The 10 Tunes You Must Have

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.





41 thoughts on “The 10 Tunes You Must Have

  1. 1.  Unfair!!

    Like I didn’t have enough going on…

    (In My Time of Dying would have been one of my ten…I’ll have to find a substitute…)

  2. 2.  Haitian Fight Song–Mingus
    She Said Yes–Wilson Pickett
    In a Sentimental Mood–Coltrane and Ellington
    Smoke Rings–Sam Cooke
    I’ll Come Running Back to You–Sam Cooke
    Up in Heah–Ike and Tina Turner
    I’d Rather Go Blind–Etta James
    It Hurts Me Too–Elmore James
    Feets Don’t Fail Me Now–Taj Mahal

  3. 3.  Someone who hates my list might say that all these songs sound the same. I don’t care.

    In no particular order, and without really giving it much thought:

    “In My Room,” The Beach Boys.

    “Another Pearl,” Badly Drawn Boy.

    “Testament to Youth in Verse,” The New Pornographers.

    “Here Comes the Sun,” The Beatles.

    “Going to Georgia,” the Mountain Goats.

    “The Car Song,” The Cat Empire.

    “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes,” Elvis Costello. But really it would be the Elvis song that Scott picked.

    “Everyday Clothes,” Jonathan Richman.

    “Rhode Island is Famous for You,” as performed by Blossom Dearie.

    …and let’s end the list with a completely ridiculous choice. “Up! Up! Up!” by Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks. How can you not love a song that opens with the all-time great lyric, “My mother died from asbestos / My father’s name was Estes / and I don’t know if that messed us / Up or what it did…”

  4. 4.  International Feel-Todd Rundgren
    Almost With You-The Church
    Starlings Of The Slipstream-Pavement
    It’s My Life-The Animals
    Eve of Destruction-The Byrds
    What You Want-My Bloody Valentine
    I’m Alive-Tommy James and the Shondells
    Didn’t Wanna Have To Do It-Lovin’ Spoonful
    Tommorow-Strawberry Alarm Clock
    Flowers and Beads-Iron Butterfly

  5. 5.  Very, very loud and enthusiastic cheers for #1. Zep is almost cliche from the way it gets overplayed on classic rock radio, and we can all name the same 4 or 5 songs they play, but “In My Time” is gorgeous music-angry, full, bombastic, pleading, pretty and ragged. Gorgeous choice.

  6. 6.  Wilco – What Light
    James McMurtry – We Can’t Make It Here
    Springsteen – I’ll Work For Your Love
    K.T. Tunstall – Suddenly I See
    Arcade Fire – No Kids Go
    Sarah Borges – I’m Going To Live The Life I Sing About In My Song
    Lupe Fiasco – Hurt Me Soul
    Marah – Walt Whitman Bridge
    Josh Ritter – The Temptation of Adam
    Josh Ritter – Kathleen

  7. 7.  Er, that Arcade Fire title is “No Cars Go,” of course. The kids part is just a lyric.

  8. 8.  Bruce Springsteen – Thunder Road
    Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run
    U2 – A Sort of Homecoming
    Elvis Costello – I Hope You’re Happy Now
    Don Henley – The Boys of Summer
    Radiohead – Planet Telex
    Prince – Purple Rain
    Damien Rice – Cannonball
    John Coltrane – Acknowledgement
    Knack – My Sharona

  9. 9.  Thunder Road is, of course, the greatest song in the history of songs. But it’s not the one I play the most at present. Could I go a year without listening to it? Yes, I think I could.

  10. 10.  Must object to your first pick. I have a long standing rule that no song over 4:30 is worth a shit. If you can’t do what you need to do in 4 and a half, and be done with it, you need to write a better song.

  11. 11.  “In My Time of Dying” is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it would be perfect.

  12. 12.  Here’s 5:

    Stones – Brown Sugar
    Springsteen – Rosalita
    REM – Radio Free Europe
    AC-DC – Highway To Hell
    Dylan – Isis (live, 1975)

  13. 13.  Well, here goes:

    The Church: Two Places at Once..the Church’s version of the Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’

    The The: Gravitate to Me…awesome in its restraint and power.

