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Belated "50th" Review - Hishyeness' Top 10 Singles
Top 10 Singles
Member Name: Hishyeness
Top 10 Singles
Date: 26/07/09, updated on 27/07/09 (164 review reads)
Advantages: A set of tracks that would bless any desert island
Disadvantages: I couldn't choose more
I really should have submitted this Top 10 as my 50th review, as these sorts of things seem to be used to commemorate such milestones around here. However, after much thought and prevarication I present to you, my interested public (having read this far I feel I can take your mild curiosity as confirmation of interest) - Hishyeness' Top 10 singles of all time.
My criteria were simple. It has to be a song which musically and lyrically has inspired or touched me in some exceptional way. I also limited myself to only one song per artist, otherwise one particular band would have dominated, and it would have made more sense to review one of their greatest hits compilations. Accordingly, I have cheated, by including an honourable mentions section where there is more than one song from an artist or band that bears consideration.
I found some of the choices I had to make exceptionally difficult, and in some cases, it almost felt like I was denying a favoured child a seat at the table. However, I think my final selection is as good as it's going to get. Here goes (in no particular order).
1 > Shake the Disease - Depeche Mode
STD (yes, I appreciate the irony), Depeche Mode's thirteenth single was released as part of their first singles compilation in 1985. I was a mawkish, socially-retarded teenager when it first came out - whose idea of courting a girl was writing daft poetry, pining from afar and following them around like a puppy as they told me how heartbroken they were by the unrequited love of some clueless jock on the swim team. This song captured my awkwardness and inability to verbalise how I felt perfectly, as it speaks of miscommunication and pleads for understanding.
"I'm not going down on my knees begging you to adore me - can't you see it's misery and torture for me ... you know hard it is for me to shake the disease that takes hold of my tongue in situations like these..."
Honourable Mentions: "A Question of Lust" (Black Celebration - 1986) and "Home" (Ultra - 1997)
2 > How Soon is Now? - The Smiths
Also released in 1985 (are we sensing a theme yet?) this seminal song from the Smiths, originally a B-side to "William it was Really Nothing", but later released on the compilation "Hatful of Hollow" was an instant classic. With its insistent and pounding beat, Johnny Marr's oscillating guitars, and Morrissey's morose and plaintive vocals, it seems to sum up teenage angst perfectly, especially with the lyrics in the middle of the song:
"There's a club where you've got to go, where you could meet somebody who really loves you, so you go and go stand on your own, and you leave on your own and you go home and you cry and you want to die."
Honourable Mentions: "There is Light That Never Goes Out" (The Queen is Dead - 1986); "Half a Person" (Louder Than Bombs - 1987)
3 > Leaving Me Now - Level 42
Their second single from the 1985 album "World Machine" this is Level 42 ballad is about love and trust lost - "It seems true love is so rare, seems all I've known is deceit..." and the recriminations and regrets of breaking up. This song is intimately connected with a particularly memorable ex from the time, who I found two-timing with my then best friend. Needless to say, neither relationship survived. I recently had the pleasure of seeing Level 42 in concert for the first time ever at the Hampton Court Festival and to my delight, they played this old classic live. The closing, hauntingly simple piano riff is brilliant.
"Love is a ship we all want to steer, through troubled times, cross an ocean of tears, a midnight sea that swells in your eyes, takes just one look to know I'm still mesmerised."
Honourable Mentions: "A Floating Life" (True Colours - 1984) and "Seven Years" (Guaranteed - 1991)
4 > Say Hello, Wave Goodbye - Soft Cell
This classic (lamentably covered by David Gray) was released in 1981 from their Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret album and is a wonderfully crafted, cynical, and sometimes vicious tale of a disastrous affair. This was, for me, the ultimate break-up song, but thankfully, I never had the courage to send it to any of my lost loves:
"What about me? Well, I'll find someone that's not going cheap in the sales. A nice little housewife who'll give me a steady life, and won't keep going off the rails."
