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Old 03-13-2008, 07:30 PM
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20 Songs That Define You

This was an online history assignment, I'm just reposting. Here's my list:

King Crimson- "21st Century Schizoid Man", from In the Court of the Crimson King (1969): This song is basically everything right about progressive rock music: near-dissonant instrumentation, unconventional song structure, odd time signatures, inhuman playing, and that classic saxophone/guitar interplay. If you want to know what prog rock should sound like, start here.

Black Sabbath- "Black Sabbath", from Black Sabbath (1970): In Tony Iommi's heavy-handed chords and Ozzy Osbourne's trembling "What is this that stands before me?", Black Sabbath all but invented the genre of heavy metal within a minute of starting their debut album. Not quite the best Sabbath song (that'd be "War Pigs"), but utterly necessary for the development of the genre.

Pink Floyd- "Echoes", from Meddle (1971): At 23:29, this song is not for the faint of heart, but should you choose to venture into its labyrinthine depths, grab a big pair of Bose headphones, fire up the lava lamp, and prepare for the greatest psychedelic journey you will ever take. You won't regret it.

Van Der Graaf Generator- "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers", from Pawn Hearts (1971): This is another twenty-minute-plus song, and it moves through every possible emotion (and instrument) you could name in that time, all sung over by eccentric VDGG frontman Peter Hamill's uncanny range and vocabulary-enhancing lyrics. An epic if ever there was one.

Genesis- "Supper's Ready", from Foxtrot (1972): You may have noticed a pattern: I love progressive rock, particularly of the early 70s variety. Look no further than this song (my favorite song of all time) to see why. I stumbled upon this song in 8th grade when I thought Genesis was Phil Collins' pop band and was stunned by the band's musicianship, Peter Gabriel's lyrics, and the utter length of the song (another twenty-plus song, this). Truly a masterpiece of the genre.

Jethro Tull- "Thick As A Brick", from Thick As A Brick (1972): Last twenty minute song, I promise! (Although, if you include both sides of the vinyl, this is a forty-five minute song.) Anyhow, this is proof that the flute is one of the greatest instruments ever created. Hilarious sidenote: Ian Anderson wrote a long prog song to be ironic and poke fun at bands who made a habit of it, and accidentally created one of the best long prog songs ever written.

Rush- "Xanadu", from A Farewell to Kings (1977): While many people have trouble getting past Geddy Lee's voice, these people are idiots. This song, lyrically based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan", brings in all of the elements that make Rush one of my favorite bands: the commanding bass lines, the full-bodied chord-driven guitar work, the synthesizer strains, and above all, the unusual and brilliant percussion of Neil Peart. Simply perfect.

The Clash- "London Calling", from London Calling (1979): This song was my original introduction to punk music, and has stood the test of time for me as a fan of the genre. Great lyrics, great punk attitude, and one of the best bass/guitar beats of all time drives this apocalyptic ditty into the upper echelon of punk music, British or otherwise.

Dead Kennedys- "Halloween", from Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982): Jello Biafra is perhaps the only person in so-called show biz whose politics are almost always right. No matter who he calls out or parodies in his punk rock diatribes, he's absolutely correct. "Halloween" is no exception, and sees Biafra laying an ingenius commentary about social regulations over acid-washed chords and a punchy bass line.

Iron Maiden- "Hallowed Be Thy Name", from The Number of the Beast (1982): In 6th grade, I listened to awful music. Just awful, awful music. In the summer before 7th grade, I first heard Iron Maiden, and sold all my old CDs, replacing them with Eddie & Co.'s entire discography. Maiden are still my favorite band, and this song (the pinnacle of heavy metal achievement, in my humble opinion) is the emotional high water mark of the first album of theirs I ever heard.

Queensr˙che- "I Don't Believe in Love", from Operation: Mindcrime (1988): While this is an album mostly dripping with politically-charged anti-Reagan lyrics (which are brilliant, albeit just shy of Jello Biafra's lyrics), "I Don't Believe in Love" takes a moment to stop bashing the Christian Right and start bashing the foolish emotion that we all have succumbed to at one time or another. This song is my official pick-me-up when I get bummed out thanks to the fairer sex.

