Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top 25 Songs of All-Time

25. "New York Morning" - Elbow
This is a great New York song. It gives me a certain infinite feeling and makes me love the city all the more. It also holds unpopular political connotations for me. My first hearing it coincided with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's induction into Congress and her defeat of long-time incumbent Joe Crowley. People turned out in massive waves in her district to vote in a young progressive of color, so the lyrics certainly remind me of this. "Oh my God, New York can talk, somewhere in all that talk is all the answers, everybody owns the great ideas, and it feels like there's a big one around the corner." That, and it's just a great song, one that speaks of humanity and makes me feel like I belong to something bigger than myself.

24. "There Goes the Fear" - Doves
At one of the shows I did when I was in one of my many bands, the venue played this track during an intermission while I was standing around moping. I rushed out the next day to grab the album. The lyrics are pensive and reflective with a hint of sadness, while the music is melodic and drum-heavy, downtrodden while being strangely upbeat. This track defined a few years of my life, so it deserves to be front and center when reflecting on my all-time songs.

23. "Take Me to Church" - Hozier
This is one of the more poignant, more powerful songs I've ever heard. It coincides with my realization that church wasn't all I thought it was, often marginalizing and scornful when it comes to what it referred to as "sin." More specifically, it coincides with the moral, ethical issue of same-sex relationships and my defense of it in a town and in a church where the concept was completely unheard of. I'm sure I made a few enemies, but I always felt that Hozier and his groundbreaking song had my back.

22. "Stone" - Unbelievable Truth
Back in my band days, I made a couple of young fans. One of them was a girl obsessed with Radiohead, and Thom Yorke for that matter. Yorke's brother fronted the band Unbelievable Truth, who wrote this endearing little gem that the girl introduced to me. It features the heartfelt lyrics "If you were someone else I could live without you."

21. "Cherry Waves" - Deftones
This one comes from Deftones' fourth studio album, Saturday Night Wrist. They'd long since tread into more melodic territory, and "Cherry Waves" is an exemplary effort of their overall sound. It's my favorite track from the band, still heavy but ethereal in its approach.

20. "The Next Life" - Suede
"The Next Life" is sad and pensive, infinite in its overall feel. I first heard it on the soundtrack for The Chase starring Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson. The movie was an unlikely place to find this track, better suited for something like Vanilla Sky over anything else. In any case, it forced me to rush out and buy the album based solely on the track.

19. "Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space" - Spiritualized
This is gorgeously sad tune, especially given the context surrounding why it was written. The composer's girlfriend and band mate split from him to marry Richard Ashcroft of The Verve fame, all unbeknownst to him. Oddly enough, the girlfriend still plays on the album, which is all about the heartbreak she caused the singer, essentially dedicating the songs on it to her and her infidelity. It's a brutal story, but the song is incredible, taking heavy hints of Elvis' classic "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" within the context of the original lyrics.

18. Heart and Soul" - T'Pau
This is what summer sounds like to me. I figure that's because it's popularity coincides with my first summer job growing up, passing out flyers door to door for an upstart pizza joint. It also coincides with my first taste of romance with the cute blonde down the street. So, to be more precise, this tune just sounds like nostalgia to me, likely my favorite from the 80s.

17. "Lead in the Light" - The Hundred In the Hands
Goosebumps. This song incites that strangle little phenomenon, especially towards the end of the track. It has a certain sort of Cocteau Twins quality to it, but it's far prettier than anything written by them. The Hundred In the Hands is little known duo, but what they came up with here is magic.

16. "Passage" - Exitmusic
"Passage" shares a lot of DNA with "Lead In the Light," but the former sounds like a feral ghost trapped in the throes of purgatory. It's beautiful, haunting, ethereal, and highly emotive, the song that instantly made Exitmusic one of my favorite bands of all-time. "Passage" makes you feel on a deeper level, written by then husband and wife duo Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church. It's one that I can listen to over and over again without ever getting sick of it.

15. "Bug Eyes" - Dredg
"Bug Eyes" is a song about reincarnation, as Dredg was really on a spiritual, Hindu kick during its composition. "Bug Eyes" speaks to me in that sense, but also in the sense of self-care and what kind of life we leave behind after our souls ascend. The music is absolutely on point as well, and Dredg, like Deftones, successfully merge reverb and delay with crunching guitars for a heavy, melodic combination. "Bug Eyes" means more to me now than it did when it first came to my attention, which is why it comes in at number 15 on my favorite all-time songs list.

14. "Fifty-Eight" - The Prayer Chain
Like "Bug Eyes," "Fifty-Eight" meant more to me when I looked past the amazing musical composition to delve through the poignancy of the lyrics. Goosebump-inciting guitar solo aside, the lyrics paint a picture of a child growing up without their father, pining for a relationship when there was none to be had. I connect with the lyrical content on more levels than one, leaving the little known gem on my all-time list for the long haul.

13. "Gunner" - Denali
Okay, so I used to have a major crush on Denali front woman Maura Davis. Not only that, I loved the band, especially their debut album, featuring the pensively up-tempo "Gunner." Maura's voice comes off elegant through the tempest of the song, fighting it's way out from under the threat of her "killer." The musical composition is excellent as well, especially the breakdown, which then slips into the droning, pulsing finale. I saw the band perform it twice live, where the song sounded just as good as it did on their self-titled debut album.

