Posts Tagged ‘Top 10’

By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

Last week, when I introduced the Turtle’s weekly theme of Top 10 Song of All-Time, I said part of the purpose was to celebrate “the diversity of musical tastes.”

And the tastes were certainly diverse.

The Turtle Top 10 Lists appear in the new issue of The Eagle! Read it at

The Turtle Top 10 Lists appear in the new issue of The Eagle! Read it at

Five authors, five lists, and (unless I am mistaken) only ONE song was mentioned twice: Frank Sinatra’s version of “The Way You Look Tonight” made my Honorable Mentions list and was in Dr. Peter Stern’s Top 5. My Top 25 songs included, arguably, 12 or more genres of music. I wasn’t trying purposefully to be eclectic; those are just my tastes in music. Yet still, only one match.

There is a reason why I find this lack of matches interesting.

When people are getting to know someone new – colleagues, friends, dates, whatever – there are some typical topics that come up: favorite movies, TV shows, and music. In several of my classes, I even do an icebreaker that involves sharing our favorites in those categories. My reasoning is that this info is a nice, safe starting point: it is not too personal, it reveals a little bit about ourselves, and it potentially provides some points of commonality.

As we share this info, it seems like it should have value. We value and love our music; it is a part of our daily lives. Music attaches to moments in our memories. It, sometimes literally, becomes the soundtrack to our lives. It must have value, right? Thus, when we hear someone else likes the same music, there is an initial inclination to think this hints at a deeper connection.

Likewise, if meeting a date, people may later tell their friends, “He/she had GREAT taste in music!” (Which is really just a biased, narcissistic way of saying, “They like the SAME music as me!”) This connection wants to be a hint at compatibility.

However, this information about musical tastes turns out to be largely irrelevant in establishing any kind of relationship with another person.

I consider all of the Turtle Hall of Famers who compiled song lists to be my friends. I love them all: I enjoy working with them, hanging out with them, talking to them. There were some songs on their lists that I also like, or even love. There were some songs and artists that I utterly detest. But, generally speaking, our musical interests are radically different.

Beyond them, I don’t know anyone in my personal world who would have a list of songs that shaped up exactly like mine: not family, not people I’ve dated, none of my friends.

Yes, there may be particular artists or songs that we have in common, but my unique set of favorites is just that: unique. And the lists from the other Turtle HOFers were also unique.

If we used the lists as some kind of personality test before knowing each other, it might suggest we are all too different to get along. Yet, we do get along.

As time has gone on, I’ve grafted musical tastes from other people onto my own. I think we all do this. Likewise, others have come to know and love new music through me.

And that, I believe, is the true value of the lists we created last week. It wasn’t for readers to see which author they most identify with, or which author they believe has the “best taste” in music. The lists simply do not work as a compatibility or personality test. Rather, the lists were an opportunity for diversity and sharing; it was an opportunity to expose people to artists, songs, and genres they may not have otherwise taken a look at.


By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

When Paul Gaszak approached me about his idea to do a ‘favorite songs’ series of posts, I thought “what a great idea.”  As I sat down to start compiling my list, I realized it was not going to be as easy as I initially assumed.  Some dilemmas:

  • What were my criteria going to be?  Favorite songs spanning all genres?  Should I add Beethoven, and/or Miles Davis to the list?
  • Should I pick recent songs that have lately become favorites, or old standards that I have loved for years?
  • Can I have a favorite song by an artist I don’t like that much?

I realized something interesting about my music tastes.  I really don’t focus upon songs as much as I do albums. I think I would have had a much easier time compiling a list of my favorite albums, or even favorite bands, than favorite songs. Nonetheless, I persevered and came up with a list.  It is 1.) made up solely of rock/pop/r&b and 2.) composed of songs that I have loved for at least 5 years.

Here it is, ordered chronologically from oldest to most recent.

  • Gimme Shelter, by The Rolling Stones, 1969: ‘The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?”  That is the classic rock and roll question. I love both bands, but I can’t say there is ONE Beatles song that is my favorite. So, I chose Gimme Shelter by the Stones because it just seems to encapsulate the late 1960’s.  It is unfortunate that the Stones are now the symbol of geriatric rockers because they were once bad-ass rebels.  Just goes to show that real rock is the art of  rebellious youth.

