Top songs pre-2000

Album covers
This post has it’s origins in an email my dad wrote in January of 2009 (yes, I am a slow blogger) to the family:

Now, an idea I’ve been struggling with for some time: name your best favorite two songs, not five or ten, only two. The problem is it all depends…

Eventually, he sent out a request about trying to get everyone in the family to submit one song as their absolute favourite from before the year 2000. I thought it was a bang up idea, so I created a playlist in iTunes with almost all the music I had, that was created before the year 2000, and started to whittle it down.

As I work from home, I’m almost always listening to music, unless I’m editing video or audio. I’m constantly looking for new music and have almost always drained my 40-song-per-month eMusic account since Tracey and I opened it back in 2006.

It turns out that sorting all the music and reducing the playlist was a huge task – I have thousands of songs in my collection and probably half of them fall into the category, but I diligently removed songs until I had about forty left. Then thirty. Twenty five. Then I realized that I was pretty sure I would not be able to reduce it down to one single song.

So I settled on twenty songs that I just love and to one song per band / performer so there’d be more variety in the selection, but there are a few songs that are on the same album (movie soundtracks). There’s an embedded YouTube playlist with the tunes at the end.

You’ll notice there isn’t much in the way of early music – even though admittedly there are some old tunes – Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, The Irish Rover’s Marvelous Toy, or a slew of old country like Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight, or Jonny Cash’s Don’t Take Your Guns to Town) – as none of these are in my master playlist of music I listen to *daily*.


In no particular order:

Big Time Sensuality
Debut, 1993
Björk’s music is takes me on a whimsical mental journey and Army of Me is one of the first tunes of hers that I heard and instantly liked.

Let Forever Be
The Chemical Brothers
Surrender, 1999
The first time I heard this song was, I think, on MuchMusic – you know, back when all they did was music videos? The video was *amazing*, and this song was my introduction to the Chemical Brothers – a band I love.

Everybody Knows
Concrete Blonde
Pump Up The Volume Soundtrack, 1990
Even though this isn’t the version that is *actually* in the movie, I think I prefer this version to Leonard Cohen’s (yes, I had to Google who wrote it), which honestly is also a good tune. I enjoy the sound of this one – I think it’s the guitar that cinches it for me.

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
Cowboy Junkies
The Trinity Session,1988
Apparently (thanks, Google) originally a Hank Williams song, the Cowboy Junkies nailed this cover. This song is so… very lonely. And I think we all feel this way sometimes – I certainly did for the first half of the 90s.

The Cure
Mixed Up, 1990
In high school, I hated The Cure. There. I said it. Now, moving on, I’m not the same person I was then. Today, the Cure’s Lovesong echos how I feel for my wife Tracey. I don’t exactly recall how I “discovered” them, but it was probably at the beginning of my “goth music” explorations – a genre I really enjoy. Seriously. But that’s for another blog post.

Da Funk
Daft Punk
Homework, 1996
My introduction to Daft Punk, a band who has a sound pretty much entirely to themselves. Da Funk is a instrumental – the only one on this list – that feels very much like the video, taking a mental walk, going nowhere in particular.

Front Line Assembly, Tactical Neural Implant, 1992
This song was my introduction to electro-industrial music and to Front Line Assembly and feels very cyberpunk to me – the album is great too. Added bonus: kick-ass video.

Why Can’t I Fall In Love
Ivan Neville
Pump Up The Volume Soundtrack, 1990
This song reminds me of my single days, and my general non-understanding of the mechanics of relationships.

Jeff Waynes / Gary Osborne, The War Of The Worlds (Disc 1), 1978
I’m a huge War of the Worlds nerd. Back in.. 1990? My boss told me he had a musical version of War of the Worlds, I at first didn’t believe him until he lent it to me. I immediately went to Record Runner and special ordered the CD. ThunderChild is my favourite song on the album. Yes, I also bought the ULLAdubULLA remix version of the album in 2000.

Dance Me To The End Of Love
Kate Gibson
Strange Days Soundtrack, 1995
Thanks to Google, I learned that a second Leonard Cohen song has made it on to this list, but again someone else’s version is better; Kate Gibson’s version completely blows me away.

3 A.M. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.)
The White Room, 1991
This song is best served loud.

Fall In The Light
Lori Carson
Strange Days Soundtrack, 1995
This song makes me think of the effect Tracey has had on me, helping me grow, giving me the confidence to try and be a better man, no matter what – “I know you’ll catch me”.

West End Girls
Pet Shop Boys
Discography: The Complete Singles Collection, 1991
This pop song felt like a cold-war song to me, even though it was actually about the class system in the UK.

The Great Gig in the Sky
Pink Floyd
The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973
Pink Floyd has the distinction of being my favourite band – and selecting a specific song of theirs to include was tough, but after much listening, I settled on Great Gig in the Sky, a song that is just a journey to listen to.

Wave Of Mutilation (U.K. Surf)
Pump Up The Volume Soundtrack, 1990
The surf-music feel of this tune got me curious, then hooked me with the overall feel of the song.

Dummy, 1994
Portishead is a band I became a fan of much later than I should have. I love the *sound* of this song. Beth Gibbons’ voice is absolutely stunning. Wandering Star nearly was in this spot.

Stereo MC’s
Hackers Soundtrack, 1992
I’m not sure exactly what they were writing about, but to me, this tune reminds me of days of BBSing, phreaking and non-stop coding.

Moon Over Bourbon Street
The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, 1985
Sting was an influential singer to me *during* the 80s, and this song particularly stuck in my mind over the years. I’d read Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and enjoyed it, and this song nicely summed up the book to me. The song has this pensive feel to it that I really enjoy, with a hint of the New Orleans sound (to me) that I enjoy.

Smells Like Teen Spirit
Tori Amos
Crucify [EP], 1992
The first time I heard Tori Amos was a night back in 1991 when I was up BBS’ing and listening to CHUO. This amazing voice came out of the radio (I know! RADIO). I think that I called the station to find out who it was. Her cover of Nirvana’s signature song amazed me – it was just so different and haunting, making it a long-time fav.

Hackers Soundtrack, 1994
This is probably the ultimate song for hard core coding. Turn off the lights, crank the volume, fire up Textmate with whatever it is I need to work on and bathed in the glow of my monitors, put my brain into gear. I have, in times of need, had this song on repeat for hours. One of the greatest getting things done song of all of time.

YouTube Playlist:

I’d be curious to hear what your twenty pre-2000 songs would be. I should probably start on my *post-2000* list of songs now…

2 thoughts on “Top songs pre-2000”

  1. Really cool list. I’m going to spend some time soon listening to as many as I can. :) I couldn’t imagine doing the same. :$ I don’t have the memory needed nor am I good with names (song, band, or otherwise).

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