This week, as a special birthday treat to myself, I have decided to do something different. As I've been spending a lot of rather intense time in editing mode, I don't have much in the way of new mind-body material to share with you at the moment. However, after my unannounced break last week, I wanted to share something with you. And other than yoga an philosophy, my favourite thing to talk about is music.
Over the past several weeks, I've noticed myself hearing tunes in shops or on the radio and thinking to myself (or saying out loud) "this is seriously one of the greatest songs of all time." After having had that experience a number of times in rather short order, I decided that it might be fun to actually compile a list of what I would consider my all-time best tracks. So here it is:
There are just a few things I want to say about this list.
- I chose to make a list of tunes that were hits or singles. To be sure, my musical tastes do tend toward the slightly more obscure, which this list does not appear to indicate. (No songs from Fleet Foxes? Panda Bear? Joanna Newsom?!?!) However, I'm actually more the kind of fellow who usually consumes his music in full album form, rather than just as individual tracks. As such, while I might have a number of songs that I would count as personal favourites that are not on this list, it would feel difficult for me to divorce them from the context of their albums because that is not how I know them. The songs on this list are--with perhaps a couple of exceptions--ones that I originally encountered and appreciated as stand-alone tracks. (One day I'll make a list of my 50 best albums, and there will be plenty of indie artists appearing on that list that did not make it onto this one.)
- While I originally wanted to rank these songs (1-100), someone clever told me that it might actually be more interesting to put them in chronological order. So that's what I've done. You might be interested to know that the years that are most heavily represented seem to be 1970 and 1998--but this does depend on whether you count it as when the single was released or when the album on which it appeared was released. I haven't been that scientific about it. Sorry.
- Some of you might think that I'm joking with a number of these tracks. "Love Shack"? "Dancing Queen"? "Get Busy"? Really? Yes. Really. My standards for what has made made me chose these tracks were not at all pretentious ones. I picked tunes to which I feel an immediate emotional connection when I hear them, and sometimes that emotion is pure joy. (How can you not dance when "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" comes on?! Seriously!)
- Others might feel that I have a been a bit to obvious with some of my choices. I totally understand that numbers like "Fly Away," "Hey Ya!" and "Clocks" have been played to such a degree that they may just seem boring at this point. But when I hear these songs, I am always transported back to the moments I originally heard them. Even though it could be derided as cheesy in 2017, "Don't Know Why" left me with my mouth hanging open the first time I heard it fifteen years ago. And considering the armful of Grammys Norah took home for it that year, I was not the only one who felt that way.
- While this was definitely not intentional, literally half of these songs came out before I was born, and the other 50 were released in or after 1983. Yet even for the songs that emerged during my lifetime, the criterion that was perhaps most helpful for me in compiling this playlist was that each of these tracks has become so thoroughly embedded in my consciousness and my way of relating to the world that I simply have a difficult time conceiving of (or remembering) what music was like before these songs were born.
- The songwriter credited most frequently on this list is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Sir Paul McCartney with 5 entries. He is also the talent behind what I have realised is my all-time favourite song, "Maybe I'm Amazed."
Now. Share your thoughts with me! What heinous omissions have I made? What might you get rid of? Or would you just scrap my list entirely and start anew?