80 best songs of the 1990s

21 11 2019

I couldn’t resist trying to do a “best of” list for the 1990s, so here it is. I stopped at 80, rather than going to 100, because that’s as far as I could easily get: in the 1990s, I wasn’t listening to the radio very much, and I found a few genres that I liked and I stuck with them.

This list was a labour of love – this is my favourite decade for music. I only found 80 songs because I limited myself to one song per artist.

If I do the 2000s, I’ll probably be stuck at only 50 songs or maybe even 30 songs – I stopped being in touch with new music sometime in the new millennium. (OK boomer!)

Anyway, here’s the (four-fifths complete) list. I’ve added notes in square brackets on some of them.

  1. In Spite Of Ourselves – John Prine & Iris DeMent
    [the best love song in the history of ever]
  2. Nowhere Near – Yo La Tengo
  3. Man On The Moon – R.E.M.
  4. Sennen – Ride
  5. Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Nirvana
    [I didn’t understand the fuss about Nirvana until I heard this version, from the unplugged CD]
  6. Ahead By A Century – Tragically Hip
  7. Ain’t That Enough – Teenage Fanclub
  8. Golden Hair – Slowdive
  9. When It’s Cold I’d Like To Die – Moby
  10. In This Heart – Sinead O’Connor
  11. The Wanderer – U2 (featuring Johnny Cash)
  12. Country Home – Neil Young and Crazy Horse
  13. Mesmerise – Chapterhouse
  14. Everlong – Foo Fighters
  15. Rocket – Smashing Pumpkins
  16. Dandy Warhols TV Theme Song – Dandy Warhols
  17. Friday I’m In Love – The Cure
  18. Story Of My Life – Social Distortion
  19. Praise You – Fatboy Slim
  20. Step On – Happy Mondays
  21. The Life of Riley – Lightning Seeds
  22. Divine Intervention – Matthew Sweet
  23. Sing – Blur
  24. D’You Know What I Mean? – Oasis
  25. Cannonball – Breeders
  26. Sworn and Broken – Screaming Trees
  27. Pictures – Mojave 3
    [The saddest song that I know of. “Hello In There” by John Prine is the second-saddest.]
  28. Hesitating Beauty – Billy Bragg and Wilco
  29. No One Knows – Green Day
  30. Movie Star – Cracker
  31. Guns In The Ghetto – UB40
  32. Two Worlds Collide – Inspiral Carpets
  33. Black Metallic – Catherine Wheel
  34. I’m Free – Soup Dragons
  35. Rolling People – The Verve
  36. Movin’ On Up – Primal Scream
  37. Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam – Vaselines
  38. The Mummers’ Dance – Loreena McKennitt
  39. Save This House – Spirit of the West
    [Rest in peace.]
  40. Run – Collective Soul
  41. Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth… – Primitive Radio Gods
  42. Brimful of Asha – Cornershop
  43. Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
  44. Godsend – Beat Happening
    [I love the very idea of Beat Happening, because they couldn’t play or sing very well. As one book I read described it: if you thought you could play better than them, it was up to you to prove it. If you could, you had yourself a band. If you couldn’t, you had to shut up. Either way, they had proved their point.]
  45. T T T – Buzzcocks
  46. The Kids Aren’t Alright – The Offspring
  47. Scar Tissue – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  48. Mr. Jones – Counting Crows
  49. Loveless (the entire album, dammit) – My Bloody Valentine
    [It’s my list, and I can do what I want. Loveless has to be listened to in its entirety for it to really work.]
  50. Jesus Built My Hotrod (Redline/Whiteline Version) – Ministry
  51. Roots Radical – Rancid
  52. The Only One I Know – Charlatans
  53. Blue Flower – Mazzy Star
  54. Swallowed – Bush
  55. Love You All – 54-40
  56. Seether – Veruca Salt
  57. Radiation Vibe – Fountains of Wayne
  58. The Anglo-Saxons – Mountain Goats
  59. Lost Together – Blue Rodeo
  60. Omobolasire – Prozzak
  61. Sunshine After The Rain – Berri
    [This is an idiosyncratic choice because of when I first heard it: I was driving in Arizona in a rented car, listening to a Mexican radio station, and this came on. It reminds me of a pleasant memory.]
  62. Steal My Sunshine – Len
  63. For All This – Holly Golightly
  64. Feels Blind – Bikini Kill
  65. Kill Your Television – Ned’s Atomic Dustbin
  66. Slide – Luna
  67. Svefn-g-englar – Sigur Rós
  68. Ich Bin Ein Auslander – Pop Will Eat Itself
    [Possibly the least romantic song in the history of music.]
  69. Liquid Indian – Guided By Voices
  70. Danny Boy – Moe Tucker
  71. Whip Smart – Liz Phair
  72. Jack-Ass – Beck
  73. Friends of P. – Rentals
  74. Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction
  75. Zombie – Cranberries
  76. Turn It On – Flaming Lips
    [Included for its rhythm guitar track, which is filthy.]
  77. If It Makes You Happy – Sheryl Crow
  78. Reverence – Jesus and Mary Chain
  79. If I Had $1,000,000 – Barenaked Ladies
  80. Two Princes – Spin Doctors




