This week’s #thereisnospoonfriday is a very personal one. While my prior lists were takes on subjects many people could at least somewhat agree on, this list is 100% according to me and my musical tastes. I am sure lots of readers will look at this and think I just drank a fifth of Jack Daniels and need to go “get some help”. Others will think “yeah – there are some great tunes here, but how could you not have (insert their favorite song)”. I get it. A little background here: I am a wannabe musician. I have been playing the drums since I was 11 years old, and thanks to two older brothers and lots of cool friends and colleagues, I had been introduced to a wide variety of music over the years. I still play every other weekend in my basement with a friend on guitar and we crank out covers of songs old and new – if for no other reason than we just love playing music. Trust me – I have no aspirations of ever getting signed to a record contract. The reason for this list is not just that I absolutely love a great song, but that on Friday’s I always enjoy putting on my headphones while I work and listening to good music. I thought that this list, for those who might not list these as their favorites, could be suggestions for new music that some readers might know of already and enjoy, or may want to go back and revisit. Either way – it could be your playlist for the day or your toilet paper. As always – I love your comments. Keep them coming! Now – with that out of the way, my Top 20 Songs of all time (Video links include when possible, some of them are not available – I’m looking at you Prince):
20. “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead – Just an absolutely epic song in every sense of the word. Sprawling, several different changes in style and tempo, and something really odd about it that makes it just an awesome tune. I love Radiohead – but for me OK Computer was their best album, and this their best tune on their best album.
19. “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath – this song rocks hard. HARD. Ozzy in his prime with Black Sabbath, the drums are great and the guitar riffs legendary. I can’t believe this song came out almost four decades ago as it is still relevant and better than 99% of any rock that has come out in the past 20 years.
18. “When Will They Shoot?” By IceCube – any song that samples Michael Jordan saying “You better eat your Wheaties” is already awesome, but this is Cube at his best. Angry but flowing with awesome lyrics and biting references, it is undeniably a certified “get jacked up” song from beginning to end. While Predator is not my favorite Cube album (although GREAT) and I definitely thought about “No Vaseline” as my Cube entry on this list, I think this song is just slightly the better one. Slightly. When will they shoot?
17. “Have a Cigar” by Pink Floyd – Pink Floyd has so many great songs to choose from, and most people will immediately go to “The Wall” for their favorites. Yes – that album is awesome, but for my money the best tune they ever did was “Have a Cigar”. The vocals are amazing, and that bass line. Funky yet driving and hard. If you don’t know this tune by name, you will recognize it the second you hear it. Have a Cigar
16. “No Speak No Slave” by The Black Crowes – I am a big Crowes fan. They are straight up Rock and Roll with no bullshit filter on them whatsoever. They just play raw and hard music with a good rhythm behind it. I love a lot of their stuff, but for me this is their best song. The riff is fantastic, the vocals are Chris Robinson at his peak and the beat is undeniable. Rock. And. Roll. No Speak No Slave
15. “Three Minute Rule” by The Beastie Boys – if you have been reading my blog you know I LOVE the Beasties. Paul’s Boutique is, in my mind, one of the best albums of all time and easily the best rap album ever made. Easily. While they have had much bigger hits, this song captures the Beasties I love but also showcases each of their respective talents in one of the rare Beastie songs where they actually rap each verse alone with no signature interplay. Also – this song has NO chorus. None. Now – let’s cue up the ping pong sounds and play it. Three Minute Rule
14. “Oh No” by The Commodores – Yes, a ballad by Lionel Richie and The Commodores. I am not ashamed at all of loving Lionel Richie and think he is a musical genius. Dude writes some of the best ballads EVER. I first learned of this song from the 80s classic “Last American Virgin” but the song has far outlasted the movie. Piano, strings and the smooth vocal stylings of Lionel. If this song doesn’t move you then you have no soul. Oh No
13. “Hey Bulldog” by The Beatles – The Beatles are the greatest band of all time. To compare them with other musical acts is absurd. The only comparables in history are Mozart and Beethoven. Yes – I just wrote that and mean it 100%. Their catalog is so immense and their hits too numerous to list, but one of my favorites by them was never a “hit” at all. This song, off of Yellow Submarine, has the best bass line Paul ever played, and the coolest percussion from Ringo too. John’s vocals are awesome, but the end bit with John and Paul riffing back and forth is what seals the deal. Hey Bulldog
