Today, despite the pain waking me up early, I am feeling much brighter. Thus I have wasted half my morning compiling this.
Naturally it was a rather silly, if not indeed infantile exercise and the order and indeed presence of some of these tunes in my countdown will have changed within the year. I also gave myself the rule that I couldn’t have the same band or artist twice. But it was fun anyway. Now I will have a rest and get on with some work.
20. Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones
19. Mr Brownstone – Guns’n’Roses
18. Am I right? - Erasure
17. If it makes you happy – Cheryl Crow
16. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
15. The day we caught the train – Ocean Colour Scene
14. Don’t stop me now - Queen
13. Skyline pigeon – Elton John
12. I heard it through the grapevine – Marvin Gaye
11. The Zephyr Song – Red Hot Chili Peppers
10. Creep – Radiohead
I’m a creep/ I’m a weirdo/ What the @&*! am I doing here?/ I don’t belong here.
The thing is about Radiohead is that they write extremely miserable songs very well. To have such a chorus without sounding either very funny or completely naff is a momentous achievement, let alone for them to sound heart-felt and moving. And well, it was my song from ages twelve through to fourteen. Issues to do with my sexuality and wot-not. More my wot-not than anything else, to be honest.
9. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
He took it all too far/ But boy, could he play guitar.
I often have a conversation with folks about whose version was better; Bowie or Bauhaus. I just don’t get it when they say Bowie’s version was tame and understated. You can hear it. You can hear Ziggy’s full talent on his guitar and you can hear the words. And it is played with feeling. And it rocks harder for the simplicity of it's orchestration.
8. These Arms of Mine – Otis Redding
And if you would let them hold you/ Lord knows how grateful I will be.
I should hate this song. I love Otis Redding, but this is in a cheesy 6/8 tempo with that ding-diddling-ding-diddling accompaniment and the most banal lyric there is, including the line "Just be my little woman" which makes my fish cringe. However, the King of the Memphis Sound manages to pull it off somehow, revealing the full texture and passion in his voice. When he sang this song, he meant it. Even if just for those two minutes and thirty-three seconds, he meant it with all his heart and soul.
7. Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin
When all is one and one is all/ To be a rock and not a roll.
Stairway to Heaven, recently voted the greatest rock song ever recorded. I don’t really have to justify myself on this one, do I? And I can play the entire acoustic part myself.
6. Losing my Religion – REM
Oh no I’ve said too much/ I haven’t said enough.
You can’t beat REM. Losing my Religion is a great song about unrequited, perhaps unacknowledged love and the tension this causes between people. This is very moving to me, especially in A minor and especially with that tiny mandolin tickling one's emotions throughout.
5. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Well I stand up next to a mountain/ I knock it down with the edge of my hand.
It is impossible to describe the physiological effect that this song, particularly the first sixteen bars, has on me without sounding completely bananas. I shall maybe elaborate this point and describe a condition called synaesthesia at some point in the near future.
4. Hard Headed Woman – Cat Stevens
I know many fine feather friends/ But their friendliness depends/ On how you do.
I love Cat Stevens and although it has very hot competition, this is probably my favourite. I don’t know why. It’s really very simple. I think it’s the variations in the timbre that do it for me.
3. Distant Sun – Crowded House
I don’t pretend to know what you want/ But I offer love.
I wish I could write a song like this. I wish I could write a line like that one. This is hard work, trying to express what it is I love about these songs. Very tight lyric, simple accompaniment, nice harmony. Neil Finn has a voice which I feel in my kidneys and Crowded House were one of the most underrated bands of the Twentieth Century. At least they were here in the UK. In NZ they were apparently bigger than The Beatles. Talking of which...
2. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
Here comes the sun and I say/ It’s all right.
This song is my favourite song from what is probably my favourite album and in fact the very first album I ever bought, Abbey Road (maybe an odd choice for a teenager in the mid-nineties, but hey). They are a certain wave patterns created in this song which go straight through your ear drums and into the hypothalamus, causing the release of vast quantities of seratonin and making you feel a whole heap better than you did a minute earlier. At least that’s the effect it has on me. And as you may have ascertained, I’m not exactly into the upbeat.
1. The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel.
All lies in jest/ Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
I can’t remember a time when I did not know all the words to The Boxer. I knew it like a nursery rhyme and imagine that if I developed Alzheimers or something that lyric would remain accessible longer than most aspects of my personality and life experience. For this reason, it is really very difficult to say why I love it so much. The lyric is just perfect tight poetry. It’s a very simple repetitive melody with really basic harmonies. I don’t know. It’s just perfect.