The 200: Halftime

Mid-list interlude.

A number of songs/artists didn’t make the list, but it’s fair to bring them up.

Elvis Costello, who I saw this summer with Kiera, could have been on there for a number of songs, though I’m most fond of Beyond Belief. An inexcusable oversight.

The Talking Heads are an obvious no-show. In their case, while I like a lot of the Heads’ songs, I don’t know that I truly love any of them.

The Dears, a Canadian band whose frontman is routinely compared to The Smiths’ Morrissey for reasons that elude me, should have placed Thrones somewhere in here.

Had I compiled the list six months later, I’m certain that it would have included Powder (You Tube), a spectacular slowcore tune from a band that I had previously never heard of, though now I own all three of their discs.

The recently departed Tom Petty crafted a hell of a catalogue of songs in his 40 years of performing, but American Girl is his masterpiece.

In the intro, I mentioned the only artists that could justifiably have 10 songs in the Top 200 would be the Beatles, Elvis or the Stones, though in my case none of them produced anything I would include (for the record, my favorites from each are Norwegian Wood, Suspicious Mind and Sympathy for the Devil). Inexcusably missing from that list, and this countdown, is Michael Jackson. My favorite MJ song, Man in the Mirror, should have been included here.

I’m going to reserve the right to edit this entry as needed when other oversights occur.




The 200: 116-101

We’ve reached the halfway point of The 200, which is two-thirds the movie about that Greek battle and bowling perfection, but only 1/22nd as good as that USA Network show about alien abductees and the challenges they faced in their transition back to terrestrial life.


116         Huddle Formation   The Go! Team

115         Was There Anything I Could Do?    The Go-Betweens

114         Vacation     The Go-Go’s 

113         Stay Useless       Cloud Nothings

112         Rise Up In The Dirt    Voxtrot  (You Tube)

111         (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay   Otis Redding

110         Backwater   Meat Puppets

109         Amor Fati   Washed Out  

108         Better Things   The Kinks

107         Avant Gardener   Courtney Barnett

106         Pick and Choose   Stepdad (You Tube)

105         Young Turks          Rod Stewart

104         Mexican Radio     Wall of Voodoo

103         Turning Japanese    The Vapors

102         China    Red Rockers (You Tube)

101         Queen of Denmark   Sinead O’Connor


116 – The cheerleader song, as it’s known in my car. Perhaps the only song on the countdown that was a favorite of all three of the Markham children.


111 – Either the second-oldest or oldest song on the countdown, and the reason behind that uncertainty will be revealed later.


107 – Had too much Pseudoephedrine and I
Couldn’t sleep at night
Halfway down high street, Andy looks ambivalent
He’s probably wondering what I’m doing getting in an ambulance
The paramedic thinks I’m clever ‘cos i play guitar
I think she’s clever ‘cos she stops people from dying

I love that.


107 – Like the previous entry, this is a song from the past 10 years.  Clearly, the ’80s is the most represented decade in the countdown, as that represented my late-teen, early 20s. However, unlike a lot of people, my musical tastes weren’t frozen the year I turned 26. I’ve never stopped listening to new music, and I hope I never do.


103 – Not sure if this song reaches the airwaves today. Hell, the previous one might not either.


101 – When she was a junior soccer player at Andrean, Kiera was interviewed by one of the local papers for a little Inside Look kind of feature. One of the questions asked, what music do your parents play that you absolutely hate. Her answer was “Sinead O’Connor,” which surprised me only because I wasn’t aware she knew who Sinead O’Connor was. And while I love my daughter, she’s absolutely wrong. While she’s a sad story today (Sinead, not Munder), her debut, The Lion and the Cobra, remains an incredible disc, and this song from her post-SNL* retreat from popularity is just one of many in her catalogue of powerful gems.

*When she had the original Kaepernick moment, even if the two sported decidedly different ‘dos.


Where’s the Bam?


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees for the Class of 2018 were revealed today, and congrats to first-time choices Kate Bush, Radiohead and the boys who like to Rage Against the Machine, provided the Machine doesn’t promise VIP treatment at a black-tie event in Cleveland as a prize. Such a pronouncement is typically greeted by one of two types of responses from folks like me.


Approach A is to question how a fundamentally counter-cultural experience such as rock and roll and a conventional, corporate-like entity such as the Hall of Fame can co-exist. I’m not taking that approach, even if it is pretty inarguable.


The other is to lament the candidate or candidates that have been unforgivably snubbed by the Hall in favor of some other groups or performers the author didn’t like as much. That’s the tack I’m taking today.

For the 10th straight year, WOXY was robbed.


Didn’t see that coming, did you?


OK, I’m only partially serious here. I really don’t think a radio station, even a life-alteringly great one such as WOXY, should be considered on the same plane as the artists who make the music. Though let’s face it, the Hall of Fame has inducted way too many performers who don’t really deserve the plaudits either. (Hey kids, is that Donovan?)