Collin Raye- "Little Rock", from Extremes (1994): A surprising choice, perhaps: a status quo, mid-90s country song by a singer who doesn't even write his own material. I chose this song because my family bought this album on cassette when it came out back when I was four and played the living hell out of it until I eventually bought the CD just this past summer. This album, and this song in particular, is childhood innocence incarnate, and the memories I've had with it are irreplaceable.

At the Gates- "Blinded By Fear", from Slaughter of the Soul (1995): This was the first death metal song I ever heard, and is symbolic of my eventual fearlessness in exploring new genres. I bought this album after hearing "Blinded By Fear" back in junior high, and it remains one of my ten or so favorite metal albums of all time.

Johnny Cash- "Hurt", from American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002): Johnny Cash is a true-blue American legend, and one of my heroes. Therefore, it seems a little odd to choose a song that he didn't even write to represent him on the list. But the raw emotion and fragility of his life at the time of the recording (he died in 2004) makes this his finest moment, I feel.

Mastodon- "Workhorse", from Remission (2002): Mastodon are the finest band in heavy metal today, and though they only have three full-length releases out, I think history will look back at them as one of the genre's stalwarts. This song is fairly removed from their more recent work, but still has the classic Mastodon elements (not to mention some of their best lyrics), and a driving beat that makes you feel like the song's titular character.

Peter Gabriel- "Signal to Noise", from Up (2002): The ex-Genesis frontman and WOMAD mastermind puts together what may be the most unique song he has ever composed here, with guest vocals from traditional Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali-Khan replacing instrumental solos, and climaxing with an emotional chorus played on cello. This beautiful piece dabbles in world music, electronica, and classic Peter Gabriel prog, and is probably the high point of his storied solo career.

Porcupine Tree- "Trains", from In Absentia (2002): If Mastodon are the finest modern metal band, Porcupine Tree are by far the finest modern prog band. "Trains" is somewhat simplistic compared to the bulk of their material, but the delicate pairing of Steven Wilson's acoustic guitar and bare vocal, paired with excellent lyrics and unbelievable handclap passage makes it undoubtedly their best song.

Clutch- "10001110101", from Robot Hive/Exodus (2005): Clutch were probably the most difficult band on this list to pick a song for, due in no small part to their incomparable consistency. They have never put out a bad record, and have hardly put out a bad song over their seventeen-year career. "10001110101" is classic Clutch: highly cerebral lyrics, whiskey-soaked vocals, Skynyrd-on-acid riffing, driving drums and bass, and prominent Hammond organ. An instant classic.

The Decemberists- "The Island", from The Crane Wife (2006): Thirty-two years later, Jethro Tull create a worthy sequel to "Thick As A Brick" and release it under the pseudonym of The Decemberists! But seriously, the mellotron, acoustic melodies, heavily accented vocal, and penchant for high drama make this one of the best songs of the decade by one of the most talented bands on the planet.

Kenoma- "1913", from Split with Mouth of the Architect (2006): This is easily the most personal song on the list for me, as a friend of the Dayton instrumental quartet's bass player and videographer/director/editor for the video for the song. This song showed me that it doesn't take lyrics for a song to tell a story, and the Great Dayton Flood is beautifully, heart-breakingly recreated in an eight-minute wordless journey into the hearts of the people that rebuilt our community nearly one hundred years ago.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:37 PM
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AC/DC: Big Balls

I'll think of 19 more later.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilpeartjr. View Post
AC/DC: Big Balls

I'll think of 19 more later.
That is my favorite AC/DC song.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:41 PM
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Are we talking songs that describe our personality/outlook on life, or songs that define our taste in music? I'm a bit confused.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerslave_85 View Post
Are we talking songs that describe our personality/outlook on life, or songs that define our taste in music? I'm a bit confused.
Sort of an amalgamation. It was a very vague assignment. I kinda did a sampling of both, leaning towards tastes.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:43 PM
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I see. This could be tough. I'll give it some thought and try to come up with a list later.
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Old 03-13-2008, 09:28 PM
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im confused too, you seem to just be listing your favorite songs and describing what makes them great. (*also i wouldnt rank echoes so high up, that long boring part with the whale noises really takes away from the rest of the song)


edit: *oh i see you ranked them by year, nvm
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Old 03-13-2008, 09:37 PM
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Okay, here we go. These aren't in any kind of order or anything.

