Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My 100 Favorite Songs - #s 81-91

91. "Tokyo Storm Warning" - Elvis Costello
A raucous, end-of-the-world rave up anchored on a groovy riff reminiscent of the Sesame Street intro. This is one of those songs (Dylan writes a lot of them) where I have no idea what the lyrics mean but absolutely love the way they fit together. This has the feel of a very classic Costello song to me, kind of uber-Costello, what with the biting phrasing, the intricate, wordy lyrics, and post-punk stomping rhythm.

90. "Window in the Skies" - U2
This single, included with the U218 greatest hits disc, is far, fare better than such filler has a right to be. It's got a theatrical feel that U2, even in their epic mode, usually don't approach, and an absolutely epiphanic release at the chorus. The insanely well-done video, which makes it look as if a cast of the twentieth century's greatest musicians are performing the song, is what drew me to it, but the music kept me. Edge's ridiculously simple guitar solo in the middle is one of those perfect musical moments for me - those ten or so notes just completely capture the mood and moment.

89. "Standing in the Doorway" - Bob Dylan
A sequel (prequel?) of sorts to "Knockin on Heaven's Door," this is a gorgeous, slow, shuffling ballad of mortality. And it benefits exponentially from the fact that it's sung by old Bob, not young Bob. The weight of experience he has in his voice simply can not be faked.

88. "The Way" - Neil Young
A simple, clear-as-crystal ballad sung by Young and a children's choir. This should be cloying and sticky-sweet, and yet it's very effective - I think at least in part because the children's choir is not polished and ethereal, but down-to-earth and untrained.

87. "MOFO" - U2
Dark, angry U2 during its brief flirtation with techno rhythms. That propulsive, super-fast bass line creates a palpable sense of urgency, and the deeply personal lyrics and emotive phrasing make this a keenly felt emotional song, full of real need. And those explosive guitar bursts at the beginning from the Edge are just great - as he aptly termed it in an interview, they sound like a plane taking off.

86. "Accidents Will Happen" - Elvis Costello
I actually fell in love with this song via the live piano version on an early reissue of Armed Forces, but the album version is no slouch. Few artists have combined angry lyric with poppy sunny rock music as well as Costello. And, as this song illustrates nicely, few have combined keyboard rock and guitar rock as seamlessly as he.

85. "Sacrifice" - Sinead O’ Connor
One of my all-time favorite covers. O'Connor creates a lot of momentum and emotion by simply letting the song build, slowly, slowly, over the course of its entire length. She starts off almost whispering, and end, not loud, but strong and firm. A haunting rendition.

84. "Fragile" - Sting
A classic, sensitive Sting song, with a lyric that is a bit heavy-handed, but with a lovely, delicate little melody that more than makes up for those shortcomings. Sting is very underrated in his ability to evoke mood, and this song is a prime example of that ability - the melody and arrangement work in perfect concert to create a very sublime sense of hopeful melancholy.

83. "Mmm, Mmm, Mmm" - Crash Test Dummies
I think I'm supposed to not like this song, but, well, I do. That steady, step-wise, patient melody just grabs me, not sure why. And I love Brad Roberts' deep bass voice. Basses in pop music number what? just him and Johnny Cash?

82. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Simon & Garfunkel
I kind of find it hard to believe that no version--and there have been tons--of this song has bested the original, especially considering the obvious gospel inspirations behind the song. And yet it's Garfunkel's pure (but thin) choir-boy vocals that remain the standard, no matter how many great singers try and make it the gospel song it seems to want to be.

81. "Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right" - Bob Dylan
A classic break up song, with one of the purest, cleanest melodies you'll find in the Dylan canon.I love the simple, arpeggiated accompaniment, as well as with the simple acceptance of defeat with which Dylan puts forth the lyric.

Until Whenever


Roger Owen Green said...

"Basses in pop music number what? just him and Johnny Cash?" Maybe Nick Cave?

Tosy And Cosh said...

And Mark Knopfler. Forgot one of my faves. Still, they ain't common.

Roger Owen Green said...

And you're right about Bridge. No one does it better - not Aretha, not the various incarnations Paul's done.