    Jim Croce: Operator…completely a guilty pleasure.

    ELO: Strange Magic…reminds me of my wife and a cool trip to Florida with my dad when I was about 8.

    REM: Fall on Me…IMO, their best.

    Marvin Gaye: Trouble Man…what a voice.

    Wilco: Handshake Drugs: Something utterly ‘midwest’ about them and this.

    Depeche Mode: Enjoy the Silence,

    Led Zeppelin: Since Scott took my #1, I’ll go with Achilles Last Stand…that guitar sound….

    Opal: Magick Power…if I could play guitar, this is how it would sound.

    Ask me next week you might have 7 of 10 being different.

  14. 14.  Why do I think this particular list idea gives a window into a person more than anything else I have done here?

    Really enjoying the selections. I never said you couldn’t put one of my songs on the list. I love the McMurtry song, Eric.

    Chris, Will, and I seem to have similar tastes. I Know almost all of these songs and I plan on checking the others out when I get a chance.

    Keep “em coming.

  15. 15.  Sugar Hill Gang – Rappers Delight (14:37)
    Mono – Yearning (15:38)
    The Velvet Underground – Sister Ray (17:27)
    Mogwai – My Father, My King (20:12)
    Kraftwerk – Autobahn (22:42)
    Pink Floyd – Echoes (23:31)
    Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond (26:01)
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Providence (29:02)
    The Orb – Blue Room (39:57)
    Gavin Bryars – Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (74:00)

    Clocking in at over 4 hours would help to stretch out the selection over the length of a year.

  16. 16.  Really interesting list, Xaphor, though make sure not to invite me to any of your parties, as that is one musical bummer list. I guess you could put Rapper’s Delight on repeat.

  17. 17.  Came up with ten right away. Trusted my first instincts to choose ten songs that work for me, and as it turns out they each take me to a specific place and time.

    New York New York — Ryan Adams

    Designs on You — Old 97s

    One Man Guy — Rufus Wainwright

    If The Brakeman Turns My Way — Bright Eyes

    Rise Up With Fists! — Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins

    Of All the Gin Joints in All the World — Fall Out Boy

    All These Things That I’ve Done — The Killers

    Time — Hootie and the Blowfish

    Anyone Can Play Guitar — Radiohead

    It Ain’t Me Babe — Johnny Cash and June Carter

    Oh my, did I skew country-ish/emo-ish.

  18. 18.  Kraftwerk was amazing at coachella, xaphor. Thinking back, i dont think i could go a year without hearing “7 and 7 Is” by Love. I guess Lovin Spoonful gets the axe.

  19. 19.  1.) There There (The Boney King of Nowhere) – Radiohead
    2.) When Doves Cry – Prince
    3.) Southern Rain – Cowboy Junkies
    4.) Boys of Summer – Don Henley
    5.) Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
    6.) The National Anthem – Radiohead
    7.) Saint Behind The Glass – Los Lobos
    8.) Pyscho Killer – Talking Heds
    9.) Ghost in the Machine – The Police
    10.) Bullet the Blue Sky – U2

    Close seconds:

    Sade – Smooth Operator (Ok, ok, I get one.)
    Sinead O’ Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U.
    Dave Brubeck – Take Five
    Bruce Springsteen – Brilliant Disguise
    The Beatles – Lucy in the Sky w/Diamonds
    The Arace Fire – No Cars Go
    10,000 Maniacs – What’s the Matter Here
    Guns N Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
    Van Halen – Runnin’ With the Devil
    Bruce Cockburn – Great Big Love

  20. 20.  Velvet Underground-Sweet Jane
    Stooges-Down on the Street
    Bob Dylan-Up to Me
    Grateful Dead-St. Stephen/The Eleven
    Beach Boys-God Only Knows
    The Replacements-Unsatisfied
    Husker Du-Eight Miles High
    Rollin Stones-Tumbling Dice
    Bob Marley-No Woman No Cry
    Beatles-Let It Be

