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1,001 songs to listen to before you die...


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yeah, I like "Hurt", and seeing NIN play it live on the With Teeth tour will always stand out as a spine-tingling memory for me, but I don't recall anyone really talking about it as a great Nine Inch Nails song before Johnny Cash did his version. "Closer", "Terrible Lie", "Piggy" or "Head Like A Hole" feel more fitting.

"All Apologies" is a great song, but I grow wearier and wearier of the MTV Unplugged session as I get older. It's not indicative of who Nirvana were, and really feels like a conscious effort to try and shape the band even more as "Kurt Cobain + Friends", with Kurt in the role of a singer-songwriter more than a frontman. It's telling that it wasn't really seen as anything special until after his death.

I absolutely can't stand Oasis. Never could.

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No update, but this is just a thank you to everyone who has got involved with this. Been a really enjoyable way to spend my time and look forward to finishing things off at the start of 2021.

In a perfect world, I'd have wrapped this all up in a year. I still could...yet my wife is due to give birth on Monday/Tuesday, so my priorities might be somewhere else for a little while. I appr

Liam really summarized Love Will Tear Us Apart brilliantly. I love that song, it helped get me through basic training (obviously I had to play it my head, thank you Andy Dufresne).  I personally

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11 minutes ago, Skummy said:

yeah, I like "Hurt", and seeing NIN play it live on the With Teeth tour will always stand out as a spine-tingling memory for me, but I don't recall anyone really talking about it as a great Nine Inch Nails song before Johnny Cash did his version. "Closer", "Terrible Lie", "Piggy" or "Head Like A Hole" feel more fitting.

"All Apologies" is a great song, but I grow wearier and wearier of the MTV Unplugged session as I get older. It's not indicative of who Nirvana were, and really feels like a conscious effort to try and shape the band even more as "Kurt Cobain + Friends", with Kurt in the role of a singer-songwriter more than a frontman. It's telling that it wasn't really seen as anything special until after his death.

I absolutely can't stand Oasis. Never could.

Yeah this articulates a lot of the post-mortem around Nirvana that bugs me. Like, I'm not disputing Cobain was a truly special, singular talent but the media framing of the band has been all built around the struggles of Kurt Cobain. We're supposed to feel sad that he's gone, obviously, but it's so heavy-handed in the way the Unplugged session is used to constantly drive that point home.

I think it's why I went through a phase where I kind of distanced myself from Nirvana. I was like "they can't possibly have been as great as I'm being told to believe they were". Then you hear them live, listen to their studio albums, or watch interviews with them and you're reminded that as much as MTV, et al attempted to deify Cobain in death they were truly a phenomenal rock band and not simply the vehicle of this tortured genius singer-songwriter.

And, man, I just really fucking hate the endless exploitation of Kurt Cobain's death at the expense of ever celebrating his life.

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7 Seconds is cool. I had no idea that was Youssou NDour!

I don’t really like Oasis but I can get along with Live Forever. It packs in plenty of hooks and does its job. 

Pavement! The first of these mumbling alt rock 80s/90s bands that I actually like! Although Cut Your Hair is nothing special. It is quite quintessential though, so I can understand why it’s here.

Completely agree with Skummy on Nirvana Unplugged. I know there was a bit of a cult around this idea in the 90s, that playing your songs quieter or with your eyes closed or at a slower pace somehow made them more “raw” or “meaningful”. For my money it just made them more boring. You can’t really separate Nirvana from the noise. The noise is what made them great. The version of All Apologies on In Utero is great. The unplugged version has the musicality and excitement of a pig snuffling in the dirt for acorns.

I never really got into Nine Inch Nails. That might have been because I first discovered them in the mid 2000s when they were making songs that sounded a bit like Linkin Park and I was never able to shake that perception. Hurt is okay and I get why people think it is good, but it still sounds a bit like Linkin Park to me. 

 

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7 minutes ago, metalman said:

Completely agree with Skummy on Nirvana Unplugged. I know there was a bit of a cult around this idea in the 90s, that playing your songs quieter or with your eyes closed or at a slower pace somehow made them more “raw” or “meaningful”.

I don't know if I've remembered this correctly, but my understanding is that Nirvana Unplugged was a bit of a non-event - MTV were pissed off that Nirvana were being difficult by refusing to play the hits, and doing all these weird Meat Puppets and Vaselines covers instead, so didn't really plug it that hard or play it on repeat as often as other episodes. After Cobain died, it was pretty much never off the air, and it was released posthumously as an album basically because people were hungry for Nirvana material - that it was Nirvana material that also cast Kurt Cobain in the role of troubled folkster only added to it.

