Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"I come from Chino where the asphalt sprouts": Top 100 Songs of the '00s: #100 - #91

This is an ambitious project, a reckless road I'm about to run on. One-hundred songs, discussed in enough detail to drive a stake through our friendships. I've got my Excel spreadsheet open on the next page, sorted in various ways - 98 definite songs, 3 placeholders.

Prepare to stare in gape-jawed disbelief at the over-representation of one particular year (it was a year of transition), one particular songwriter (yes he's that good), and the complete absence of Radiohead and Interpol (the former being more of an album band than a song band, the latter being not good enough).

I will include as many links as I can find - audio (get them while you can) or video (watch them before they disappear). I will mean every word I say. Although I reserve the right to change my mind about whether a song deserves to be, say #64 instead of #57, it's unlikely that #89 will ever get reclassified as #2. However, with 72 days remaining in the decade, it's possible that something new or newly listened to will blow me away and a difficult decision will be made. Okay, it's time:

100. Killer Parties - The Hold Steady (2004)
It's appropriate that the first (last) song on my list is the last song off the first album by my favorite band of the decade. This is what Craig Finn will reveal to you: clues to his (your) psyche, places where your (his) sublimation begins, and killer lines that never leave your (his) repertoire. This is what Blueprint Blue will reveal to you:

99. People Change - Nick Lowe (2007)
It surprised me that Nick Lowe transformed himself into a Sinatra-esque lounge singer with the personality of Elliott Gould in The Long Goodbye. But, like he says, people change - that's the long and short of it.

98. Animals - Gravenhurst (2005)
No better example of the different ways in which music was heard this decade: I heard this as a free download from a no-longer existing daily download feature... an enigmatic song from a band I'd never heard before (or since)... five minutes of sheer beauty that I used to stick on mix CDs back in mid-decade.

97. Lisztomania - Phoenix (2009)
For two hours one cloudy afternoon this past summer, this was my favorite band and favorite song. Now? My 57th favorite band and 97th favorite song of the decade.

96. Gold Lion - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2006)

95. Gaslighting Abbie - Steely Dan (2000)
The best band of the seventies nails it one more (and certainly not one last) time. My favorite memory of this song involves eating penne (al dente) with vodka sauce in a budding lesbian's house on the near north side of Minneapolis in the summer of zero-zero. Here's a good and apparently live version of it:

94. A Drop in Time – Mercury Rev (2001)
If a year is just a drop in time, then what is a decade? The pithy answer would be "ten drops." My favorite memory of this song involves hearing it on the drive home from Malibu on the best day of my life (another list, for a future time). Now I wonder if it should be moved up higher on this list. But now I realize that its association with the best day of my life is an inherent positive bias and if I had heard this song on the worst day of my life (4 months, 9 days later), then it might not have even made the list. No link/video available.

93. Lua - Bright Eyes (2005)

You listen to it because I just can't. If songs were ranked in terms of honesty and sheer frozen sadness, this would be in the top 12.

92. Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into The Water, Triumph Of – Mountain Goats (2004)
Again, if songs were ranked in terms of honesty and sheer frozen sadness, this would be in the top 6. And among the top 10 lyrical lines of the decade would have to be the one you see above, in this post's title. I mean, if you have to come from Chino, your reward might as well be the opportunity to write that line.

91. Lived in Bars – Cat Power (2006)
Yes Chan, you made the list. Are you happy now? You bled into my veins, you poked my gums with your fetal screams and crooning whispers. Now go back to Atlanta, stop recording covers, and write something new.

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