  • My Cherie Amour, by Stevie Wonder, 1969: This is simply a perfect love song. It is impossible not to put a smile on your face. Your body just sways when Stevie starts to sing.
  • London Calling, by The Clash, 1979: I needed some punk rock.  This has always been my favorite Clash song. Not an original choice, but when the hard-driving guitars hit in time with the pounding drums, you gotta move.
  • Welcome to the Terrordome, by Public Enemy, 1989: Still one of my favorite rap songs, by one of my favorite rap groups. Chuck D was/is incredible. Politics, anger, poetry.
  • Waterfall, by The Stone Roses, 1989: A perfect pop song. Between 1988 and 1990, The Stone Roses created incredibly infectious music.  I highly recommend their eponymous 1989 debut album for 11 perfect pop songs much like the one I chose.
  • Sennen, by Ride, 1991: Ride is mostly forgotten today, but twenty years ago they captured the ‘shoe-gazing’ flash of the early 90’s. Wall-of-sound production, jingly-jangly guitars, whispered lyrics.  Love it.
  • Lover, You Should’ve Come Over, by Jeff Buckley, 1994:  Jeff Buckley released the album ‘Grace’ in 1994.  Three years later, while working on his second album, he drowned in the Mississippi River. A tragic ending for an artist with incredible potential.  Here is a live version of my favorite song from his finished masterpiece.
  • Paranoid Android, by Radiohead, 1997: Ah, what Radiohead song to pick?  I will go for this one simply for the line, “Ambition makes you look pretty ugly, kicking screaming Gucci little piggy.” Another live version.  Radiohead is amazing live.
  • Via Chicago, by Wilco, 1999: For me, Wilco is an ‘album band’ more than a ‘song band’. Their albums have been great, but I can’t say many of their songs would be in my top ten.  However, Via Chicago is an exception.  My wife makes fun of me for liking ‘sad bastard’ music, and I would say this song definitely fits into that category.
  • The Way He Sings, by My Morning Jacket, 2002: My Morning Jacket does something different with each album.  Though I also enjoy their more experimental stuff, this shows their melodic chops.

So, there you go.  I don’t often listen to many of these songs at this point in my life, but they go up on my all-time favorites. I intentionally avoided more recent music because I can’t be sure my favorite song of this year will still be a favorite in 2014. However, there are a couple songs that look promising.   You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb by Spoon, Laredo by Band of Horses, Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes, Skinny Love by Bon Iver, Green Aisles by Real Estate, Dance Away by Smith Westerns or Lazuli by Beach House have a good chance of making this list in the future. We will need to wait and see.

By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

This week on The Flaneur’s Turtle, we are celebrating the summer music season and the diversity of musical tastes by sharing our Top 10 Favorite Songs of All-Time! Each author will have their own list and their own criteria for their Top 10.

For my list, I used gut reaction to pull 45 finalists out of my entire music collection. From there, I mulled over some hard choices to narrow the list to 35, then 25, then finally my Top 10. Like everyone, I have my “Flavor of the Week” songs I’m addicted to, such as “Beautiful” by Ben Rector, “Happy” by Pharrell Willliams, and “Little Games” by the Colourist. But songs with such an ephemeral standing in my active playlist did not make the cut. My Top 10 are songs that have stood the test of time and I continue to love them as much as I always have, or even more.

Paul’s Top 10 Songs (alphabetical order by artist)

“Like the Rain” by Clint Black (1996)
Arguably the most sentimental and “cheesy” song in my Top 10, but I care not! This is one of my favorite songs to sing along with, and it has solidly connected itself to many great memories in my life.

“I Go Back” by Kenny Chesney (2004)
I can’t NOT sing along with this song whenever it comes on. It is a tribute to music’s power to connect us to memories and moments in life.

