The Top 100 Songs (40-21)

40. “Falling For You” – Weezer
(Pinkerton, 1996)

The other Pinkerton songs are better known, but I always liked the self-deprecation that Rivers Cuomo brought to this, the near-conclusion of his rendition of “Madame Butterfly.” Being an R.A. in St. Cloud gave me lots of time to sit in my room and listen to music, so I sat in my room and listened to Weezer quite often.

“Cos I’m a burning a candle you’re a gentle moth/Teaching me to lick a little bit kinder/And I do like you – you’re the lucky one/No, I’m the lucky one”

39. “Somewhere Only We Know” – Keane
(Hopes And Fears, 2004)

Coldplay without the guitars, and without the politics and posturing. I like Coldplay more at this point, but only because they’ve got more of a library to be familiar with – these songs by Keane are far and away better.

“Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?/I’m getting old and I need something to rely on.”

38. “Daylight” – Aesop Rock
(Labor Days, 2001)

Another newer hip-hop selection – the wordplay (spit out at about 130 miles per hour) is brilliant, and the fact that this song has an alter-ego, a darker and bizzaro version, makes it so much better.

“Life’s not a bitch/Life is a beautiful woman/You only call her a bitch because she won’t let you get that pussy/Maybe she didn’t feel y’all shared any similar interests/Or maybe you’re just an asshole who couldn’t sweet talk the princess.”

37. “Quality Control” – Jurassic 5
(Quality Control, 2000)

This was my theme music on Fire Pro Wrestling D – a great hip-hop song that was fun and cocky at the same time. I bought this that the CD Warehouse that was next door to FuncoLand in St. Cloud, and it was the first rap CD I had purchased since buying Midnight Marauders nearly four years prior.

“Cause it’s survival of professional radio/Stop and comprehend and heed the words of my pen/Survival of professional poetical Highlanders.”

36. “Weak Warm” – Hot Rod Circuit
(If I Knew Now What I Knew Then, 1999)

Another sub-par pop-emo outfit that put out one great song and an entire library of forgettable ones. I first heard this at Ernie Novembers and decided to buy a used copy of it. I’m not sure that I’ve even listened to the rest of the CD more than once.

“All around the long island sound your scratchy voice is dragging me down.”

35. “A Fond Farewell” – Elliott Smith
(From A Basement On The Hill, 2004)

A nearly depressing song about giving up, “A Fond Farewell” was the first new Elliott Smith song I heard after his suicide. The fact that suicide is mentioned in the lyrics may have pushed its importance a bit puts the song in the top half of the countdown. Or maybe the fact that this was a Left of Center favorite for many months before I purchased the album.

“I see you’re leaving me and taking up with the enemy/The cold comfort of the in between/A little less than a human being/A little less than a happy high/A little less than a suicide/The only things that you really tried.”

34. “Paranoid Android” – Radiohead
(OK Computer, 1997)

I listened to emo and punk almost exclusively in my first year and half of college – at least, until I heard “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead. I went across the street to Marshall’s shopping mall and picked it up, and from there I started leaning towards the indie rock side of music, the side that says it’s okay to listen to mainstream music as long as it’s good.

“Ambition makes you look pretty ugly.”

33. “Sink To The Beat” – Cursive
(Burst and Bloom, 2002)

I love the fact that Cursive uses “Sink To The Beat” to talk about writing a hit song and the problems that come with being musicians that wear their heart (and all of their other organs) on their sleeves. They describe their sound, they give a shout-out to their label, and they talk about how fake being in a band can be – all on the same song.

“Some melodies are like disease/They can inflame your misery/They will infect your memories/They haunt me.”

32. “A Day in the Life” – The Beatles
(Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)

A true Lennon/McCartney song; both John and Paul had an equal hand in the composition of this song. “A Day In The Life” brings us all back to earth after the romp that is Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and if Sgt. Pepper’s not their best album, at least we can say it’s got some of the best songs.

“He blew his mind out in a car/He didn’t notice that the lights had changed/A crowd of people stood and stared.”

31. “Cowboy Dan” – Modest Mouse
(The Lonesome Crowded West, 1997)

One of two epic undertakings on The Lonesome Crowded West. “Cowboy Dan” has a true western sound to it at times – its sparse and barren, and it wouldn’t sound out of place during a rainy stretch on a Wyoming highway. It also has one of my favorite rebellious lines, below.

“He drove the desert, fired his rifle in the sky/And says, God if I have to die you will have to die.”