  21. 21.  Bruce Springsteen – Badlands
    Liz Phair – Mesmerizing
    U2 – Where the Streets Have No Name
    Midnight Oil – Dead Heart
    John Coltrane – My Favorite Things
    Billie Holiday – Summertime
    Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line
    Husker Du – Celebrated Summer
    Beastie Boys – Open Letter to NYC
    L’amour est un oiseau rebelle* (from Carmen) – as sung by Maria Callas

    * – also my entry music in the unlikely event I’m ever a MLB RP

  22. 22.  Interesting concept here. Prior to the iPod era, it was all about “desert island discs,” or albums you’d take to a desert island. Now we can just take our favorite songs. Here’s my list, including songs I love as well as some variety, in no particular order:

    1. George Harrison: Let it Roll (Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp)
    2. Love: The Red Telephone
    3. Beatles: Hey Jude
    4. Miles Davis: Shh/In a Silent Way
    5. Nick Drake: One of These Things First
    6. John Coltrane: My Favorite Things
    7. Doors: Light My Fire
    8. REM: Talk About the Passion
    9. Springsteen: Jungleland
    10. Belle And Sebastian: Boy With the Arab Strap

  23. 23.  pink floyd — Sheep [Animals]
    led zeppelin — No Quarter [Song Remains the Same]
    jimi hendrix — Red House [Royal Albert Hall: 2/24/69]
    charles mingus — Prayer For Passive Resistance [Live at Antibes]
    miles davis — Right Off [A Tribute to Jack Johnson]
    john coltrane — Wise One [Crescent]
    metallica — The Call of Ktulu [Ride the Lightning]
    stevie ray vaughn — Little Wing [Red Rocks Ampitheatre: 6-19-85]
    phish — Tweezer [Nassau Coliseum: 2/28/04]
    fela ransom kuti — Zombie [Zombie]

  24. 24.  Guns on the Roof – The Clash
    Brown Sugar – Rolling Stones
    In This House I Call Home – X
    Alternative Ulster – Stiff Little Fingers
    My Old School – Steely Dan
    Sabotage – Beastie Boys
    Do Your Thing – Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
    Debra – Beck
    Six More Miles – Hank Williams
    Pills – New York Dolls

  25. 25.  Trying to let this flow right out of my head with no edits or second guesses…just the 10 tunes I MUST have for May 11, 2008

    Sway – Rolling Stones
    Love Minus Zero/No Limit – Bob Dylan
    Soothe Me – Sam & Dave
    Blind Love – Tom Waits
    Dark Star – Grateful Dead
    I Can Hear Music – Beach Boys
    Eight Miles High – Byrds
    Backstreets – Bruce Springsteen
    You Can’t Fail Me Now – Loudon Wainwright III
    Barstool Blues – Neil Young & Crazy Horse

  26. 26.  22 Let It Roll is a great tune…so much of that album is so underappreciated, even if the album is acknowledged for its overall greatness. Dig the Love track too, but I’m tempted to go with what may be their best song title ever: “Your Mind And We Belong Together.”

    And Scott, I would say the harmonies on Blue are more Everly Brothers than CSN or Beach Boys…but that’s me, and you can’t go wrong, really…

  27. 28.  Beatles – Hey Jude
    Springsteen – Thunder Road
    Oasis – Live Forever
    Warren Zevon – Lawyers, Guns and Money
    U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name
    U2 – Walk On
    Don Henley – Boys of Summer
    Radiohead – Just
    Robbie Williams – Angels
    Clash – (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais

  28. 29.  20 Josh, No Woman, No Cry is played out for me, but beyond that, I could listen to your list all day and be a very happy guy.

  29. 30.  Jimi Hendrix- 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)
    Hybrid- Finished Symphony
    Lionel Hampton- Where Were You When I Needed You
    Tortured Soul- Fall In Love (Eric Kupper Mix)
    4 Hero- Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)
    Change- The Glow of Love
    Rufus w/Chaka Khan- Sweet Thing
    Donny Hathaway- Valdez In The Country
    Quarteto Em Cy- Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser
    Jaime E Nair- Sob O Mar

    Note- I don’t understand Portugese, but the last two tracks I mentioned have a nice, summer vibe to ’em.

