Monday, January 10, 2005

DB Up in Your Ear: The Top 10 Songs of All Time

In an exercise in self-torture, I decided to come up with a Top 10 list of my favorite songs of all time. It was much tougher than I thought it was going to be, but it seemed like an appropriate activity during about the 10th rainy day in a row, so self-torturing away I went. I'll try and give some annotations to these down the road, but for now, I humbly present:

1 - Fall on Me – REM
2 - Peace Frog – The Doors
3 - I Just Want to Celebrate – Rare Earth
4 - Good Times Bad Times – Led Zeppelin
5 - Things Have Changed – Bob Dylan
6 - Heroin is So Passe – The Dandy Warhols
7 - Devil’s Night Out – The Mighty Mighty Boss Tones
8 - Know Your Enemy – Rage Against the Machine
9 - Broken Face – Pixies
10 - Tight – Murphy’s Law

Honorable Mention:

Baby’s in Black – Beatles
Things We Said Today – Beatles
South Central Rain – REM
House – Brother Meat
Sick of It All – The Distillers
Unhappy Girl – The Doors
Wishful Sinful – The Doors
Say Anything – Bouncing Souls
About a Girl – Nirvana
Golden Road – The Grateful Dead
Pay No Mind (Snoozer) – Beck
Salvation – Rancid

Agree? Disagree? What are yours?


The Sore Loser said...

Interesting list. I'd have to think about mine. Plus, my list would be a tad embarrassing since I'm probably not as "cutting edge" as most DB readers. But here's a quick question about your list: is this list supposed to be entirely idiosyncratic, or are you actually trying to assess these songs in some objective way? Are some of these songs on your top ten list only because of what you associate with them?

girlfiend said...

Happiness is a Warm Gun- Breeders
Fuck and Run- Liz Phair
Cemetry Gates- The Smiths
Summer Babe- Pavement
Soul and Fire- Sebadoh
I've Got You Under My Skin- I can't decide whose version

Eric Berlin said...

Mr. TSL -

Making a top ten song list of all time is bound to be enormously subjective under the best of circumstances. In fact, if I re-did the list tomorrow, it would likely be different. But for now, I'm pretty happy with it. They're all pretty special, if not perfect. Setting the #1 was almost painful, but I settled on Fall on Me because it is pretty close to perfect and sounds as fresh and vibrant now as it did when I first heard it in the late 80s. Strangely, as a writer and music junkie, I'm not a big lyrics guy, but this song is beautifully written (Buy the sky and sell the sky and lift your arms up to the sky and ask the sky and ask the sky: Don't Fall on Me). Sweet. And haunting.

As for coming up with the list: I suppose I tried to not overload it with one artist/band/style, but other than that I tried to just name the best songs of all time for me. Therefore, I trended to songs that I've loved for a long time over ones I've heard more recently (Dandy Warhols is the newest, I believe, at about seven or eight years old by now). Other than that, I just went from the heart/mind/gut.

Girlfiend -

I didn't know The Breeders did a Beatles cover?! I'll have to check that one out.

Pavement has been on my Listen to More Of list for about 10 years now. I recently apprehended some of their stuff and will finally get to dig in. They have a great song about Sherman marching through Georgia and something about bumping into REM. It's on a great alt-rock compilation/charity album that I used to spin all the time.

The Sore Loser said...

It's tough to compile such a list, but here are few exceptional numbers in no particular order:

Billie Jean - Michael Jackson
Kiss - Prince
When the Levee Breaks - Led Zeppelin
Pigs - Pink Floyd
Paloma Negra - Lila Downs
Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright
West End Blues - Louis Armstrong
Cucurrucucu Paloma - Caetano Velosi
Shine - The Mills Brothers (not the best version)
Honey Pie - The Beatles

Eric Berlin said...

It's very tough, but it's a fun and revealing exercise in a way, isn't it? It's almost like answering the question: define yourself via 10 songs/artists: go. It will be interesting to revisit the list down the line and see how I've changed, if at all.

Your choices spill over genre and cultural lines more than mine do. I find your Prince and Michael Jackson choices especially interesting: I think those two artists, perhaps along with Madonna and a few others, have influenced or been a major factor in the musical upbringing of most Gen Xers. It seems like they were on the radio or MTV almost all the time in the early 80s, doesn't it?

The Sore Loser said...

Oddly enough, I only developed a taste for Prince about four years ago. And I think I only recently noticed the sheer genius in Billie Jean. But perhaps what inspired the re-evaluation was the wave of nostalgia that it rode in on.

Some more top picks:

Tom Waits - Jockey Full of Bourbon/Fumbling with the Blues/Invitation to the Blues. (Don't make me choose just one)
Marvin Gaye - Let's get it on
Peter Gabriel - Blood of Eden
U2 - I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
Beastie Boys - Live at PJs
Sublime - Santeria (possibly?)

Eric Berlin said...

Ah, but the trick is to really hone down on a Top 10 and then, even harder: rank 'em. I think you'll find that it tells you something about yourself. (Just what that is, I have no idea).

I haven't listened to a lot of Tom Waits, but I like his stuff. However, I'm still at the point with him where every song sounds kind of the same.

Live at PJs is a fun, raunchy tune. I used to listen to it while jogging around a rickety indoor wooden track built on risers during college. Jogging around the damned thing about 17 times equaled a mile.

I love The Joshua Tree as a whole -- it's lifted me up on many occasions when I've been in a melancholy funk. I only turn it on when I'm in just that kind of mood, and it usually does the trick. "In God's Country" is my fave off that LP, though.

In my opinion, Santeria is a nice song, but it ranks in the middle of Sublime's overall catalog. Talk about a shame for a dude to go down early on drugs... great potential there.

Marvin Gaye, eh? You sentimental old fool, you. "Let's Get It On" is kind of a cliche tune at this point (played during comedic beer commercials, women scream when it gets turned on in da club, etc.) which is a shame: it's a groovy tune.

Now: let's see you bang out a Top 10, Sore Loser. I know you have it in you.