30. “Our Own Way” – Hot Water Music
(No Division, 1999)

Though other Hot Water Music songs are more fun to sing, “Our Own Way” means more to me: it’s a song about friends, about sticking by each other – all of that mushy stuff that leads to strong friendships and great nights of drinking. It’s about singing all of your favorite songs as loud as possible with all of your friends and never letting go.

“Who gives a fuck what anybody says/We’ll live and love until we’re dead/Holding on to what we’ve come to know.”

29. “Swandive” – Ani DiFranco
(Little Plastic Castle, 1998)

This was the first Ani song that I ever really liked, I think because it was long, well written, and incredibly moving. Come to think of it, that’s why I still like it. She didn’t play it the first time I saw her, but she’s played it the three times since, which I’m pretty happy about.

“’Cuz they can call me crazy if I fail/All the chance that I need/Is one-in-a-million and they can call me brilliant/If I succeed.”

28. “Trademark” – Hot Water Music
(Fuel For The Hate Game, 1996)

My brush with Hot Water Music fame came because of this song. One day in Marshall I was messing around on Yahoo Chat when I got into this conversation with a guy named MusicWaterHot. We got to talking about Hot Water Music when he revealed to me his identity – Jason Black, bass player. I told him he ruled, and that I really liked the bass part in the beginning. He said “thanks.” And that was it. Come to find out, they’re real people, not rock stars, so I really had no reason to be in awe – in fact, I gulped down half a cup of Chuck’s Jameson on my birthday a few years ago.

“Break free from the bullshit/Hold back for nothing/Cut loose assumption.”

27. “Find The River” – R.E.M.
(Automatic For The People, 1992)

This was a difficult choice – I had two songs from Automatic For The People (this and “Man On The Moon”) but really could only keep one. This is my favorite R.E.M. song, so I had to keep this one. So, I guess, it wasn’t really that difficult of a choice after all. It’s amazing to see how great this album is – if “Find The River” can be as good as the five radio hits, you’ve got a very full and rewarding set of music.

“Leave the road and memorize/This life that pass before my eyes/Nothing is going my way.”

26. “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” – Against Me!
(The Acoustic EP, 2001)

I first heard Against Me! about four years ago, when this acoustic EP came out, but I never really followed them until recently. Still, I remembered this song as being great – hell, any song that sings liberally of “drinking Irish” has got to be good – and I was right when I rediscovered it; it is good.

“And just like James, I’ll be drinking Irish tonight/And the memory of his last work week will be gone forever/Evelyn I’m not coming home tonight!”

25. “Forget Me” – The Promise Ring
(Nothing Feels Good, 1997)

The best Promise Ring song – the one that doesn’t sound as dated as the rest. When Nothing Feels Good came out, it was like we’d never heard the band before in our lives – it was an awakening over their debut, and it ushered in many of the pop-emo bands that would over saturate the scene.

“Where forget-me-nots and marigolds and other things that don’t get old/Between one June and September you’re all I remember.”

24. “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” – The Arcade Fire
(Funeral, 2004)

I see this song becoming more and more of a force as time goes on – it’s probably the newest addition (aside from The Decemberists, later on) but it has the most potential to be “great song that I can’t live without.” The Arcade Fire are indie darlings at the moment, but they’ve earned every bit of praise by being a great band.

“I went out into the night/I went out to find some light/Kids are swingin’ from the power lines/Nobody’s home, so nobody minds.”

23. “Sluttering (May 4th)” – Jawbreaker
(Dear You, 1995)

Dear You is, in my opinion, the second greatest album ever composed – unfortunately, I like the album as a whole and, while every song is good, there is no one song that jumps out at me as a top 20 song. That’s not to say they aren’t great – they are, but they’re all so connected in my mind that I never think of listening to just one song. It’s always Dear You all at once or nothing at all. Still, I had to have a representative from the album, and so it was between this, “Jet Black,” “Bad Scene, Nobody’s Fault,” and “Million.” “Sluttering” won.

“You are your worst revenge/Your very means, they have no ends/This is a story you won’t tell the kids we’ll never have/If you hear this song a hundred times it still won’t be enough.”

22. “Born To Run” – Bruce Springsteen
(Born To Run, 1975)

The greatest karaoke song ever. If you don’t believe me, just ask me to sing it.

“I wanna die with you Wendy on the streets tonight/In an everlasting kiss.”

21. “Buckingham Green” – Ween
(The Mollusk, 1997)

I’m not sure if it’s the overlying English icons or the blistering guitar solo, but Buckingham Green created the Ween fan that Doug always tried to form. This is really the centerpiece that The Mollusk was built on, as far as I’m concerned.

“The children saw the eye as a sign from God/Descending from the sky/It was alright to dream of Buckingham Green.”

This was lovingly handwritten on March 30th, 2006