My Top 20 Bands

Music Listography

I think its time for a Music Listography refresh. Its been a while and lists are fun to do. They evolve over time, some favorites changing, others staying on to forever. I hope that everyone reading along will play along. Feel free to add your 20 to the comment section, or put a Listography list on your own blog and/or social media.

I will include playlist links for Spotify and YouTube, as well as an in-post YouTube playlist, so you can press play and spin all 20 if you’d like.

Though I will be following the book from each list to the next, my answers will not reflect a particular order. I am such a music obsessive that it will be challenging enough to stick to things like “top 20“, much less try to decide whose #1, or #13, that’s just too cruel. So, without further ado, here we go with the first list.

List Your Top Twenty Favorite Bands
courtesy of Music Listography : Your Life In (Play)Lists

Listen to the List on Spotify and YouTube

1. Duran Duran

Duran Duran

My first band crush. My first fandom. I probably had my first orgasm listening to their music/fantasizing about them (could have been Han Solo though, to be fair). I was pretty sure I was going to grow up to be Nick Rhodes’ wife, or lover, or something. In all seriousness though, they made life more livable to a girl who was dealing with an abusive home life and a lot of emotional pain. Their music also helped bond me with some of my best friends. They will always be “my band”. They will always hold a piece of my heart.

“Lonely In Your Nightmare” by Duran Duran
from the album, Rio (1982)

2. Roxy Music

Roxy Music - Music LIstography

I discovered Roxy Music after reading an interview with Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. He name-checked them as an influence – both for music and style – so I just had to know what they were like, and what they sounded like. I binge-listened to all about three of their albums that I found at Tower Records, and I was hooked. They were right up my lane, as I would discover I really, really love art rock and glam music, and I could completely see and hear how the New Wave I loved evolved from art and glam. Also, Bryan Ferry is incredibly sexy to me – especially his voice.

“Love Is The Drug” by Roxy Music
from the album, Siren (1975)

3. The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground - Music Listography

Another band that Duran Duran led me to. Pretty cool, huh? Art rock again. Less Glam, but more punk. Or at least I could hear the punk influence/the way punk was influenced. Like some musical merge was happening, and my ears were delighted by all of it. I’d grow to love The Velvet Underground more over time, and still feel like I’m in a discovery phase with their music (and with Lou’s solo stuff). The Velvet Underground, along with Nick from Duran Duran, led me to the New York art scene, to Interview magazine, and the works of Basquiat and Keith Harring. They also had me longing to go back and hang out in the 70’s, to immerse myself in their music, along with Roxy Music, T-Res, and David Bowie.

In the late ’80s/early ’90s a weekly underground club in Hollywood called 1970 would make that immersion fantasy come true. Every week I danced to all the music I wanted to live inside.

“Oh! Sweet Nuthin'” by The Velvet Underground
from the album, Loaded (1970)

4. Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac - Music Listography

My Mom played Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album all throughout my childhood, so much so that I feel like each and every one of those songs live in my bloodstream. In my late twenties, at one of my first “grown-up” office jobs (my first in advertising actually), I would play Fleetwood Mac at 3pm every day. At first, it was a coincidence when I put it on, but later it would become a thing that I and my cubicle-mates (we were all assistants) would look forward to, and sing-a-long with. I love Stevie Nicks. She is one of my inspirations and favorite people (on the favorite people I don’t know in real life way). I wish I could go back in time and see them play live in 1977, the year Rumours was released.

“Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac
from the album, Rumours (1977)

5. The Beatles

The Beatles - Music Listography

Speaking of music that lives in my bloodstream, I’m pretty sure I’ve been listening to The Beatles since I was in utero. The Beatles were my Mom’s Duran Duran, and Paul McCartney was her Nick Rhodes. I preferred George Harrison personally. Still do. Many significant moments in my life involve The Beatles in some way, including my daughter Julia, who was named after the song/after John Lennon’s Mom (the name chosen by her dad, who also has The Beatles in his bloodstream). Every love/lover relationship I’ve ever been in has had some kind of connection to The Beatles music. Their music (and usually a song of theirs) have played a part in the relationships, usually somewhere around the start, or the end.

