The Best Songs of 1994 by willtopsmusictv

1994 :: The Year In Music
Throwback Thursday


Twenty years ago. It is kind of hard to fathom that 1994 was twenty years ago. I know that it is, and I know that some of my friends have been paying homage to the year on their blogs and podcasts, features that I have been enjoying. When it came around to selecting the second installment of the “by year” Throwback Thursday 1994 came to mind and it just seemed the right time for it. So, sit back and let’s revisit the music from twenty years ago, shall we?

1994 was a big year in my life. I flew across country to spend two weeks of my Summer in the Florida Keys with the man who would later become my late husband, and Father to two of my three children. We fell in love that year, and fell not so much out of love, but out of each other’s lives that year, as well (not to be reconciled until five years later).

I started working at Tower Records in 1994, a place where I reunited with some of my other record store life friends (from my years at Sam Goody in the late 80’s), and made some new friends, too. Together they would become a second family to me, people who I still hold dear and talk to quite often, and see as much as I can.

1994 was the year I fell hard for My So-Called Life and Friends and The Real World San Francisco. I wrote a lot of letters that year (real ones, on paper, some to pen pals across the world, some love letters, some full of goodbye’s). I fell back into some bad habits, went to a ton of movies, spent time at the beach, and filled up a stack full of journals. I was a single Mother of a two year old in 1994, still feeling too young, at 25, to be responsible for another life. She was what kept me going, though, during a lot of the tough parts of the year.

It was the year we lost Kurt Cobain. I remember every conversation I had about it that day, and for weeks and weeks after. I remember seeing Tori Amos in concert soon after, and watching and hearing her sing the first part of American Pie, and at “the day the music died” part go into singing Smells Like Teen Spirit. It was my first real exposure to “you will always remember where you were” kind of collective moment.

Music was everything to me, but then again, when isn’t it. So, what exactly was I listening to? Here are my remembered Top 10 from 1994, what were some of yours?

* This list was really hard to narrow down. I think I could have gone to 100, probably more.

10. Lover, You Should Have Come Over :: Jeff Buckley

Too young to hold on,
and too old to just break free and run.”

You never told me how you felt until a ticket to leave burned in the palm of your hand. I watched you leave, bag in hand, turning toward me to wave goodbye after you had just confessed everything to me. You should have told me sooner; you should have taken me along, even if I was too tied down to run away (I may have tried).


9. Late at Night :: Buffalo Tom

If I could put them in a jar,
I know they wouldn’t scar.
I’d do it if I could,
I hope you know I would.”

Though the song came out in 1993, it was during the show My So-Called Life that I heard the song for the first time, during an unforgettable scene in the episode titled Self-Esteem. I’m not sure what I loved more, listening to the song with the scene replaying in my mind, or the song itself that I fell for after that first listen. It felt like that first rush of new love to me then, and listening now, twenty years later, it still does.


8. Whip-Smart :: Liz Phair

And I’m gonna lock my son up in a tower,
’til I write my whole life story,
on the back of his big brown eyes.”

Some nights I would watch her sleep, serenity could not even describe it the way peace just painted across her tiny face. I would talk to her, softly, telling her tales of my life, sharing secrets that I had never told anyone before, and placing wishes delicately on her for a life of happiness. Being her Mother forever changed me.


7. All I Want Is You :: U2

But all the promises we make,
from the cradle to the grave,
when all I want is you.”

I saw Reality Bites the first weekend it came out and beyond the intentional kitsch that poked fun of the burgeoning decade and “generation x” itself, I related to a lot of it, especially Lelaina and her struggles with self-identity/not knowing who she is yet, career choices, love choices, early struggles of living on her own, and the feeling of friends being your new family. Did I have a Troy Dyer? Well, I think nearly all the real loves in my life have had a dose of Troy Dyer in them.


6. Love Spreads :: The Stone Roses

She didn’t scream,
she didn’t make a sound.
I forgive you boy,
but don’t leave town.”

The return of The Stone Roses had me rushing to the record store to get their music back in my ears. Love Spreads hit just at the right time, and it spun loud out of my car speakers relentlessly (turn it up loud and listen; it is such a tremendous song to drive around listening, and singing-a-long to). I felt like I could lose myself completely in this song.


5. Stay (I Missed You) :: Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories

You say,
I only hear what I want to.”

I was learning so many hard lessons about love and relationships in 1994, so many of them about letting go and about even when you do that, let go, you may still miss things about them, and about yourself with them. The missing, though, does not mean you should go back (though I did, to more than one, in some twisted up back-and-forth mess). On a lighter note, I had that same dress Lisa is wearing in the video (actually, I still have it in my closet).