On the other hand, radio was long the only conduit for music for all of us. Hell, it remains an avenue for such discovery, even if it has lost much of what made it great through distant corporate ownership, algorhythmically designed playlists and morning zoos. Still, its place in the history of rock and roll is pretty damn significant.


Yet the Hall largely ignores it, even though it set the museum in Cleveland, home of legendary DJ Alan Freed and WJW. (Well, that and the cash. Don’t forget the buckets of cash.) It wasn’t because the city that introduced the concept of flammable water also gave the world Pere Ubu.*

Sure, the Hall has the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-musical contributors (though, given that no one’s ever heard of the Ahmet Ertegun Award, that could just be Wikipedia fucking with me again). But that’s not enough. Why shouldn’t the Hall recognize the great existing or, more likely, defunct radio stations that have made a difference in presenting music to the masses? And, I don’t think you’d have to scroll too far down the list of groundbreaking call letters before you got to the late, great radio station from Oxford, Ohio, either in its terrestrial or online incarnations.


Each year, the Hall should honor a radio station with a fancy ceremony. Bring the gang back together, collect some old broadcasts and memorabilia and put it on display until the next year’s event. The truth is, I’m probably never going to shell out whatever fee is required to get inside the Hall just for an up-close look at bedazzled jumpsuits from KC and 2/3rds of the Sunshine Band, discarded syringes from backstage at Woodstock and the official paper printouts from one of Bret Michaels’ chlamydia tests. I would, however, consider dropping in to gawk at remaining paraphernalia from the old 97X days, listen to broadcasts and pore over retrieved results from Sledge’s cholesterol tests (a tip: exercise and cut out the trans fats, Matt). I don’t think I’m alone. And since the Hall is a for-profit venture, not an academic exercise, they ought to be jumping to offer such opportunities that will ring the turnstiles.


So, how about it Jann** and Co.? Why not find a way to put WOXY and the other great radio stations into your Glass Pyramid on Erie? I promise I’ll think about visiting if you do.


Oh, and put Sonic Youth in too. That should be a no-brainer.

*To be fair, that would have been an extraordinarily good reason to locate the joint in Cleveland.


**Frankly, you owe me. I paid money to see Perfect in the theater. God that thing sucked.

The 200: 134-117

Part V of our XII-Part Series. Look for the next installment VII days or so from now.

134         We Want A Rock    They Might Be Giants  

133         Nemesis   Shriekback  

132         On Fire     Sebadoh                            

131         The Killing Moon    Echo & The Bunnymen

130         Drinking In L.A.    Bran Van 3000    (You Tube)

129         Drunken Lullabies   Flogging Molly 

128          Too Sick To Pray     Alabama 3

127         Moving to New  York   The Wombats (You Tube)

126         Someday, Someway   Marshall Crenshaw (You Tube)

125         Days Like This Keep Me Warm   The Polyphonic Spree

124         Safe From Harm     Massive Attack  

123         Tenderness    General Public

122         Chemicals Collide    Cloud Cult (You Tube)

121         Ball And Chain     Social Distortion

120         Never Follow Suit   The Radio Dept.

119         Kiss Off     Violent Femmes

118         Carry The Zero   Built To Spill

117         Doused   DIIV                      


131 – Echo and the Bunnymen are unmistakably huge fans of the Doors. What’s interesting is that I truly enjoy Echo’s music, I absolutely loathe the Doors. The only reason I can think of is that Ian McCullouch never tried to convince me that Bedbugs and Ballyhoo and Lips Like Sugar are comparable to the works of Keats and Frost.

130 – I’ve never heard this song anywhere besides 97x/WOXY, the now-departed radio station/online station from Oxford, Ohio that was my greatest source of new music for more than a decade. I was fortunate enough to get 97x over the air when I lived in Greensburg – we were at the far western reach of their notoriously weak signal. And when the site went digital only between 2004-2010, I was a devoted listener at my desk every day at work. In the seven years since its sign-off, I still haven’t found an adequate replacement. A lot of people think the radio station they used to listen to was the best ever. I happened to be right.

128 – Fans of the Sopranos may notice this is the band responsible for the theme song to that show. They probably wouldn’t get confused with the country band of a similar name, though they’re known as A3 here in the states just to be certain.

127 – I saw the Wombats perform this song at an afternoon showcase at South By Southwest, which I dropped in on for a day when a work trip happened to coincide with that Austin festival. I would love to go back to Austin, whether it was SXSW time or not, even if the rest of Texas really isn’t for me.

123 – I restricted it to one song per band, but not necessarily one song per artist. Dake Wakeling and Ranking Roger of the Beat (English Beat on this side of the pond) and General Public are one of three artists to make dual appearances on the countdown.

The 200: 150-135

Part IV: Heading into the second quarter.

