Last week we were cruising around town, and, as is typical, I was in charge of providing the tunes for our drive—Kathleen, with the working eyes, naturally was in charge of the driving. Everything on the radio was terrible (D.C. radio is exceptionally shitty, FYI), so I took out my phone and put on a playlist I’d recently created on Spotify.
Weirdly, though, I couldn’t settle on a song to listen to. It was a playlist I’d created, but I nevertheless found myself skipping tracks in a futile attempt to find a song that would hold my interest.
A couple days later, thinking about my musical restlessness, I wondered whether I could create a Spotify playlist filled with songs I’d never want to skip over. A playlist that, no matter my mood, I would always enjoy. A playlist, in other words, filled with my favorite songs of all-time.
This turned out to be a somewhat daunting task, though a pretty fun one. It was interesting trying to remember the songs that have stuck with me, for whatever reason, and to think about which songs hold special memories or nostalgia. Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen, for example, was the first song I learned how to play on guitar specifically for Kathleen and is strongly associated with one of the best times of my life when we met seven years ago. As a far weirder example, The Scorpions’ Wind of Change made the list because I have a very powerful memory of hearing it every morning when I took the bus to school, way back when I was like seven years old. And before you ask: no, Ed Sheeran did not make the list.
The flipside of making this list was also interesting—thinking of songs I’d once loved but now can’t stand. Most of the songs I performed back when I played music for a living are songs I’d liked but would now rather never hear again. Pretty much the entire Sublime catalogue, along with most Tom Petty songs, are dead to me now. There are a couple entire albums I can’t stand to hear even a minute of now because they are strongly associated with my ex, who was an absolute nightmare of a person.
As part of this process, I decided to see if I could identify my top five absolute favorite songs of all-time. After much deliberation, I managed it, and I present them to you, right here.
Number 5: Close My Eyes – The Slackers
The Slackers are a band I’ve loved for over ten years now, and a band I actually partied with on one memorable occasion. I can’t say what it is about this song that makes it one of my favorites, other than I absolutely never, ever skip it when it comes on.
Number 4: Thick As A Brick – Jethro Tull
I guess you can argue that this is more of a favorite album rather than a favorite song, as all the songs on this record are connected in one massive prog rock extravaganza. But the whole thing is just so damned good—from the classical and melodic main theme, through the crazy jammin’ rock keyboard solos. Kathleen’s parents were kind enough to give us their old record player a couple years back, and this was one of the first records we bought, and the one that’s spent the most time spinning under the needle.
Number 3: Next To You – The Police
Another more recent obsession; we now own all the Police records. This song—the first track on their first album—stands out to me as their best.
Number Two: The Boxer – Simon & Garfunkel
To me, Paul Simon is the single greatest songwriter of all-time. His ability to create complex harmonies and memorable melodies, all on top of very simple and straight forward chord progressions, is unsurpassed. If I expanded this to a top ten list, you’d find many more Paul Simon songs at the top of my all-time favorites.
Number 1: Subdivisions – Rush
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows us. Kathleen and I love Rush, and I’m sure you wouldn’t be shocked to learn that around 30 Rush songs made it on my all-time favorites playlist. Subdivisions, while by no means the most epic of their songs, has always been my favorite. There’s something about the haunting quality of the synth solo that’s always grabbed me, and it just seems like the perfect combination of interesting rhythm and memorable melody, which are the key ingredients in any great song.
There you have it—a sampling of my favorite songs ever. Share your top five favorite songs in the comments, and go build your own awesome playlist!