12. "Strip Her Down" - Cold
Strangely enough, "Strip Her Down" and "Gunner" were both fictionalized in the first novel I ever wrote, so iconic that they inspired two different musician characters. This particular track, surrounded by an album full of crunching guitar and guttural vocals, features heart-wrenching lyrics, low tuned acoustic guitars, and subtle guitar effects that make it one of the most unique songs I've ever heard. I followed Cold for several albums following this one, their debut, but none had quite the same affect as this one.

11. "Come Undone" - Duran Duran
This is excellent song musically, one that would be included on the soundtrack to my life. I can't remember a particular time or place that this song meant so much to me, but I do know that it was always there, with downtrodden lyrics and the musical elements built around it, complete with a wailing woman saturating the pre-choruses. I was always on the verge of some sort of internal or external challenge, and this track comforted me.

10. "Let Down" - Radiohead
This one came into my life right around the first time I experienced heartache. Radiohead wasn't and still isn't really known for their ballads, but the sound and the content really applied to my life. On an album filled with one diamond after another, "Let Down" stands out among the rest, as Thom Yorke reassured me I wasn't the only one.

9. Glassjaw - "The Number No Good Things Can Come Of"
Glassjaw is not really known for their ballads, but more for their post-hardcore screamo assault. Judging from the hidden track on their debut album, "The Number No Good Things Can Come Of" comes as little shock. It's a heartfelt tune carried the drums, a lonely piano, and the crooning prowess of front man Daryl Palumbo. It was the feature on an LP the band put out called El Mark, but it should have been made more front and center on a full length. It's my favorite Glassjaw song, a track that gleams pretenses of a lowly heartbreak.

8. "Dagger" - Slowdive
I heard "Dagger" on a mixtape, and that was the deciding factor in my buying the album Souvlaki. Right around the time I was getting into The Autumns, I was pointed into the direction of Slowdive, another shoegaze band in a limited scene. "Dagger" was their best tune, a slow, isolated ballad featuring an acoustic guitar and subtle melodies floating around the ether.

7. "Glosoli" - Sigur Ros
I used to be kind of obsessed with Sigur Ros. When I went out and bought this album, Takk, and leaned into the opening track "Glosoli," I exaggerate not wlyhen I fully admit that I cried upon my first listening to it. I didn't just listen to it. I felt it. The sweet, slowly burgeoning melody surged through my limbs and my soul due to its beauty and sheer gravitas. I've not ever had that sort of reaction to a song on the first listen before, so it's only fitting that it rank so high on my all-time list.

6. "Mayonaise" - Smashing Pumpkins
For a long time, this was my favorite song of all-time. Of course, that was in the early days of my musical history, but still, the overall composition, the crunching guitars, the feedback, the two-fret slides, the acoustic breakdown, and the subtle effects make this track one to remember. How it was never one of their hits, I can't quite be sure, and why they never played it live the two times I saw them, I can't quite be sure of either. It's a melancholy barn-burner with an uneasy lullaby opening and ending.

5. "Hallelujah" - The Helio Sequence
Like "Lead In the Light," the first half of this one is good, but the middle to the end is of the infinite variety. It features an instrumental section of the song that takes me to new heights, causing me to shake my head side to side and close my eyes and feel the goosebumps multiply up and down the length of my arms. I just happened across it years ago on an indie Pandora playlist, and my life hasn't been quite the same since.

4. "Levitation" - Beach House
This is an anthem to some ethereal dream about eternal love. This is what utopia sounds like, I'm sure of it, and both times I've seen the band live, they started the show with it. It gives out that infinite feeling more than most, which is why it's ranked so high on the list. I liked Beach House before I heard it, but once I did, it cemented the band as one of my all-time favorites.

3. "Ask For Answers" - Placebo
My local rock station used to play an album at midnight every Tuesday. When I woke to hear the sounds of Placebo's Without You I'm Nothing, I groggily scrambled for a blank tape and hit record. The next day, I listened on the way to work, and after a long night in frosty SC winter, I came across "Ask For Answers" for the first time. I associate it with the warm feeling it brought to an otherwise chilly ride home, and it was the deciding factor on my going out and buying what has become my favorite album of all-time.

2. "Pale Trembles a Gale" - The Autumns
When I first heard The Autumns, it was via mixtape. I liked the song "The Garden Ends" so much, that I went out and bought the album, The Angel Pool. When I needed more Autumns, I bought their debut EP, Suicide At Strell Park, featuring track one, "Pale Trembles a Gale." I loved the song then, but it has grown to become a top favorite with it's pensive melody and poetic overtones. The Autumns are no longer a band, but they forever changed my music catalog with this little-known gem.

1. "Last Goodbye" - Jeff Buckley
This is first song that made me a fan of Jeff Buckley. I loved it so much and the optimistic sadness it encapsulated that I went out an bought the CD - when I didn't even own a CD player. I had to be really nice to my sister to borrow hers, and when I did, I recorded Grace on cassette to listen to it in my car until I could afford a CD player. The album now ranks number two on my all-time list, and this song, which started the whole thing, proudly lands at number one.

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