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Nov 24 2017

My 10 best songs of all time

Introduction

On September 3rd of this year I was at a restaurant, having dinner with my wife and my (at the time still 8 years old) son. It was a clear sunny day and we were eating alongside the beach. My son asked me if I had ever compiled a list of the best songs and whether I had published such list on my blog. No, that was not the case. He told me it was time to do so. He would do the same. And, we were to publish the lists on both of our blogs (yes, my son has his own blog, only available in Dutch: Timur’s Verhalen).

His rules: one song per artist and a numbered list (so 10 to 1)!

The Top 2000

Top 2000 Logo (mediaredactie.fhj.nl)

Top 2000 Logo

The Top 2000 is a yearly phenomenon in The Netherlands. Based on votes by listeners a list of the best 2000 songs of all time is compiled. Delivering the personal top 10 songs usually takes place at the end of November/the beginning of December of each year. Millions of people in The Netherlands provide their vote. Because of that, my and Timur’s top 10 songs is published today.

The Snob 2000

Snob 2000 Logo (ondergewaardeerdeliedjes.nl)

Snob 2000 Logo

At the same time the Top 2000 is organized, another music-poll is organized: the Snob 2000. Because the Top 2000 leaves a lot to be desired (the list is too white, too old, too mainstream). Started as a joke over 5 years ago, it has turned into a genuine list in itself. The Snob 2000 only contains songs that are not part of the Top 2000.

Top 10

I hereby give you my top 10 songs (for today anyway…).

 

Solange - Cranes In The Sky - Live SNL (dailymotion.com)

10. Solange – Cranes In The Sky

(2016)

Just recently discovered. The song is a bit over one year old, but this is just so breathtakingly beautiful, it deserves a spot within the the best 10 songs.

September 30th, 2016, was the release date of A Seat At The Table, Solange Knowles’ third album. Cranes In The Sky was the lead single.

The lyrics are about an unnamed grief and the way she tries to lift the feeling. The title stems from the idea of a place that is calm and peaceful, which gets turned into a busy town at a given moment in time. During all the building activities the skyline is polluted by the cranes in the sky.

 

Bruce Springsteen - Brilliant Disguise (single) (45cat.com)

9. Bruce Springsteen – Brilliant Disguise

(1987)

On October 3rd, 1987, the first taste of the coming Tunnel Of Love album is released: Brilliant Disguise.

A great song. A glorious drumbeat, with lost of acoustic guitar. However, the lyrics to the song contained some very blunt remarks on (his?) marriage.

I wanna read your mind
To know just what I’ve got in this new thing I’ve found

I want to know if it’s you I don’t trust
’cause I damn sure don’t trust myself

Tonight our bed is cold, I’m lost in the darkness of our love
God have mercy on the man who doubts what he’s sure of

© Bruce Springsteen

The lyrics are beautiful, honest and painful. The main question is who it is the other person really is. Springsteen asks Is that you baby or just a brilliant disguise? twice. The last question is Is that me baby or just a brilliant disguise?.

See also: Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel Of Love.

 

Underworld - Jumbo (discogs.com)

8. Underworld – Jumbo

(1999)

Beautiful laid-back song by Underworld, has a perfect build-up and restart midway through, which time and again offers relief: luckily, the song isn’t over yet.

I need sugar
I need a little water of sugar
I get thoughts about you
And the night wants me like a little lost child
Locked in the safe place
Looking out the window
The dark move fast pass the window
The dark on the other side of the locked door

© Darren Emerson, Karl Hyde & Rick Smith

See also: Underworld, the best singles.

 

Public Enemy - Can't Truss It (single) (45cat.com)

7. Public Enemy – Can’t Truss It

(1991)

First single of the top-album Apocalypse ’91… The Enemy Strikes Black. At the time, Chuck D. stated the song is about the way offices and factories nowadays, represent another form of slavery.

It’s an exciting song with a great beat, subtle samples and impressive lyrics.

And I judge everyone, one by the one / Look here come the judge / Watch it here he come now

I can only guess what’s happ’nin’ / Years ago he woulda been / The ships captain
Gettin’ me bruised on a cruise / What I got to lose, lost all contact / Got me layin’ on my back

Rollin’ in my own leftover / When I roll over, I roll over in somebody else’s
90 damn days on a slave ship / Count ‘em fallin’ off 2, 3, 4 hun’ed at a time
Blood in the wood and it’s mine / I’m chokin’ on spit feelin’ pain / Like my brain bein’ chained

Still gotta give it what I got / But it’s hot in the day, cold in the night
But I thrive to survive, I pray to god to stay alive / my Attitude boils up inside
And that ain’t it (think I’ll every quit) / Still I pray to get my hands ‘round / The neck of the man wit’ the whip

© Carlton Ridenhour, Stuart Robertz, Gary “G-Wiz” Rinaldo & Cerwin “C-Dawg” Depper 

See also: Public Enemy – Apocalypse ’91… The Enemy Strikes Black.

