these songs have to me personally. I had a few criteria for this list, not just compiling ever 90's alt-rock song like I did last time. First off, the song had to be known to me for over a year (a rule that I make an exception for for a few songs). I wanted songs that had lasting power. I'm in love with "Staring at the Sun" by TV on The Radio, but I've only had the cd for 2 months or so, so I don't want to go calling it a classic just yet. I mean, there was a time in my life I would have sworn "Tomorrow's Another Day" by MxPx was a work of art. You can understand my hesitance to champion anything fresh in my mind. Second, it had to have some emotional value. These songs had to be more than just great melodies, they needed to bring some sort of feeling or memory to me at their opening chords. Third, they had to be awesome. Ok, that said, I present you with the Greatest Fifteen Songs of ALL TIME.
1. "The City" - The Dismemberment Plan - Sometimes there are songs that you hear and you go "Shit, that's me." This is one of them. I first got this cd before I left for college, but I didn't understand the lyrics of this song until I had been on my own for a while. Travis Morrison, the singer, has an amazing way with words, and this is his finest moment, describing the utter lonliness of being abandoned and living alone. This song, while one of the greatest breakup songs ever, hits on so many more levels, and I challenge those who are in college to try to listen to the first verse and not feel like he's talking about you. On a personal level, I always get an urge to play this song whenever I'm away from my girlfriend for an extended period of time. I don't relate to the last part of the song, but something about "The city's been dead/since you've been gone" makes me want her back with me more than ever. Needless to say, this song got a lot of spins last week.
"Sometimes I stand alone on my roof at night/and watch as something seems to happen to someone else/I wish that a breeze/ would pick me up and carry me away."
2. "The Stars are Projectors" - Modest Mouse - This entire list could be overrun with Modest Mouse songs, but I chose the one that has found more plays on my stereo than any other one. At nearly 9 min, this song takes you on so many twists and turns, and most bands would be lucky to have an album's worth of material as good as this song. If this cd is in my changer in my car and I'm driving at night, I always turn it up, lower my windows and sing at the top of my lungs. I know, I'm a bit off.
"The stars are projectors/projecting our lives down to this planet Earth/Everyone wants a double a feature/they all want to be their own damn teachers"
3. "Lowell, MA" - Death Cab For Cutie - This song is so important to me because it taught me to enjoy melodies. Before this song, I was a total punk rock kid, as were many of us, stupidly. I was convinced everything needed to be fast and loud. This song hit me over the head and opened my ears to so many more things. DCFC is one of the most influential bands ever for me musically and I owe what little sense of melody I have to listening over and over to Ben Gibbard songs. Scary!
"Don't go holding out on me now."
4. "Close to Perfect" - Homesick for Space - Ok, here's what I meant about what songs not being classics, or musically astounding. This band is the most influential band ever as far as my musical tastes now. I came across a review for this 5 song EP on some punk website a few years back and decided to give it a try. I burned a copy of this song to a cd before I had ever listened to it, along with a bunch of hardcore songs. To think that I heard this song in the middle of a mix of hardcore is humorous unto itself, but this song blew me away with it's melodies and drumming. Falsetto...I'd never thought about that before. This band opened my ears to other acts like DCFC and Sigur Ros...and of course that led to everything else.
"And we turn too slow/These days come and go"
5. "Olsen Olsen" - Sigur Ros - I remember my first taste of Sigur Ros like it was yesterday. It was a clip of them playing "Untitled 1" and it was low grade, audience tape recorder quality, with talking in the background. I was floored by it and immediatly bought their "Untitled" cd. But I didn't find this song until Madeleine gave me that "A-blah b-blah blah" cd for Christmas one year. This song stayed on repeat on my stereo for nearly a day. If I ever just want to chill out, I throw this on and make a glass of tea and just meditate. Amazing.
(Not a real language....wait..."da da da da da da da da da da")
6. "Look Away" - Hootie and the Blowfish - As my favorite band before my forgettable punk-only years, Hootie and the Blowfish, though despite the crap I get from people these days, rocked. This is an obscure track of their major label debut, and it's so beautiful that I challenge all the Hootie naysayers to listen to this song and not at least come away with some respect for them.
