165 songs, subjective greatness and a one song review
In regards to my top 500 (currently top 165) songs, someone mentioned that it was nothing more than a list of my favorite songs by a lot of bands. Not so. For instance, I don't think I've ever listened another Urge Overkill song besides Sister Havana (#112). Basically, I am making the list to prove a point - that greatest/best songs/albums lists are completely subjective and no one, especially the prigs at Rolling Stone, can profess to know what the greatest songs ever really are. What defines great, anyhow? Lyrics, music, a combination of the two? Maybe. More likely, what makes a song great to an individual is the feeling one gets when listening to it. Maybe it makes you want to grab your guitar or make out with your girlfriend. Perhaps a great song is one that reminds you of something powerful or poignant. In a case like that, the words and music are great to you, even if they aren't great in the sense that a music critic would hear them. I'm pushing myself to get to 500 songs eventually, because I know damn well there are that many songs that I know all the words to and will actually sing with a smile on my face. That, in a nutshell, makes a song great for me. Also, someone mentioned a generation gap issue. Dude, I was born in 1962. It's not a generation gap, it's a taste gap. Which makes the world go 'round, I suppose. I just laugh at people who question my taste in music when held up against my age. Was I supposed to turn in my metal albums when I reached 40 for some Gordon Lightfoot? If so, I didn't get the memo, so I'll just keep on banging my head to Slayer, thank you. In keeping with the ongoing theme of crap-filled, empty calorie posts, I'll probably review some of my favorite songs as I put them on the list, just for the hell of it and so you can see why Sister Christian works so well for me when it sucks for you. For instance. Weighing in at number 141 is Shellac's Prayer to God.
Now, I'm not a huge Shellac fan. Steve Albini is one of those people who walk the fine line between genius and crap. He's done wonders with The Pixies, The Breeders, Nirvana and Helmet, but his own stuff, particularly Shellac, tends to be so minimilistac that it becomes nothing more than pretentious performance art. Shellac's Prayer to God stands out above anything else the band - or any of Albini's bands - has ever done. It's a striking, bare essence song where the music is not as important as the words or the emphatic singing. Basically, it's a song about a guy who wants two people killed, a guy and girl who, we presume, are a girl who cheated on him and the guy she cheated with. So he prays to God to have them both killed.
To the one true God above: here is my prayer - not the first you've heard, but the first I wrote. (not the first, but the others were a long time ago). There are two people here, and I want you to kill them. Her - she can go quietly, by disease or a blow to the base of her neck, where her necklaces close, where her garments come together, where I used to lay my face... That's where you oughta kill her, in that particular place.This is all sung in a plaintive plea over staccatto guitar bursts. But it's not until the next verse that the song nails its place in my list.
Him - just fucking kill him, I don't care if it hurts. Yes I do, I want it to, fucking kill him but first make him cry like a woman, (no particular woman),Maybe it's my dark sense of humor, I don't know. But the first time I heard this song and that one line - no particular woman - was sung, I thought, that's a genius bit of writing, there. And the song became an instant favorite. Besides that one line, I'm firm believer that you can't go wrong with murder and profanity during times of great stress. Admit it, there have been people in your life that you wanted dead at one point or another. Singing Prayer to God at the appropriate times can be great therapy. Just make sure the kiddies aren't around.