The performance of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" is, for Kurt's vocals, admittedly brilliant, but it's really functionally identical to Mark Lanegan's version. And that's the thing with the covers, or even the reinterpretations of Nirvana material - they're not really doing anything special with it, just playing it quieter. 

 

Overall, it's just the posthumous reimagining of Nirvana as The Kurt Cobain Show that bugs me. They always fought against that during his lifetime, and if you listen to live recordings they were an absolute force - because they were a tight band, and because they were noisy and loud, and had a great rhythm section. They weren't just Kurt Cobain + Two Others, but outside of Everett True's excellent biography of the band, you'd never know that from the discourse around Kurt Cobain after the fact.

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It is interesting to me having grown up always listening to Nirvana to see how Kurt Cobain has been idolized. My father was a huge Nirvana fan. I put on Nevermind a month ago and I knew every song despite not listening to it for 5+ years. My father constantly played Nevermind. However, my father did not really like the MTV set and would never play it. Part of it was my dad is not a fan of acoustic sets. But he would always make comments about the glorification of Kurt Cobain and his death.

I have no real hot takes on Nirvana - I like them, but I think their significant in music is vastly overrated and the focus on Kurt Cobain is unnecessary. The interesting things about Nirvana are the guitar, bass and drums in my opinion. Take a song like Breed - the guitar, bass and drums are out of this world. I find that the case with every Nirvana song. Kurt is a really good front man, but the band as a unit is exceptional. 

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I like Unplugged but I do echo the sentiments about the mythmaking surrounding it being frustrating. In a lot of ways it felt like the band was using it as a roadmap for people who checked it out to listen to other stuff they might not have heard and I like it, sometimes I'm in the mood to hear those songs but quieter, but it's really just a neat acoustic set rather than something that really reflects the band. Also, I don't really like the Meat Puppets (I listened to the album that the songs they cover here are on for 1001 Albums last month and had a real bad time), so that's a problem. If they were committed to just two spots for Nirvana I'd probably have used the second on "About a Girl," though I do like both versions of "All Apologies" and I get why they went the way they went.

"Hurt" instead of "Closer" is also not the call I'd have made, yeah. In a lot of ways much of the '90s rock choices feel like "you've heard _______ but maybe you haven't heard _______," like they know the age of the audience that was going to buy the book upon release (it's like ten years old now) and who they might be buying it for.

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39 minutes ago, GoGo Yubari said:

I like Unplugged but I do echo the sentiments about the mythmaking surrounding it being frustrating. In a lot of ways it felt like the band was using it as a roadmap for people who checked it out to listen to other stuff they might not have heard and I like it, sometimes I'm in the mood to hear those songs but quieter, but it's really just a neat acoustic set rather than something that really reflects the band. Also, I don't really like the Meat Puppets (I listened to the album that the songs they cover here are on for 1001 Albums last month and had a real bad time), so that's a problem. If they were committed to just two spots for Nirvana I'd probably have used the second on "About a Girl," though I do like both versions of "All Apologies" and I get why they went the way they went.

"Hurt" instead of "Closer" is also not the call I'd have made, yeah. In a lot of ways much of the '90s rock choices feel like "you've heard _______ but maybe you haven't heard _______," like they know the age of the audience that was going to buy the book upon release (it's like ten years old now) and who they might be buying it for.

Spoiler but... there are three Nirvana songs! 

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In a perfect world, I'd have wrapped this all up in a year. I still could...yet my wife is due to give birth on Monday/Tuesday, so my priorities might be somewhere else for a little while.

I appreciate all of the discussion btw. Adds colour to what are my largely generic comments about music.

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20 hours ago, GoGo Yubari said:

Oh! I'm up to 1999 myself so I'm pretty sure I know which one it has to be. More on that in 2021 then, probably.

I'm excited for the late 2000s because if people are perplexed by some of the 90s picks... Just everyone wait!

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7 hours ago, Liam said:

In a perfect world, I'd have wrapped this all up in a year. I still could...yet my wife is due to give birth on Monday/Tuesday, so my priorities might be somewhere else for a little while.

I appreciate all of the discussion btw. Adds colour to what are my largely generic comments about music.

