music friday: 1998

Bob Dylan, "Like a Rolling Stone". An obvious cheat ... the video is from 1966, the famous "Judas" version. The concert was officially released in 1998. Play fucking loud, indeed.

Madonna, "Ray of Light". At 40, she reinvents herself again, and makes arguably her best album in a decade that isn't called The Immaculate Collection.

Lauryn Hill, "Doo Wop (That Thing)". Her first post-Fugees solo album turned out to be her one and only studio album (so far).

Neutral Milk Hotel, "Holland, 1945". Their second album turned out the be their last studio album (so far). Jeff Mangum has gone on to other things, none of which includes a solo studio album.

Lucinda Williams, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road". There are some divas on this list ... Madonna and Cher come to mind. Lucinda Williams is the anti-diva: she drips authenticity.

OutKast, "Rosa Parks". OutKast had a tremendous series of albums to start their career. This song got them sued by Rosa Parks.

Air, "All I Need". The opposite of OutKast, Air's first album was their best. I'm just making this up, I have nothing to say about this band.

Brandy and Monica, "The Boy Is Mine". Brandy is Snoop Dogg's cousin. Monica released an album, All Eyez on Me, with the same title as a Tupac album.

Cher, "Believe". I told you there were divas on this list. She's the only who was in her 50s at the time. This wasn't the first time Auto-Tune raised its head, but it's the one we remember.

Massive Attack, "Teardrop". A.K.A. " Theme from House".

Spotify playlist:

music friday: 1997

Joe Posnanski got an entire blog post from a tweet that asked, "What are your favorite opening lines in songs?"

Radiohead, "Paranoid Android". "Please could you stop the noise?"

Cornershop, "Brimful of Asha". "There's dancing behind movie scenes."

Missy Elliott, "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)". "Me I'm supa fly, supa dupa fly."

Sleater-Kinney, "One More Hour". "In one more hour I will be gone."

Erykah Badu, "Tyrone". "I'm gettin' tired of your shit."

Blur, "Song 2". "Woo-hoo!"

Daft Punk, "Around the World". "Around the world."

The Notorious B.I.G., "Hypnotize". "Hah, sicker than your average Poppa twist cabbage off instinct."

Natalie Imbruglia, "Torn". "I thought I saw a man brought to life."

Björk, "All Is Full of Love". "You'll be given love."

music friday: 1996

The Prodigy, "Firestarter". Kim Deal got a songwriting credit for this.

Blackstreet, "No Diggity". Ended a 14-week run of "Macarena" atop the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Fugees, "Ready or Not". Barack Obama's favorite song, was #1 in Iceland.

Patti Smith, "Summer Cannibals". Video directed by Robert Frank.

Jay-Z, "Dead Presidents". Jay-Z's first charting single.

Fiona Apple, "Criminal". Won a Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance.

Iris DeMent, "Wasteland of the Free". Living in the wasteland of the free, where the poor have now become the enemy.

Busta Rhymes, "Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check". Chuck D gave him his name.

Erykah Badu, "On and On". Won a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

Beck, "Where It's At". I got two turntables and a microphone.

Here's a favorite 1996 song of mine that happens to also have a great video. Check out that backwards dancing!

No Jay-Z on this Spotify playlist.

music friday: 1995

Pulp, "Common People". Named the greatest Britpop song of all time by Rolling Stone. Later covered by William Shatner.

Alanis Morissette, "You Oughta Know". Spent 5 weeks at #1 on the Alternative charts. Later covered by Britney Spears.

2Pac, "California Love". Joe Cocker also knows how to party. No one covered this that I know of, although since there are at least 7 2Pac versions, covers aren't really needed.

Oasis, "Wonderwall". According to ChartMasters, Wonderwall is the most streamed pre-2000 song on Spotify. Later covered by Paul Anka.

Tricky, "Black Steel". In this case, we're looking at the cover version. The original, "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" by Public Enemy, is from It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back".

PJ Harvey, "Down by the Water". Her biggest hit in the U.S. No covers I'm aware of, but it was featured on Beavis and Butthead.

Bruce Springsteen, "The Ghost of Tom Joad". To an extent, this video represents Bruce covering himself. The original was mostly acoustic. Later it was covered by Rage Against the Machine. Finally, Rage guitarist Tom Morello joined Bruce and the E Street Band for this version, which to my mind is easily the best.

Coolio, "Gangsta's Paradise". This is something of a cover version itself, given how heavily it samples Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise". Wonder even gets a songwriting credit. According to the inescapable Wikipedia, there are no profanities, because Wonder wouldn't have it.

