Sunday, February 24, 2008

Well, Then Allow Me to Retort: My 100, er, 125 Favorite Songs of the ’90s

Two months ago, my boy Tobin posted his “Top 100 Songs of the 90s,” in response to VH-1’s similar list (which he justifiably despised). His work inspired me to come up with my own reckoning, represented here.

My list is nowhere near as good as Tob’s, because 1) I couldn’t cut down to only 100 (200 probably would have been better!), and 2) I didn’t have the guts to rank them like he did. (If you're curious—and I can't imagine you would be, but anyway—we only overlapped on 12 songs.) What made this chart particularly difficult was deciding whether or not a particular song was still worthy of inclusion; there are tons of songs/bands I used to love (311, Third Eye Blind, Metallica, and Hootie & the Blowfish, just to name a few) that aren’t represented on this list because I really don’t listen to them anymore, so their songs have fallen out of favor. Other bands who had great songs in the ’90s didn’t cross my radar until this decade (Wilco, PJ Harvey, Bruce Springsteen). And still other bands had songs I haven’t listened to in years but, when I popped them back in the CD player, still held up (Bush, Live, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones apply to this category, among many others).

In other words, this list would have looked vastly different had I compiled it on Dec. 31, 1999. But as it stands now, here are 125 songs from the ’90s that still mean something to me—past, present, and, maybe, the future:

1. A Shot in the Arm, Wilco

2. Alive, Pearl Jam—Has gotten even better with age

3. All Along the Watchtower, Dave Matthews Band via Bob Dylan

4. Angel, Pearl Jam—Back when the Christmas singles were still awesome; pity the whole Dave A. thing means this little gem will never be played live again

5. Ava Adore, The Smashing Pumpkins—Even more powerful when performed live with Jimmy
Chamberlin on drums

6. Bed of Roses, Bon Jovi—There’s a lot wrong with this band, but I love this song

7. Better Days, Bruce Springsteen—A highlight during a rather low period of his career

8. Betterman, Pearl Jam—Best PJ concert singalong

9. Bittersweet Symphony, The Verve—Ah, “Cruel Intentions”

10. Breath, Pearl Jam—Unlike “Leash,” there’s more to this song than just not being played live in a long time

11. Breed, Nirvana

12. C’mon Billy, PJ Harvey

13. Cannonball, The Breeders—Sad that I knew who the Breeders were before I knew the Pixies

14. Casino Queen, Wilco—The first Wilco song I fell in love with; there were many more to follow

15. Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns, Mother Love Bone

16. Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix), Rob D—“The Matrix” is a special movie to me in more ways than one

17. Comedown, Bush—I know they got crushed by critics, but they put on a great live show

18. Corduroy, Pearl Jam—This song was played so much on the radio it wore out on me quickly, but I’ve come to love it once again

19. Crush, Dave Matthews Band—Several songs on this list hold specific sentimental value; this is one of them

20. Dancing Nancies, Dave Matthews Band

21. The Day I Tried to Live, Soundgarden—I’m surprised this CD still works, I played it so much in high school

22. The Distance, Cake

23. Do the Evolution, Pearl Jam—At one point my no-questions-asked favorite PJ song; now I’m not sure which one is

24. Down By the Water, PJ Harvey

25. Drown, The Smashing Pumpkins

26. Dry the Rain, The Beta Band—I will now sell three copies of The Beta Band …

27. Dyslexic Heart, Paul Westerberg

28. Even Better Than the Real Thing, U2

29. Fell on Black Days, Soundgarden

30. Fireworks, The Tragically Hip

31. Freak on a Leash, Korn

32. Free Girl Now, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

33. Gel, Collective Soul

34. Gift Shop, The Tragically Hip

35. Given to Fly, Pearl Jam—I can remember where I was the first time I heard this song; one-third of the “Yield” trifecta of perfection

36. Gone, U2—For some reason I love several songs with this title, but this is the best one

37. Granny, Dave Matthews Band—My favorite DMB song

38. Greedy Fly, Bush

39. Guerilla Radio, Rage Against the Machine

40. Gun, Uncle Tupelo

41. Hard to Imagine, Pearl Jam

42. Hell of a Hat, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

43. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, U2—The first U2 song I ever loved; still one of my top-10 faves

44. High, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack—I haven’t listened to this song in nearly a decade because … my roommate borrowed this CD and loved it so much, he never gave it back!

45. Highway 61 Revisited, PJ Harvey via Bob Dylan

46. Hunger Strike, Temple of the Dog—Hello, Matt Cameron, we’ll be seeing you again in about eight years

47. I Am a Patriot, Eddie Vedder via Steve van Zandt—One of my first “What? You can download live music on the Internet?!?” songs

48. I Got You (At the End of the Century)—One-third of the “Being There” trifecta of uptempo, rockin’ out perfection

49. I’ll Stick Around, Foo Fighters—One of the best drum intros ever

50. If I Should Fall Behind, Bruce Springsteen—This song played at my wedding

51. Immortality, Pearl Jam—I still have no clue what this song is about

52. The Impression That I Get, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones—Released just before high school graduation, it will always bring back memories of that time, both good and bad (but mostly good)

53. In Hiding, Pearl Jam—One of Stone Gossard’s best riffs, and he’s had a bunch

54. Indifference, Pearl Jam—I am apparently one of the few Pearl Jam fans who doesn’t like “Vs.” all that much (on a PJ-relative scale, of course)

55. It’s Good to Be King, Tom Petty—This song kills in concert

56. Jenny Says, Cowboy Mouth—Great hook, meant to be played at maximum volume

57. Jimi Thing, Dave Matthews Band—I’ve never smoked pot, but I still love this song

58. Joining You, Alanis Morissette

59. Jump Right In, The Urge

60. Killing in the Name, Rage Against the Machine—This track holds a special place in my heart for a very specific reason: In college I had a sorta feud with a professor; one day he brought his class over to the grassy area outside my dorm, so we put the speakers in the window and cranked this sucker up as loud as we could. The chorus (yeah, you know how it goes …) was rather appropriate for the situation. He didn’t leave (then), but it made me feel better.

