First Up...

They say write what you know. So that's what's first up for me. A few years ago, Rolling Stone came out with their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was a great list that I enjoyed reading (and reading about, and discussing in probably too much detail). And it made me think. What songs did I agree with or disagree with and which songs did I think were unfairly left out?

I thought about going through each of the songs and putting in my own two cents, but that just seemed a bit redundant. So I decided to come up with my own list. My own list of what I thought were the Greatest Songs of All Time, just like Rolling Stone (except I'm not really an expert, or a paid journalist, or a magazine that you pay for - you get the idea). I was talking to a friend and joking about the fact that Mozart would be really pissed he didn't make the Top 500 and then this thought occurred to me: Rolling Stone was just doing the greatest songs of the rock & roll era, the last forty-ish years,
their lifetime.

So I decided to publish my own list. This is the Top 100 Songs of
My Lifetime. Songs I love that were released after I was born. That way, I have at the very least a tactile association with them. I was alive when they were.

For those interested in how I came up with the list, I came up with a process that I took pretty seriously. I knew that this wasn't going to be just a "this is a great song!" blog, so I wanted to make sure I was generating a list that was both diverse and interesting. So here's how I did it:

Firstly, I wasn't going to put any Bob Dylan songs on my list. To me, his voice just sounds too ridiculous to be taken seriously. He might just be the Shakespeare of songwriting, but he's not even the Joan Rivers (yes, she wrote a book) of singing. So no Bob for me.

Next, I put a lot of weight on the songs on the list being written by the performers on the list. So you won't get Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" here or even Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," since neither of them had much of anything to do with the writing of their great songs. It may be dismissive, but I have tremendous respect for songwriters and wanted to pay tribute to them.

I wanted diversity in my list, so I specifically decided to have only one entry per band, unless I absolutely could not limit that band/person to just one entry. My favorite band, U2, does have three entries, but I could've put a dozen on here, so I actually showed some restraint. Rolling Stone didn't so much. Of their Top 30, seven were by one band, The Beatles. U2 only has two entries in my Top 30. As far as other artists getting more than one song, there are only three others (I won't tell you who) that got two entries on my list. So even though the second greatest song by The Who may be better than the best song by Dave Matthews Band, I chose diversity over reality.

As far as actually choosing the songs, I just listened to tons of music over about a month. I took songs that I listened to that I thought were great and put them on a list. Then I listened to each of them again to see if they were worth that second listen. That whittled my list down to 182 songs. I had a brief thought like, "Hey, if I just add 18 songs, I'll have a nice list of 200!" Then I thought that was just lazy and started the laborious process of whittling down my list to the 100 I'm going to write about.

So I broke those 182 songs down into groups of fifty (1-50, 51-100 and so on). I weighed each song, "Is this a top 50 of all time?" What I ended up with after that process was 72 songs in my 1-50. So that left me with promoting 28 songs from the 51-100 list (which had 62 songs in its own right) into the first list, giving me my Top 100. That took longer than I thought it would, because there were more than a few songs that were thatclose to being in the Top 100.

But once I had my Top 100, I broke them down again into tens (1-10, 11-20, etc.). This time, my top 10 only had 9 songs, but my top 11-20 had 16. So again began the process of grouping and narrowing, promoting and demoting until the list ended up as the one I'm going to do posts on. So feel free to go through the process yourself and see what stacks up for you. I'd love to see other people's lists (and even read whatever they'd like to write about them), so feel free to leave comments.

Most people (if they ever were to read these posts) would find this list, and my writing it, as a pretentious waste of time, my wife being one of them. My best friend, my brothers, and my father in law, however, might get a kick out of it, though. So Todd, Todd, Scott and Dad, here we go...

(My brother, Scott, came up with a great idea for this list. He said that he'd like to be able to listen to the song while he was reading what I had to say about it. So I've added a video of each song from Youtube so you can hear (and see) the song as you read about it.)
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