“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” by The Beatles
from the album, Rubber Soul (1965)

6. Rilo Kiley

Rilo Kiley - Music Listography

Jenny Lewis is a spokeswoman for my heart. She sings a lot of things I feel but can’t quite articulate, in a way that feels like my insides are on the outside. I feel seen and heard and felt when I listen to her songs, and when I listen to Rilo Kiley’s songs, her band before going solo. “A Better Son/Daughter” (see below) is evidence of what I’m saying. I don’t remember how I found Rilo Kiley. I think it was through a mix CD a friend sent me. However it happened, their music (and Jenny’s) has never left me ever since.

“A Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley
from the album, The Execution Of All Things (2002)

7. The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones - Music Listography

Though I’ve always known who The Rolling Stones were, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I really discovered their music. It was the song “Wild Horses” that drew me in and had me picking up album after album, devouring all the songs. The album Some Girls is my forever favorite, though the track that drug me in – “Wild Horses” – is my forever favorite song. “Beast Of Burden” has some personal significance/memories attached, too.

“Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones
from the album, Sticky Fingers (1971)

8. Hole

Hole - Music Listography

Hole’s album Live Through This helped me live through more than I can say. Duran Duran helped to save me as a teenager, and Hole and Courtney Love helped to save me in my twenties, and again in my thirties. Their music helped me through recovery, the songs helped me deal with my husband’s suicide and the dysfunction and pain that was our marriage as it unraveled. There’s so much more, too, that their songs powered me up to survive. I still sing-scream to “Violet” in the car, especially when I need to summon all my strength and love and persistence.

 “Violet” by Hole
from the album, Live Through This (1994)

9. Blur

Blur - Music Listography

Oh, the ’90s and oh my stars, Brit Pop. I fell hard for Brit Pop. It all started with Blur, especially Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon (*crushcrushmusiccrush*). Their music made me feel good, made me want to dance, and made me want to fall in love (or at least lust). They were great to make out to, and to sing-a-long while sharing an after-cigarette. Or to listen to after watching TV in bed, with cups of coffee, and more of that making out.

“Coffee And TV” by Blur
from the album, 13 (1998)

10. The Libertines

The Libertines - Music Listography

The band and the boys in the band that stole my heart in the early aughts.

“Time For Heroes” by The Libertines
from the album, Up The Bracket (2002)

11. Concrete Blonde

Concrete Blonde - Music Listography

I was in the car with some newly met friends in 1989 when I first heard Concrete Blonde. It was the song “Little Conversations”. I was head over heels for it immediately, and when I asked the driver who was playing she told me, and when we got back to her house she gave me a cassette of Free to borrow. I’ve been a fan ever since. Johnette Napolitano though mercurial, is also breathtaking when she sings and tells stories. Forever a favorite.

“Little Conversations” by Concrete Blonde
from the album, Free (1989)

12. Blondie

Blondie - Music Listography

The first time I saw and heard Blondie was when they performed on Saturday Night Live. I was transfixed and quickly obsessed with Debbie Harry and Blondie. I walked to Montgomery Ward with my allowance bought three Blondie 45’s. I’d use my birthday money that year to buy Parallel Lines. Debbie Harry is also one of my inspirations and favorite people (see Stevie Nicks). She is forever and ever cool – always and at every age.

“Fade Away And Radiate” by Blondie
from the album, Parallel Lines (1978)

13. Pretenders

Pretenders - Music Listography

Chrissie Hynde is everything. I remember when I first heard her sing it blew my mind. I was also beyond excited that she had a voice I could sing to (both of us having deeper voices). Like Debbie Harry (see above) she is forever and ever cool. The band’s music, especially two songs, has personal meaning to me. Oh, and a few of their songs are go-to karaoke selections for me – always.

“Back On The Chain Gang” by Pretenders
from the album, Learning To Crawl (1984)

14. Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star - Music Listography

Hope Sandoval’s voice is beyond dreamy. It is something that shoots through the universe and lands deep inside of me every time I play a Mazzy Star album. Okay, that came out weird, but still, I think it describes it perfectly. This is music to fall in love with, and fall in love with. The songs make me feel a million things all at once. Beyond dreamy and dreaming.

“Into Dust” by Mazzy Star
from the album, So Tonight That I May See (1993)

15.  The Cure

The Cure - Music Listography

Once upon a time in the years between teenager and twenty-something, every mixtape I ever made had a song by The Cure on it, or so I’ve been told (and really, I can’t dispute it). Their music, especially the album Disintegration, meant the world to me (still does), and they are yet another case of a band helping me to survive. The Cure definitely helped me through my first broken heart, and they’ve definitely been there for a few more. And their songs still make it on to a lot of my playlists, even now, at 50.

