This is an impossible thing to do, so I decided to keep this list strictly to nostalgic songs (and in the case of Blimp Rock, a new song that I am 100% sure will have nostalgic value to me in the future). These are songs that have shaped my life in one way or another, songs that I always go back to to be reminded why Music is the best.
1. Boney M. | Rasputin
Tension-filled percussion intro? Check. Catchy minor-key hook? You bet. Insanely danceable beat? Yes indeed. Sexy ESL baritone contrasting with female group vocals? And how. Spoken-word bridge? Historical subject matter? Check and check. Basically, Rasputin is the perfect song. Everything that has happened since has just been an attempt at Rasputin.
2. Blimp Rock | The Love That Treats You Right
This is a new song from a new band from Toronto and it came along at the perfect moment, landing on me out of the grey skies of this past winter. I think I’ve listened to it over a hundred times since then, and I think I’ll be listening to it many hundred times more.
3. Men Without Hats | Pop Goes The World
This was the first song from the first album I ever bought with my own money and it means more to me than probably any other piece of musical history. I still remember the excitement of bringing home the cassette and putting it in the player. I haven’t stopped listening to it since 1987.
4. Martha And The Muffins | Echo Beach
This song blew my mind when I first heard it; it’s an amazing Canadian New Wave celebration of escape. Who cares that it’s apparently not really about the Echo Beach in Toronto? Everyone has an Echo Beach. 34 years later, this song still kicks so much ass.
5. Wax Mannequin | Thing Game
Wax Mannequin is unquestionably the most original songwriter in Canada, and I love everything he does. But this song has special sentimental value for me as the first of his songs I ever heard, put on a mix tape for me during a tour of the Yukon by my old bandmate Jenny Omnichord. Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.
6. The Velvet Underground | Foggy Notion
It’s hard to choose just one Velvet Underground song, but Foggy Notion is kind of unbeatable and it’s one that I never ever get sick of. Ever since I found an old Velvet Underground mixtape when I was a teenager, I’ve always wanted to do it again, and although I really have no idea what the it might be, that doesn’t really matter, does it?
7. Paul Simon | Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Paul Simon has always been so good at writing songs like this one, slightly vague stories that make you sympathize with - and even want to be - the main character even though you’re not totally sure what they’re talking about. See also: Duncan; Papa Hobo; Keep The Customer Satisfied.
8. Herman Düne | Little Wounds
The perfect opening to one of the best albums ever. I remember my bandmate Nick playing this for me for the first time in the car on our first tour in Western Canada, and the immediate feeling of certainty that they were about to become one of my favourite bands.
9. The Inbreds | North Window
I’ve been listening to The Inbreds since I was a teenager in Kingston, where they ran a little record label and were also busy being unknowing heroes to a whole lot of High School kids just learning to play instruments and write songs. To really re-live my teenage years, you also need to watch the video, which has the cutest ending ever.
10. Creedence Clearwater Revival | Born On The Bayou
Everyone is always surprised when I tell them CCR is my favourite band. It all comes from long childhood drives across Manitoba with my dad; endless straight highways and bright yellow canola and Creedence Gold the only tape in the car. I was born so far from the bayou but this song will always remind me of the prairies.