Here are numbers 50-41 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.
50. Animal Collective- The Purple Bottle
“Sometimes your quiet and/ Sometimes I’m quiet/ Hallelujah!”
This one can interpreted two ways. For one, it’s an absolutely gorgeous song about falling in love with someone and having everything seem to be magically right. It’s the idealism which Animal Collective specializes in focused on David Portner(Avey Tare)’s relationship with Kría Brekkan, and it captures the absolute joy of believing you have found the perfect person. I like to view the song this way because even if songs last the test of time, their ultimate context has to be viewed in terms of when the song was originally released. I say this because Portner and Brekkan ended up having a divorce, which could change your perception from this being one of the most beautiful love songs out there into an absolutely tragic piece about what was lost. This is one of few songs that I choose to take the optimistic route on though, and I always smile when “The Purple Bottle” comes on.
49. The Beatles- She Said She Said
“I know what it’s like to be dead”
I came so damn close to becoming one of those guys who stopped listening to the Beatles once he listened to alternative music, but “She Said She Said” saved me. Someone who approached John Lennon started to talk to him about the nonsense in their mind where he had a picture for what Lennon must be based upon how his music had effected his life, and Lennon had to let him know that he wasn’t that person. It’s such a quick and standard Beatles song but I adore it because of the feeling of obligation to tell people that you’re not the person they think you are upon introduction, and because Revolver is really an early influential album for the alternative rock scene.
48. Neutral Milk Hotel- Two Headed Boy (Part Two)
“When we break we’ll wait for our miracle/ God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life.”
My love for Neutral Milk Hotel is a bit awkward because Mangum is drastically more confident in religion than me . Mangum presents a perspective which shows that he not only believes in a god but that he’s confident that what that god does will be just, and thus the Two-Headed Boy will wake from this life to learn that he has been rewarded for the pain that he endured on the Earth, and that will last for the remainder of time. It’s not something I actually believe in, but hearing Mangum sing it is so beautiful that you find yourself praying for it to be true so there can be a happy ending, and because within that line of thinking a new possibility becomes available; Mangum meeting Anne Frank.
47. Modest Mouse- Styrofoam Boots- It’s All Nice On Ice, Alright
“All’s not well but I’m told that it’ll all be quite nice.”
The idea of this song is a from a dream that Isaac Brock had. It starts out with a man being killed by the mafia where they throw styrofoam boots on his feet to drown him in the river, and the man prepares himself by thinking about the christians who assured him he would float in this situation. The next line bitterly reveals that they were right, as he drowns upside down with his “feet afloat like Christ!”. The journey continues for the man as the atheist finds himself in heaven to learn that they keep them in the back to do manual labor as punishment for not believing, but before this happens he runs into the man who has to be God. The perfect being only has one tidbit of info available for him though, that there is no all-powerful figure after all. The angels have decided to set up their own heaven where the people who were wrong still get rewarded, and God reveals that the way that things are supposed to work is that “God takes care of himself and you of you”. Awesome Modest Mouse song about heaven in an agnostic world, and a sick Modest Mouse jam at the end where the Brock screams about how it would all be nice if his dream was on ice.
46. Neutral Milk Hotel- Song Against Sex
“And it’s a lie that you’ve been given/ That just hurts you every day/ So why should i lay here naked/ When it’s just too far away/ From anything we could call loving/ Any love worth living for”
What gets lost in the love for In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is just how good of an album On Avery Island is, especially in the songs that hint towards the true potential of the band. “Song Against Sex” captures the brilliance of Mangum’s lyricism and ability to sing choruses with universal appeal even if controversial. Mangum states that sex has become such an empty act today that it doesn’t even resemble love anymore, and the fact that he feels so empty from the act when everyone else spews the lie that ‘it’s the greatest thing in the world’ allows him to completely disconnect himself from the world. He’s got a new perspective on life where he wants to set his own standards, and now he “[Knows] the world is over, so [he takes] a look outside”. Beautiful insanity.
