Sometime in late-2015/early 2016, I stumbled across one of the many music blogs on the old innernet. This one grabbed my attention because the author of the now-defunct site had recently updated his Top 200 songs of all-time, complete with mp3s of each track.
I dug into his list, and ran across a bunch of interesting finds, his taste for indie rock overlapping somewhat with mine. But his list stuck with me for another reason – about half of the Top 200 songs were performed by about 10 or so acts. And none of them were the Beatles or Elvis or the Rolling Stones. Rather it was the bands in his wheelhouse. And as much as I respect the good Canadians from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I doubt even Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Mothers believe their sons (and one daughter) are responsible for 1/20th of the greatest songs of ever.
I shared my thoughts on the subject with my son, the other music nerd in our family, and we began batting around ideas. Eventually, we decided we would try to assemble our own Top 200, but with the caveat that each band could only be represented once.
Originally, it was supposed to be a simple list. But when Christmas 2016 rolled around, I thought it would be cool to put together the songs on a bunch of CDs for him; Ian being the only person under 25 who listens to CDs. Which I did, gifting him with a 12-CD set for the holidays last year (and he responded with a 3 CD, 60-song list for me. In his defense, he’s been listening to music about one-third as long as I have, so the numbers work).
Recently, I was thinking that the whole endeavor demanded a shit-ton of work to share my efforts with just one person. So, I thought I’d reveal the Top 200 here, for anyone who might be curious. I don’t claim these are the definitive Top 200 songs of all-time – just the ones that could make up a list of my favorites.
I recognize that my musical tastes are not in line with most people my age, or any age for that matter. The list skews heavily toward the alternative/modern/indie rock side of things (you can see I’ve been around awhile), though there are a few pop, hip hop and R&B tracks, and even a countryish one, though I’m not sure you’d ever find it on Hot Country 107.
With each CD listing, I’ll offer some thoughts on a few songs, plus a few You Tube links to songs that I think might appeal to a wider audience. I’d add more links, but that would also amount to a shit-ton of work for the four people who are likely to read this.
200 To Hell With Good Intentions McLusky
199 Lawyers In Love Jackson Browne
198 Repatriated Handsome Furs
197 Golden Blunders The Posies
196 Heaven is a Better Place Today Tragically Hip
195 Emerge Fischerspooner
194 Bloodbuzz Ohio The National
193 The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
192 Teenage Kicks The Undertones
191 Idioteque Radiohead
190 If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next Manic Street Preachers
189 Metro Berlin
188 The City Sleeps MC 900 Ft. Jesus
187 Don’t Haunt This Place The Rural Alberta Advantage
186 Bohemian Like You The Dandy Warhols
185 Cuts you up Peter Murphy
200 – I turned Ian off immediately with my first choice, McClusky’s To Hell With Good Intentions. Eh, our tastes aren’t exactly in sync.
190 – I always wondered if Manic Street Preachers were street preachers that could be classified as Manic, or simply preachers on Manic Street. I’m sure it’s the former, but I’ve always been partial to the latter. Either way, they have one of the more interesting histories, as former guitarist/lyricist Richey Edwards simply disappeared in 1995 shortly before he was to head to the United States on a tour. He was pronounced dead seven years later, but his body has never been recovered.
188 – I am fairly confident that this is undeniably the finest song ever written from the perspective of a serial arsonist. It was written by a guy who took his “band” name from Oral Roberts’ revelation that a 900-foot tall Jesus had convinced him to build a hospital in Tulsa.