Thursday, February 16, 2006

Top 50: 21-30

Time to round second with a full head of steam on the way home on my list of my Top 50 favorite songs of all time. To be clear, I am not saying these are the best songs ever, or even the best songs by each artist or act, they are just my favorite. A lot goes into picking a favorite song for me, as too I imagine it would anyone else. More than any other variable, I think when I heard a song plays a huge roll. If it sucks there is nothing that can save it, but if it is a great song and I can tie it to a time in my life I think I end up liking it more than if I had just recognized it as a great song. This group of 10 songs holds a lot of ties to times and places in my life, and that is why they are here in the 20's.

#30 The Cyrkle - Red Rubber Ball. I was working in a "50's era" Diner for a short time in high school, and that is where I received the bulk of my education in 50's and 60's music. The guys that ran the place had a Juke Box full of great tunes and some of them annoyed the fuck out of me after hearing them a thousand times. However, some of them became all time favs, and Red Rubber Ball was one. Along with the peppy pace and tone of the song comes the message of eternal, somewhat childlike optimism. Even though it was over it wasn't going to get him down. A great toe tapper.

#29 Son Volt - Route. This is another song with a great intro, for a few reasons. #1 Dave Boquist's southern/alternative licks kick much ass, and #2 with 23 second till Jay Farrar's one of a kind vocals kick in a young college DJ could give the weather and the request line number and fade the song up at just the right time and look like a genius. With the schism of the band Uncle Tupelo came two highly praised bands: Son Volt lead by Farrar and Wilco started by Jeff Tweedy. The trendy thing to say is that you love Wilco even if you only have one record of theirs, but do your self a favor and pick up some Son Volt because they got the better end of the deal, and are a superior band.

#28 The Smiths - There Is a Light That Never Goes Out. What child of the 80's doesn't have a Smiths song on their list. I have remarked about other songs on the list that upon hearing them I just wished I could want someone that much. And what says 'I love you and you are my everything' like "if a double decker bus crashes into us to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die." Morrissey and Johnny Marr and the boys of The Smiths spoke for every secure guy who wasn't afraid to say they felt something and just had to let it out.

#27 R.E.M. - Crush With Eyeliner. Another great guitar rif to start a song, and just a really rock n roll song from an outfit that introduced many a suburban kid like me to college rock. They were still doing it in the mid 90's when this song became my favorite R.E.M. song of all time, and I don't see it ever falling off the list. It's just fun to listen to, and an example that I can totally hate a person (I'm looking at you Michael) and enjoy a large portion of their work.

#26 Dusty Springfield - Son of a Preacher Man. Another song that I have to thank the fellas at the diner for. They played this song over and over and over. They also tuned me on to Dusty's version of "Take Another Little piece of My Heart" which just missed the top 50. This song regained popularity when it was featured in Pulp Fiction but I get to play snob and say I loved it to death before the movie. See, I am cooler than you.

#25 Beach Boys - God Only Knows. Back to the Diner in Jersey for this classic. I must admit till I worked there in my rolled up jeans, Chuck Taylor's and white tee and bowling shirt all I knew of the boys from the Beach was just that, beach music. When I heard this song for the first time, it fit into that mold I have pointed out a few times: I want to want someone that much. Tack an amazing harmony on to that sentiment and you have a song that is rock solid in the top half of the list for ever.

#24 Jonny Cash - Ring of Fire. Yeah I know this is a trendy pick, but I'll take the man in black over Mr. Pheonix any day. This pick keeps us at Be Bop's Diner, but really surged to the top the first time I heard a feature on Cash about 10 years ago on NPR. Then about 5 years ago my wife procured an original version on LP and we recorded it to CD from the record and the song had a new life with the pops, cracks and static of vinyl.

#23 Don McClain - American Pie. This is the last of the songs I learned about at the diner, and along with being an amazing "sell your soul to the devil for one outstanding hit" epic song it tells the story of a whole era replete with poem like images. The owners of the place had lived through much of this era and would sit you down at a both and tell you what each lyric meant, even if you didn't want to know. I did, however, and grew to appreciate the song more and more as I got older for the writing and songsmanship alike. It also is great if you are a DJ and you have to take a crap, it buys you 9 minutes.

#22 The Kinks - Picture Book. I'll admit the reason I first liked The Kinks was the 80's song "Come Dancing" then I moved on to "Lola" before I ever found this song, but once I did I loved it. It touched off a brit invasion of my home stereo as I jumped into The Who and the Beatles where before I wasn't interested. This I just a fun song to Listen to, and I don't think I have ever met someone who didn't like it, even before it was coopted to sell cameras like so many other great songs with the word picture in them.

#21 Indigo Girls - Least Complicated. Despite the under representation on the list, I have always been more partial to female performers in general when compared to groups fronted by a guy. Maybe I just like to think the girl is singing to or about me, or maybe I just think music just sounds more like music when it is a woman singing. All that said, only a handfuls of my top 50 are sung by women as compared with the list of my top 50 of 2005 which was more women then men. I love the way the Indigo Girls harmonize and more over the way they tell a story, this song, like many of their's sounds a million times better live.

Just two more Thursday posts left and coming up next week in the teens we will have a few of the biggest names in Rock history and a sampling of my youth as well.

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