Category Archives: Top 100

#1 Greenwheel – Breathe

So hey, I’m finally finishing my list of my top 100 favorite songs. But before I get to that, let me give you five songs that might have cracked the list had I written this a year later.

#5 – Carolina Liar – I’m Not Over

#4 – Every Avenue – Tell me I’m a Wreck

#3 – Frank Ocean – Thinking About You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F15IjgyHd60

#2 – Norah Jones – What am I to you?

#1 Tegan and Sara – The Ocean

Tegan and Sara would definitely make it. So would the others, probably.

In a year from now I’d probably add something from Demi Lovato. Her last two songs are CRAZY LISTENABLE.

******

I can’t say why I love Greenwheel’s Breathe without giving an explanation of circumstance, so you’re going to get hella exposition about when I first heard this tune.

This is the story of something that’s happened to just about everyone. It isn’t unique or special other than the fact that it happened to me this one time. This is my stupid account of a weekend college fling.

******

It took place over the course of a couple days during my junior year of college. A few friends of mine planned to have a friend of theirs from high school, Becky, visit for the weekend. I’d been told for weeks that she was way too good looking and way to good for me and under no circumstances did I stand to have a shot. I barely gave it a thought. By the date she was supposed to visit I’d completely forgot she was even coming up to stay at our place.

I was in the living room when she arrived. She walked in, dropped her bags, stood in front of me and and looked around. She was wearing jeans, a white shirt and glasses. She was trim, her brown hair was short and cut around her cheeks. A decade later and I remember that first sight of her like it was yesterday. She put her things in a guest room and we immediately walked to a party across town.

The place was your typical college house party that everyone attends until they go to the bars instead. Red cups, crappy beer, shitty music, Pucker shots, neon lights, dank basements and no where to move because it was packed so tight. We hung out in our group of five, saying hi to the people we knew because it was Friday and this was the Friday night house for us.

I’d be lying if I said at this point I was getting to know Becky or that I thought we had some kind of instant connection. We had talked some and danced a bit. I didn’t think anything of it. She was, in my own estimation, the best looking girl there and I wasn’t the only guy who thought so. She was constantly getting approached and they were constantly getting shot down. Then a strange thing started happening. Our small talk and innocent dances turned into eye contact and her taking me by the hand wherever she went.

“So, is this going to happen with us? Should we get out of here?” she said after dragging me outside the house. I don’t know what I said in response because I’m fairly certain I blacked out for the next ten seconds.

Now, again, this is something that happens to virtually everyone in college. You meet someone cute, you drink a little, you go home with them. But the guy I was as a junior in college was still basically the same guy I was in High School. Not really shy, but not outgoing. Always 100% content with the status-quo, whatever that was. Stumbled into girlfriends in high school and hook-ups in the dorms. Trying to make a move on Becky that night would have been as foreign to me as speaking Russian.

The five of us left shortly after. Three of them went upstairs to their rooms. I flipped on a cable music station for tunes while Becky hung out in the kitchen. I got close (I mean, I had some game), she told me we should go to the couch, I said I’d go upstairs for a blanket. When I separated to go upstairs she pulled me back in for a kiss I don’t remember. Again, I think my brain temporarily shut down.

Then I went and got the blankets.

******

The rest of the weekend was that thing where you’re basically smitten and inseparable. We took a road-trip, bought stupid shit and held hands. It was fun.

That night my house hosted a party of our own. At some point, after we’d both drank enough, we left for my room to have a conversation about what the hell was going to happen tomorrow when she’d be leaving to head back to her school a few hours away. We talked about a long distance thing and visits and distance like any of it mattered. This was a weekend thing, after-all.

******

The next morning I got up before her and made the house breakfast. They all got up and came down to the living room. I handed out some plates and sat next to Becky, her legs up on my lap.

“I’m supposed to be back at school tomorrow,” she says to me.

“Christ, Matt. Just ask her to stay, she will,” says her friend Kerri.

We looked at each other, I said nothing, and she left ten minutes later. It was the last time I saw her.

******

Greenwheel’s song “Breathe” was was the tune playing in the living room when Becky first kissed me in the kitchen. I played it for years after that night and whenever I did it reminded me of that moment.

Hey, almost there.

It has quickly become my favorite thing on the planet, sitting on my porch at night with a drink while I blog about things I’ll probably never publish. I sit outside every night and relax while traffic and volleyball and people coming and going happens around me. I play music or the Brewers radio broadcast. Some nights the sky is clear I get an amazing view of the summer sky. It’s almost perfect.

One of the blogs I’ve been wrestling with lately has been what I decided was my favorite song of all time. I’ve worked on it for about a week, writing some then deleting it all. It’s one of those that isn’t about the song at all, but a memory I associate with it. In a lot of ways it’s similar to what happened here. The song is almost inconsequential to the story. It’s a footnote.