61. Lakini’s Juice, Live—I managed to see their set at the ’98 Tibetan Freedom Concert before the lightning struck and ruined everything

62. Landslide, The Smashing Pumpkins via Stevie Nicks

63. Long Road, Pearl Jam—First PJ song I ever heard in person

64. Lounge Fly, Stone Temple Pilots—Hard to pick favorites off this album, one of my all-time faves

65. Lover Lay Down, Dave Matthews Band

66. The Man Who Sold the World, Nirvana via David Bowie—I was anti-Nirvana for the longest time … then I finally came around, largely because of this album (and this song)

67. Mayonaise, The Smashing Pumpkins

68. Monday, Wilco

69. Murder Incorporated, Bruce Springsteen

70. Muzzle, The Smashing Pumpkins—All-time favorite Pumpkins song

71. No Excuses, Alice in Chains

72. No Way Out, Stone Temple Pilots—I don’t like Velvet Revolver

73. Not For You, Pearl Jam—I was obsessed with this song for a period of time

74. Nugget, Cake—One of the best repeated uses of the f-word you’ll ever hear

75. O Stella, PJ Harvey—What a stunning debut album

76. Off He Goes, Pearl Jam—One of the few PJ tracks that’s better on the CD than in concert

77. One, U2—It’s too bad this has been turned into a fund-raiser

78. One Sweet World, Dave Matthews Band

79. One Time Too Many, PJ Harvey—First of her songs I ever heard

80. Outtasite (Outta Mind), Wilco

81. Pennyroyal Tea, Nirvana

82. Please, U2—One of the band’s most beautiful songs, and that’s saying something

83. Porch, Pearl Jam—I turned into a complete moron the first time I heard this live (they didn’t play it that much at the time, okay?)

84. Present Tense, Pearl Jam—I’ve always wished they’d carried the jam section out a bit longer

85. Red Right Hand, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds—This is all wrapped up in my love for “The X-Files”

86. Release, Pearl Jam—One of Eddie’s best moments on every level

87. Right Place, Wrong Time, The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies—This one’s for you, Nate!

88. River of Deceit, Mad Season

89. Rock Is Dead, Marilyn Manson

90. Room at the Top, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

91. Rooster, Alice in Chains—Another fabulous Unplugged session; with all the crap that’s on MTV, why can’t they bring that show back with regularity?

92. Rusty Cage, Johnny Cash via Soundgarden

93. Sabotage, Beastie Boys—Perfection

94. Scar Tissue, Red Hot Chili Peppers—Summer ’99 was one of the best times of my life

95. She’s a Jar, Wilco

96. Shit Towne, Live

97. Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite, R.E.M.

98. Sleep to Dream, Fiona Apple—Where is she, by the way?

99. Song 2, Blur—Woohoo! You’ve heard it a million times, but you know you still love it

100. The Song That Jane Likes, Dave Matthews Band—They were so great … for a little while

101. Sonic Reducer, Pearl Jam via Dead Boys—Even after who knows how many listens, still gets my blood racing

102. Spin the Black Circle, Pearl Jam—This was the first cut off “Vitalogy” I played for a friend right after it came out and he said: “I am buying this!”

103. St. Joe and the School Bus, Marcy Playground—I listened to this CD again not too long ago and, you know what, it’s not too bad

104. Stop Breaking Down, The White Stripes—The hipsters still prefer this original, ultra-raw version of the band; I do not

105. Super Bon Bon, Soul Coughing

106. Timeless Melody, The La’s

107. To Bring You My Love, PJ Harvey—Ferocious

108. Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart, Stone Temple Pilots—This song is pretty tough on “Guitar Hero”

109. Unglued, Stone Temple Pilots

110. Until the End of the World, U2—On a given day, this could be my favorite U2 song

111. Via Chicago, Wilco—A must-play any time I fly home through O’Hare; I know that’s cheesy, but I don’t care

112. Victory, PJ Harvey

113. Waiting for Somebody, Paul Westerberg

114. Wake Up, Rage Against the Machine—Fly, Neo, Fly! And never come back in any sequels! Please!!!

115. The Wanderer, U2 feat. Johnny Cash

116. Wash, Pearl Jam—I bought “Ten” again in Italy just for this song

117. Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key, Billy Bragg & Wilco via Woodie Guthrie—Fabulous backing vocals from Natalie Merchant; she should probably be on this list somewhere else, too …

118. We’ve Been Had, Uncle Tupelo

119. When I Come Around, Green Day—They had a ton of great songs in the ’90s, but I was never a huge fan

120. Where Is My Mind?, The Pixies—Ah, “Fight Club”

121. Where the River Flows, Collective Soul

122. White, Discussion, Live—I hadn’t listened to this album in yeeeeears, and had forgotten how good it is

123. You Wreck Me, Tom Petty

124. Youngstown, Bruce Springsteen—The live version is stunning

125. Zooropa, U2—Otherwise known as my William Gibson/Senior Year of College soundtrack

And, yes, if you’ve read this far you realize there were a lot of Pearl Jam songs in there. Shocker, I know, but I still cut some that hurt (“In My Tree,” especially). Based on number of songs on this list, here are my top 5 bands of the decade:

Pearl Jam (21)
Dave Matthews Band (8)
U2 (8)
PJ Harvey (7)
Wilco (7)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The coaches' votes were a hilarious desert to an interesting entree.