Monday, August 23, 2010

My Self Serving Music List

There is a radio station here in Jacksonville, FL. It is a sports talk radio station that often finds itself doing very little sports talk. When you mention 1010XL there are some who will cringe or illicit signs of disgust, stating the hosts offer nothing tangible to those looking for quality sports dialogue. A fair complaint if you are someone fully immersed in all that is sports.

I care about football. Baseball, basketball, golf and NASCAR could never be mentioned again and I would not lose any sleep. If you can appreciate the entertainment world, on the whole, then you may find yourself laughing at the likes of Dan Hicken or Rick Ballou as they tangent off to the land of American Idol or the best beer to drink.

The other day Ballou and Frank Frangie were discussing music (as they often do). Rick had, in a state of boredom, created a list of his top 50 bands. Now the average person tends to quantify things in tens. We leave the big lists to the professionals like Rolling Stone or People magazine.

So I thought, "Could I come up with my top 50 bands?" The cool thing is that Ballou's list consisted of music from Led Zeppelin to Barry Manilow. As I listened to him defend his list it was the honesty that stood out. He actually took a considerable amount of time to carefully place each musician, with an emphasis on accuracy.

Now how often do we do that? Is it not the case that our list is burdened with who we've listened to most recently or simply who we remember at the time?

With a good week under my belt, and some serious thought expended, I feel ready to attempt this. For any good list there must be guidelines, but what the hell is needed here? Am I going to require the band\artist to have made some existential impact on me? And do they have to stand the test of time? If so, what is the cut off date?

My musical integrity refuses to let rules dictate anything. Still, simple entertainment must be tapered with impact so to order. But rock and roll is about rebellion, so damn the torpedoes and let the chips fall where they may. Ugh! Cliches.

These may not be the best bands in the world and a I would bet at least four you may never have heard of. The key element is that at some point they brought me great joy and probably still do. Leaving out bands like The Rolling Stones, Beatles and The Who will surely warrant some concerns as to my musical taste. They are good, I just never was totally into them. That being said, this isn't a "best of" which considers cultural and\or groundbreaking musical impact. This is my individual taste.

I am sure I'll come back in a week and adjust this (these lists are never fixed) but thanks to Billy Bond for walking through parts of my past. Because of him adjustments were made. And I received quite a tongue lashing for leaving out great 80's bands such as The Outfield and Journey.

For fun, if we've been friends for a while try to list my top 5 before you get to the bottom.

"Rock and roll, stops the traffic!" - Bono

50. Counting Crows - Saw them live recently. Great story telling.
49. The Choir - Found them in college. First Alt\Christian band. Special to Kerry and me.
48. Incubus - Deep lyrics. Went from hard to funk to straight rock.
47. The Sisters of Mercy - Timeless goth band.
46. Neil Diamond - I don't even need to explain the awesomeness that is Neil.
45. The Cure - Was never crazy about them but always liked them.
44. Ministry - Best noise on the planet.
43. Def Leppard - 80's rock at its finest. High -n- Dry is a classic.
42. REO Speedwagon - A guilty pleasure? Riding the Storm Out is but one of many greats.
41. Split Enz\Crowded House - This is good pop music. Even the Finn's solo stuff is good.
40. Bon Jovi - Another 80's great. Still doing it today.
39. John Mayer - I know he was shoved down our throats but the guy can write and play.
38. Foo Fighters - Just good rock.
37. Lit - Liked them when I was younger. Loved them once my son got into them. Just fun music.
36. Maroon 5 - Not a song I don't like. Best cover of Highway to Hell I've ever heard.
35. The Ramones - They just have to be here. I mean "beat on the brat with a baseball bat." You know there just had to be something deeper going on.
34. Everclear - Music wasn't complex but Alex conveyed poverty and the struggle of kids well.
33. Son Volt - You better think when you listen to Jay. I love a good story teller. I'm not a country music guy, but Jay's greatest overcomes that.
32. The Eagles\Don Henley - One of the first bands I ever liked. Owned Hotel California at age 9.
31. My Chemical Romance - I consider them one of modern greats. Black Parade is a classic.
30. Coldplay - What can I say. The write solid pop music. Yellow still moves me.
29. The Clash - One of the first bands with a conscience I ever heard. They changed many.
28. Nirvana - For the short time they had a huge impact. And after Cobain's death it remained.
27. Bruce Springsteen - Grows on me year after year. I'm a sucker for a story teller and guitar if you don't know.
26. Kings of Leon - Listen to all their cds. I can't believe I didn't find them sooner.
25. The Jam\Style Council\Paul Weller - A genius. Cool music. Thinking music. Rebel music.
24. Stone Temple Pilots - For years this was a band that never left the rotation.
23. The B-52's - Saw Rock Lobster on SNL late 70's. Deserve "Best Party Band" title.
22. Collective Soul - Another one w\o musical complexity but the hooks never get tired.
21. Morrissey\The Smiths - Actually found Morrissey first. Speak from a world that isn't mine.
20. Robert Plant\Led Zeppelin - Zep grew on me. Solo Plant was an immediate love. Because of him I'm listening to Bluegrass.
19. Pearl Jam - They just make great music. A band whose passion moves you.
18. The Doors - There is something about Morrison and Manzarek.
17. Queen - Freddie Mercury had rare voice. Maybe the best rock\pop band ever.
16. The Pixies - Frank Black was a punch in the gut. Crazy lyricist.
15. The Police\Sting - Some people just have a gift. I don't think there is a song I don't like.
14. The Lost Dogs - Christian country band with a sense of humor. Deserve more popularity.
13. Edie Brickell\New Bohemians - Her voice and presence still move me. NB were tight.
12. Adam Again - Another Christian\Alt band. Gene Eugene wrote for the common man and the common soul.
11. Jars of Clay - These guys are compassion set to music. When I feel bad, I put them on. Even without the belief I appreciate the passion.
10. The Call - Michael Been was Gene Eugene before I knew Gene. Moving lyrics. Weller, Haseltine, Farrar, Eugene and Been may be my favorite lyricists.
9. Iron Maiden - Took literature and made it music. Great themes. Great shows.
8. Pink Floyd - One of the bands of which I can look to the past and see actual days of my life.
7. INXS - Damn you Hutchens. Another great party band. I have yet to tire of them.
6. The Connells - Jangle rock at its finest. They should have been stars. Never a bad show.
5. R.E.M. - Lost them a bit after Green. But the discs prior are classics. Never travel w\o them.
4. Toad the Wet Sprocket - Between them and Jars of Clay, they just make me feel good.
3. NIN - Trent Reznor always spoke to that darker side. Yet I always found hope in NIN.
2. U2 - Maybe a shocker? One of the two bands I found as a young teenager that just spoke to me.
1. Rush - I asked my mom to buy me 2112 for getting an A in Advanced History. It was history from there. If you're a guy you have to like Rush.

(Honorable mention: Elvis Costello, Guns and Roses, Van Halen\Hagar, Metallica, Alice in Chains, Duran Duran, Mission UK, A-ha, Death Cab for Cutie and Tears for Fears)

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