 

Sly & The Family Stone - Family Affair (single) (45cat.com)

6. Sly & The Family Stone – Family Affair

(1971)

Completely different from anything else Sly & the Family Stone had released before. Family Affair is a sombre, Hohner Pianet electric piano based song. It uses a drum machine, making this song the first number 1 hit with a programmed rhythm. Sly Stone and his sister Rose sing lead on the song. The lyrics reflect the good and bad aspects of family.

Family Affair is Sly & the Family Stone’s most successful single. Sly Stone thought the song was not good enough to be released as a single. His manager and Epic Records had to persuade him.

 

D'Angelo - Untitled (single) (hatena.ne.jp)

5. D’Angelo – Untitled (How Does It Feel?)

(2000)

This song was originally intended to be a tribute to Prince. Producer of the album album Voodoo (from which this song stems) Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson: “finding the line between parody and honesty … In an era of ‘the cover song’, redoing a Prince song was taboo. This is the second best thing”.

The song has a great build-up and gives lots of room to improvisation and instrumental pieces. The instruments are sparse and the sound is crystal clear. The vocals (all done by D’Angelo, including the inventive background choirs) get the attention they deserve. The song ends in a climax, that keeps on building. D’Angelo screams, goosebumps. The song abruptly ends at its peak, ending with “How does it fee-“.

 

Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime (single) (45cat.com)

4. Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime

(1980)

Brian Eno introduced Fela Kuti’s rhythms to the band. During the recording of the song he counted several band members in on different times, either to “1” or “3”. The result is a highly danceable song with those typical David Byrne lyrics.

And you may find yourself
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself
Well, how did I get here?

© Brian Eno, Christopher Frantz, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison & Tina Weymouth

See also: Talking Heads – 77.

 

David Bowie - Heroes (single) (45cat.com)

3. David Bowie – “Heroes”

(1977)

The best Bowie song, even though Sound And Vison comes very close. The atmosphere in the song is intense, Bowie’s singing intimate and powerful. The wall of guitars of King Crimson guitar player Robert Fripp is a combination of three recordings, melted together by producer Visconti. Bowie’s vocals are done live in a room that had three microphones strategically placed, that were turned on by volume. The louder Bowie sang, the more microphones recorded his voice. An unforgettable experience.

I, I can remember
Standing, by the wall
And the guns, shot above our heads
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall
And the shame, was on the other side
Oh, we can beat them, forever and ever
Then we could be heroes, just for one day

© Brian Eno & David Bowie

See also: David Bowie 1947-2016 & Low and “Heroes” 40 years old.

 

LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends (single) (genius.com)

2. LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends

(2007)

Rightfully called best song of 2007 by many, many people, reviewers and magazines. The song is about aging, changing of friendships and looking back without regrets:

I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision
For another five years of life

© Pat Mahoney, James Murphy & Tyler Pope

It’s an addictive song with a repetitive piano motif that runs through the entire song. Each verse more and more instruments are added to the mix.

I was hooked the very first moment ever I heard the song. Live this is a certified goosebumps experience.

See also: LCD Soundsystem – American Dream.

 

Prince - When Doves Cry (maxi-single) (genius.com)

1. Prince – When Doves Cry

(1984)

The director of the movie Purple Rain asked Prince for a song for a certain piece of film. The next day Prince presented When Doves Cry, mixed and all. The song has been performed and sung by Prince alone. When he had finished the song something was missing. Although, missing, there was too much. Prince removed the bass which instantly made When Doves Cry one of the most important songs within the history of popular music and the 1980’s.

Lyrically the song is beautiful as well:

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that’s so cold?
Maybe I’m just too demanding
Maybe I’m just like my father too bold
Maybe you’re just like my mother
She’s never satisfied
Why do we scream at each other
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

© Prince

See also other articles on Prince.

 

In closing

As agreed upon, my list was to be exchanged with my son’s on our blogs. So, I gladly refer to Timur’s top 10 songs: Timur’s 10 best songs of all time.

 

 

Compliments/remarks? I´d love to hear them!