45. The Flaming Lips- Do You Realize??
“And instead of saying all of your goodbyes/ Let them know you realize that life goes fast/ It’s hard to make the good things last/ You realize the sun doesn’t go down/ It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.”
I went through an odd experience with this song because when I first dove into the Flaming Lips discography I was already familiar with this track, and my main thought about this song was that it wasn’t their best song like I expected it to be. That kept up for a while, until about my 4th or 5th listen to Yoshimi when I finally realized that “Do You Realize??” isn’t really a love song. It’s a song about universal truths and absolutes, and the fact “that everyone you know someday will die” is as true in this world as the fact that “you have the most beautiful face”. I’m a believer now, this song deserves every single play it gets.
44. Modest Mouse- Trailer Trash
“G**damn I am such a jerk, I can’t do anything.”
One of the most important things to keep in mind with “Trailer Trash” is that Isaac Brock didn’t have a bad childhood. In fact, Brock has stated that although there were problems he was pretty fortunate to be placed into the situation that he was, but kids still grow up to be depressed in those situations. It’s an amazing song because the music itself seems to mirror a fortunate case of depression where there are difficulties in your family and school but you still don’t want to complain because you’re lucky to still have so much. It’s a really emotional song because of all of this, and the chorus of “G**damn I am such a jerk, I can’t do anything” hits a really personal note for me because there were a ton of times when I was a kid where I felt like I wasn’t capable of being right. It’s a really genuine song, and the live version of it ends with these lines: “And you spend most of your life/ Looking for the adult you are./ And you spend the rest of your life/ Looking for, looking for the child you were”.
43. LCD Soundsystem- Someone Great
“The worst is all the lovely weather/ I’m stunned, it’s not raining./ The coffee isn’t even bitter/ Because, what’s the difference?”
The beat to Someone Great was released before Sound of Silver, as most of the music can be found in the earlier experimental jogging-DJ set release of 45:33. The sound stood out there with how happy the music sounded and sung to you with bells, but Murphy decided to take this beautiful noise and write a song about the death of a friend over it. There’s no real despair present, as Murphy isn’t really bitter about anything besides the fact that everything else is progressing just like it did before to prove his friend’s ultimate insignificance. Still, Murphy doesn’t make the song sad because of the loss, he makes it happy in remembrance of such a great person, even if the world won’t acknowledge it.
42. The Mountain Goats- This Year
“I am going to make it through this year/ If it kills me.”
“This Year” is a great song for the pissed off youth who knows that he can’t really do anything to make his life better at the moment. He rebels by drinking, stealing the car, and meeting up with girls in a relationship Darnielle describes as “twin high maintenance machines” as he tries to do everything possible to escape. The song then shows him pulling back into the driveway, knowing that he is about to get yelled at by his step-father and punished once again, but already knew that and can take it because the end’s in sight. In one year he’ll be out of here and all of this can be placed behind him, “I am going to make it through this year if it kills me”. I like to think about this song as the sequel to “Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod” even though that track appears later on the album, because it’s nice to think that that kid would start to become independent and escape.
41. Animal Collective- Banshee Beat
“Confusion’s not a kidney stone, in my brain/ If we’re miscommunicating, do we feel the same?”
The calmness of the beginning as your told, in a hushed tone, the opening lines of sadly looking back on a failed relationship. “Banshee Beat” is a terrific example of a song that builds itself up as it progresses (a quality that bands like LCD Soundsystem, Bright Eyes, and Animal Collective are very good at) and each jump to the next level brings more emotion and openness. Every time you hit the swimming pool it sounds like glory, until ultimately you hear the seemingly bitter narrator tell you that he doesn’t wish that he was dead, and in fact he’s just happy that he can still feel; “cause either way you look at it, you have your fits, I have my fits, and feeling is good”.
Check Airwaves next Monday for 40-31