****

A few months ago my computer took a shit on me. It had been operating terribly for months but one weekend it just fell off a cliff and I had to reformat the drive. I lost everything on it but thankfully it was an upgrade. I had the original drive in a drawer, meaning that all the documents and pictures from the last ten years weren’t lost. Last week I finally plugged that drive in and went through almost a decade’s worth of stuff I’d saved. I found stuff dating back to my sophomore year college. Pictures I’d taken with disposable cameras and scanned. Blogs I’d written and chats I’d had over AIM.

Two weeks ago I wrote about Thrice’s final show. It reminded me of my last Warped Tour. They were playing but my girlfriend’s friends had come along with us that day and one of them was being a pill and we left before they (AND THE OFFSPRING! guh) ever took the stage. Remembering that day I couldn’t help but ask myself why I didn’t put up a fight to stay. Why did I just reluctantly agree to go home instead of staying, “Uh, we’re not leaving until Thrice’s set is done.” It bothered me for days.

Then I combed through all these photos I hadn’t seen in years and found these two.

Thrice

Thrice

I’d seen Thrice two years earlier. I loved the shit outta that show. I had visual proof. I’d seen them before they broke up and while my memory obviously isn’t what it once was, I was never going to live with the regret of not having seen my favorite band.

****

Tonight I ran a search on my blog. I’ve never mentioned the song at #1 before or the weekend/night/moment I’ll always remember because of it. That isn’t to say I haven’t written about it in the past. I ran that same search on the old hard drive I mentioned above and when I did about a dozen results came up. Entries I’d written a decade ago that never saw the light of day. Blogs I’d written in the mid 2000s that are no longer online.

For some reason I’ve always kept that memory as something of importance, but it wasn’t until this last week that I’ve questioned why. What is it about this particular weekend that should have any more significance than one that thousands (millions?) of college kids experience on a regular basis? Maybe it was this specific girl. Maybe it’s because it was unique to me as opposed to common by others.

Maybe I just really fucking love this song?

My goal as a writer here is to make you understand what was going through my head and heart and appreciate what was going on back then. Put you in my shoes and hopefully forget that what went down really wasn’t unique, at least to others. That’s the challenge of this post. As difficult as it’s going to be, I’d love for readers to fall in love (maybe?) the way I did.

Blog forthcoming. Eventually. I can’t end this list at #2.

#2 – The Offspring – Self Esteem

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkFH0KMO0G0&w=560&h=315]

So when you’re young and you and your significant other have your own special ‘song’? For me and my high school girlfriend, this was ours. It was a dumb relationship.

If I could somehow determine which tune I’d listened to most in my time on this planet, my guess is this would probably be #1. I can’t even begin to imagine how annoyed my roommates must have been with me in college based on how much this got run.

I love it.

#3 – Finch – Without You Here

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=714RubjnblY&w=420&h=315]

So a few posts ago I mentioned how by the time I was a sophomore in college I had a core of six bands and Thrice came and blew them all away. That’s not entirely accurate. Thrice AND Finch came and blew them all away. The reason I don’t hold Finch up there with Thrice anymore is Thrice continued to make amazing music, and Finch didn’t.

I found out about Thrice and Finch from the same person, and punker gal from early in my college days who knew more about good music than I ever will. She told me these two bands were “good stuff” (her words) and she was fucking right. I got into both at the same time and it’s a toss-up to which one I played most during my sophomore year of college. If I had to guess I’d say Finch, and it’s because of Without You Here.

I’ve gotten other people into Finch on the strength of this song, but I honestly don’t know what it is that makes it so special to me. Maybe because it’s balladyish (wut), maybe because it goes from subtle to heavy in a couple seconds with the build up to the chorus. I dig the lyrics. If I was gonna associate it with any time in my life it would be a weekend in my junior year when I bunch of us went road tripping and this album was featured prominently.

Alright, yea, that’s about it. I NEVER SAID ALL THESE WOULD BE REMOTELY ENTERTAINING SO LETS MOVE ON.

#4 – The Ataris – Between You and Me

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThLw7TyU_Cc&w=420&h=315]

The first of the Big 4. Each of the following songs was my FAVORITE SONG OF ALL TIME for a stretch. This one was the first, and it held the title the longest.

Like the next three artists, The Ataris have already been represented on the list, and I already talked about how I got into them (random message board posting). Early on, before they grew up, they made short, poppy punk tunes about girls. I remember the first comp CD I made of theirs had 37 songs on it, every one from their first three albums. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

It was some week night in the middle of my senior year of high school. I was on my to my girlfriend’s house to pick her up for a date. The CD I ripped was playing and about a half mile before I got to her place, Between You and Me started playing. It was the first time I heard the song and instead of pulling into my girlfriend’s place when I showed up, I just kept driving. This song blew my goddamn mind.

