Before opening Jack's Top 50, i felt intimidated. Prior to Drew's, I felt like the puny schoolkid about to take his first punch in the gut.
There are a few friends of mine that I believe have a great book in them (almost all of them bloggers ... see my list). Drew could write 20. Drew has on occasion, made me believe: Grant Hart is the only singer alive worthy of uttering a syllable (a noble argument); i understood jazz from hearing him talk about it (which I don't); and that maybe "More Than a Feeling" (okay Jack and Larroca too) is worth more than the diaper stain i give it credit for (if it's brown and stinks ...).
Only once, in memory, have I made him change his opinion (and I hope I'm not making this up). He proclaimed his ambivalence to Brian Wilson and the Boys. I played him "You Still Believe in Me". He said, as I recall, "that's nice". That started a run culminating in my turning him onto the Drive by Truckers. Well, those are 2 things in 14 years.
Full disclosure, he wrote the liner notes for my band's latest record. Fuller disclosure, he's a hell of a writer. I look forward to all 20.
ps- Jack, that means you too.
1) “Louie, Louie”-The Kingsmen
It might not be about pussy and beer, but it sure sounds it.
2) “I Want to Hold Your Hand”-The Beatles
No other song has captured the excitement of teen romance as well as this.
3) “Waterloo Sunset”-The Kinks
When Ray Davies was at the height of his songwriting powers he captured regular people’s lives like no other songwriter could or wanted to.
4) “In the Still of the Night”-The 5 Satins
Doo-wop’s greatest, achingly romantic, filled with emotion and more than a touch of sadness
5) “You Really Got Me”-The Kinks
This just explodes out of the speaker like nothing that came before it.
6) “Maybelline”-Chuck Berry
Without this, most of the other songs here wouldn’t exist. This wins out over other Berry songs for coining the word “motorvating”.
7) “And Then He Kissed Me”-The Ronettes
The “best wall of sound” single, and a story song to boot.
8) “Fortunate Sun”-CCR
Know anybody in Iraq ? I didn’t think so. It might be the only timeless Viet Nam song.
9) “This Is My Country”-The Impressions
Four words that dismiss racism as powerfully as any MLK speech. Surely the only charting song that contains the phrase “welts on my back”.
10) "Walk Away Renee"-The Left Banke
Baroque pop genius, and on AM radio too. Damn you Will.
11) “A Day in the Life”-The Beatles
Sit down and listen to it for the first time again. There’s a whole world in there.
12) “Peggy Sue”-The Crickets
For those drums alone, but also one of the first great white rock songs.
13) “I’ll Be Around”-The Spinners
Heartbreak incarnate, with strings.
14) “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”-Jerry Lee Lewis
Is it really all that surprising he married his 13 year old cousin? The epitome of wild man rock and roll.
15) “The Harder They Come”-Jimmy Cliff
Dismissing religion and yet profoundly spiritual, it’s “Imagine” without the high fructose corn syrup.
16) “Something Else”-Eddie Cochran
There are nights when I stand in my driveway and stare at my ’66 Bel Air and wish there was a woman with me.
17) “Bummer in the Summer”-Love
Timeless and haunting, like capturing summer’s end in a bottle.
18) “In My Life”-The Beatles
Maybe the greatest love song ever, and that’s only the half of it.
19) “Sweet Jane (full version with bridge”-The Velvet Underground
Yearning, hopeful and desperately romantic(with the bridge restored), the fact that’s it’s about drag queen doesn’t make it’s expression of those feelings any less universal.
20) “Feel a Whole Lot Better”-The Byrds
The word “probably” changes the whole meaning. Few songwriters captured ambiguity like Clark did.
21) “There Goes My Baby”-The Drifters
Not just the first R&B record with strings, it’s “Needles and Pins” with soul.
22) “The Same Old Song”-The Four Tops
Motown truth and wisdom at it’s finest.
23) “Jailhouse Rock”-Elvis Presley
It’s been around so long, it doesn’t seem dangerous anymore. It is.
24) “I Only Have Eyes For You”-The Flamingos
The fifties as another country.
25) “Omaha”-Moby Grape
Frenetic, psychedelic pop , with one of the greatest intros ever. And you could have caught it blasting out of the AM radio in your Dodge Coronet in 1967.
26) “Desolation Row”-Bob Dylan
Ten minutes where Bob Dylan really does sound like a poet.
27)”Riding in My Car”-NRBQ
The greatest song to catch on the radio, guaranteed to make you think of someone for the first time in years.
28) “Pale Blue Eyes”-The Velvet Underground
For a guy with his reputation, Lou Reed can be devastatingly vulnerable.
28) “I Want You Back”-The Jackson 5
The greatest bubblegum soul single, with enough hooks for two songs.
29) “Rock and Roll”-The Velvet Underground
I never thought Lou was being metaphorical when he talked about being “saved by rock and roll”.
30) “Tumbling Dice”-The Rolling Stones
For once Mick Jagger sounds like he cares, and from the album where Keith Richards finds the real white blues.
31) “Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale"-Love
It’s simply beautiful, with the trick of having the last word of each verse dropped only to become the first word of the next.
32) “Blitzkrieg Bop”-The Ramones.
How do you pick one Ramones song? Easy, chose the first song on their first album.
33) “Blue Train”-John Coltrane
The opening riff feels like a New York street scene from 1958.
34) “Box of Rain”-The Grateful Dead
Robert Hunter’s most direct lyrics are especially moving coupled with a gorgeous Phil Lesh tune. Resigned and hopeful at the same time.
35) “The Boys are Back in Town”-Thin Lizzy
It makes me want to get drunk with my friends from college. And only “Summer in the City” comes close as a Summer song.
36) “More Than A Feeling”- Boston
If you could distill being 15, high and hanging at your friend’s house after school into music, it would sound like this.
37) “Wang Dang Doodle”-Howlin’ Wolf
Pure raunchiness, and the Wolf doesn’t curse once.
38) “Sing Me Back Home”-Merle Haggard
I don’t care what he did, I want him pardoned.
39) “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”-Joe Jackson
Admit it, you’ve lived it.
40) “Peter Gunn Theme”-Henry Mancini
The personification of cool.
41) “In My Room”-The Beach Boys
Emotionally, it’s everything Pet Sounds needed to be. I’d like to think it prevented a suicide or two. It also came out the month of Kennedy’s assassination, too.
42 “Walk On By”-Dionne Warwick
Heartbreak for adults from pop’s greatest singer/songwriter team.
43) “Rise Above”-Black Flag
The only hardcore song you’ll ever need, the “We Shall Overcome” of its scene.
44) Tutti Frutti-Little Richard
Imagine what this must have sounded like in 1955. It’s outrageous now.
45) “Irene Wilde”-Ian Hunter
It’s a true story, and that’s really her name. Hunter might be the most sensitive hard rocker ever.
46) “Monday, Monday”-The Mamas and Papas
Changes the world you’re living in while you’re hearing it.
47) “Saturday Night”-The Bay City Rollers
Exciting as sex before you knew what it was.
48) Sweet Home Alabama- Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Southern Man” is shrill and whiny but this makes its point and rocks as hard as any Stones song. The most misunderstood band of the seventies.
49) “Just Like Me”-Paul Revere and the Raiders
Punk rock before there was punk rock, and on daytime TV no less.
50) “It Never Entered My Mind”-Sarah Vaughn
The sound of knowing you blew it. And the way Vaughn sings the line “uneasy in my easy chair” just hurts.