In his column in this week’s Entertainment Weekly, Stephen King talked about the 20 most played songs in his iTunes library. Now, I know you probably wouldn’t think of Stephen King as inspirational, but maybe he is, because here I am analyzing my iTunes Top 25. The number in parentheses next to each song is its number of plays…and I don’t really know how iTunes accounts for ranking songs with the same number of plays. Here goes…
25. “First Breath After Coma,” Explosions In The Sky (74) — Don’t let the weird title fool you; this is one incredible piece of music. Clocking in at 9:33, this piece opens The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place with a roller-coaster ride of pensive and rousing sounds.
24. “All Good Generals,” Dakoda Motor Co. (74) — The Into The Son album was a constant in my college years…until the tape wore out (that’s right; I said tape). The day I found the CD years later was one of the happiest of my life. This super-short slice of surf punk is so much fun!
23. “Shout Out Loud,” Amos Lee (74) — This is just a nice soulful, folky song, and I don’t understand why it didn’t get much radio play.
22. “How We Operate,” Gomez (75) — The title track from the latest album from one of Britain’s most underrated bands, this song is one of my favorites from 2006…
21. “Beautiful In Los Angeles,” Garrison Starr (75) — …and another one of my 2006 faves, this one an interesting dysfunctional love song featuring backing vocals by Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket.
20. “Catch The Sun,” Doves (75) — I still remember the first time I heard this song…on MTV2 back in 2000 (remember when they still played cool stuff from time to time?). I couldn’t put a finger on what mesmerized me about the song, but I couldn’t resist it…I still feel that way every time I hear it.
19. “The Story,” Brandi Carlile (75) — I discovered this one as a free single on iTunes. A great rock song that would have done Janis Joplin…or even Patsy Cline…proud.
18. “Someday,” The Afters (76) — A soaring Christian rock anthem.
17. “Glad Tidings,” Van Morrison (76) — I’m still trying to decide, after all these years, what this song is about! Van Morrison at his most soulful…
16. “Time Stops,” Explosions In The Sky (76) — Divided into two halves that could easily stand on their own, this song starts out peaceful and almost pastoral; then it becomes a driving, rousing free-for-all.
15. “Grey Clouds,” Dakoda Motor Co. (76) — One of my all time favorite songs of the 90’s, this one is a nice country-influenced song from Into The Son. I love to sing along to it, and it still sounds fresh to me after all these years. Plus, I recently found out that Dakoda Motor Co. has gotten back together, and they’re working on new material!
14. “Satellite” Anna Nalick (76) — Michelle Rabitsch turned me on to Anna Nalick’s Wreck Of The Day, and this is my favorite song off this underrated gem of an album.
13. “You Know I’m No Good,” Amy Winehouse (78) — I consider Back To Black my favorite album of 2007, and I particularly love this blend of modern pop and classic R&B.
12. “Moondance,” Van Morrison (79) — Everybody knows it, everybody can sing along with it, and it’s probably the most accessible piece of pure jazz music in history. Who can argue with that?
11. “Hosanna,” Hillsong United (79) — A powerful, intense worship song that draws me into worship no matter where I am or what I’m doing whenever I hear it.
10. “Flame Turns Blue,” David Gray (79) — David Gray (a Welshman, no doubt) is one of those artists whose music I keep promising myself to dive into, and this lovely, near-epic acoustic rock ballad is my favorite song of his. I was moved the first time I heard it, and it still compels me. Is it a song of spiritual yearning, or is it about restoration of a romantic relationship? It works equally well on both levels.
9. “You Never Give Me Your Money,” The Beatles (79) — This song kicks off the series of medleys of half-songs and song snippets on Side Two of Abbey Road, which is the best album of all time, hands down (No…don’t argue with me…’cause you’d be WRONG!). There’s nothing particularly special or wondrous about this song, except that it’s catchy, and it’s hard not to find yourself singing along to the Beatles’ financial and contractual woes.
8. “Better,” Regina Spektor (85) — This song is such a nice song of encouragement between friends. I just can’t resist its catchy, bouncy beauty.
7. “Fidelity,” Regina Spektor (86) — Regina’s quirky pop at its best.
6. “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End,” The Beatles (89) — This medley, also from Abbey Road, is the loveliest piece of music The Beatles ever made. To me, there’s a stunning universality to the songs in this medley, in spite of the fact that most of the rest of Abbey Road is either very personal or art-for-art’s-sake in nature. A truly unforgettable suite of songs.
5. “Came To The Rescue,” Hillsong United (102) — A powerful, passionate worship ballad, and possibly my favorite worship song ever. I’d like to claim this song’s bridge…”In my life, be lifted high/In our world, be lifted high/In our love, be lifted high”…as my personal call to live a life more like Christ. May all I do lift Him up!
4. “Your Hand In Mine, Explosions In The Sky (121) — Probably the inspiration for the Friday Night Lights TV theme (see #3), this is a piece of music that will just about bring tears to my eyes every time I hear it.
3. “Friday Night Lights (TV show) Theme,” W.G. “Snuffy” Walden (122) — Not a commercially available single or soundtrack cut, but this piece of music says more in 44 seconds of instrumental music than most pop singles say in three or four minutes.
2. “Beautiful Love,” The Afters (131) — I could make the argument that this is one of the greatest songs of the last five years, and I think I’d win.
1. “Into The Mystic,” Van Morrison (135) — This is the most beautiful song of all time, hands down. I still remember the first time I heard it, and I still almost have to stop to catch my breath every time it plays. A song that’s more about mood than lyrics, “Into The Mystic” practically has a style all it’s own. And it’s a classic that will never fade or die.