Now here is your assignment. You have an Ipod that only holds 10 songs. These are the only 10 you can listen to for the next year. This is not a I have to be cool list. These are the only 10 songs you would hear for a whole year. These aren’t the 10 greatest singles of all-time, just the 10 I would want to hear most right now.
In My Time of Dying (1975) – Many of Zeppelin’s best work has been killed by Classic Rock radio stations in their desire to get the Led out. In My Time of Dying comes from the band’s greatest work, Physical Graffiti. The song mixes the dirty blues sound that made them the biggest band in the world and adds an incredibly funky groove mixed in with Page’s Eastern-influenced guitar playing. Despite being over 11 minutes long, the song never lags, as the group is completely in the pocket.
Fat Bottomed Girls/Bicycle Race (1978)- This might be cheating a bit, but these 2 songs were always played together on rock radio, like a follow-up to We Will Rock You/We are the Champions. How ahead of their time were Queen extolling the virtues of ample backsides? This was a couple decades before Sir-Mix-a-Lot and his other fellow rappers would offer up. Brian May’s guitar sounds are really underrated, as the roughed up rockabilly sound propels Fat Bottomed Girls along. The companion piece, Bicycle Race is classic Queen, with stream of conscious-like lyrics are blended with rock musical choruses. Complete silly fun.
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding (1979) – This songs fulfills my Costello-fix, my early punk/new wave fix, and gives me a little Nick Lowe as well. (He wrote it.) The lyrics are brilliant and Elvis shows a range of voice which conveys the great themes the song discusses.
Hghway to Hell (1979)- This is about the sleaziest rock song of all-time. It begins with a brilliantly simple guitar riff, followed by a just as simple and just as brilliant thud of the drums by Phil Rudd. Considering that Bon Scott would drink himself to death soon after, the lyrics of the song seem even more real. Highway to Hell builds into a final crescendo, after a Chuck Berry-like solo by Angus, with Scott ending the song with a sinister vocal reciting the title.
How Soon is Now? (1984) – I should begin by mentioning I’m not a huge Smith fan, but no song from the early stages of alternative rock knocks me out more than Nothing in Particular. (This is what I thought the song’s title was for quite awhile.) The swirling, hypnotic guitars of Johnny Marr are as Paula Abdul would say—brilliant! The effeminate British vocals of Morrissey blend beautifully with the driving beat of the song. 24-years later, this one totally holds up on the radio.
Sign of the Times (1987) – I’m not sure any one artist in music history was hitting on all cylinders more than Prince was on Sign of the Times. Playing all the instruments on a song which blends funk, rock, soul, and rap into a seamless classic. The lyrics are a more story/documentary of what was happening in the world at the time. Prince uses a weary-sounding sing/rap style which conveys the message perfectly.
God (1994)- I’ve heard this song hundreds of times and it still resonates with me. It rocks hard, while Tori is at her most sensual. I dig the feminsist rant against how God sometimes you don’t come through and asks if he needs a woman to look after you. Tori is the type of crazy-alternative chick I would fall for in college, even though I knew I didn’t have the Bauhaus/goth-look she needed to really connect with her.
Blue (1995) – This is my favorite alt-country song of all-time. The harmonies are Beach Boys meets CSN, with a country tinge. Blue has a quality that few can do, as it radiates sunshine. Feel-good beauty.
Beautiful Day (2000) – No song encaptures the brilliance of the last great rock band on earth more than Beautiful Day. The chrismatic vocals of Bono, the ringing guitar fills by the Edge, and the great rhythm section of Mullen and Clayton are an energy force when they are at their best. On their amazing IMAX release, U2-3D, the song reachs even greater heights, as Beautiful Day is one of those magical musical moments that will always drive people to their feet.
NOTE: When I was looking on Youtube for this song, I ran across a guy named Kurt from World Idol, who does a cover of the song you have to see. He is one of the most unlikely rock singers I’ve ever seen, but he really nails every song I pulled up that he did on the show. Weird karaoke brilliance.
Lost (2007) – I have a romantic side. Who would have known? Sometimes you need a ballad and this is my current favorite from the best Canadian crooner of his generation. Michael Buble would wipe the floor with the competition if he would have went the American Idol route. Great vocals, great instincts, and the guy is O.C. delicious in the looks department. Have you ever wondered what a guy influenced by Frank Sinatra and George Michael would sound-like? Meet Buble. Sure he might be a bit too Manilow for some, but there are some songs I like by Barry, so I have no problem with that. Yeah, call me a puss. I can take it. Now I have to go and change my panties.
NOTE: All the videos for this song are really Lifetime Network, so I picked this one because it is a mix of good art and really bad art.
There is my list. A few things jump out. No music before 1975. I initially figured I would have a Beatles, Stones, Who, or CCR song, but they aren’t what my ears would first go to at this point in my life. I almost went with Living for the City by Stevie Wonder over Queen, but I just liked having the fun of that double-shot single. No rap, as it just isn’t something I really seek out much anymore. I was tempted to put a country song on the list, but the Jayhawks is close enough. Before you put up your lists, remember I’m not asking what you think are the 10 best singles of all-time, as only Sign of the Times would be on that list from what I have here.
List the 10 songs you would choose if these were the only ones you had to listen to for the next year.