I ended up being about twenty minutes late to her place that night. I just kept driving around the block listening to this song on repeat.

Like I said, this was my #1 for a long time. The reasons it’s not is for a few reasons: I’m not the sappy HS kid I once was, the song is hella short and easy to play, the ones above it are just better. But come on. It’s #4 and ahead of Jeff Freakin’ Buckley. Respect.

#5 – Gob – The Perfect Remedy

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3TA2XgtfW0&w=420&h=315]

So I know I’ve gone on and on about the songs you hear that first time and you think HOLY SHITSNACKS THIS IS AMAZING OMGOMGOMG and it instantly becomes an all-time favorite. We all have those songs, or at least I hope we do. If you don’t you’re doing it wrong.

But this is the one song on this list I consider unique because I’m fairly certain that I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO’S EVER HEARD IT.

That Youtube video (the only one on that site with this song) up there has only 3000 views. One comment. Eight likes.

I could shoot some video of a dog scratching himself in the nuts, add a drum track and it would get ten times those numbers by tomorrow morning.

I’m absolutely baffled at the lack of attention this song gets. I just checked the site I go to for music lyrics. There are four comments, and two of them are from me, once from 2002 and another from 2006. TEN YEARS AGO I WAS PIMPING THIS SONG ONLINE.

Maybe it’s because Gob was never really a huge band? Ok, I guess that makes some sense…? But it’s not as if their fans ever really considered this their best stuff, even though it absolutely is. Gob never played it live when they toured as far as I know. I’ve seen them twice and no dice.

I’m not kidding, there’s part of me that wonders if I’m the only person capable of hearing this song. Like I’m a little insane and this song only exists in my head, 6th Sense style or something.

Please, listen to it if you’re reading this blog. Leave a comment. I simply want to know I haven’t lost my goddamn mind.

#6 – Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIw0ewEsNHs&w=420&h=315]

I’ve wrote about Buckley before.

I won’t say anything else, except that this is the perfect song. This is music at its best. I don’t envision ever hearing anything better in my lifetime, and you probably won’t either. Argue with me about the quality of anything else on this list. That’s fine. But just accept that this is the pinnacle of what is humanly possible with a voice and a guitar.

That is all.

#7 – Course of Nature – Caught in the Sun

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbbEV7w4acA&w=420&h=315]

It only occurs to me now that my top ten isn’t going to include anything critically or culturally relevant, with the possible exception of the song coming in at #6. There isn’t anything from the Beatles or Zepplin or The Who or The Arcade Fire or Bon Iver. Most of these are relatively unknown songs, some of which aren’t even considered the artist’s best. But for whatever they struck a chord with me.

My love for this tune comes via one of my first college girlfriends. Like most of them back then we came together because we loved the same kind of music. She wasn’t into the hardcore or Fat Wreck stuff I was (nobody was) but she loved Drive Thru and alt-rock and that was good enough for me. When we started dating we’d send each other tunes the other hadn’t heard, and Caught in the Sun was one of the first she’d sent me.

I didn’t think it was some mind-blowing tune but I did really like it. This song gets big points for longevity. I first heard it in 2002 and I’m still listening to it today.

#8 – Fenix Tx – Tearjerker

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkK1Vf8sNqk&w=420&h=315]

I remember where I was the first time I heard this song. I was driving home from college back in 2001, passing through Neillsville when this played on my CD I’d ripped for the ride home. I blown the shit away.

Fenix Tx was kinda crappy but made listenable pop punk. I liked their debut, even if I’m kind of revolted by that fact 12 years later. Their sophomore release was better and had some legitimately solid tunes like this:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mil6hupoBpY&w=420&h=315]

As far as songs about smoking weed go, that’s pretty decent right? But that’s what they were known for, gimmiky Blink-182ish type music. So when I heard Tearjerker it was like a slap in the face or a kick in the junk.

WHERE THE HELL DID THIS SONG COME FROM.

This tune was so good it basically ruined the rest of their stuff for me. I listened to their debut album dozens of times when I was 18 and 19. I don’t know if I’ve played it once since the day I first heard Tearjerker. It’s just that good.

#9 – Pete Yorn – Just Another

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbPBFR5zlnI&w=420&h=315]

I’ve heard three songs from Pete Yorn, and I love each one. One of these days I’m gonna pick up the rest of his stuff and I’m guessing he’ll end up a favorite.

I heard this five years ago after going on a download binge. It was on a soundtrack and one of those songs you instantly love and play on repeat until you’ve heard it two dozen times.

No story and no deeper meaning with this one. It’s just one of those kinda perfect tunes. It hasn’t gotten old, I doubt it ever will.