Against Me!- "Cliche Guevara"
It's admittedly hard to find a solid modern punk band, but I knew I'd discovered something great as soon as I heard this song. In addition to the wonderfully clever title, this song packs an emotional punch that gets to me everytime, and it's especially powerful in a live setting, with dozens of people pressed up against the stage screaming every single word (I got goosebumps just writing that). Where most punks regard "hope" as a four letter word, this song is brimming with it.

Alkaline Trio- "You've Got So Far To Go"
Alkaline Trio are almost two bands in one: Guitarist Matt Skiba's songs are usually clever and sarcastic, with a little bit of dark humor. Bassist Dan Andriano's tunes, however, are as ernest and emotional as you're likely to find, and "You've Got So Far To Go" is a perfect example. I'd go so far as to say that it's my favorite love song ever: Dan's mournful voice and the wonderful lyrics make it romantic without being sappy.

Bad Religion- "I Wanna Conquer the World"
Ever since I heard this on a Punk-O-Rama compliation in high school, I've regarded it as an example of the perfect punk rock song. Before then, I didn't think that punk could be aggressive and melodic and catchy at the same time. Greg Graffin's extensive vocabulary and lightning-fast delivery and the surprisingly awesome guitar solo both help make this song great, as well. Since then, I've found other Bad Religion songs that I would regard as slightly better, but it's still in my top 10.

Broadway Calls- "Call It Off"
This song just came out last year, but as soon as I heard it I knew that this band was for real, and that they'd be going places. Again, it's a pefect example of how passion and an infectious chorus can combine into a knockout combination, and if you ask me, they represent the future of punk music.

Bruce Springsteen- "Thunder Road"
In my opinion, no discussion of the greatest songwriters is complete without mentioning The Boss. This is a song that I remember from my childhood, but one that I also appreciate as an adult. Springsteen can paint a picture of city life like no one else, and the combination of piano and harmonica in the intro combine and build to a triumphant climax that flawlessly captures the desperate feeling of "If I wanna be someone, I need to get the hell out of this town."

The Clash- "Rudie Can't Fail"
This song has everything that makes London Calling my favorite album of all time. It's very catchy, and the melding of different genres is a microcasm of what this album is all about. There isn't much else I can say about it, other than it's perfect.

Dead Kennedys- "Funland At the Beach"
Some people may think this is an odd choice, as it's not the most famous, most inspired, or most clever song that DK ever produced. After all, it's about someone sabotaging a rollercoaster and thereby killing a bunch of people. But as soon as I heard Jello Biafra gleefully shouting "Crushed little kids, crushed little kids, crushed little kids adorn the boardwalk!!" I started laughing my ass off, and it was in that moment that I knew that this band was just right for me. I don't think it's a stretch to say that my twisted sense of humor is at least a little influenced by this song.

Green Day- "Geek Stink Breath"
Green Day were probably my first big musical obsession. When I bought this album in elementary school, I actually wore out my cassette copy. All of the sudden, I wanted to dye my hair green, buy some Chuck Taylors, and play a guitar that was covered in stickers. It may sound odd to say that Green Day have "riffs," but the riff in this song is brilliant, with its pulsing, angry energy. This is still one of my favorite albums of all time, and this is my favorite song from it.

Hot Water Music- "It's Hard To Know"
It's unlikely that you'll ever hear your philosophy on life spelled out in one song, but for me it's contained in a mere 6 words in this one: "Live your heart and never follow."

Iron Maiden- "Aces High"
Ah, this is where it all began. When a friend of mine handed me a cassette of Powerslave back in my freshman year of high school, I was a little bit hesitant. The first song was weird, and it went against everything I knew about metal at that point: Big, chunky riffs were replaced by melodic, intertwining guitar lines, and instead of a low growl or a tune-less shout like James Hetfield, the singer sounded almost like he belonged in an opera. My skepticism faded because, as a WWII history buff, I loved the lyrics about aerial combat, so I went on to listen to the entire album. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jawbreaker- "Kiss The Bottle"
Like "You've Got So Far To Go," this is another amazing love song, if a bit more depressing than the former. I especially love the line "So I lean on you sometimes, just to see you're still there." Jawbreaker sure can be a downer sometimes, but this song is so great that you'll barely notice.

Lemuria- "Rough Draft"
This is another very recent song, but one that has lyrics that I can really relate to. I think everyone sometimes feels like they put their own feelings aside to benefit others: "I'm an altruist, oh fuck, just this once can I root for the home team?" Musically, it's just as good, with Sheena Ozzella's melodic voice ringing out over the crashing guitars.