Jewel, "Who Will Save Your Soul". At last, my cover version conceit is defeated ... I don't think anyone ever covered this. So I'm left with this anecdote: in 1995, I saw Jewel open for the next act on this list.

Liz Phair, "Whip-Smart". She headlined a show I saw in 1995 that featured Jewel as the opening act. Borrows from Malcolm McLaren's "Double Dutch".

music friday: 1994

Oasis, "Live Forever". If this was 1995, I'd include "Don't Look Back in Anger" for the English soccer team.

The Cranberries, "Zombie". The video at the link has been viewed more than 739 million times. As I type this, that is.

The Notorious B.I.G., "Juicy". The first single from Biggie's debut.

Hole, "Violet". I can never remember which Hole song is which. "Violet", "Doll Parts", "Miss World", they're all on Live Through This, right? To me, this song is called "GO ON TAKE EVERYTHING!"

Nirvana, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?". Between Biggie and Kurt, there's a lot of wasted talent on this list.

TLC, "Waterfalls". I didn't do this on purpose, but death is just overwhelming here. Add Left Eye to the list with Biggie and Kurt, and Dolores while you're at it.

Green Day, "Basket Case". Dookie was a massive hit, with Green Day an East Bay version of the Ramones circa 1975, if that band had signed with a major label. The Mr. T Experience was just as deserving of this massive popularity, but that isn't to say that Dookie is a bad album. It's terrific. Recorded half-a-mile from my house at Fantasy Records, aka The House That Creedence Built. But if you had told me in 1994 that one day Green Day would record a punk rock opera that sold 16 million copies worldwide and was made into a musical that played on Broadway and they would end up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ... well, I wouldn't have believed you.

Goldie, "Inner City Life". This is drum 'n' bass.

Elastica, "Connection". They only made two albums, five years apart. I'm not sure the second one was released in the States ... at least, I can't find any chart information on it. Remembered as the song where part of it was "borrowed" from a Wire song (they apparently took care of it in court). Me, when I play this song, I hear Corin Tucker in "You're No Rock n' Roll Fun".

Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah". The problem is, we've all heard this song too many times, usually stuck atop some scene in a movie or TV show. It's hard to remove ourselves from the song's ubiquity. Buckley's version is one of the best, and fairly straightforward. The familiarity of the song means nowadays you need something that can take us out of the realm of the familiar. One of those times came on Saturday Night Live, when, in a week where Leonard Cohen died and Donald Trump became president, Kate McKinnon, in her Hillary Clinton outfit, sat at a piano and sang "Hallelujah" to open the episode.

And damn, Jeff Buckley died young, too. Dolores O'Riordan, 46. Biggie Smalls, 24. Kurt Cobain, 27. Lisa Lopes, 30. Jeff Buckley, 30. That's half the list. 

music friday: 1993

Beck, "Loser".

PJ Harvey, "Rid of Me". I've been known to spend half an hour or more just watching various clips of PJ singing this song live on YouTube.

Wu-Tang Clan, "C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)".

Smashing Pumpkins, "Today".

Björk, "Human Behaviour".

Snoop Dogg, "(Who Am I? (What's My Name?)". When this song came out, it seemed like they played it on the radio every ten minutes. Which was fine with me ... I'd just crank it up and listen to the (sampled) bass line.

James, "Laid". I love watching videos of big festivals, especially from Europe, because a old band can sing their old hit(s), and the fans love it, young and old.

Sheryl Crow, "All I Wanna Do". She was 31 when her debut album was released.

Cypress Hill, "Insane in the Brain". The source for the sample at the very end is surprising. At least they gave the guy a co-songwriting credit. "All Over the World"

Sarah McLachlan, "Possession". Compare to Sheryl Crow ... this song comes from her third album, released when she was 25.

Hey, I'm controlling myself, I'm only posting two. Here is PJ Harvey on the Jay Leno show in 1993:

music friday: 1992

Radiohead, "Creep". I'm one of those Don't Get Radiohead geezers. But I love this song.

Dr. Dre, "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang". Dangerous, because Dre's music sounds so good, and Snoop's rapping sounds so good, and that's fine until you actually listen to the lyrics.

PJ Harvey, "Sheela Na Gig". You exhibitionist.

Bruce Springsteen, "If I Should Fall Behind". Took on added meaning after the E Street Reunion. On the last day of the last lecture class I ever taught, I played this video at the end.

k.d. lang, "Constant Craving". When she went from Patsy Cline to  Julie London.

The Pharcyde, "Passin' Me By". You do not know me but I know you very well.