  30. 31.  Muse – Hysteria
    Depeche Mode – Freestate
    Iron Maiden – Hallowed Be Thy Name
    Iron Maiden – Lord of Light
    Children of Bodom – Downfall
    Nine Inch Nails – Hurt
    Nightwish – Over the Hills And Far Away (cover)
    Godsmack – Voodoo
    Gustav Holst – Mars, The Bringer of War (from The Planets)
    Tchaikovski – Violin Concerto (first part)

  31. 32.  What the heck:

    Wilco–Jesus etc.
    Van Morrison–Madame George
    Beck–Earthquake Weather
    Erik B. & Rakim–Paid in Full
    Prince–Purple Rain
    De La Soul–I am I be
    Rufus Wainwright–Greek Song
    Radiohead–A Reminder
    Pink Floyd–Shine on you Crazy Diamond

  32. 33.  Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over
    Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
    Elvis Costello – Shipbuilding
    Uncle Tupelo – Whiskey Bottle
    Bela Fleck – Sunset Road
    Led Zep – 10 Years Gone
    Queen – Tie Your Mother Down
    John Coltrane – Blue Train
    Freddie King – Same Old Blues
    Stevie Ray Vaughan – Little Wing

  33. 34.  I think this exercise is actually more interesting than the 10 deserted island albums.

    We have some cool-ass people here.

    Paid in Full would be my first rap song, if choosing.

  34. 35.  Rolling Stones-Torn & Frayed
    David Bowie-A Width Of A Circle
    Oasis-Gas Panic
    Smithereens-Miles From Nowhere
    Beatles-Tomorrow Never Knows
    Led Zeppelin-Ten Years Gone
    The Stems-Love Will Grow
    Elvis Costello-You Belong To Me
    Steve Wynn-Cindy, It Was Only You

  35. 36.  Man, these are some pretty hip lists. Not too cool for school hip, just folks with some cool and eclectic taste.

  36. 37.  I agree, there are some excellent lists here. In fact my list would probably be some amalgamation of prior lists starting with Haitian Fight Song all the way through Little Wing and Tomorrow Never Knows. And of course Enders is right that Thunder Road is the greatest rock song ever (with Rosalita right up there). Here’s my list where I try not to have any repeats from above (I think):

    1. George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue

    2. John Lennon – Beautiful Boy

    3. The Temptations – Papa Was a Rolling Stone (with Just My Imagination a close second)

    4. Jurassic 5 – Concrete and Clay

    5. Soul Coughing – Janine

    6. Fiona Apple – Paper Bag

    7. Everlong – Foo Fighters (I used to have an acoustic version of this that was done on the Howard Stern show, it’s the only version I like all that much, but I love it other than Howard cutting in.)

    8. Modest Mouse – The View

    9. The Coup – Get Up

    10. Social Distortion – Prison Bound

  37. 38.  X – Los Angeles
    The Clash – White Man in Hammersmith Palais
    Coltrane – A Love Supreme
    Los Lobos – A Matter of Time
    Elvis Costello – No Action
    Elvis Costello – American Gangster Time
    Junior Murvin – Police & Thieves
    The Heptones – Book of Rules
    Wilco – Heavy Metal Drummer
    REM – Fall On Me

  38. 40.  Shoot, go on a mini-vacation away from the internets and miss all the fun. Here’s 10, but 10 is hard, especially with so much goodness lurking above my list.

    Magnetic Fields “All My Little Words”
    Big Star “September Gurls”
    The Mekons “Memphis, Egypt”
    Drive-By Truckers “The Day John Henry Died”
    Yo La Tengo “Tom Courtenay”
    Neko Case “Star Witness”
    Toots & the Maytalls “Pressure Drop”
    Archers of Loaf “Web in Front”
    Television “Venus”
    Alejandro Escovedo “Pissed Off 2AM”

  39. 41.  I’m not sure which one of my ten to drop, but I do have to add this, as it makes me smile every time:

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