“Showtime” by Electric Six (2007)
Electric Six is my favorite band, and “Showtime” is the short, ridiculous starter to many of their live shows. Non-fans who are unfamiliar with E6’s brand of quirkiness and humor may not get this song, but fans at the shows are ready at the first sound of the opening guitar riff – and at the sight of lead singer Dick Valentine gracing the stage in a purple cape with the word “SHOWTIME” written on it in sparkly letters. Ridiculous and amazing.

“Life, Love, and Happiness” by Brian Kennedy (1996)
I’ve been listening to this song for years, and I still get chills during the intro of the “Live in Belfast” version as the audience is clapping along and Kennedy and his band harmonize on, “Oh, don’t let go again. Because it’s your life, love, your happiness.” (Since you’ve likely never heard of Brian Kennedy, here is an American-popularity-level equivalency for this Irish artist: he is a a judge on Ireland’s version of the “The Voice.”)

“Mudhouse” by Bob Schneider (2006)
Bob Schneider is a legend on the Austin, Texas music scene whose catalog of music is more eclectic than any other artist I’ve encountered, with amazing songs ranging from hard rock to jazz to salsa. “Mudhouse” is a fun, acoustic Hip Hop/Rap song that is a hit at his live shows.

“You Raise Me Up” by Secret Garden w/ Brian Kennedy (2002)
Before “You Raise Me Up” became a global hit that was covered by literally hundreds of artists, including Josh Groban’s very blah version here in America, it began as a song from the Norwegian new age duo Secret Garden with lead vocals from Irish vocalist Brian Kennedy. I stumbled upon the song when it was released in 2002 and instantly loved it (and then, as a consequence, found my way to all of Brian Kennedy’s music). The song proliferated through countless covers and went from unknown to overexposed, but it is the original – and any version led by Kennedy – that is still the best.

“Mission Temple Fireworks Stand” by Paul Thorn (2002)
I don’t even know what to say about the silly, upbeat, amazing gospel-country-rock-ish tune. It is possible you’ve come across a slightly better known cover version by country band Sawyer Brown w/ Robert Randolph.

“Recovery” by Frank Turner (2013)
Frank Turner is an English folk-punk singer-songwriter (that combo will make more sense when you listen to the song) whose energy and resonant lyrics are captivating. He is better known in the UK than in America, but I won’t be surprised if that changes very quickly.

“Somebody Like You” by Keith Urban (2002)
I adamantly defend Country music, because most people who criticize the genre prove just how little they actually know about it within just a sentence or two, by saying something stupid like,  “All country music is just sappy songs about your truck breaking down and your dog running away.” Any real fan of music knows that sweeping generalizations and negative stereotypes about ANY genre just don’t hold up. And when defending Country, one of my prime contemporary counterarguments is Keith Urban. While he has the country twang in his voice (though he’s from Australia), and he has some classically country instruments in the band (banjo, anyone?), his lyrics are fit for any pop-rock song. Beyond that, check out Keith on the guitar during his mid-song solo. The man can absolutely, flat out shred. Country fans know this. Country haters, on the other hand, are missing out on one of the premier guitarists working today.

“Set Me Free” by Velvet Revolver (2003)
The now defunct super group Velvet Revolver wasn’t around long, but they made some incredible music in their short time together, including 2003’s “Set Me Free.” Scott Weiland’s growling, robotic verses are layered atop Duff McKagan’s vicious bass, all paving the way to the soaring choruses. The song is then punctuated by one of legendary guitarist Slash’s finest, and most aggressive, solos.

Honorable Mentions – The Rest of the Top 25 (alphabetical order by artist) 

“Hard Workin’ Man” by Brooks & Dunn
“Mind’s Made Up” by The Frames
“Sad Sad City” by Ghostland Observatory
“Dust N’ Bones” by Guns n’ Roses
“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson
“Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai
“Feels Just Like It Should” by Jamiroquai
“Little L” by Jamiroquai
“99 Problems” by Jay Z
“A Better Man” by Brian Kennedy
“40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)” by Bob Schneider
“Tumblin’ Dice” by Bob Schneider
“The Well” by The Silent Comedy
“The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra