Wednesday, June 2, 2010

T is for Top 20

Since I haven’t decided yet on which book to work on (see “S”), I think I’ll spend some time with my blog. And since we all love lists I decided to make my top 20 albums list. However, after 15 it became kind of a crapshoot; I couldn’t decide which albums to include and which to leave off. So, while the title of this post clearly reads Top 20, this is only a Top 15. Sorry to disappoint.

Rules of the list:
1) This is a favorites list, not a “best of.” If I were stranded on a tropical island (really, who wants to be stuck on a desert island?), these have to be the honest-to-goodness albums I would take with me. While I’d love to include a Miles Davis or a Bob Dylan album on here to make myself sound impressive, I’d be lying.
2) No Best ofs or Greatest Hits allowed (or any compilation album for that matter). Sorry Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Marley, The Clash, and Steel Pulse; know that you’d be on this list otherwise.
3) It has to be a complete album. In other words, if I’m constantly skipping songs in the album, it shouldn’t be on this list.
4) No more than one album per artist. Otherwise, this wouldn’t be nearly as fun.
5) No female artists. (This rule isn’t real, but at least it explains my lack of the opposite sex. Before you call me sexist, remember that Lisa Hannigan does a lot of background vocals for Damien Rice. Also, Natalie Merchant and Dixie Chicks weren’t too far off this list . . . sort of.)
6) Finally, the music must be written by the artist performing the music in the album. Sorry 90% of famous musicians today. Rules are rules.

The Beatles - Rubber Soul
They were out of the teeny-bop, girl screaming days, and not quite immersed in the drugs and psychedelic phase. And the sound is good.
Favorite three songs: “In My Life,” “Girl,” and “I’m Looking Through You”

Radiohead - Pablo Honey
Incredibly impressive and very listenable.
Favorite three songs: “Stop Whispering,” “Anyone Can Play Guitar,” and “Creep (Acoustic Version)”

REM - Automatic for the People

This was my all time favorite when I was like 14 years old, and somehow it still remains a personal favorite.
Favorite three songs: “Drive,” “Nightswimming,” and “Find the River”

Coldplay - Viva la Vida or Death and all His Friends

Coldplay is for some reason one of the most polarizing bands ever. People either love them or hate them. I have to admit I am on the side of love. I feel like those who bash Coldplay are like Apple lovers who bash PCs vehemently. (Really? PCs suck? You had a better idea in the 90’s to revolutionize the home computer? Huh.)
Favorite three songs: “Death and all His Friends,” “Lost?”, and “Viva la Vida”

Tom Petty – Wildflowers
My favorite road trip album.
Favorite three songs: “Crawling Back to You,” “Wildflowers,” and “It’s Good to be King”

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

Great when played in the dark. Creepy, but true.
Favorite three songs: (There are essentially four songs on this album; let’s not point out my least favorite)

Iron & Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days

I had a real hard time deciding between “Shepherd’s Dog” and this one. So I went with the one I fell in love with first. Besides, any album that is almost entirely about death has to be on my all time list. This is also a made up rule.
Favorite three songs: “Naked as we Came,” “Each Coming Night,” and “Sodom, South Georgia”

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
One of only a few on this list that I would seriously consider for all time favorite. (For more info, see “H”)
Favorite three songs: “I am Trying to Break Your Heart,” “Jesus, Etc.,” and “Kamera”

Jack Johnson - Brushfire Fairytales
Simple, yet beautiful music. (By the way, I dig his new album)
Favorite three songs: “Inaudible Melodies,” “Posters,” and “Flake”

The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
Chalk full of tunes that will get stuck in your head (in a good way).
Favorite three songs: “Gone for Good,” “Pink Bullets,” and “Young Pilgrims”

Counting Crows - August & Everything After
This album answers the question: What would have happened if Da Vinci’s first painting was the Mona Lisa? Apparently, it doesn’t help to start your career with your masterpiece. Regardless of what Counting Crows have become, this album is proof they were once brilliant. This is a classic autumn-time album.
Favorite three songs: “Raining in Baltimore,” “Rain King,” and “Round Here”

Damien Rice – O
Passion + passion + folk music = Damien Rice.
Favorite three songs: “Delicate,” “Blower’s Daughter,” and “Cannonball”

matt pond PA – Emblems
This is our surprise entry for sure. But what can I say? I listen to it abundantly, there are a handful of songs I love, and the title of my novel was taken from this album. 2 & 2.
Favorite three songs: “The Butcher,” “New Hampshire,” and “Bring on the Ending”

U2 - Joshua Tree
As with Iron & Wine, I struggled on which album to include here. I usually would say “All That You Can’t Leave Behind,” but if I’m stuck on a tropical island, I've decided I want this one. Which is ironic if you consider the title of the album I decided to leave behind.
Favorite three songs: “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “Running to Stand Still,” and “In God’s Country”

Joshua James - The Sun is Always Brighter
I am pretty sure I was present when about half of the songs on this album were performed live for the first time. My friends and I used to go to “house shows” where Joshua would perform in someone’s basement or living room. There would be anywhere from 20-100 people at each of the shows. But regardless of the size, Joshua would always give it his all. He puts his heart and soul (and demons) in every number he writes and performs, and his music is as “real” as anything you’ll find anywhere. I have a handful of memories of watching him perform and thinking, “Wow--this man has it!” You know, “it.” I honestly believe that if Joshua wanted to make “hits” and sell tons of records, he could be as big as anyone, but because he chooses to write about the stories untold, he’ll only make it big slowly (as he is already doing).
Favorite three songs: “Commodore,” “Geese,” “Lord, Devil, and Him”


Today’s Recommendation: Hate the Lakers.


  1. Good list, but I'm a little hurt to see that BK didn't make the list.

  2. So...I've heard of a few of these, thanks to you. I'm curious about Sodom, South Georgia though. Tell me more.

    There are several songs here I'd like to listen to. What do you suggest as the best site to listen to a song?

    Once again, thanks for sharing-always an interesting read.