100 best songs of the 1980s

3 11 2019

Continuing the theme of the previous two posts: here’s my 100 best songs of the 1980s. As before, the rule is only one song per artist (otherwise, this would be flooded with R.E.M., among others).

The ’80s is when I started to narrowcast more: I was listening to what was then known as “alternative” more than to conventional radio, so there’s a lot of stuff that I just wasn’t listening to much. This trend has accelerated over time: I’ll be able to do a 1990s list, but after that I just am not knowledgeable enough.

In this list, I knew what the top two were going to be, but the rest were harder to sort out. So many of them are wonderful. Anyway, here it is.

  1. Fall On Me – R.E.M.
  2. Maid Of Orleans – Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark
  3. Atmosphere – Joy Division
  4. Jersey Girl – Tom Waits
  5. City of Dreams – Talking Heads
  6. Scary Monsters – David Bowie
  7. Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen
  8. The Hardest Walk – Jesus and Mary Chain
  9. Real Wild Child – Iggy Pop
  10. California Uber Alles (single version) – Dead Kennedys
  11. Forever Now – Psychedelic Furs
  12. Wishing – A Flock of Seagulls
  13. I Touch Roses – Book of Love
  14. Roam – B-52’s
  15. Pop Goes The World – Men Without Hats
  16. Life In A Northern Town – Dream Academy
  17. Driving Away From Home (Wicked Weather for Walking remix) – It’s Immaterial
  18. Feels Like Heaven – Fiction Factory
  19. Africa – Toto
  20. Downstream – Rainmakers
  21. So Far Away – Dire Straits
  22. Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag – Pigbag
  23. Misguided Angel – Cowboy Junkies
  24. Help Me Somebody – David Byrne and Brian Eno
  25. Levi Stubbs’ Tears – Billy Bragg
  26. That’s Entertainment – The Jam
  27. Chance – Big Country
  28. Calling America – Electric Light Orchestra
  29. Mirror In The Bathroom – English Beat
  30. This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide – Kings
  31. Angel of Harlem – U2
  32. Let’s Do Rock Steady – The Bodysnatchers
  33. Crash – Primitives
  34. Throw Your Arms Around Me – Hunters and Collectors
  35. Bring on the Dancing Horses – Echo & The Bunnymen
  36. Rock’n’Roll Radio – Ramones
  37. Always On My Mind – Pet Shop Boys
  38. The Boy In The Bubble – Paul Simon
  39. Only You – Yazoo
  40. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
  41. That’s What I Like About You – The Romantics
  42. Fade To Grey – Visage
  43. Take The Skinheads Bowling – Camper Van Beethoven
  44. Going Down To Liverpool – The Bangles
  45. Big Science – Laurie Anderson
  46. Sun City – Artists United Against Apartheid
  47. Nowhere Girl – B-Movie
  48. The Dead Heart – Midnight Oil
  49. Iko Iko – Belle Stars
  50. Let Me Go – Heaven 17
  51. Whole Wide World – Wreckless Eric
  52. Wardance – Killing Joke
  53. Being Boiled – Human League
  54. Storm Before The Calm – Luba
  55. She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals
  56. Theme For Great Cities – Simple Minds
  57. Eyes Without A Face – Billy Idol
  58. Walk In Line – 54-40
  59. What Do I Get? – Buzzcocks
  60. I Wanna Be Adored – Stone Roses
  61. When You’re Young and In Love – Flying Pickets
  62. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
  63. Warm Leatherette – The Normal
  64. Always The Sun – Stranglers
  65. More Than This – Roxy Music
  66. Echo Beach – Martha and the Muffins
  67. The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Tight Fit
  68. Mandinka – Sinead O’Connor
  69. Dancing With Myself – Generation X
  70. Sweet Sensation – UB40
  71. A Song From Under The Floorboards – Magazine
  72. Warhead – UK Subs
  73. Pocket Calculator – Kraftwerk
  74. Balloon Man – Robyn Hitchcock
  75. Closer Together – The Box
  76. Love Removal Machine – The Cult
  77. Mirror Star – Fabulous Poodles
  78. Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury
  79. Peter Gunn theme – Art Of Noise (featuring Duane Eddy)
  80. Small Town – John Mellencamp
  81. Junco Partner – The Clash
  82. Fight The Power – Public Enemy
  83. No Sleep Till Brooklyn – Beastie Boys
  84. Having an Average Weekend – Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
  85. Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go – Soft Cell
  86. Genius Of Love – Tom Tom Club
  87. Mexican Radio – Wall of Voodoo
  88. Ghost Town – The Specials
  89. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
  90. Rise Above – Black Flag
  91. Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
  92. Going Home: Theme Of The Local Hero – Mark Knopfler
  93. Proprietaire – Madame
  94. Nova Heart – Spoons
  95. New Life – Depeche Mode
  96. Thrash – Cowboys International
  97. Ricky’s Hand – Fad Gadget
  98. Only in My Dreams – Debbie Gibson
  99. Rock This Town – Stray Cats
  100. Psycho Chicken – The Fools




