About a month ago, I was in a bookstore and found myself browsing through a thick book entitled “1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die“.
As is true with many books that try to put together a list of any form of popular art, I liked a few of their recommendations, and I felt that some of their recommendations were pretty, well, off.
The biggest crimes, in my opinion, committed by this list, were:
- Including “Fix You,” by Coldplay. This song was the primary reason why I considered the album X & Y to be the worst album of the year 2005. I liked the song “Speed of Sound” but the rest of that album, well, was awful. “Fix You” was the worst of the worst songs on that album.
- Including the horrible cover of “Because the Night” performed by 10,000 Maniacs at MTV’s Unplugged show, while completely ignoring the original version performed by Patti Smith after Bruce Springsteen wrote it for her.
- Completely omitting artists like Harry Chapin and Phil Ochs.
In response to this list, I set out to put together a playlist that is composed of songs that I feel as though everyone should hear before they die.
I gave myself a few rules up front. First, the final list would have a nice, round number of songs. Second, no two songs by the same artist. I was willing to treat a solo career of a musician as separate from the career with a band. That said, I actively bypassed any “supergroups” if I already had two members of the “supergroup” represented somewhere else.
I finally got down to a list of 150 songs. This is probably more songs than any of the individual contributors to the book I saw, came up with, and I concede that.
This is a point-in-time list. Three songs on this list were first released to the general public since the start of this year. If I were to make this list a year from now, I have no sense of how different the list would actually be.
I figure that the average person will know a fair number of the songs on this list. But I sincerely doubt anyone (other than me and anyone else with direct access to my music library) actually knows all of the songs on this list.
If you were to play the entire list of songs without pausing it, it would take 10 hours, 59 minutes, and 38 seconds to go through the whole thing.
These are songs that get stuck in your head, make you think, make you get up and dance, or just move you.
My intention is to take some or all of these songs and write short blurbs on them in future blog entries, but for now, I’m just going to list the songs and who performed them. So, without further ado, here’s the list of songs I think you need to hear before you die. This list is sorted by Artist, the way iTunes sorts things, except that I grouped the showtunes together at the end, directly before the songs in Russian.
|Sister Moon||4 Way Street|
|Rolling In The Deep||Adele|
|Wise Up||Aimee Mann|
|Year of the Cat||Al Stewart|
|Don’t Follow||Alice in Chains|
|You Know I’m No Good||Amy Winehouse|
|Heat of the Moment||Asia|
|Across The Universe||The Beatles|
|Get Your Shit Together||Beth Hart|
|Someone’s Daughter||Beth Orton|
|Ain’t No Sunshine||Bill Withers|
|Close To The Borderline||Billy Joel|
|It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)||Bob Dylan|
|Everything Feels Wrong||Bree Sharp|
|Lost In The Flood||Bruce Springsteen|
|Barely Breathing||Caroline Lost|
|Every Time It Rains||Charlotte Martin|
|(Damn These) Hungry Times||Cousteau|
|Alaska Highway||Dan Bern|
|It’s Only Life||Danielia Cotton|
|The Mountain||Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer|
|Golden Years||David Bowie|
|A Walk On The Moon||Dayna Manning|
|Summer Skin||Death Cab for Cutie|
|When The War Came||The Decemberists|
|Change (In The House Of Flies)||Deftones|
|Innocente||Delerium Feat. Leigh Nash|
|Rainbow in the Dark||Dio|
|Sing||The Dresden Dolls|
|Reasons For Living||Duncan Sheik|
|Train Song||Eliza Carthy|
|Tiny Dancer||Elton John|
|I Want You||Elvis Costello & The Attractions|
|The Last Time I Saw Sadie||Emma Townshend|
|Off Key Choir||Emmet Swimming|
|Black Dog Smile||Feathermerchants|
|Get a Little||Folk You Harder|
|Tainted Love||Gloria Jones|
|The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald||Gordon Lightfoot|
|Holiday / Boulevard of Broken Dreams||Green Day|
|100 Years of Solitude||Greg Greenway|
|Close Your Eyes||Grey Eye Glances|
|Escape Tonight||He’s My Brother She’s My Sister|
|Tell Me How||Headboard|
|Asking For It||Hole|
|I Ain’t Afraid||Holly Near|
|Straw Into Gold||Idina Menzel|
|Need You Tonight||INXS|
|Lover, You Should’ve Come Over||Jeff Buckley|
|Locomotive Breath||Jethro Tull|
|Not Me||Jimmy Tuckett|
|The Confessor||Joe Walsh|
|Working Class Hero||John Lennon|
|Sugar Candy||Julia Greenberg|
|This Woman’s Work||Kate Bush|
|Play One For Me||Kathleen Lague|
|25 Back Then||Lauren Christy|
|Who Are They To Say||Leah Andreone|
|Going To California||Led Zeppelin|
|Coma White||Marilyn Manson|
|My Mistake (Was To Love You)||Marvin Gaye|
|Flowers In December||Mazzy Star|
|All Things Dull And Ugly||Monty Python|
|Little Lion Man||Mumford & Sons|
|Everybody Got Their Something||Nikka Costa|
|the becoming||Nine Inch Nails|
|About a Girl||Nirvana|
|Hard to Handle||Otis Redding|
|Because The Night||Patti Smith Group|
|Everything Is Everything||Phoenix|
|Light & Day / Reach For The Sun||The Polyphonic Spree|
|Telephone Song||Poor Kids Without Cable|
|Don’t Stop Me Now||Queen|
|3′s & 7′s||Queens of the Stone Age|
|World Leader Pretend||R.E.M.|
|Every Little Thing About You||Raul Malo|
|Under My Thumb||Rolling Stones|
|Let’s Be Natural||The Rutles|
|Dancing Queen||San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus|
|Go Fuck Yourself||Sharon Groom|
|My Overflowing Ashtray Heart||Silverman|
|Blood and Roses||The Smithereens|
|Kool Thing||Sonic Youth|
|Rubberband Man||The Spinners|
|Sex Type Thing||Stone Temple Pilots|
| They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!!
They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!
|The Damage||Tapping The Vein|
|La Tempete||Tara MacLean|
|Love, Love, Love||Teddy Goldstein|
|Black Eyed Boy||Texas|
|Always disappear.||Things in Herds|
|This Side of Brightness||Thursday|
|Great DJ||The Ting Tings|
|You Got Lucky||Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers|
|Yes, Anastasia||Tori Amos|
|I Don’t Wanna Fly||Treana|
|time i never had||two weeks from tomorrow|
|All I Want Is You||U2|
|Old man in the window||Under Feather|
|I’ll Wait||Van Halen|
|White Houses||Vanessa Carlton|
|Villains||The Verve Pipe|
|Fell In Love With a Girl||The White Stripes|
|Pictures Of Lily||The Who|
|Walking In Space||From Hair|
|La Vie Boheme||From Rent|
|Wig In A Box||From Hedwig And The Angry Inch|
|I Believe||From The Book of Mormon|
|Женщина Которая Поёт (The Woman Who Sings)|| Алла Пугачева
|Арбатскый Романс (Arbat’s Romance)|| Булат Окуджава
| Посещение Музы или Песенка Плагиатора
(The Visit of the Muse or Song About the Plagiarist)
| Владимир Высоцкий
So… How well do you know these songs?