Friday, August 28, 2015

Top 200 Favorite Songs, Part 17

(If you're just tuning in, I'm doing a rundown of my Top 200 Favorite Songs-see the bottom of the page for previous entries and welcome!)

Every closeted gay person when they're growing up has to deal with a little bit of internalized homophobia.  You're trying to cope with something you don't quite understand, almost always by yourself, and as a result of that you get to Kubler-Ross's third stage for a good long while.  While I never went through the homophobic to others stage A) because I figured that would be extremely wrong and probably scar me karmically and B) it also would have been morbidly out-of-character, causing more people to raise an eyebrow than just me staying silent or dismissing bullying as wrong, I did have that brief period where I pretended not to like certain things (including boys, but that's not the point here) that were associated with gay culture.  I watched Will and Grace on the down-low, I read my copy of Oscar Wilde books secretly and without talking about them, and most importantly I openly detested any music from gay icons, most frequently Barbra Streisand.  It was something someone could have seen through pretty quickly-I was still a massive movie-nerd, and the idea of me dismissing the star of one of my favorite movies at the time as being "not really my thing" was ridiculous.  I would, as I grow up, learn to accept my love of both men and Barbra Streisand, and get over that internalized homophobia by the time I came out, but I do always remember our rocky start whenever I find myself falling for another performance or song that I'm hearing or seeing for the first time.  Like almost everyone who has heard Babs belt out a number, we've had a long history, but I'm glad everything's coming up roses now.

40. "Eternal Flame," The Bangles (1988)

I frequently find myself disparaging the 1980's in terms of music-it's definitely the decade that I find I have the least appreciation for the "popular" sound of the era.  However, there's a couple of big exceptions, perhaps none more so than The Bangles soft-rock ballad about forever love, and wondering if it truly is forever.  And yes, this is yet another song on this list inspired by Gilmore Girls love.

39. "Fix You," Coldplay (2005)

I remember after probably the hardest breakup of my life, I decided to make this my official anthem for it.  The guy I had separated from had always proclaimed this his favorite Coldplay song, but for some reason I'd never really listened to it beforehand.  While the song is more about loss than an end to a relationship, it still suited the moment, and in the years since it has given more hope than sadness to me, as like with all things time has even healed that wound.

38. "The Thrill is Gone," BB King (1969)

We lost The King of the Blues earlier this year, and I appropriately mourned by playing this song a few times on repeat.  With that growl of a beginning, all the way to King's throaty proclamation of the Blues, this is easily his quintessential song, and probably the best example of the entire genre-an absolutely masterpiece.

37. "The Boxer," Simon & Garfunkel (1969)

Despite the fact that they're not going to get a top write-up, Simon & Garfunkel are actually the most represented artists on this entire countdown with six songs (with that many, they don't really need the top write-up).  "The Boxer" is probably their harshest song on the list, showing the very salty bitterness that comes along with life.

36. "I'll Stand By You," The Pretenders (1994)

Oh, why you look so sad?  The opening of this song shows that it isn't your typical rock song, and not just because you have Chrissie Hynde's voice stands out in music.  The song is a solitary anthem, frequently borrowing from Ben E. King's similarly-themed "Stand By Me," but here it's a sign of support rather than a plea for one.

35. "Save Me," Aimee Mann (1999)

I remember the night of the Oscars, I had not yet seen Magnolia (I was too young), and I remembered thinking this song sounded strange, but had been cheering for the Sarah MacLachlan tune.  Years later I realized the error in both mine (and the Academy's ways) as this is hands-down one of the most egregiously-snubbed songs to be nominated for the Oscar.  Moving and effortless.

34. "The Way We Were," Barbra Streisand (1973)

Oscar got this one right, however.  This Marvin Hamlisch-tune is truly romantic, much like the movie which I have seen more times than I can count through the years.  There's a great scene in Gilmore Girls (again!) where Lorelai is describing the movie and talks about the  "bookshelves" and says to her ex-boyfriend "you probably don't remember the bookshelves" and I recall thinking, "I remember the bookshelves."

33. "Back to Black," Amy Winehouse (2006)

Amy Winehouse's life may always be a mirage of drugs and tragedy, but her music, well, it is that in the best sense.  The finest track from her breakout album, "Back to Black" is dark, menacing, and one that shows the harsher reactions we have when we're dumped ("we only said goodbye with words").  It's also a song in the vein of Nina Simone, with an edge even Nina wouldn't have dared to find.

32. "Night Moves," Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band (1976)

Despite listening to a lot of Bob Seger as a child, I never really got into this specific song until fairly recently.  It has slowly become my favorite, a cool nostalgic look at when life was a lot more focused on simple things, and then the way that "autumn rolls in."  Rough, magical, it's sort of a dream how relaxed and effortless this tune is.

31. "Billie Jean," Michael Jackson (1983)

I never really know how to handle Michael Jackson.  Clearly the man made some of the most memorable pop music of the past forty years, but his personal life has pretty much erased any chance of my loving him (I'm sorry, but there's too much smoke there for my taste).  However, it's impossible not to look at a song like "Billie Jean," dance-perfection and lyrically-sculpted, and not see the genius that was there.

Those are my thoughts-what are yours?  With just thirty songs left, are there still songs you're holding out for?  Have you been enjoying this run-down?  And what are your thoughts on Barbra Streisand?  Share in the comments!

If you've missed any of the past installments, go ahead and click: Part 123456789101112131415, 16

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