Nine Inch Nails- "March of the Pigs"
If you look up "aggression" in the dictionary, you'll find this song listed. Lots of bands try to sound angry, but Trent Reznor's venomous scream of "STEP RIGHT UP! MARCH!! PUSH!! CRAWL RIGHT UP ON YOUR KNEES!!" to start the song makes everyone else sound pathetic.

Propagandhi- "America's Army (Die Jugend Marschiert)"
It takes balls to start a song off with a recording of a Hitler Youth song, but Propagandhi don't really care who they piss off (the song following this one is a blistering mockery of the head of Fat Wreck Chords, which they're signed to). Propagandhi are without a doubt the smartest political band around, and they prove it with this song. It's an extremely clever and absolutely scathing indictment of the US Army's decision to sponsor a video game, America's Army, to use as a recruitment tool and basically show kids that war is just an awesome video game! Told through the perspective of the developer of the game (who is justifying himself to a tour group), it describes the game as a "trojan horse you living idiots paid for, and actually helped roll into your own kids' rooms." Ouch. The way I described it may sound confusing, but check out the lyrics and it'll make more sense. Long story short, this is musical political commentary at its finest.

Sleater-Kinney- "Dig Me Out"
When most people think of female vocalists, they think of soft, non-threatening artists like Sheryl Crow or Norah Jones. But Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney is on a mission to bitch-slap that notion right out of your head with this blazing opening track of the 1997 album of the same name. This song has everything that I adore about this band: the incendiary, feedback-drenched guitar riff, driving rhythm, and of course Corin's banshee-like wail. God, I fucking love this band.

Tegan & Sara- "Nineteen"
On an album full of melancholy relationship songs, "Nineteen" is by far the most devastating. It's a tale of young, naive infatuation, which, of course, ends in heartbreak. The way Tegan sings "Love you, you were all mine, love me, I was yours, right? I was yours, right?" cuts me down to the bone everytime I hear it. If you're getting over a breakup, this is not the song to listen to, unless you want to be reduced to a quivering, sobbing mess.

Metallica- "Four Horsemen"
IMO, the most perfect thrash song ever.

Slayer- "Angel of Death"
I know that this may be a controversial choice because of the song's subject matter, but its musical impact on me was undeniable. Even though I listened to stuff like Megadeth and Metallica in high school, nothing prepared me for the onslaught that I recieved when I picked up this album for the first time. The horrifying lyrics and the sheer insanity and brutality of the music changed the way I looked at metal forever. Even if the lyrics are of debatable taste, the fact remains that, musically, it's metal at its finest.

Opeth- "The Leper Affinity"
My 9th grade science teacher, who also got me into Maiden and 80's punk, sent me a burned copy of Blackwater Park shortly after I graduated high school, and said it would be right up my alley. This was my first exposure to extreme metal and death metal-style vocals, and although my initial reaction was skeptical, I soon took a liking to the complex song structures and intricate guitar playing. I probably wouldn't be into metal as much as I am now without this album and this song.

The Bouncing Souls- "True Believers"
As I got ready to graduate college a few months ago, I felt like this song really characterized how I felt about the friendships I made and the experiences I had, both good and bad: "I've met some people along the way, some of them split, some of them stayed, some of them walk, some walk on by, got a few friends I'll love till I die. From all these people I tried to learn, some of them shined, some of them burned, some of them rise, some of them fall, for good or bad I know them all." Amen to that. The fact that it's a rowdy and catchy sing along doesn't hurt, either.
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Old 03-14-2008, 05:37 AM
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I would also think that a list of songs that "define you" should, more than just being groovy songs, say something about who you are.

If I had more time these days I'd put together a list; I like these kinds of assignments. My list would include:

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - Flaming Lips
Space Oddity - David Bowie
Willing to Fight - Ani Difranco
Come on Up to the House - Tom Waits
Children of the Damned - Iron Maiden

It would take a while to explain why, though. And I'd have to think about the rest. Maybe I'll have time for it in July.
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Old 03-14-2008, 06:12 AM
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See, I thought it was more to "define us" as people as well, but our teacher posted his example list, and most of the songs were justified as being there with sentences like "This song as a really good chorus" and "The solo here is just awesome." So I think he kinda went back on his word
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