100 best songs of the 1970s

12 10 2019

Continuing with the same theme as the previous post: here’s my 100 best songs of the 1970s, mostly compiled by looking at my Spotify saved list.

I might do the 1980s eventually, but probably won’t do any more after that – starting in the 1990s, I got more into smaller niches of music and stopped listening to any radio, so I missed out on a lot of trends.

Have fun, etc.!

  1. Heroes – David Bowie
  2. Helpless – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
  3. Working Class Hero – John Lennon
  4. Four Strong Winds – Neil Young
  5. Across The Universe – Beatles
  6. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
  7. Blitzkrieg Bop – Ramones
  8. Anarchy in the U.K. – Sex Pistols
  9. Baby’s On Fire – Brian Eno
  10. Trouble Boys – Dave Edmunds
  11. Ramble Tamble – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  12. Transmission – Joy Division
  13. Redemption Song – Toots and the Maytals
  14. Surrender – Cheap Trick
  15. Roll Over Beethoven – Electric Light Orchestra
  16. One Step Beyond – Madness
  17. Brand New Cadillac – The Clash
  18. I Found That Essence Rare – Gang Of Four
  19. Ballroom Blitz – Sweet
  20. Angel From Montgomery – John Prine
  21. Planet Claire – B-52’s
  22. It’s All I Can Do – The Cars
  23. In My Hour Of Darkness – Gram Parsons
  24. Racing in the Street – Bruce Springsteen
  25. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel
  26. Roll On Down The Highway – Bachman-Turner Overdrive
  27. No Time – Guess Who
  28. Ride Captain Ride – Blues Image
  29. Mull of Kintyre – Wings
  30. Sweet Mary – Wadsworth Mansion
  31. Rocker – AC/DC
  32. Golden Hair – Syd Barrett
  33. Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon
  34. Rock Your Baby – George McCrae
  35. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Devo
  36. Ca Plane Pour Moi – Plastic Bertrand
  37. Here For A Good Time – Trooper
  38. More Than A Feeling – Boston
  39. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley & The Wailers
  40. Beneath Still Waters – Emmylou Harris
  41. I’m The Man – Joe Jackson
  42. Phasors On Stun – FM
  43. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
  44. Tumbling Dice – Rolling Stones
  45. Big Six – Judge Dread
  46. Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield
  47. Tearing Me Apart – Teenage Head
  48. Baby Baby – The Vibrators
  49. Flat Tire – The Government
  50. Signs – Five Man Electrical Band
  51. A Million Vacations – Max Webster
  52. So Long, Marianne – Brian Hyland
  53. Away From The Numbers – The Jam
  54. One For The Vine – Genesis
  55. All Right Now – Free
  56. Marquee Moon – Television
  57. Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh
  58. Someone Saved My Life Tonight – Elton John
  59. I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash
  60. Take Me To The River – Talking Heads
  61. Walk This Way – Aerosmith
  62. Brighton Rock – Queen
  63. Radio Radio – Elvis Costello
  64. Here Comes The Flood – Peter Gabriel
  65. In Every Dream Home A Heartache (live version) – Roxy Music
  66. Twenty Flight Rock – Robert Gordon
  67. You Are In My Vision – Gary Numan & Tubeway Army
  68. On My Radio – The Selecter
  69. Baby Blue – Badfinger
  70. Rock And Roll Lullaby – B.J. Thomas
  71. Teenage Kicks – Undertones
  72. Lucky Man – Emerson, Lake and Palmer
  73. Over My Head (single version) – Fleetwood Mac
  74. Mr. Bojangles – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  75. Dead Skunk – Loudon Wainwright III
  76. Hocus Pocus – Focus
  77. Too Much Too Young – The Specials
  78. Long Misty Days – Robin Trower
  79. C.I.D. – U.K. Subs
  80. New York City – The Demics
  81. Indiana Wants Me – R. Dean Taylor
  82. Roundabout – Yes
  83. Quiet Men – Ultravox
  84. Take The Money and Run – Steve Miller Band
  85. The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff
  86. Superstar – Carpenters
  87. Working Man – Rush
  88. Drivin’ Wheel – Foghat
  89. Tighter and Tighter – Alive & Kicking
  90. Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room – Brownsville Station
  91. Pablo Picasso – Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
  92. The Loco-Motion – Grand Funk Railroad
  93. Do You Know What I Mean – Lee Michaels
  94. Isn’t It A Pity – George Harrison
  95. Oh What A Feeling – Crowbar
  96. Barracuda – Heart
  97. When Will I See You Again – Three Degrees
  98. Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad – Meat Loaf
  99. I’d Love You To Want Me – Lobo
  100. Sister Golden Hair – America




