The Top 100 Songs (80-61)
80. “Fall On Me” — R.E.M.
(Life’s Rich Pageant, 1986)
Thanks to a girlfriend’s brother, I was introduced to the entire R.E.M. collection at once – from Murmur to Automatic for the People – through a skillfully crafted mix tape. Now, years later, I still turn to “Fall On Me” when I’m in need of an R.E.M. fix but don’t care to listen to Automatic For The People.
“Well I could keep it above/But then it wouldn’t be sky anymore/So if I send it to you you’ve got to promise to keep it whole”
79. “American Jesus” — Bad Religion
(Recipe For Hate, 1993)
My old band covered it. And since my Bad Religion era happened before this list was relevant, the fact that it’s ranked is a testament to how good of a song it is – regardless of where the rest of Bad Religion ranked post high school.
“I feel sorry for the earth’s population/’Cuz so few live in the U.S.A./At least the foreigners can copy our morality/They can visit but they cannot stay.”
78. “Hey Ya!” – Outkast
(Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, 2003)
Wanna dance? Do it to “Hey Ya!”, the one song that refocused my view on popular rap music.
“Shake it, shake it like a Polaroid Picture, shake it, shake it.”
77. “Non Photo-Blue” – Pinback
(Summer In Abaddon, 2004)
Thank you Sirius 26, Left of Center, for reacquainting me with the indie rock that I’d been missing since leaving the world of college-radio-jockey. This song, when I first heard it, reminded me so much of Modest Mouse that I went and bought their CD – the first purchased because of satellite radio. Turns out the rest of it doesn’t sound like Modest Mouse, but this song is awesome.
“She just ignores the time that the boards came down/It’s a numbed out feeling/He just accepts that pain/A hate mantra/A spiritual killing.”
76. “Mind The Gap” — The Soundtrack Of Our Lives
(Behind The Music, 2001)
I first listened to the song at KAUR because the title reminded me of the London Underground. I’ve kept with the song because it’s a wonderful piece of music by a band that most people don’t know about, but should.
“Mind the gap/Mind your head turning back/Mind your future mind your past/If you think you’re gonna last.”
75. “Life on Mars” – David Bowie
(Hunky Dory, 1971)
The best non-instrumental song from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou also happens to be my favorite David Bowie song. The fact that this song was left off of the single disc Best of Bowie CD is a crime.
“Take a look at the Lawman/Beating up the wrong guy/Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know/He’s in the best selling show”
74. “Tribute” – Tenacious D
(Tenacious D, 2001)
The live version incorporates more of “the greatest song in the world,” “Stairway to Heaven,” but this version, from their full length debut, sounds a hundred times better. I remember how excited I was to hear this song, a mainstay of the D’s shows and the centerpiece of their greatest HBO episode, when it was released – it was a far cry from versions I had that used the hissy television show as a source.
“He asked us: ‘(snort) Be you angels?’/And we said, ‘Nay. We are but men.’/Rock!”
73. “Rich Kid Shakedown” – Jazz June
(They Love Those Who Make The Music, 1996)
The best “little known” emo band of the late ‘90s. The Jazz June did a great job energizing a listener with the brute force of catchy riffs and their three guitar front. This is still one of the best morning songs around.
“She said, she said/They can go wandering/Which way and always/Under main street lights.”
72. “Stupidity Tries” – Elliott Smith
(Figure 8, 2000)
Elliott Smith took on an entire band to record Figure 8, and while it pushed the intimacy of his songwriting to the side, it also contributed to better individual songs. I always liked this song for the nearly inaudible “chug-chug” right before the chorus, as if the song was trying to get its engine started on cold day, only to have to try again.
“And so I go from floor to floor/Looking for a port of call/Another drunk conquistador/Conquering the governor’s ball.”
71. “Section 12 (Hold Me Now)” – The Polyphonic Spree
(Together We’re Heavy, 2004)
With vocals that remind me of Wayne Coyne, The Polyphonic Spree caught my ear during a stint of attempted ticket-collecting for a Modest Mouse show at First Ave. I eventually drove up for the show without tickets (and ended up singing karaoke all night instead) but I continued to listen to The Spree from then on.
“Hold me now/Don’t start shakin’/You keep me safe you’ll never think/You’re the only one when times are tough.”