"Saw her standing there/tears upon her face told me something was wrong"
7. "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" - U2 - I get chills still when I hear this song. Enough said.
8. "Train in Vain" - The Clash - This is where The Clash showed they were a truly great band, in my opinion. Arguably the greatest punk band ever, they wrote this amazing pop song, that should be counted as one of the greatest songs, period, genre nonwithstanding. I saw a country band, Two Tons of Steel, cover this song, and it translated as well in that style as it does in the original, the proof of a great song.
9. "Black Lung" - Rancid - Ok, one pure punk song makes the list. Rancid are great, and I still hold to that even now, and this is my favorite song by them, by a longshot. I listened to this before every soccer game my junior and senior year in high school and I never got tired of it. The bassline drives this thing and the call and response chours is perfect.
"Hey unbeliever/Hah! Black Lung Fever/Transmit reciever/ I don't like you either!"
10. "The Seed 2.0" The Roots ft/Cody Chesnutt - A cover of an original Chesnutt song, this thing broke my year rule by just flat out kicking musical ass. As my buddy Jon A pointed out, the innuendo is perfect. If all rap-ish songs were this clever, the genre might have a leg to stand on (props to Outkast for delievering such an album this year).
"I push my seed in your bush for life/I take my time because I'm pushing it right"
11. "Haitian Fight Song" - Charles Mingus - I love jazz, no exceptions. More specifically, I love jazz with great basslines. Charles Mingus was a bass player. Ergo, this song has an amazing bassline. I will hold to the day I die that this man was a musical genius worthy of mention with Beethoven and Mozart, though I doubt anyone will go with me on that, due to the musical sonbbery I wish didn't exist. "How could a black bass player from Arizona be as worthy as Beethoven and Bach? Ludicrous!" Well sir, you have your gods, I have mine. BTW, Bach sucks. Beethoven wasn't too bad. Debussy was better.
12. "Airegin" - Grant Green/Sonny Clark - More jazz! One of my first jazz cd's, the opening track caught my attention right away. There's this tension near the end of the song after the drum fills, and then the guitar comes in with the main melody again and just levels entire cities with the groove on it. Again, one of those that has more emotional value than musical, yet still a great song.
13. "Cold Shot" - Stevie Ray Vaughan - I have my grandfather to thank for my SRV addiction. When I was 11 or 12, he gave me a cd that came with his new computer that had a bunch of songs on it from Sony artists. Most of it was crap, with people like Gloria Estefan and Alice and Chains, "Couldn't Stand the Weather" by SRV was on there, and seriously, this moment has had more influence on me (indirectly) than any other incident in my life (so far). I quit playing classical guitar, bought a strat and proceeded to immerse myself in blues and jazz for a good 3-4 years. Imagine if were still playing classical guitar. You can't? Me neither. I can't imagine my life before SRV. That's heavy, man.
"That's a cold shot baby, yeah, that's a drag."
14. "First Tube" - Phish - Man, I get so much crap for liking Phish in college, despite being the perenial pot smoking college band. This song flat out grooves for like 9 minutes, building on the main riff. The synths bleet and splat all over the place, and the bass is relentless. Too bad they're breaking up, I think I'll go buy their new cd, just to piss off all my friends. Hey, remember that time I played this during a poker game and everyone got mad at me? Yeah, that was great.
15. "Good Morning, Aztalan" - Los Lobos - I really connected with this band, being from such a heavy hispanic town like San Antonio...and another one of those bands I get crap about. This is from the album of the same name from pretty late in their careers, and the driving drum beat really sells the song. I remember going to their concert last year and saying to myself after they finished their set, "There's no way they won't play this for the encore." Sure enough, they busted this thing out in the packed confies of Gruene Hall and pretty much made my life a much better place. I left right after that because I realized it couldn't get much better, ever.
"I gotta say 1, 2, 3 more things before I go on."
In the next few days, I will list the top 15 worst songs ever, beginning with every hair metal ballad ever written. Warrant, you're a marked band, son. Sister Christian would rap your knuckles while you picked every rose thorn out of your ass, you pansy. You thought it was clean, but no! Every rose has it's thorn.