Honourable Mentions: "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go" mix (1981)
5 > Cinderella - Steven Curtis Chapman
There are few songs that stir me to tears, but this one never fails to do so whenever I hear it. Chapman, whose mainstay is CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) changes his focus from Christian worship and sings of his daughter, growing up in front of his eyes - as a child, a teenager and a woman about to me married - and how he knows that one day she will be gone. I imagine dancing with my own daughter to this song at her wedding. Taken from his 2007 album "This Moment":
"And I will dance with Cinderella, while she is here in my arms, 'cos I know something the prince never knew. I will dance with Cinderella, I don't want to miss even one song, 'cos one day soon, the clock will strike midnight and she'll be gone."
Honourable Mention: "Fingerprints of God" (Speechless - 1999)
6 > Cowboys & Angels - George Michael
I am a closet George Michael fan, but what makes this song so special is the person I associate with it and the sax solo at the end which (along with "Careless Whisper") had me dabbling with the instrument for a brief time before I realised I was bereft of any talent with it. It's an oh-so smooth, wistful and aching ballad that rewards repeated listens. For me, it represents yet another unrequited teenage love, but in this case, we are fast friends many years later:
"Cowboys and angels, they all have the time for you - why should I imagine that I'd be a find for you? Why should I imagine, that I'd have something to say?"
Honourable Mention: "Kissing a Fool" (Faith - 1987)
7 > Birdhouse in Your Soul - They Might Be Giants
This quirky song from the 1990 album Flood was a classic at university, but what makes it for me is that I used to sing it to my daughter to put her to sleep when she was an infant. The song takes the form of a narrative from a night light - a parrot no less - hoping to live up to the example of his forebears. She loves it to this day.
"There's a picture opposite me, of my primitive ancestry, which stood on rocky shores and kept the beaches shipwreck free. Though I respect that a lot, I'd be fired if that were my job, after killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts..."
8 > The Door - Turin Brakes
I am a relatively recent convert to this excellent folksy band with their simple, acoustic sound, and this is by far my favourite song (from their "The Optimist LP" in 2001). This beautiful, lilting song with its simple melody and harmonies seems like poetry set to music. I could easily listen to this over and over for hours. It's meaning is indeterminate, but that just adds to my intrigue.
"On the inside it hurts less, the outside seems so cold. I need to climb, got to find some tenderness, before I get too old. Sun come from behind, hurts my eyes, it dries my hair so nice. I watch the boiling sea meet the open sky, but my soul still feels like it's ice."
Honourable Mentions: "Mind Over Money (The Optimist LP - 2001) and "Fishing For a Dream" (JackInABox - 2005)
9 > Possession - Sarah McLachlan
The first single from Sarah McLachlan's 1993 album "Fumbling toward Ecstasy" is a haunting narrative written from the perspective of an obsessive fan, who seeks to possess the object of his affections. Sarah wrote the song after receiving a fair bit of wanted attention - one fan (who later committed suicide) even sued her, claiming the song was based on his love letters. She has credited the composition of this song as her therapy. It's a perfect showcase for her unique, lilting voice.
"Oh you speak to me in riddles and you speak to me in rhymes, my body aches to breathe your breath, your words keep me alive."
Honourable Mentions: "Good Enough" (Fumbling Toward Ecstasy - 1993) and "Path of Thorns (Terms) (Solace - 1991)
10 > Desafinado/Slightly Out of Tune - Stan Getz/Frank Sinatra
There's something about bossa nova and jazz samba that really speaks to me. Desafinado is without doubt my favourite song from the genre, and there must be around 15 versions of it in my music collection. From the original Antonio Carlos Jobim instrumental composition made famous by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd in the 60's, to the English version by Sinatra and Jobim, and even the George Michael duet with samba doyenne Astrud Gilberto in the late 90's, all of them offer a new and exciting interpretation of this absolute classic. I even had a Portuguese friend give me a phonetic transliteration so I could sing along to the original. The Sinatra version is wistful, light-hearted and wonderful (as is the one recorded by Ella Fitzgerald) and can be found on "The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings" - a 1995 compilation album released to coincide with his 80th birthday, but originally recorded in 1969:
"The thing that you would see if you would play your part, is even if I'm out of tune I have a gentle heart. I took your picture with my trusty Rollaflex, and now all I have developed is a complex..."
I hope you enjoyed reading that eclectic list as much as I did in putting it together. It's been fun so far here on DooYoo, and I look forward to more of the same when I hit the next milestone.
© Hishyeness 2009
Summary: Ten songs that provide the soundtrack to my life...