4. Violet :: Hole

You should learn when to go.
You should learn how to say no.”

I have always loved Courtney Love, and in 1994, with Kurt’s death and the release of Live Through This, my connection to her began. Frances Bean and my daughter were born the same year, and I was raising mine by myself then, not for the same reasons (though I’d learn years later what being her kind of a widow feels like first hand), but I still felt a deep understanding. I needed this album, fiercely needed it, and each song that I would scream-sing to felt cathartic and full of strength, a go-to whenever I needed to remember what I was capable of living through (it still is that for me, even twenty years later).


3. Round Here :: Counting Crows

She knows she’s just a little misunderstood,
she has trouble acting normal when she’s nervous.”

Maybe it was the fact that I was desperately trying to understand myself that year, but I constantly felt misunderstood. I followed my heart blindly most days, leaping before looking, and the fall sometimes left permanent bruising on my sense of self. Looking back, I was kind of a mess, but I would have argued the fact, saying you are just not understanding me right.

round here cd

2. Upside Down :: Tori Amos

I say the world is sick,
you say, ‘tell me what that makes us darlin’?
You see you always find my faults,
faster than you find your own.
You say the world is getting rid of her demons,
I say ‘baby what have you been smokin’.”

Tori Amos’ music meant everything to me in the 90’s, and many of her songs defined me, spoke for me, understood me, and saved me in so many ways. Upside Down felt like a page ripped out of one of my many journals, so personal in ways that I still can’t fully articulate. I felt upside down and inside out so much of the time.

1. Fade Into You :: Mazzy Star

I look to you and I see nothing.
I look to you to see the truth.”

Always and forever one of my favorite songs. There are so many memories embedded deeply in this song, some of them precious, some of them heartbreaking, and some of them kept secret in the hidden corners of my heart. I have written about this song, and to this song, countless times, and this year, 1994, was when it first hit me. and those memories of that year, they are the first to hit me when I listen now.



Me & Julia in 1994

12 thoughts on “1994 :: The year in music :: Throwback Thursday

  1. Great post! 1994 was a good time for music.
    In 1994 I was taken with Green Day but I don’t think I got a copy of Dookie until the following year on my birthday, I bought my first Pearl Jam album Vitology, Toad the Wet Sprocket Dulcinea, I listened to Weezer’s blue album, REM and I can’t remember what other new ones! Yes to Hole, yes to CC’s August and Everything After which my brother played near constantly for a while, Come On Feel The Lemonheads. I DO remember Kristen Johannes impressing/annoying everybody at school by doing her Lisa Loeb impersonation at every chance.

    I love your picture-your outfit looks amazing & your lipstick too. Fashionable ’90s gal.

  2. Come on Feel the Lemonheads will definitely be in my 1993 post, though I was still listening to it CONSTANTLY in 1994.

    My outfit was crushed velvet leggings and some kind of macrame shirt that I got at a thrift store. I still have the shirt somewhere in a box somewhere, I think. I couldn’t get over my hair color when I found this picture last night…I think it was only that reddish color for a second, then it was back to blue/black dye.

    I loved Weezer’s blue album and Toad the Wet Sprocket! My boyfriend (Julia’s dad) was big into Dookie and I think it left a bad taste for awhile after we broke up that year, but I did come around to Green Day later.

    This list was SO HARD to narrow down to just 10!

  3. MSCL, a few of us taped it because we were in basketball practice when it aired, same with Party of Five which was my favorite. I forgot how often people had to tape television. I still have some PO5 episodes, some from when they were new and some from a lifetime marathon years ago before the show was out on DVD. No clue if I have any original MSCL episodes but I still have the Seinfeld finale from 1998 and a ton of stuff from MTV. I should go through them(I say that but who knows when I will) fun.

    1. Somewhere I have a bunch of “taped off of TV VHS tapes”. The funniest though is one my daughter still has that has the pilot to Alias on it with part of it taped over for one of the MTV music awards and then the Buffy musical.

      I had all the Twin Peaks and My So-Called Life episodes on VHS, taped from TV. The MSCL ones I taped off MTV, when they aired them the Summer after that first (and only) season aired. Almost all the commercial breaks have Jeff Buckley singing Last Goodbye for the MTV Buzz bin.

      1. I have those “when will I need this?” questioning moments regarding keeping those old tapes but I just like them. The commercials are great. I don’t remember the Jeff Buckley commercial but I bet it’s sweet & spooky to see now. I do remember MSCL on MTV though & the “Hey, don’t say we never did anything for you” commercial when they first advertised they’d be showing the series. I wonder if that one is on one of your tapes.

      2. I have trouble getting rid of anything like that, honestly. I may never watch them (or maybe I will), but I still have a box of those VHS tapes.

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