Sophie B. Hawkins, "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover". Surprised by the Led Zeppelin sample?

Mary J. Blige, "Real Love". Hip hop soul.

Body Count, "Cop Killer". Law and Order.

The Cure, "Friday I'm in Love". For me, the difference between The Cure and Radiohead is that with The Cure, I like more than one song.

Bonus: What Bruce Springsteen actually sounded like in 1992. He toured with the unfairly maligned Other Band. Maligned because the albums he was touring behind weren't as popular/good as what came before. Maligned especially because they weren't The E Street Band. We saw him twice with this band ... they were fine.

 A disappointing Spotify playlist ... missing Dre and Body Count. 

20 faves #19: sleater-kinney, dig me out

19th of 20, roughly by chronology.

I didn't realize this would become a mini-theme, but once again, I pick an album that meant the most to me personally over albums that I might think of as "better". I've written way too much about this band ... not sure what I could add at the moment. Suffice to say that they are my favorite band since this album came out in 1997, and were already approaching that status by then. I've mentioned seeing many of the acts on this list multiple times ... since I first saw this group, I've seen them 15 times, only one less time than I've seen Bruce Springsteen during that period (and I've seen 7 or 8 shows featuring members of the band in "side projects"). The Woods could easily be on this list. That's an album remarkable for being arguably their best, ten years after their first, seven albums in. But Dig Me Out won my heart. And there has never been a better breakup song than "One More Hour".

Dig me out

20 faves #18: hüsker dü, new day rising

18th of 20, roughly by chronology.

I chose Dirty Mind over later, perhaps "better", Prince albums because it has a special place in my life. If I were going by the same concept, this 18th album would be Zen Arcade, which I played over and over. Still play it, especially "Turn on the News", one of Grant Hart's best (my fave of his remains "Sorry, Somehow", for the way he sings, "You're making me sorry, sorry somehow, AND I'M NOT SORRY!"). But New Day Rising gets my vote. It's not as sprawling as Zen Arcade, and while Hüsker Dü played in more than one style, the overwhelming sonic power is best when compacted into what we used to call a single disc. The opening cut and title track is in some ways the ultimate Hüsker track ... the entire lyrics being "New day rising" repeated over and over atop a noise squall ... if nothing else, that one must have imprinted itself on my kids' brains, I bet if I mentioned Hüsker Dü to them now, in their 40s, they'd say "New Day Rising!". And there's my favorite of all favorite Hüsker Dü songs, the one I quote regularly because it's the story of my life, but I can't really get it in words, because like with Grant in "Sorry, Somehow", Bob Mould's vocals are crucial:

So now sit around we're staring at the walls
We don't do anything at all
Take out the garbage, maybe, BUT THE DISHES DON'T GET DONE!!!!!!!!

My wife, who loved the Ramones, never liked Hüsker Dü, because of the noise. I'd tell her that they wrote great pop songs, just like the Ramones, and they were loud, just like the Ramones, but she'd say they were just noise. She was probably right. For me, though, the way the sound of the instruments all bleed into each other is the primary appeal.

New day rising

music friday: 1991

Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit". I saw Pink perform this song earlier this year. She did a very straightforward version, which only shows that the original is already perfect.

The Geto Boys, "Mind Playing Tricks on Me". As important to rap music as "Teen Spirit" was to grunge.

Bonnie Raitt, "I Can't Make You Love Me". 1989's Nick of Time was supposedly her comeback, and it did indeed reach #1 and win a lot of Grammys. But Luck of the Draw was a much better album.

The Feelies, "Sooner or Later". I preferred their previous album, Only Life, but I saw them in 1991 (second time, first being in '89), so they're just fine right here.

A Tribe Called Quest, "Scenario". Ladies and gentlemen, Busta Rhymes.

Saint Etienne, "Nothing Can Stop Us". I'm not entirely sure how two songs from the same album ended up on two different Music Friday lists, but whatever. This was their first release with Sarah Cracknell.

fIREHOSE, "Flyin' the Flannel". They headlined that 1991 show with The Feelies. I think the wrong band was headlining.

Naughty by Nature, "O.P.P.". Even with all of the other great songs from his year (including a few on this list), I'm not sure any record puts us right back in 1991 better than this one.

Eg & Alice, "Indian". Confession: I've never heard of these folks.

My Bloody Valentine, "Only Shallow". If we're to believe Christgau, this was an almost-great band. His grades for their first four albums (one an EP): A- A- A- A-.

Spotify playlist ... a couple of songs weren't available, so I added two surprises.