It’s that time again. Time to re-boot the Listography lists, starting from the start, at the start of a new year. It’s always interesting to revisit lists, see how things change, and how they stay the same. So many songs are laminated to my heart forever, while others come in unexpectedly and become forever favorites.
As much as I love lists (and rely on them as coping skills/self-care), narrowing down favorites is always tough. As a music obsessive, I always have more than 30 favorites. But, these are the rules – well, the rules I set for this go around, at least – and lists can always be revisited, rebooted, and re-done again.
If you decide to play too and make your own let me know in the comments where to find them. I’d love to see everyone’s answers.
I will include Playlist links for both Spotify and YouTube, as well as in-post playlists (see below) so you can press take a listen to each of My Top 30 Favorite Songs.
My Top 30 Songs – Part 1
1. “Famous Blue Raincoat” by Leonard Cohen
Art by Paul Lovering
“Well, I see you there,
with the rose in your teeth.
One more thin gypsy thief.
Well, I see Jane’s awake.
She sends her regards.”
“Famous Blue Raincoat” is without a doubt my all-time favorite song. The way I feel about it is almost indescribable. Every time I listen to it I hear something new in the sounds, the lyrics, the story, the subtext, and within my own history with the song.
I still remember – vividly – the first time I heard it, and how I kept playing it, over and over again.
This Song reads in some ways like a goodbye, like a “Dear John” letter, or in this case, a “Dear Jane”. What do you think Jane’s letter would say if she wrote one? What is her side of the story? I’ve always wanted to know what regards Jane would actually send.
2. “Heroes” by David Bowie
Art by dol
nothing will keep us together,
we can beat them,
forever and ever.
Oh, we can be heroes,
just for one day.”
The first time I heard this song I fell in love with it. It stuck with me from that first listen and is still in me today. My first car had a stereo with a tape player in it. I carried many albums on cassette and many mixtapes. One mix, in particular, I vividly remember. It had this song as its “Headliner”.
I would drive around with “Heroes” turned up high and craft a mini-movie in my head to each lyric and line. A story grew out of those imaginings, one I wish I’d written down.
3. “In My Life” by The Beatles
“In my life,
I love you more.”
A different Beatles song used to be my favorite, and then I met my boyfriend. It was after our first date that this song moved in and took over for my favorite Beatles song spot.
It was our first song (we have many), and whenever I feel down or insecure, or if I ever worry that we will make it through rough times, I hit play and listen to “In My Life” and I remember that he is the love of my life and that I am his.
It will forever be my favorite Beatles song, just as it will forever be our song. And, just as will forever be “us”.
4. “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” by Elton John
“Until you’ve seen this trash can dream come true,
you stand at the edge,
while people run you through.
And, I thank the Lord,
there’s people out there like you.
I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you.”
I grew up loving Elton John’s Music. It was one of my go-to’s out of my Mother’s record collection. I didn’t know my Father, but I remembered overhearing that he loved Elton John, so somewhere in my young heart I thought that listening to Elton connected me somehow to my absent Father.
Eventually, I met my Father and the illusion of who he was, and who he could be, was shattered. But, I still loved Elton’s music. “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” was always my favorite, ever since those childhood days with borrowed albums. And, as an adult, I still love it. It reminds me of realizing the love you have in your life, and the gratitude you feel about them.
5. “Strange Condition” by Pete Yorn
“Read me the letter, baby,
do not leave out the words.
Stories and cigarettes ruined lives of lesser girls.”
“Coffee and cigarettes”, and the conversations that come in-between the exhale and the inhale. The flicks of ash into a thrift store ashtray and a slightly crooked smile flashing as eyes look quickly away. These are the moments that imprint themselves deep beneath the skin.
These are the things of memories, and part of why I love “Strange Condition” so much.
My very first post on this Blog, in 2011, was about this song.
6. “Northern Lad” by Tori Amos
“Well, I guess you go too far when pianos try to be guitars.”
There are break-up songs, and then there are songs that fit in that space of “you know it’s time to break-up but you’re not sure how to”, and “Northern Lad” fits into that latter category perfectly.
It’s a tough place to be in, that overwhelming sense of unhappiness and restlessness, mixed up with the guilt and fear of actually going. This is a song that has been so hard for me to hear at certain times in my life, but also a song that’s saved me, inspired me, and given me strength.
7. “Back On the Chain Gang” by Pretenders
“I found a picture of you,
Those were the happiest days of my life.”
This one is so full of memories.
“Back On the Chain Gang”. My first favorite Pretenders song back when I was in High School. I taped it off the radio, memorizing the lyrics, then I taped the video off of MTV. I love that Chrissie has a deep female voice too, like mine.
Years later it would be a catalyst to a lovers’ story, one that was ill-fated and short-lived, but beautiful nonetheless.
8. “Bring It On Home To Me” by Sam Cooke
“You know I’ll always be your slave,
’till I’m buried,
buried in my grave.
bring it to me.
Bring your sweet loving,
bring it on home to me.”
I was nineteen the first time I really listened to Sam Cooke. I’m sure his music had been in my life before then, but in more of a musical adjacency, than in my conscious music reality. I have vague memories of singing the lyrics “don’t know much about history” as a little girl, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you who sang the song. It was at nineteen, though, that I got my first record store job and started to become exposed to a variety of people’s taste in music, not just the music I grew up with, and had sought out (so far) on my own. The experience was much like going to a foreign country, or a new city, or spending the night at a friend’s house for the first time in that it expands your horizons, and makes the world suddenly seem so much bigger. I was surprised at some of the music I fell for. Music that before that had been in categories, or genres, that I didn’t associate myself with, and I was digging the new discoveries, and the different sides in myself I was discovering, too.
That same year I met a boy would become many “firsts” in my life. We went to a wedding from someone in his family, a cousin or something, and they played “Bring it On Home to Me” and we danced to it together. It was one of those perfect moments that never leave you completely, one I will remember when I’m old and gray(er). It was one of my favorite moments of that boy and I, if not the favorite.
9. “Never Say Goodbye” by Bob Dylan
“You’re beautiful beyond words.
You’re beautiful to me.
You can make me cry.
Never say goodbye.”
Like with The Beatles, I used to have a different favorite Bob Dylan song, but then I met my boyfriend and he introduced me to Bob’s Planet Waves album, and this song, “Never Say Goodbye.” It would quickly become another of “our” songs, holding within its lyrics the promises we’ve made to each other in regards to love and always and forever.
It is another that I cling to when having a rough day, or feeling sad and scared. Insecurities, stress, and fears can wreak havoc on love. But hope and belief, and the kind of love we have – along with songs like this one – keep me knowing that we are not a passing thing. That we are forever.
10. “The Ship Song” by Nick Cave
“Come sail your ships around me,
and burn your bridges down.
We make a little history, baby,
every time you come around.”
Forever embedded in the story and memories of my boyfriend and me meeting, and falling in love, “The Ship Song”, a song that has always been my favorite of Nick Cave’s, shot up to the Top 10 of my all-time favorite songs because of us.
Not only is this another one of “our songs”, but the song, and the lyrics above, inspired a series I started last year, and am picking up again this year, about us, our story, how we met, things that have happened to us, and what its like to really work on a love together. The title of the series is “We Make a Little History” (taken from lyrics to this song).
My Top 30 Songs – Music Listography
Tune back in, in two weeks, for another installment of My Top 30 Songs from Music Listography, and check out next weeks installment which will feature the first ten movies from My Top 30 Movies from Film Listography.