12. “Peg” by Steely Dan – This band is criminally underrated. They have made some of the best music ever. They are definitely a “musician’s band” because they are just immensely talented players and songwriters. Rock with a very heavy Jazz influence. Peg is straight up fun with some of the most underrated drumming ever. Catchy as hell, I defy even non Steely Dan fans to say this song isn’t great. “I see your picture…I keep it with your letter”…. Peg
11. “No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin – obviously Zeppelin are one of the greatest musical acts ever. Like the Beatles and Beasties, they have just an enormous catalog of amazing songs. I said it before, but Beatles, Zeppelin and Beasties are the only groups that I NEVER fast forward a song on their albums. No Quarter is one of the trippier and more mellow songs by Zeppelin, but also one of their most beautiful. I am humming that famous riff as I type this…..(bonus – Tool does an excellent cover of this song too) No Quarter
10. “Old Man” by Neil Young – Neil Young is THE MAN. From CSNY to Iron Horse, his work is awesome. For me though, this is his best song. Written from the “young man” perspective talking to the “old man”, it is both moving and undeniably beautiful in its simplicity. “Old man, look at my life, I’m a lot like you were” – just really great lyrics. Old Man
9. “Black Steel in The Hour of Chaos” by Public Enemy – “I got a letter from the government, the other day, I opened and read it, it said they were suckas”. Chuck D has never been better. From the delivery of the lyrics to the story and message he is telling – just a really powerful song. This is PE railing against the prison system in an angry yet classically PE intelligent manner. Bonus points for the video being awesome. Black Steel in The Hour of Chaos
8. “Alphabet Street” by Prince – As I have written before, one of the top 5 musicians (in my view) of all time. He has one of the biggest musical catalogs ever – dude is still going strong some 30+ years later. This is my favorite Prince song off the album Lovesexy. Funky, simple and catchy as shit. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. (Unfortunately, because Prince allows NOTHING on YouTube, can’t link to it)
7. “Subdivisions” by Rush – As a drummer, Rush is mandatory listening. Neil Peart is the absolute peak of drumming skills, but Alex Lifeson and Getty Lee are also at the top of their respective instruments too. Rush is a GREAT band with so many great songs, this just happens to be my personal favorite. The subject is “fitting in” , but the musicianship is off the charts and the “subdivisions” robot voice clinches it. Subdivisions
6. “Back in Black” by AC/DC – lots of musicians take a big dump on AC/DC, calling their music “simple”. To them I say “F you”. AC/DC knows what they are and do it better than anyone else. Straight up guitars and drums with screaming vocals and catchy riffs with muscle behind them. I defy anyone when this song comes on to not get pumped up. Back in Black
5. “Shake Your Rump” by The Beastie Boys – Another off of Paul’s Boutique. This album came right after Licensed to Ill and could not be more different. As the first track of the album, it announced a new Beasties were here, and they were even better than before (and they were already great). My favorite Beasties song ever, with bonus points for a sample of a bong hit in the song. Shake Your Rump
4. “Bitch” by The Rolling Stones – I am not the biggest Stones fan, but this song absolutely crushes it. The beat is driving, the riff sticks with you and is hard, and the horns. Yes – the horns make this song. Mick is on fire, and the song just feels dirty – in a really good way. Bitch
3. “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney – full disclosure – this was my wedding song. This is from the first solo album of any Beatle, right after the breakup. While the rest of Paul’s first album was average, this song is the best he has ever written outside of the Beatles. A love letter to his wife Linda, it is both a ballad and it rocks – with some of the best guitar I have ever heard. To this day, when he plays this song at concerts it brings the house down. Maybe I’m Amazed
2. “Let’s Groove” by Earth Wind and Fire – I love a good dance song that gets everyone moving, and no one does it better than Earth Wind and Fire. My daughter loves all top 40 crap out today, and yes, some of it is grooving and catchy. But I am going to go “Old Man” style and say it was never done better than this song. By law – this and “September” also by EWF must be played at every wedding. Let’s Groove
1. “In My Life” by The Beatles – I could not have any other band occupy my number 1 slot. This song is John’s opus, in my mind the best song ever written. A reflection on his life up until that point when he wrote it, it is both incredibly beautiful and hauntingly sad too. The lyrics are amazing, the bridge unforgettable and the melody timeless. The best song ever. “There are places I remember…”In My Life
When you limit a subject like “best songs” to 20, you undoubtedly will leave off a ton of great ones – some intentional and some I will wish looking back on that I included. Either way – this was a blast to write and I hope, if nothing else, fun for you to read. What are your favorites? Happy Friday everyone and until next week – there is no spoon.