Here are numbers 70-61 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.
70. The Flaming Lips- The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)
“It’s a very dangerous thing to do exactly what you want“
“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” brings up an excellent social point in my mind, in that we shouldn’t be able to critique those above us without first considering what we would actually do in that situation. No hypotheticals, if you were placed into a position where you actually did have power what would you do with it? The whole song is really an accusation that you would probably misuse the power you had too in some way, and that that’s just a natural part of being human and not something to hold against a person. Try to find the good things in those people and understand that they could be infinitely more cruel and inept than they currently are and we’re lucky to have them.
69. Jeffrey Lewis- Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song
“If I was Leonard Cohen or some other song writing master/ I’d know to first get the oral sex then right the song after.”
One of my favorite things in music is when you fall in love with a song on the first listen. I listened to “Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song” for the first time a few months ago and Jeffrey Lewis’ story-telling ability amazed me alongside his openness about being a nervous male. There are so many things that get captured perfectly within the interaction, like how he slowly becomes more confident as everything in the conversation seems to progress perfectly, but then he lets you know ahead of time that the conversation only lasted for a few minutes and he never saw her again afterwards. After this, you learn that not only did the girl like him but she basically invited him to have sex with her, but he still couldn’t bring himself to suggest it. That interaction is tough for him to look back on in hindsight, but he reveals that that wasn’t the true motive he had in mind while writing the song. Rather, he realized that he wrote a love song for a girl that met him for two minutes and who he will likely never meet again, and realized that there could be people all around the world doing the same thing. There may even be people out there doing this for you and me, and that’s a beautiful thing to consider.
68. The Mountain Goats- No Children
“I hope you die. I hope we both die.”
This was the Mountain Goats track that introduced me to the side of John Darnielle which is crazy. “No Children” is the story of the alpha couple which he wrote numerous song about, but stopped doing so after this track was made. That’s because Darnielle was becoming to depressed writing these songs, and after the chorus of “I hope you die. I hope we both die.” arrives you understand why. This couple has grown to despise each other so much that they want to see their pair die, but a fear still exists about what they would be if they had to exist alone.
67. Sufjan Stevens- I Want to Be Well
“I want to be well.”
Age of Adz is an awesome album to listen to as so many of the tracks take you on this electronic journey to captivate you, but that all moves aside at one point within “I Want to Be Well”. Everything drops and all of a sudden the only noise is a pretty rhythm and Sufjan stating “I want to be well” over and over again with every phrase self-attaching itself to each other. Then everything slowly re-introduces itself to rebuild the track as the previous chorus moves to the background and Sufjan works himself to the new one of “I’m not f***in around”. It really makes you appreciate how well organized and meaningful the song is.
66. Boards of Canada- Aquarius
“Yeah, that’s right.”
It’s really different from the other songs on this list, but “Aquarius” is a song that just instantly relaxes me. The kids laughing in the background, the statement “orange” and counting numbers becoming rhythmic exercises, and the always perfect “Yeah, that’s right” makes it the ideal listen for me to just separate myself with. It’s got a similar effect to me as another song which didn’t make this list in “People” by Animal Collective in that they’re both ideal music to play while walking through a crowd. Everyone seems so interesting and individualized, I just like this song more because the kids in it always make me smile and I can pretend like it’s personalized for me because I’m an Aquarius.
65. Modest Mouse- Heart Cooks Brain
“My brain’s the cliff and my heart’s the bitter buffalo.”
There’s some debate in this song about whether Brock thinks the brain or the heart destroys the other one. I don’t think that it has to really be either though, because this song isn’t about a battle but rather the interaction between heart and brain. It has my favorite metaphor ever in it of “My brain’s the cliff and my heart’s the bitter buffalo”. This points back to an old native american tradition where they would lead the buffalo to the top of a cliff and block their path downwards, forcing them to sacrifice themselves to the native american’s gods. A young Isaac Brock is the best musician I’ve ever heard.
64. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth
“Who will get me to a party?/ Who do I have yet to meet?”
This one’s about the desperateness of wanting to escape and go to someplace new, but not really being prepared for it at the same time. In this story the narrator escapes from West Virginia and decides to try out New York City, but once he gets there he realizes issues that he’d never even thought of before; like what do you do in an area where you know nobody, how do you adjust to a climate which is completely new, and when did my teeth become so yellow? This isn’t met poorly though, in fact it becomes a triumphant tale as the narrator sings “This boy could use a little sting!”. He’s giving it a shot, and he wants to know who will get him to the party where he can try to make this work yet. It’s courageously awesome and a very fun listen.
63. Iron & Wine- Sodom, South Georgia
“All dead white boys say “God is good””
It’s easy to feel an emotional tie to this song once the opening line of “Papa died smiling, wide as the ring of a bell” is introduced. I’m pretty critical of Sam Beam because I feel like so much of his best work has been covers, but “Sodom, South Georgia” is a song that stuns me. There’s some deaths that strike you in a more personal way, and the death in this song does that because you can tell how good of a person the father was. There’s a very good interpretation of the song on songmeanings.net where a poster shows that this song has biblical ties to a story where god told Abraham that he planned to destroy the town of Sodom and Abraham pleaded for him not to. God responded that the town would be spared if Abraham could find fifty righteous people in the town, but Abraham was only able to find one: his nephew, who wasn’t spared.
62. The Unicorns- Sea Ghost
Imagine a classic rock track which has an absolutely un-produced twenty second recorder solo at the beginning of it. That’s “Sea Ghost”, and when the guitar’s come into play around the twenty-five second mark you hear this incredibly cool track become revealed to you out of nowhere. This is why I love The Unicorns, they can make a track that sounds almost perfect, and then just decide to intentionally f*** it up so that it can’t just be easily enjoyed and placed on the radio. They do that so well that it’s funny, and it adds to the charm of their tracks a lot.
61. Titus Andronicus- Theme From “Cheers”
“I’m sick and tired of everyone in this town being so g**damn uptight
But don’t you worry, I’ll do all the talking when they turn on the flashing lights””
Another youthful anthem song, but this one’s mainly about the guest verse where the narrator apologizes to his mother pre-emptively for what’s going to happen that night. He’s pissed off about the town and states his desire to escape it by just having a good night, and reassures her that he’s ready to deal with the repercussions for doing it. When he grows old he can be respectable and do a 9-5, but he isn’t ready for that commitment yet because he’s still young and clinging to hope for an escape. I love that mentality, but the song doesn’t end within it as it progresses to a drunken conversation between friends presumably that night about how they could grow old running a bar together and avoid the responsibilities, and look back on everything they did as kids only to ask “what the f*** was it for anyway?”
Check Airwaves next Monday for 60-51