100 Best Songs of the 1960s

24 09 2019

Hi. I’m temporarily reviving this old blog as a response to a Twitter feed about music that someone that I know has been running for several weeks now. He is tweeting his 100 best songs of each decade in groups of five, starting with the 1950s.

This prompted me to try something similar. I didn’t do the 1950s, as I don’t know that decade well enough, but I’ll try the 1960s. Each artist can only be listed once – so, for example, the Beatles only get one entry.

As much as possible, I tried to select songs that I actually like. If I had it saved in my Spotify “liked songs” list, and especially if I had played it a lot, it went on this list. This means that some selections are a little idiosyncratic.

There are some artists who aren’t on the list because I couldn’t think of a specific song that I liked well enough. For instance, Jimi Hendrix is a great musician, but there’s not a specific song of his that stands out for me.

Anyway, here’s my list. I probably missed some obvious ones.

  1. Twist and Shout – Beatles
  2. Sloop John B – Beach Boys
  3. Desolation Row – Bob Dylan
  4. Pressure Drop – Toots and the Maytals
  5. The Dark End Of The Street – James Carr
  6. Higher & Higher – Jackie Wilson
  7. Wipe Out – The Surfaris
  8. Unchained Melody – Righteous Brothers
  9. You Were On My Mind – We Five
  10. Down By The River – Neil Young
  11. I Got You Babe – Sonny & Cher
  12. Go Now – Moody Blues
  13. House of The Rising Sun – Animals
  14. Be My Baby – Ronettes
  15. Green Onions – Booker T and the M.G.’s
  16. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
  17. Then He Kissed Me – Crystals
  18. Helplessly Hoping – Crosby, Stills & Nash
  19. Crimson and Clover – Tommy James
  20. Misirlou – Dick Dale
  21. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  22. Surfin’ Bird – Trashmen
  23. 96 Tears – ? & The Mysterians
  24. Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds
  25. Rag Doll – Four Seasons
  26. Carrie Anne – The Hollies
  27. Good Times Bad Times – Led Zeppelin
  28. I Am A Rock – Simon & Garfunkel
  29. I Fought The Law – Bobby Fuller Four
  30. 500 Miles – Peter, Paul & Mary
  31. Hush – Deep Purple
  32. Laughing – The Guess Who
  33. A Whiter Shade Of Pale – Procol Harum
  34. California Sun – Rivieras
  35. I’m a Boy – The Who
  36. Crying – Roy Orbison
  37. Bring It On Home To Me – Sam Cooke
  38. Wonderful Land – The Shadows
  39. Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire
  40. Interstellar Overdrive – Pink Floyd
  41. Which Way You Goin’, Billy? – Poppy Family
  42. Sally Go Round The Roses – Jaynetts
  43. Judge Dread – Prince Buster
  44. Sugar Sugar – The Archies
  45. Out In The Streets – The Shangri-Las
  46. Tracks Of My Tears – Miracles
  47. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
  48. Jollity Farm – The Bonzo Dog Band
  49. Cherry Cherry – Neil Diamond
  50. Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man – Bob Seger System
  51. Hurdy Gurdy Man – Donovan
  52. Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf
  53. Gloria – Them
  54. Hang On Sloopy – McCoys
  55. Love (Can Make You Happy) – Mercy
  56. Everlasting Love – Robert Knight
  57. Waiting For The Man – Velvet Underground
  58. Pictures of Matchstick Men – Status Quo
  59. Pipeline – Chantays
  60. Bernadette – Four Tops
  61. Simon Says – 1910 Fruitgum Company
  62. Loco-Motion – Little Eva
  63. Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley
  64. When The Roses Bloom Again – Johnny Cash
  65. Psychotic Reaction – Count Five