150         Tainted Love   Soft Cell 

149         Punk Rock Girl      Dead Milkmen

148         Chains Of Love     Erasure                                

147         Life On A Chain     Pete Yorn

146         Ambling Alp    Yeasayer (You Tube)

145        Five Get Overexcited The Housemartins (You Tube)

144         Head On  The Jesus & Mary Chain

143         When I Write My Master’s Thesis    John K. Samson (You Tube)

142         Book Of Poems      Old  97’s

141         Like the Weather    10,000 Maniacs

140         Something About You    Level 42

139         Never Let Me Down Again   Depeche Mode

138         Litany (Life Goes On)    Guadalcanal Diary

137         Sweetness And Light   Lush 

136         Fountain And Fairfax    The Afghan Whigs

135         Suffragette City     David Bowie


150 – I think there are only two cover songs in the bunch. The other is way the heck up at the front.

149 – Cormac’s pick. If you don’t got Mojo Nixon than your store could use some fixin’ is as true today as it was in 1989.

138 – When I was a senior in college, GCD played at the Vogue in Indianapolis. When I couldn’t round up anyone else, I went to the show by myself, a tactic I shelved for most of my 20s and 30s, but pulled back out of mothballs when I reached my 40s and even into the first day of my 50s (when I attended a birthday-timed New Pornographers show, a present from my lovely wife).

137 – In recent years, my tastes have really begun to move toward shoegaze music, the indie subgenre whose most notable progenitor is My Bloody Valentine (strangely, despite this, I’m not a big fan of MBV). Lush was one of their contemporaries who started as a shoegaze band before heading into a Britpop direction.

135 – Three guys who died in 2016 made this list done at the end of the year. Honestly, it should have been four, as George Michael’s Faith is simply an inexcusable oversight.




The 200: 166-151

Part 3 of the 12-part series. You won’t believe Part 7.

166         It’s Gonna Be A Long Night  Ween

165         Am I Wrong   Love Spit Love You Tube

164         Commie Drives A Nova  Ike Reilly

163         Kundalini Express  Love And Rockets 

162         Everywhere With Helicopter   Guided By Voices 

161         Mystify      INXS                                                   

160         Basement Parties    matt pond PA

159         The Mother We Share   CHVRCHES

158         Middle Of The Road   The Pretenders

157         Pull Shapes    The Pipettes You Tube

156         It’s My Life    Talk Talk   

155         The Ledge   The Replacements

154         Winner Take All   Staggering Statistics

153         Drunk Sincerity    Bad Religion

152         Analog or Digital   Wildlife Control You Tube

151         Golden Haze   Wild Nothing

166 – The most blatant homage to (ripoff of) another band on this list. Once you hear the song, it  shouldn’t be hard to figure out the source material. Ween can get away with it.

164, 162 – I included at least one song here that one of my children was a fan of, at least at some point in their childhood. My wonderful daughter Kiera thoroughly enjoyed Commie Drives a Nova, a song by the mostly unheralded Chicago musician Ike Reilly. Ian, for his part, was an early fan of Everywhere with Helicopter. Cormac’s selection comes later.

163 – The summer after I graduated college, I played on a White River Parks State Games men’s soccer team. We called ourselves FC Kundalini, after this song.

158 – As a writer, I tend to latch on to well-written lyrics more than some other music fans. “When you own a big chunk of the bloody third world, the babies just come with the scenery” knocked me on my ass the first time I heard it, and it still does.



The 200: 184-167

Time for Part 2 in my countdown to No 1.


184         She Sells Sanctuary   The Cult

183         Bigger Than Us  White Lies

182         Buildings & Mountains   The Republic Tigers  You Tube

181         Speakers Push The Air     Pretty Girls Make Graves

180         The Rat    The Walkmen

179         Elephant  Jason Isbell     You Tube

178         Animal Life    Shearwater

177         Feel Good Inc    Gorillaz

176         Feeling Good     Nina Simone

175         Why Can’t I Be You?   The Cure

174         Sometime To Return    Soul Asylum

173         Two Receivers    Klaxons

172         Lose Yourself      Eminem

171         To Turn You On   Roxy Music

170         Relative Ways    …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

169         Something To Talk About    Badly Drawn Boy

168         True Believers     The Bouncing Souls

167         Wrecking Ball    Crooked Fingers  You Tube


To put the list together, I identified 250 or so songs that I thought I’d include in the list. Then I started grouping them by preferences: My Top 40, Next 40, etc. I built the list from the top on down, the reverse of how I’m revealing it.

I tried to have a little fun with the each CD, grouping them by song titles or themes (such as The Rat, followed by Elephant and then Animal Life), or the two songs about feeling good back to back. I also tried to swing back and forth between styles.

179 – My most countrified song on the list (I did enjoy some Randy Travis back in my college days). Cancer sucks, but this song is simply beautiful.

171 – I once attended a Bryan Ferry concert in New York with a buddy of mine at Radio City Music Hall. We were seated next to two gorgeous co-eds. Midway through the show, these two comely lasses turned to us and asked, “Do you guys get high?”

Alas, that’s the end of the story. Love might have been the drug for the former Roxy Music frontman Ferry, but cannabis was not the gateway to anything besides a slightly loopy ride home on the MetroNorth for my friend and I (no need to out him here, just in case his wife or kids are part of my readership).

Previous Songs