Matt Erickson’s Top 100 Songs. 70-67
This 75 minute album - the self-titled one with the broken down rollercoaster on the cover – creeps along like a glacier on cough syrup (the amazing, 13-minute “Mother” nearly comes to a complete stop). Years ago, a friend and I played our Top 10 albums (countdown style, of course) on road trips throughout the summer. This album was deservedly #8 on my list, but was a terrible choice for driving music – I had to pull over about an hour in, both of us with fidgety legs, and stretch in a Pizza Hut parking lot.
While the album is a lot to digest, this song is a perfect four minutes, and would be a #1 hit if introverts were the majority. It’s still incredibly drowsy, like waking up from a nap. From Red House Painters (1993).
For this nostalgia addict, it’s better than crack. One lonely Sunday night, stacking potatoes in the produce department, this came on the grocery store loudspeaker. I didn’t know what it was at first…but I somehow intuited the approaching chorus. It was like reading, at 23, about a dream you had when you were 8, then vividly remembering it.
I soon found out the name of the band, then tried to spit out the memory - yecch! peh! peh! Worse, I found out the song made an appearance in Three Men & A Little Lady – peh! peh! peh! – and imagined the falling star to be Steve Gutenberg. To my horror, I continued to like the song. While such packaging suggests a tune of grotesque sentimentality - and I’m sure that’s what it is – the melody has an amazingly sturdy construction, and is sung with the oblivious conviction that is the ’80s at its best. And every time I hear it, I imagine it’s being beamed in from 1989 by some defunct radio station, and will be followed by the obnoxious station ID (“99-5: The Fox!”). From Reel Life (1988).
If this were 1996 – and I were 15 – it would be #1. While other #1′s emeriti have long ago been wheeled away to their entombment, this suicide epic healthily lives on. I don’t listen to it that much anymore. But when I do, I know it’s still one of the Top 100 songs ever made. From Ride the Lightning (1984).
The most insecure song in my Top 100, Chris Bell is the earnest guy who pouts and cries when his girl – or maybe Alex Chilton - loses interest in him. Of course, it never works in real life; that’s why we have music. Even in song, I kind of want to take a couple steps over there, away from someone so needy. But after a while it gets to you, and if you have a working heart, and are even slightly toxic, you have to admit you’ve been there. From I Am the Cosmos (1978).
This is what they would play at Chuck E. Cheese if Chuck E. Cheese were full of hallucinogenic drugs. The chorus is a Technicolor splash of little plastic balls, the guitars ring like they just won Skee-Ball, and Robyn Hitchcock sings like a friendly robot lab animal whose eyelids loudly click open and shut. From Underwater Moonlight (1980).
Honorable Mention: Coldplay / “Speed of Sound”
The other “Speed of Sound” is by Coldplay; somehow, it’s less whiny. Coldplay is the past decade’s most convenient band to hate: they have the deadly combination of being earnest, ambitious, and derivative. But they write some great melodies so I don’t give a shit. They even copy themselves: this piano hook sounds like ”Clocks” turned backward. Somehow, it’s even better.
And since I have to go to CVS, the gym, and Taco Bell once in a while, it’s nice to have a popular rock band out there that doesn’t sound like grunge’s most famous turd, Nickelback (and others who use the Hagar/Vedder/Cartman vocal hybrid: Staind, Trapt, Shittd, etc.). From X & Y (2005).
List so far ~
100. Elton John ~ Funeral for a Friend
99. Dave Schramm ~ Hammer and Nails
98. The Bob Seger System ~ 2 + 2 = ?
97. The Young Generation ~ The Hideaway
96. Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie ~ Belle and Sebastian
95. The Cars ~ Drive
94. Moose ~ The Only Man in Town
93. Wire ~ French Film Blurred
92. King Crimson ~ Starless
91. The Only Ones ~ The Whole of the Law
90. Daniel Johnston ~ Grievances
89. The Rolling Stones ~ Rocks Off
88. Wipers ~ Youth of America
87. Heart ~ Alone
86. The Stone Roses ~ Sugar Spun Sister
85. Joe Pernice ~ Bum Leg
84. My Bloody Valentine ~ To Here Knows When
83. Gene Clark ~ Some Misunderstanding
82. Electric Light Orchestra ~ Can’t Get it Out of my Head
81. Ride ~ Vapour Trail
80. Rush ~ 2112
79. Pere Ubu ~ Final Solution
78. Gary Wright ~ Dream Weaver
77. John Hiatt ~ Cry Love
76. The Go-Betweens ~ Clouds
75. Asia ~ Only Time Will Tell
74. The House of Love ~ Man to Child
73. Talk Talk ~ After the Flood
72. Seal ~ Prayer for the Dying
71. Brian Eno ~ Spider and I
70. Red House Painters ~ Mistress
69. Boy Meets Girl ~ Waiting for a Star to Fall
68. Metallica ~ Fade to Black
67. Chris Bell ~ Speed of Sound
66. The Soft Boys ~ Queen of Eyes
Laura Cantrell ~ Hammer and Nails
King Missile ~ Sensitive Artist
Eric Carmen ~ Make Me Lose Control
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony ~ Tha Crossroads
Coldplay ~ Speed of Sound