15 songs that mattered

This is the extended disco mix of the list I left over in the comments at Doug’s splendid blog, in response to his presentation of 15 songs that mattered to him. What I’ve listed below is not in any way an exhaustive list, but it does capture a few moments in time.

  1. Wings – Band on the Run. On heavy rotation for years in the car and the house, it reminds me of being in the back of a Peugeot 405 wagon in both Wales and Holland, like nothing else.
  2. Boomtown Rats – Rat Trap. One of the first cassettes I ever owned, put on endless repeat when I was supposed to be sleeping at my grandparents’ house on the Christmas I received it.
  3. The Police – Message in a Bottle. “Roxanne” wasn’t that big a hit in Europe, but I remember seeing the video on Top Pop (Hilversum 1 represent!) and even though I didn’t really know what these proto-new wave kids in the video were about, it seemed like a real change in popular music – this was when punks were still considered beneath public consumption, I suppose.
  4. Ultravox – Vienna. Certainly not the first concept video I ever saw, but a step more ambitious than others I remember, and I also really liked the song. Plus, my brother who couldn’t have been older than 4, thought the chorus started, “Oh, piano,” which I still fill in when I hear the song now.
  5. The Jam – Town Called Malice. It’s just a great song. In later years I would really get into the Jam’s back catalog, but this was an insanely catchy hit and I just loved it. The fact that it’s a shining example of people singing about how shit the UK was didn’t really sink in until later, but that has only increased its appeal. And the UK was shit in the late 70s and early 80s.
  6. Flock of Seagulls – I ran. Even though I had heard it when it came out in Europe, this song will forever remind me of the first couple of months that we lived in California – driving to school from Port Hueneme to Camarillo, across the Oxnard Plain, past miles of farms, baking in California sun like nothing I’d ever seen and listening to this in heavy rotation on the Mighty 690.
  7. Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls. The video was one of the first signs of the speed of change of Thatcher’s Britain as the recession of the early 80s ended. I remember watching that and thinking that only 3 years had gone by, and Britain had changed a lot. I loved the song, but it still gives me the same sense of being slightly sad about truly having left the UK and Holland behind. Oddly enough, I know that I’d had that same sense in person in 1984 when we went back for the first time from the States, but for whatever reason, this song is emblematic of it in a different way. Sometime between 1984 and 1986 I went from being an ex-pat to an immigrant, and that was philosophically a weird shift. West End Girls reminds me of the shift.
  8. The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary. Just as my purchase of “No Sleep til Hammersmith” right before moving to the States in 1982 was indicative of a break with buying only what I saw on Top 40 shows, this song was the beginning of the end for a time when I listened to bad heavy metal and pretended that I didn’t like songs by Prince. Oddly enough, it was also a bridge to the two official malcontents in my (very small) high school class – they were a bit surprised that the conformist dork actually listened to something slightly out of the usual.
  9. The Cure – Why Can’t I be you?. Aside from being a truly magnificent example of what the Cure could do when they got their pop on, it reminds me of the summer between junior and senior year in high school, of finally having a car, and being able to go sit on the beach with friends whenever the hell it seemed like a good idea. Living in a commuter town 35 miles from all my friends was no way to spend high school, at least not the way I did it at the time.
  10. Jane’s Addiction – Mountain Song. I could have filled the list just with songs from my first year in college, but this remains the one that I destroyed my vocal chords to, in the privacy of my car. Despite the presence of at least 50 LAPD officers (there had been a stabbing at the show the night before), their concert at the Ford Amphitheater in LA remains one of the most electrifying shows I’ve ever seen.
  11. Sonic Youth – Kool thing. I listened to a lot of hip-hop in the late 80s and early 90s, but there was a lot of nonsense that went along with the content. This was a welcome change of pace, a great propulsive song, and the presence of Chuck D was the cherry atop the sarcastic cake. (Along with “Kings of the Wild Frontier,” it also turned out to be a favorite song in common with Mrs DC Trojan, but I was a few years out from meeting her at the time.)
  12. Primal Scream – Higher than the sun. Purchased at the old Tower Records on Sunset, a chance buy before it was an official “alternative must have.” Also reminiscent of shenanigans with a young lady, but that’s neither here nor there.
  13. Goldie Presents Metalheadz – Inner city Life. I got on the electronica bandwagon with a vengeance in the 90s. There was an independent store in Providence that specialized in obscure imports where I picked up the Counterforce CD that this song comes from. I know I spent more time listening to Dubnobasswithmyheadman, but this track was the shit for me for some time.
  14. Super Furry Animals – Wherever I lay my phone (that’s my home). I am a huge fan of the Super Furry Animals. Guerilla was the first CD of theirs that I bought, and it was like a breath of fresh air. This was the song they started live shows with for a while, and it’s just generally fab. It also supplemented “Stickshifts and Safety Belts” by Cake as “our song” between me and Mrs DC Trojan.
  15. Leftfield – Phat Planet. Even though “The Last Broadcast” by Doves was the soundtrack of being a new father after the fact, this song was the exit track from being childless. Our older daughter was late, and Mrs DC Trojan was scheduled to go in for an induction. She went to the obstetrician for a final check, and the baby’s heart rate was irregular, so she was promptly sent to the hospital. I had been wrapping some things up at work but bolted as soon as I heard about this. As I was making my way up 16th St and not entirely obeying the speed limit, this was what I was listening to, and it is inseparable from that moment. Thirty six hours later, after 24 hours of labor and an unscheduled c-section, I had learnt that my wife is made of even sterner stuff that I had thought, and I had been hit with an emotional freight train the first time I held my daughter. I didn’t think it was possible to love someone so much, so quickly, far less have it happen twice.

One Response

  1. Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    Soccer / Football greats you should write about next!

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