Congrats!

Take your time. Nobody ever finishes their EWB projects anyway.

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15 hours ago, Liam said:

In a perfect world, I'd have wrapped this all up in a year. I still could...yet my wife is due to give birth on Monday/Tuesday, so my priorities might be somewhere else for a little while.

I appreciate all of the discussion btw. Adds colour to what are my largely generic comments about music.

This is one of the best topics we've had in yonks and it doesn't work at all without the amount of graft you've been putting in. Take your time and don't worry about it.

And congrats!

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15 hours ago, Liam said:

In a perfect world, I'd have wrapped this all up in a year. I still could...yet my wife is due to give birth on Monday/Tuesday, so my priorities might be somewhere else for a little while.

I appreciate all of the discussion btw. Adds colour to what are my largely generic comments about music.

How exciting! 

Also, nobody's ever named a child after me before. Just saying.

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806.      

‘Black Hole Sun’, Soundgarden (1994)

Influenced by: Tomorrow Never Knows • The Beatles (1966)   

Influence on: Blown Wide Open • Big Wreck (1997)   

Covered by: The Moog Cookbook (1996) • Judith Owen (2003) • Rachel Z (2004) • Copeland (2006) • Tre Lux (2006) • Peter Frampton (2006)

I’ll preface this by saying that Chris Cornell probably sits second on my list of favourite singers of all time, nestled in behind Mike Patton. When I think about that, it does surprise me in some ways as I’ve never been the hugest fan of all the bands he has been attached to. I’ve liked a number of songs individually, yet rarely spent too much time on Soundgarden/Audioslave’s albums. Pushing that aside, this is probably the ‘best’ Soundgarden song – overplay has probably lessened its impact, but it is the one that most fully realised their poppier sensibilities alongside their noise. I’m not sure it would sit high in a Soundgarden fan’s list of top songs due to the aforementioned overplay, but for many it is THE Soundgarden song.

807.      

‘Interstate Love Song’, Stone Temple Pilots (1994)

Influenced by: I Got a Name • Jim Croce (1973)   

Influence on: My Own Prison • Creed (1997)   

Covered by: Hootie & the Blowfish (1998) • Velvet Revolver (2007) • Brad Mehldau (2009)   

Other key tracks: Plush (1992) • Lounge Fly (1994) Vasoline (1994) • Sour Girl (1999)

I love this song personally, but when your main ‘influence on’ is a Creed song, I can see why people’s mileage will definitely vary. Whatever thoughts are about STP and Scott Weiland, this to me is just a really good rock song with lyrics that speak to a tortured man battling his demons. The issues of their debut and suggestions they were a Pearl Jam rip-off or grunge wannabes aren’t completely put to bed by this song, yet it is enough of a departure to show they had some chops of their own. I’m also a pretty big fan of Weiland’s voice and he carries his end of the bargain throughout the song, moving from raspier rock to a croony chorus.

808.      

‘Waterfalls’, TLC (1994)

Influenced by: Waterfalls • Paul McCartney (1980)   

Influence on: Stole • Kelly Rowland (2002)   

Covered by: New Mind (2000) • Steve Poltz (2003)   

Other key tracks: Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg (1992) • Creep (1994) • Diggin’ on You (1994) • No Scrubs (1999) • Unpretty (1999)

This is one of the earliest songs I remember knowing. I would have been around eight at the time, so I’m sure I knew songs before this but there a few that I have such a distinct memory of hearing on the radio from time to time. More emotional than sexy when compared to their other songs up to this date, ‘Waterfalls’ presented TLC as a potentially more mature act who had a wider emotional reach, whilst lyrics about not getting involved in ganges and practising safe sex showed them trying to be role models for their young fans. Guest vocals were provided by CeeLo Green apparently, something I very much had no idea about. A song of my childhood that is good anyway, but gets the old nostalgia bump that is for sure.

809.      

‘Cornflake Girl’, Tori Amos (1994)

Influenced by: Hounds of Love • Kate Bush (1985)   

Influence on: Fidelity • Regina Spektor (2006)  

Covered by: Jawbox (1996) • Tripod (2007) • Imogen Heap (2010)   

Other key tracks: Sister Janet (1994) • Daisy Dead Petals (1994) • All the Girls Hate Her (1994)

A song that I have been aware of by name, yet I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually listened to it. This feels very otherworldly, from the jangly percussive moments to the higher pitched chorus vocals, whilst the lyrics tackle weighty issues such as female genital mutilation and how women can let other women down in society. Notwithstanding what could be a challenging topic, this is quite enjoyable all in all, with some excellent piano throughout.

