Ladies and gents, we’ve reached the top ten. I struggled to find words for many of these songs — probably due more to poor writing than just being blown away by their awesomeness. But let’s blame the latter.
No, latter. With Ts, not Ds.
10. White Tooth Man – Iron & Wine
Look, I really like this album. Another great song from it — I especially the love the way Sam used the piano on this song. Great melody, cool lyrics, just a solid song.
9. Side With the Seeds – Wilco
If only for the phrase “Dark green enough to be blue.” Actually, I love all the lyrics to this song, but even more I love the double guitar breakdowns. One of the major upgrades in this lineup of the band over past incarnations is that Nels Kline’s lead guitar work is not only superb in its own right, but Tweedy’s marked improvement complements it very well. Kline has a reputation as an intense perfectionist — I recall reading or maybe hearing a story in which he lamented missing a note (out of how many thousand?) and Tweedy trying to placate him by saying it still worked — and you can hear it in the way his solos are crafted.
I imagine some Wilco fans dismiss the lyrics of this song due to their passivity. “Embracing the situation is our only chance to be free/I’ll side with you if you side with me” recalls the Lennon/McCartney squabble over “Let It Be”, for instance. I think there’s a lot going on with the lyrics, and I think there’s a degree of wisdom in acceptance that not everyone appreciates.
8. Australia – The Shins
I’ve probably termed two-dozen songs “the catchiest song I’ve ever heard” in my life, and I’m sure I said that at some point about this one. From the “la la las” at the beginning, I find this song completely irresistible. And somehow I have remarkably little to say about it, so watch this.
7. The Underdog – Spoon
I’m not a huge Spoon fan, but this is another song that I find irresistible. I like its general anti-arrogance slant, I like the horns, and I like that every time it comes on I start bobbing up and down and back and forth like a 4-year old.
You will not survive.
6. Sight of Love – Michael Rossback
I couldn’t decide how to explain this song’s inclusion, either going a more serious route or just leaving a one-liner and moving on. I decided on a one-liner, but got it down to two finalists and couldn’t make the final cut. So you get both!
1. Don’t worry, I turned in my testicles at the local Hooter’s.
2. This is a really sweet song, even if it is something that my mom should be listening to while crocheting in front of the fireplace.
I think I like the first one better, personally.
4. Champion – Kanye West
(Before the three of you who noticed get on my case that I skipped number 5: No worries, it was intentional. It’s coming in the final post.)
I think this is Kanye’s best beat ever. It may be kind of repetitive, but I tend to like pretty repetitive rap songs. Sampling Steely Dan is badass. For some reason I’m stuck in a really choppy-sentence pattern. Let’s stop it now.
3. You Are My Face – Wilco
This is the highest Jeff and the boys reach on the list, which means Wilco doesn’t claim the no. 1 spot in my best albums or best songs lists. I’m a little depressed by that.
This song is a journey. Every rock critic references the harmonies throughout the verse (and they all make the same comparison to some old folk group that I can’t remember the name of), but that to me is just the introduction to the crazy-good part. Nels’ guitar solo defines “righteous”, Tweedy’s vocals during the bridge (or whatever it is) are amazing, reminiscent of “Theologians” when it picks up speed at the end.
Lyrically this song sums up Sky Blue Sky: “When everybody’s feelin’ all alone/I can’t tell you who I am.” A smarter, more English majory friend has gushed about the lyrics in the verses as well using all kinds of poetical evidence, and I trust that she’s right.
2. Boy With a Coin – Iron & Wine
I don’t envision myself ever tiring of “Boy With a Coin.” By far the centerpiece of The Shepherd’s Dog, and a song I listened to at length before I had the album (thanks to Paste’s wonderful sampler). This best represents I&W’s conversion from whispery one-man act to a legitimate, intricate, cohesive band.
That wraps up installment 4. What two-songed madness could I have planned for installment 5? Will the comments section see Pax coming in on his proverbial steed to rescue me from PIAB’s criticisms? The possibilities are endless.