70. “A Praise Chorus” – Jimmy Eat World
(Bleed American, 2001)
I’m not sure if this song made me feel old or if it made me feel young. Yes, Jimmy Eat World has certainly lost its allure. But this song, featuring The Promise Ring’s Davey VonBohlen on vocals, harkens back to the days when I’d go watch punk rock shows. It brings to mind the gentle bobbing of my head near the back of the crowd, and how some of us, unfortunately, grow apart from the scene and are left uncomfortable at shows.
“I’m on my feet, I’m on the floor, I’m good to go/So come on Davey, sing me somethin’ that I know/I wanna always feel like part of this was mine.”
69. “Proceed with Caution” – The New Amsterdams
(Never You Mind, 2000)
I like acoustic, and I loved The Get Up Kids, so naturally The New Amsterdams (The Get Up Kids’ Matt Prior’s side project) appealed to me greatly. Currently, I’d rather listen to this stuff than the original Get Up Kids, so it would rank a lot higher on a non-historical list.
“You’re lucky to be alive/So I wouldn’t count on anything.”
68. “Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset” – Modest Mouse
(This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About, 1996)
One of the best Modest Mouse lines comes in this song. “Talking Shit” is a song that took me a few years to really appreciate – I always preferred “Dramamine” or “Tundra/Desert” and never really paid much attention to this one. When I did, however, I realized that it’s one of my favorites.
“Looking kind of anxious in your cross armed stance/Like a bad tempered prom queen at a homecoming dance.”
67. “There Goes The Fear” – Doves
(The Last Broadcast, 2002)
I first heard the Doves’ music in St. Cloud, but never really latched on to them until I moved back to Sioux Falls. Now, I’d say that this sprawling song – one that builds and builds until it nearly explodes at its finish – is one of the best that the U.K. has ever given us.
“You turn around and life’s passed you by/You look to ones you love to ask them why.”
66. “Trusty Chords” — Hot Water Music
The best song I know of with Jameson whisky in the lyrics.
“And the pain this morning/It filled my head/It’s Jameson/It means that I’m not dead.”
65. “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” — The Postal Service
(Give Up, 2002)
I started liking this song a lot while working at KAUR, and only recently considered it one of my favorites after realizing that Ben Giddard’s full-time band, Death Cab for Cutie, has gotten much wankier as they’ve progressed. When compared to Death Cab, especially the new stuff, The Postal Service is great – Gibbard’s voice paired with techno loops.
“I’m staring at the asphalt wondering/What’s buried underneath where I am?”
64. “Fight Test” — The Flaming Lips
(Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, 2002)
The Flaming Lips are one of the great live bands – they bring a show to pair with the music. Men in bunny suits, fake blood, and their own psychedelic/indie rock fuel the experience. This is the first song from their “soundtrack” to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, a Japanese movie that was, for the most part, shown only during their shows.
“I thought it better not to fight/I thought there was a virtue, in always being cool.”
63. “First Day Back” – Braid
(Frame And Canvas, 1998)
A fast and fun song by the best math-rock band ever. “First Day Back” is a great kick off to any mix tape or Monday morning – it’s fast, it’s got clever lyrics, and it’s over soon enough to get on with the rest of the day.
“On my first day back/And already I’m treading on unsteady ground/So strike me down or check me out.”
62. “One” — Johnny Cash
(American III: Solitary Man, 2000)
In Seattle, we were treated to this version of the U2 song – it was the first time we’d heard it, but it had never sounded better (not even when sung by Michael Stipe on a widely circulated but somehow hard to get bootleg). I went home and secured a copy of it for my own collection and now consider it a more beautiful song when sung without Bono’s self-importance.
“You ask me to enter/But then you make me crawl/And I can’t be holding on to what you got/When all you got is hurt.”
61. “Slower” – Mineral
(The Power Of Failing, 1995)
A depressing but poignant song in the vein of Sunny Day Real Estate, “Slower” has some of the greatest in heart-wrenching emo lines, lyrics that conjure up sad, sorry, emo boys standing in the pouring rain and crying out to their lost love.
“It’s just not the same when you’re staring into a perfect golden sunset/And thinking about how you sold your soul to send the rain away.”