810.      

‘Hallelujah’, Jeff Buckley (1994)

There is a debate that could be thrown out there that ‘Hallelujah’ as a song is one of the best of all time. That it has been covered so many times, with lyrics that allow myriad different takes and interpretations, only serves to bolster that potential theory. This was my first version of the song and the one that still retains its place as my favourite. It is a showcase for Buckley’s voice, sitting amongst a number of other excellent songs on ‘Grace’, one of my personal favourite albums of all time. However, the kudos also needs to go to Leonard Cohen, for creating a song that feels so timeless and moving.

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Oh you're back! 

I quite like Soundgarden. I used to have very little interest in them but they've grown on me in the last two years. That being said, I've never really been too keen on Black Hole Sun. It starts off pretty good but the last two minutes is just this interminable dirge. Needs editing.

This Stone Temple Pilots one is okay. Again a bit of a dirge though. The singer's voice annoys me a bit but this doesn't surprise me because I've already heard that WHEEEEEYEEEEEN THE DOGS BEGIN TO SMELL HER WILL SHE SMELL ALOOOOOOWAAAHOOOAAAAHONE.

Waterfalls is a remarkable song. TLC were great and this is probably their best. HOW ON EARTH is it inspired by Waterfalls by Paul McCartney though? Because they both say don't go chasing waterfalls? Because that's about it. The McCartney one is a nice little song too, mind you.

I don't really like this Tori Amos song.

Grace is a really good album but I've never been mad keen on Hallelujah. It's a bit much. I don't really like any iteration of the song really. The Leonard Cohen one is fine I guess and if I were pushed to name a second best it probably would be Jeff B, but this is really a song that just needs to go away.

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Out of all that, I really like Cornflake Girl. I like her voice a lot, i had a lot of friends growing up that really liked her but I never really listened a lot. I heard more of her from my wife and she's really talented, this song in particular is what made me appreciate her more.

1 hour ago, Bobfoc said:

I didn't realise Waterfalls was as old as that. I must be misremembering when I first heard it.

Same, not that its a huge difference but I really thought that was 96 or 97.

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On 26/11/2020 at 10:21, Skummy said:

yeah, I like "Hurt", and seeing NIN play it live on the With Teeth tour will always stand out as a spine-tingling memory for me, but I don't recall anyone really talking about it as a great Nine Inch Nails song before Johnny Cash did his version. "Closer", "Terrible Lie", "Piggy" or "Head Like A Hole" feel more fitting.

"All Apologies" is a great song, but I grow wearier and wearier of the MTV Unplugged session as I get older. It's not indicative of who Nirvana were, and really feels like a conscious effort to try and shape the band even more as "Kurt Cobain + Friends", with Kurt in the role of a singer-songwriter more than a frontman. It's telling that it wasn't really seen as anything special until after his death.

I absolutely can't stand Oasis. Never could.

Johnny Cash owned "Hurt", just like Jimi Hendrix owned "All Along the Watchtower", which Dylan himself even said.

Was not a fan of the Nivana Unplugged to begin with. And completely agree with you, Skummy. Strangely, the one I really enjoyed that was also out of place was the Alice In Chains one, and Layne was high the entire performance.

Oasis....meh. I get the hate, especially with the brothers' attitudes and egos, which were a nasty mix. Personally, I only like two of their songs: "Live Forever" and "Champagne Supernova".

I know Black Hole Sun was Soundgarden's most commercially successful song, but I like "Spoonman" more.

And, after listening to TLC's "Waterfalls", go listen to Ludicris' "Splash Waterfalls". The unedited version. :shifty:

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I'm not the biggest fan of "Black Hole Sun" compared to some other Soundgarden songs but it does feel like when they realized their sound. Down on the Upside is a lot more of them trying to recapture "Black Hole Sun" than the sludge and noise of their earlier songs.

Stone Temple Pilots are fairly maligned for being the forefathers of arena alt-rock. But they had some decent songs. "Interstate Love Song" is one of their good radio hits but, yeah, I don't seek it out otherwise.

"Waterfalls" is great because TLC are great. They should have 3-4 songs that make this list but I have my doubts that'll be the case. "Waterfalls" is one of the best choices they could have made.