  66. Dizzy – Tommy Roe
  67. How’d We Ever Get This Way – Andy Kim
  68. Heart Full of Soul – Yardbirds
  69. Runaway – Del Shannon
  70. The Last Time – Rolling Stones
  71. Smile a Little Smile For Me – The Flying Machine
  72. Green Tambourine – Lemon Pipers
  73. Classical Gas – Mason Williams
  74. I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stooges
  75. I’ve Got Dreams To Remember – Otis Redding
  76. Daydream Believer – The Monkees
  77. World Without Love – Peter and Gordon
  78. Glad All Over – Dave Clark Five
  79. Nobody But Me – Human Beinz
  80. Journey To The Center of the Mind – Amboy Dukes
  81. Hair – Cowsills
  82. Red Rubber Ball – Cyrkle
  83. These Boots Are Made For Walking – Nancy Sinatra
  84. Gypsy Woman – Brian Hyland
  85. Telstar – Tornados
  86. Mother’s Advice (Shop Around) – Soul Leaders
  87. The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore – Walker Brothers
  88. Israelites – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  89. Never My Love – The Association
  90. Louie Louie – The Kingsmen
  91. Walk Away Renee – Left Banke
  92. 21st Century Schizoid Man – King Crimson
  93. The Twist – Chubby Checker
  94. Gotta Get A Message To You – Bee Gees
  95. Incense and Peppermints – Strawberry Alarm Clock
  96. On The Road Again – Canned Heat
  97. I’m Going Home – Ten Years After
  98. Angel Of The Morning – Merrilee Rush
  99. Time Has Come Today – Chambers Brothers
  100. Reach Out Of The Darkness – Friend & Lover

I had fun doing this – I spent a few hours moving entries up and down the list, relying on a bubble sort approach to move my favourites gradually toward the top.

One thing that surprised me was that my #1 song was an obvious choice. “Twist and Shout” moved to the top of the list early on, and was never dislodged. Part of this might be because I quite literally grew up with this song: when I was very young, my parents decided to buy one Beatles single to see what the fuss was about, and this is the one they picked. Good choice, I think! (The flip was “There’s A Place”, which is a pretty good song too.)





97 words: an experiment

14 11 2013

So I am going to try something a little different: I’ve created a new blog in which every post is going to be exactly 97 words long, just because.

If you’re curious, you can go here: http://97words.wordpress.com/





“Transmission” by Joy Division

25 09 2013

If you’ve found this blog, I hope you have enjoyed the music links. I’m going to take a break from posting them for a bit – I’m not getting much chance to listen to new music, and I don’t have enough time or mental energy to write interesting things about the music I post about. I don’t want to waste your time or mine.

Here’s one last link, to a band that many people I know think was the best band in the world ever.

I’ll probably use this space to write about baseball or froth at the mouth about neo-conservative politicians or something. See you around. Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio.





“Biko” by Peter Gabriel

24 09 2013

While I’m thinking of songs about South Africa, here’s Peter Gabriel, from 1980:

I can honestly say that this song made me more aware of South Africa and apartheid than anything else I read or heard about. “And the eyes of the world are watching now.”

When I was younger, I believed that a race war in South Africa was inevitable. Nelson Mandela prevented that, pretty much all by himself. I don’t have heroes, as a rule, since most people contain good bits and bad bits. But Mandela is one of mine.