“Untitled” by The Cure
from the album, Disintegration (1989)

16. Dramarama

Dramarama - Music Listography

I found Dramarama’s first album at Music Market in Costa Mesa, one of mine and my best friend’s favorite places to discover music, and buy records in the ’80s. I had no idea what they sounded like, but I liked the picture of Edie Sedgwick on the album cover. I got lucky, really, really lucky – I loved the album, I loved all the songs, and I ended up loving the band. Their music held a very deep connection and meaning between my late husband and me, and it is hard to separate the songs from our time together, even though I discovered them years before the two of us would meet. But even though it sometimes hurts to listen to them, I still love the band, and all the songs and albums.

“(I’d Like To) Volunteer, Please” by Dramarama
from the album, Vinyl (1991)

17. Cocteau Twins

Cocteau Twins - Music Listography

The first time I heard a Cocteau Twins song I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the first boy I ever fell for. We were juniors in high school. He let me wear his green sweater – the green sweater that I always associated him with. It smelled like Marlboro Lights and incense and laundry detergent and good sweat. It smelled like him. We were talking in an almost whisper about things that you don’t share with people readily. Secrets and trauma and fears and hopes. It was more intimate of an exchange than if we’d kissed, or had sex. It was more than anything physical could ever be. And the Cocteau Twins album Garlands was playing through it, attaching every song to my heart along with the memory of that night.

I have so many more Cocteau Twins memories. Enough to fill two or three journals with. But, this is the first one.

“Wax And Wane” by Cocteau Twins
from the album, Garlands (1982)

18. Portishead

Portishead - Music Listography

As important as New Wave was to me in the ’80s, and as significant as Glam and Art Rock and Grrrl Rock would be, and Goth so was/is Trip Hop, especially in the ’90s when it came into my life. Dreamy, emotional, sensual, beautiful, and triggering in the best way. Portishead’s album Dummy would be a muse to my writing, soundtracking many short stories, poems, and novels I took on. The album would also background many email and letter exchanges with special people who came into my life and connected with me. Beth Gibbons’ voice unlocked parts of me that had been tightly wound up inside me, and that needed to be released before I could create before I could open up and before I could start living more freely. Some of the ways their music changed me are hard to articulate. But it did. Change me.

“Roads” by Portishead
from the album, Dummy (1994)

19. The Clash

The Clash - Music Listography

I didn’t discover The Clash until 1988 until I was working in a record store with coworkers whose music taste ran the gamut (and where I was exposed to every and all sounds in those gamuts). I knew who they were, of course. I knew some of the big hits. But, I’d never really HEARD them. Once I did I was hooked. My first favorite track of theirs is still my favorite, though I have a long list of songs I LOVE of theirs. I love that both of my daughters have had their own Clash moments, coming to their music on their own, in different ways, and getting hooked just as much as I did/as I still am.

“Lost In The Supermarket” by The Clash
from the album, London Calling (1979)

20. X

X - Music Listography

It was at my first apartment that I first heard X. Like with The Clash, I was late to the party, but I was eager to join as soon as I was aurally invited. I don’t know who I fell in love with more, John or Exene. The energy, the emotion, the way the songs fit perfectly into who I was and how I felt right then, would embed the band, and their songs, inside of me. Though I wish I’d seen them play live in their heyday, I’m thrilled that I’ve gotten to see them a few times over the last few years – and I’m thrilled they are still out there bringing the energy and emotion that they always did. And yeah, I’m still a little in love with both of them. I think I always will be.

“4th Of July” by X
from the album, See How We Are (1987)

Okay, I feel like I have to mention some honorable mentions/runners up who I still am hopelessly devoted to, but I allowed myself only 20 here, so there is only so much room. Big band-love also goes out to The Jam, Depeche Mode, The Killers, Dawes, The Bangles, The Go-Go’s, Nirvana, The Psychedelic Furs, Bauhaus, L7, Babes In Toyland, Sleater Kinney, Love And Rockets, Bikini Kill, Pearl Jam, July Talk, The Kills, The Breeders, Throwing Muses, Belly, Pixies, Lone Justice, The Smashing Pumpkins, Drugstore, R.E.M., Pulp, Queen, and The Talking Heads.

My Top 20 Bands

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