Meh, Tori Amos.

Grace is a fantastic album but "Hallelujah" just pales in comparison to Leonard Cohen's. There's many other great Buckley songs they could have picked but they went with the obvious one.

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"Lover, You Should've Come Over" would have been a "we're picking the song that we think is better over the song that's more culturally relevant" pick for Jeff Buckley that I would have been 100% for. "Hallelujah" is a song that I just barely want to hear any rendition of anymore, even the ones I think are good (which is basically just Cohen, Cale, and Buckley).

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4 hours ago, GoGo Yubari said:

"Lover, You Should've Come Over" would have been a "we're picking the song that we think is better over the song that's more culturally relevant" pick for Jeff Buckley that I would have been 100% for.

Yeah, it feels like the '90s are really just going for hits/obvious choices, rather than the "must hear before you die" idea, and I'd have gone with Lover as well. I don't know if I could categorically say that it was Buckley's best song, but it's certainly his most mature, creatively and emotionally, for such a young artist.

I grew up on Soundgarden - my half-brother is nine years older than me, and was a teenager at the height of grunge, so most of my earliest musical memories come from him, and Soundgarden were his number one band. We had a pet cockatiel that whistled Black Hole Sun. That said, as a song, this one doesn't do that much for me. It's interesting in parts, but I agree with metalman that it sort of loses its way and becomes a bit of a dirge. 
Aside, but when my brother's flat was broken into, they stole his entire CD collection except "Euphoria Morning" by Chris Cornell.

I don't like Stone Temple Pilots. I associate them too much with the post-Pearl Jam arse end of grunge stuff that begat Creed, Puddle of Mudd et al. Yarl Farm.

Waterfalls is brilliant, I love TLC. I never had a "pop music" or R&B phase as a kid, so TLC were a group I knew from occasional radio play but mostly came to as an adult when my cousin got big into them. They're the obvious ones, but this and No Scrubs are both superb.

I love Tori Amos, she was part of my teenage goth kid awakening to genres outside of hard rock/metal, and I have a lot of affection for her music because of that. I don't know if I'd consider Cornflake Girl one of her best, necessarily, but it always makes me smile when I hear it.


God, Jeff Buckley and Hallelujah. I could talk for hours about this one.

I was doing work experience in an HMV stockroom in September 2001, and was at work the day after 9/11. Mark Radcliffe was on Radio 1, talking about how he had to find a song to play under those circumstances, and the only thing he felt appropriate was to offer a moment of quiet reflection, and played Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah. It was the first time I ever heard it, and the room fell silent until it finished.

I fell utterly in love with Jeff Buckley from then on. He was the first artist I felt like I really arrived at on my own terms, rather than through family or friends recommending them, and no one else I knew being into him made him feel like he was mine. I bought everything I could get my hands on - the albums, the bootlegs, the live DVD, the biography. I bought Tim Buckley records, I started listening to Nina Simone and Leonard Cohen because Jeff Buckley covered them and spoke highly of them, bought Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan because Jeff said he was the greatest, got into Captain Beefheart because Buckley collaborated with Gary Lucas, got into Bad Brains & The MC5 after I heard Buckley cover them on live recordings, and into The Smiths (who I'd previously been pretty resistant to) after hearing his version of "I Know It's Over". He probably shaped my tastes more than any other single artist, other than maybe Bowie or Tom Waits - but in terms of opening doors to other artists, and other genres, I'd still put him at number one.
 

Back to Hallelujah...it's neither my favourite Jeff Buckley song, or my favourite Leonard Cohen song. Some of that is because of over-exposure, some because it just doesn't hit all the spots that other songs of theirs manage. In spite of that, I have repeatedly argued for it being the best pop song ever written. That started after a prolonged drunken conversation with an old bandmate years ago, and eventually found its way into a magazine I used to write for. Basically, my point was that Cohen's version is sleazy, predatory, and a little world-weary, while Buckley's is breathless, angelic, and contains none of the sleaze or menace or grit of Cohen's version. Cale's version is more hymnal. But it's also been able to work as an X-Factor finalist power ballad, and as a cheesy open mic night number. All of those elements exist within the song, no version feels incongruous or forced, yet there isn't a single version that manages to contain all of those elements. And I think it's that inability to grasp a "perfect" interpretation that makes it the best pop song ever. 

All that said, I could probably gladly go the rest of my life never hearing it again.

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