Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Filtering by Tag: best songs

The Music of 1995

Last month my friend Kevin summarized his feelings for the music of 1995.  He wrote:

1995 music finally crushed me.  Off with the makeup.  Cut the hair.  Get clothes in a color other than black.  Trade in boots for loafers and quit Bartz's Party Store and start work at Fleet Mortgage/Washington Mutual for next 15 years.  95 didn't scare me straight, it frustrated me into society, and I owe it all to …… Coolio??

I decided it was my mission to prove him wrong, because my memories of the music of 1995 were quite positive, so I spent a month gathering music from this forgotten year.  What I found in my own collection was enough to make a strong case, but I went out and gleaned another dozen or so bands to feature – some I’d never even heard of before – and then my friend John hopped onto the theme, making an even stronger case.  Last Saturday, four of us got together in Wisconsin to do nothing but play and discuss music.  Here’s what we came up with for 1995.  For me, the first three albums along justify the entire year:

“High and Dry” and “Planet Telex” from The Bends – Radiohead

“Jackson Cannery” from Ben Folds Five – Ben Folds Five

“Common People” from Different Class – Pulp

“Honey White” from Yes – Morphine

“Universal Heartbeat” from Only Everything – Juliana Hatfield

“Downtown” from Mirror Ball – Neil Young

“Not My Idea” from Garbage – Garbage

“Summerland” from Sparkle and Fade – Everclear

“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” from Batman Forever Soundtrack – U2

“Somebody’s Crying” from Forever Blue – Chris Isaak

“You Could Make a Killing” from I’m With Stupid – Aimee Mann

“The Universal” from The Great Escape – Blur

"Just Like Anyone" from Let Your Dim Light Shine - Soul Asylum

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” from (What’s the Story) Morning Glory – Oasis

“Hometown Blues” from Train a Comin’ – Steve Earle

“Radio King” from Down by the old Mainstream – Golden Smog

“That Was Another Country” from Glow – Innocence Mission

“Sandman” and “A Happy Ending” from Faust – Randy Newman

“You Must Go” from Walk On – John Hiatt

“In the Meantime” from Resident Alien – Spacehog

“Brain Stew” from Insomniac – Green Day

“You’ll See” from Something to Remember – Madonna

“Blue” from Tomorrow the Green Grass – Jayhawks

“Awake” from Wholesale Meats and Fish – Letters to Cleo

“My Friends” from One Hot Minute – Red Hot Chili Peppers

“This is a Call” from Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters

“Loose String” from Trace – Sun Volt

“All I Really Want” from Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

“Every Poet Wants to Murder Shakespeare” from Kisses 50 Cents – Bad Examples

“In the Blood” from Deluxe – Better Than Ezra

“Casino Queen” from A.M. – Wilco

And that’s only what we had time for.  There were many other band represented in 1995 that might have been worthy of our time: Big Country, Emmylou Harris, Smashing Pumpkins, Lloyd Cole, Graham Parker, Collective Soul, Del Amitri, Little Feat, Indigo Girls, Alice in Chains, Goo Goo Dolls, Dishwalla, Bruce Springsteen, Urge Overkill, Prince, Bar Scott, Semisonic, Vigilantes of Love, etc., not to mention jazz, hip-hop and other genres that we didn’t focus on but that undoubtedly had something to offer.

1995 may not have been perfect, but it surely had some terrific stuff.  Sure, for some of these picks I happened to play the one really good song from an otherwise mediocre album.  But you can’t tell me that when the oldies station plays “Happy Together” by The Turtles that you’re wishing the disc jockey had picked a deep cut.  Sometimes the hit is what makes the album.

Then again, I’d put up Radiohead’s The Bends against any album of any year, and it would hold up very well.

So was Kevin persuaded to view the music of 1995 in a new light?  Impressions are tough to overcome, but I think there may be a crack in the armor.  Perhaps Kevin can post a comment below if he cares to interject.

