Monday, April 07, 2008

100 Greatest Songs - #s 71-80

80 - "Love, Reign O’er Me" - The Who
The Who at, Tommy notwithstanding, their most melodramatic and theatrical, what with the rain and thunder and general air of sturm und drang. I love that very simple seesawing piano figure the song is anchored by, and the baldly declamatory big piano chords used at the beginning. And Daltry has never been better - he toes the line between singing and screaming here to a T.

79. "Type" - Living Colour
This lead single from their sophomore album is very underrated Living Colour, with a great driving riff that's as heavy and tight as the iconic "Cult of Personality" riff. If the song takes a little too long to end, Corey Glover's sung improvs over the long denouement never get boring.

78. "Moonlight" - Bob Dylan
As gentle and disarming a swinging country ballad as you could hope for, sung in a gorgeously achy hush by the master. And the sweetly innocent, almost archaic lyrics ("Won't you, meet me, out in the moonlight alone?") add immeasurably to the feeling that this song was recorded in the 20s and recently found.

77. "Black Mirror"- Arcade Fire
The opener to Arcade Fire's sophomore album, the truly wonderful Neon Bible, is dark and dramatic, with end-of-the-world intimations lurking in the propulsive arrangement. I adore the midnight-is-nigh falling figure that shows up at the end of the song, with its orchestral quality.

76. "The Only Living Boy in New York" - Simon & Garfunkel
One of those songs not as well-known, not played by the classic rock radio stations, but featuring one of the pair's sweetest and regretful melodies. What makes Bridge Over Troubled Water, the album this is taken from, so effecting is its status as a break up album - only it was Paul and Art who were breaking up. That sad, resigned mood permeates the album, and this track especially.

75. "Paranoid Android" - Radiohead
Radiohead does epic rock, with a long, shifting structure that is oft-compared to "Bohemian Rhapsody." The whole thing hangs together remarkably well, but it's that almost Dylanesque jangly opening section I think I like best.

74. "Visions of Johanna" Bob Dylan
A warhorse that never gets old. Dylan has done this song live more times than I'm sure he even realizes, and yet it keeps improving with age. At nearly eight minutes, it's one of his epics, and yet it doesn't feel long.

73. "Man on the Moon" - REM
This song does a remarkable job of capturing a mood, a kind of bemused, sweetly fond mood, that I'd be hard-pressed to find emulated in another song. Even when the pretty energetic, uplifting chorus kicks in, the mood never settles, but holds on to that sense of loss. And who knew Stipe could bust out an Elvis impression?

72. "Open Arms" - Tracy Chapman
A simple rainbow of a rising, then falling, figure anchors the song throughout, while Chapman sings in that uniquely sweet and sad voice above it. One of her most beautiful, and hopeful, songs.

71. "Cult of Personality" Living Colour
The riff that would forever define them. One of those bands that will always be remembered for their first single. Is it a warning note to not lead with such a great song? I don't know. But that hard and funky riff, and two wildly idiosyncratic guitar solos by Vernon Reid, and Glover's impassioned, full-throated lyrics, make for a lasting contribution to the canon of great rock singles.

Until Whenever

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