Hudson's Ten Favorite Songs

My best buddy I’ve never met, Corey Vilhauer at Black Marks on Wood Pulp, sent me an email today requesting a list of my ten favorite songs of all time. Although I’m a little upset that I didn’t come up with this idea myself, I suppose I have to follow through.

Let’s make this clear, though. There is a huge difference from the ten greatest songs (or singles) of all time and my personal favorites. You’re not going to see “Satisfaction”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Dock of the Bay’, or “Hey Jude”, let alone “Stairway to Heaven” or “Free Bird”. These are MY songs; tunes that I’ll go to my grave defending to anybody and everybody.

  1. Replacements, “I Will Dare”. It’s no surprise that the fanboy that I am would pick a Paul Westerberg song as his favorite of all time…but it really should be everybody’s favorite. In a parallel universe it’s the biggest hit of all time. In a life full of disappointment and angst, there’s something about the optimism of the lyrics that somehow brings a smile to my face no matter how down in the dumps I’m currently feeling. “Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime/I don’t care, meet me tonight/If you will dare, I will dare!” Plus, it’s the song (and the album it came from, Let It Be) that made me aware that the ‘mats were something more than another noisy Minneapolis band.

  2. Rolling Stones, “Wild Horses”. This choice is probably a huge surprise to anybody who knows me. Yes, everybody’s aware that I’ve always been a huge fan of Mick, Keith, and the rest of rock’s greatest geriatrics, but it’s generally the hard-driving rock tracks that appeal to me. “Wild Horses” is that rare ballad that isn’t overly sentimental. In fact, it’s the last nails in the coffin of a relationship, sort of what happens after the thrill of “I Will Dare” is gone forever. “Let’s do some living after the love dies”, sings Jagger. Supposedly, the song originated from a line used after girlfriend Marianne Faithfull came out of a drug-induced coma in Australia.

  3. Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”. I guess my selections are loosely compiling a story. “Idiot Wind” comes after the dying relationship of “Wild Horses”; that inevitable period where a spurned lover truly hates their former mate. Dylan has written plenty of bitter songs over the years but never has his lyrics been THIS biting. “You’re an idiot, babe/It’s a wonder you still know how to breathe”.

  4. Son Volt, “Windfall”. Rock ‘n’ roll (and country) has a long history of road songs, but Jay Farrar’s country-rock lament of a lonely soul traveling the empty highways of middle America is one of the most beautiful examples of the genre. “Switching it over to AM/Searching for a truer sound/Can't recall the call letters/Steel guitar and settle down/Catching an all-night station somewhere in Louisiana/It sounds like 1963, but for now it sounds like heaven…May the wind take your troubles away”.

  5. Bruce Springsteen, “No Surrender”. It would have been easy (and expected) to pick any one of a handful of Springsteen tunes for inclusion -“Rosalita”, “Thunder Road”, “Born To Run”, to name a couple. Yet I’ve always had a soft spot for this declaration of friendship, particularly in it’s place on Born In the U.S.A. right before “Bobbie Jean”’s goodbye note to departing guitarist Little Steve Van Zant. “We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school” – truer words have never been sung.

  6. The Kinks, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”. Over a decade before the arrival of punk rock, Kinks leader Ray Davies issued the genre’s manifesto – “And I don't want to ball about like everybody else/And I don't want to live my life like everybody else/And I won't say that I feel fine like everybody else/'Cause I'm not like everybody else/I'm not like everybody else”. Too bad that the band buried it as a b-side.

  7. The Clash, “White Man In Hammersmith Palais”. A biting look at the English punk scene that they helped create, “White Man” marks the introduction of elements of reggae into the Clash’s sound. It’s also his finest vocal to date. “Turning rebellion into money” indeed.

  8. The Beatles, “Help”. Years after the breakup of the Fab Four, John Lennon explained that this song was his first cry of help. While Lennon was known for embellishing his feelings about the band, he certainly wasn’t in a happy place when he wrote this plea. Nonetheless, “Help” was a turning point for the group as it was one of the first songs to break away from the “Love Me Do”/”She Love You” lyrical template. (Other Beatles songs I contemplated using include “Nowhere Man”, “A Day In the Life”, and “I Am the Walrus”.

  9. Elvis Costello, “Radio Radio”. The rise of punk rock coincided with the decline of commercial radio. Instead of being run by music fans, radio became big business. The Eagles, Peter Frampton, Bee Gees, Styx…the list goes on and on of the bands that were corporate-friendly. “Radio Radio” was our call to arms – “the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools tryin’ to anesethise the way that you feel”. Too bad that the situation is miles worse almost thirty years later.

  10. Lucinda Willaims, “Right In Time”. Probably the most erotic song of all time. Accompanied by a Byrds-y folk-rock backing, Williams “lie(s) on (her) back and moans at the ceiling”. To be the person she’s longing for.


Anonymous said…
"In My Life" is my Beatles pick, I fear, but only because I'm a sucker for the whole "longing look back at a person's legacy" type of song.

I hope you e-mailed this to me, otherwise I'll just have to copy and paste it!

Corey V.

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