The Music of 1979-1980

In our efforts to make music matter again in our lives (see Making Music Matter, part 1 and part 2), a few friends and I met at Kevin’s “Wall of Sound” basement in Wisconsin to play and discuss music from the golden years of 1979-1980, and the results were even more brilliant than I had expected.  What a incredible two year period, when hard rock, punk, new wave, soul, arena rock, fusion, prog rock, folk rock and every other kind of rock you can slap a label on converged for a perfect period of music proliferation.  And get this – most of it was actually played on the radio back in the day!  Crazy times.  1979-1980 might be the strongest two years in my book.  What about yours?

Here’s the list in all its glory – probably close to six hours of music.  It should be noted that music selections were viewed through the lenses of white suburban men who were once white suburban boys.  Notably absent are artists like Kool and the Gang, Isaac Hayes, Donna Summers, Earth Wind and Fire, etc.  We are worse for it.

The Knack – Good Girls Don’t

The Knack – Let me Out

The Police – Bombs Away

The Romantics – Tom Boy

Off Broadway – Bad Indication

Nick Lowe – Switch Board Susan

Roxy Music – Over You

Billy Thorpe – Dream Maker (this is not a good song, but was used to stump Kevin.  It was not successful).

Billy Thorpe – Children of the Sun

Jeff Beck (with Jan Hammer) – Star Cycle

Donny Iris – She’s So Wild (also used to stump Kevin.  This one was successful!)

Donny Iris – Ah!  Leah!

OMD – Red Frame/White Light

Pete Townsend – Let My Love Open the Door

Pete Townsend – And I Moved

Led Zeppelin – I’m Gonna Crawl

Blondie – Union City Blue

Ian McLagan – La De Da (this stumped everyone)

Alan Parsons Project – Snake Eyes

Fleetwood Mac – Brown Eyes

Talking Heads – Air

Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue

Paul McCartney – So Glad to See You

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

Jackson Browne – Boulevard

The Kinks – Moving Pictures

Queen – Don’t Try Suicide

The Police – Reggatta De Blanc

The Cars – Let’s Go

Cheap Trick – Dream Police

Yes – Does is Really Happen

John Cougar – Ain’t Even Done with the Night

Bruce Springsteen – Point Blank

Bruce Springsteen – Cadillac Ranch

The Pretenders – Precious

Supertramp – Child of Vision

Bob Welsh – Precious Love

Rush – Free Will

AC/DC – Shot Down in Flames

Generation X – Kiss Me Deadly

The Kings – Partyitis

The Kinds – This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide

Neil Young – Powder Finger

U2 – A Day Without Me

U2 – I Will Follow

Rickie Lee Jones – Danny’s All-Star Joint

Bob Dylan – Gotta Serve Somebody

Steely Dan – Gaucho

Dr. Hook – Sexy Eyes

REO Speedwagon – Don’t Let Him Go

Yipes – Out in California

The Eagles – In the City

Head East – It’s Got to be Real

The Clash – Lost in the Supermarket

The Damned – Jet Boy, Jet Girl

Joe Jackson – On the Radio

Van Halen – D.O.A.

Journey – Too Late

Kansas – Hold On

Genesis – Turn it on Again

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

Tom Petty – Even the Losers

Elvis Costello – Senior Service

Joan Jett – Bad Reputation

Aretha Franklin – Think

Aerosmith – Three Mile Smile

Aerosmith – No Surprise

Al Stewart – Midnight Rocks

Muppets – Rainbow Connection

Peter Gabriel – No Self Control

Elton John – Little Jeanie

Not too shabby a list!  And we didn’t even touch Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, Prince, The B-52s, Michael Jackson, Graham Parker, Robert Palmer, Santana, Kiss, ELO, Chaka Kahn, Pat Benatar, Dire Straits, ZZ Top, Toto, Styx, etc.

Tell me a two year period that’s better.  There might be!

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