Non-definitive of course, pretty random in fact and in no particular order…

1. Elvis Costello And The Attractions | Man Out Of Time
I’ve loved this song since I was introduced to it when I was about 16, but I don’t think I really understood (the only) Elvislegit genius until I was in my thirties. His is an unusually effortless command of Melody, turn-of-Phrase and Chord Progression and this is just one of a countless number of perfectionistic micro-masterpieces. That the lyrics conjure up vivid images of a romantic, high-heeled London is a bonus. The arrangement and production are unabashed in their Lushness and Grandeur and the anthemic chorus refrain is Timeless and True. I Love the audacity of bookending it with the abandoned original, New-Wave version, which you or I would never think to do but which works so beautifully we can’t now imagine it being absent. I suppose it’s the same audacity that led the man to name himself Elvis, or later, Napoleon Dynamite. Truly heroic.

2. Prince And The Revolution | When Doves Cry
Speaking of audacious and heroic, this guy knew he was awesome enough to declare himself Prince (just of everywhere) and I imagine he’s now more well-known and admired than any officially-anointed Earth- prince, living or dead. I’m aware that it’s not a wildly original notion that Prince was pretty good, but please permit me now to put forth my two cents on this, my very favourite of his many beautiful and peerless songs. This one is so well-written that for the most part the only accompaniment to the incredible vocal performance is a drum loop and occasional minimal melody. It’s so sparse but this paradoxically creates a kind of Hugeness. When the strings (well, pad-keys) finally enter subtly on the final chorus at 2:50 it’s a truly epic moment. Not that they needed it, but the way the lyrics are framed gives them an inexplicably weighty and profound quality. Seminal.

3. Sonic Youth | Schizophrenia
Speaking of seminal, this song represents a genuine Eureka! moment for Guitar Music and, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Human Expression in and of it's very self. You don't need me to tell you that this band were truly great and obscenely influential while they were at it. Their signature-syntax has infiltrated the Rock-repartee so fundamentally that it's impossible to imagine a time before them or to fully appreciate how unusual and genuinely subversive their approach was 30 years ago, when Sister was released. On a purely personal level though, this song alone is home to several palpably Life-changing moments. The dissonant, primal whaling at 1:30, the haunting harmonic exchange at 1:45, Kim Gordon lamenting that The Future's static, it's already had it..., that devastating melodic build from 2:45... All are weird watershed moments that defy academic explanation. Truly a sonic coup. The World will never be the same.

4. Jim O’Rourke | Ghost Ship In A Storm
Speaking of Eureka moments, that's the given name of the album in question now. It's a very apt title for it and I like to believe Jim O'Rourke, in an uncharacteristically self-assured and sassy statement, knew he had hit on something big. That's not to say that Jim has any reason to be abashed; his is an intimidating LinkedIn profile, or whatever the analogue version of that is. He has produced at least a couple of the World's great albums and was even casually a member of Sonic Youth for 6-odd years. I first saw them at Shepherd's Bush Empire with Jim O-Ro in tow when I was about 15 and I was left literally (in the correct sense of the term) speechless. As a solo artist he spent many years in Chicago experimenting valiantly with the limits of Sound and then equally gallantly decided to experiment with traditional songs, even drawing influence from Burt Bacharach, seemingly the last musical taboo. A singular and wholly realised Musical Genius. What a dude.

5. The Necks | Rum Jungle
Speaking of Jim, he's a big fan of these guys and it's an influence he wears on his sleeve, much to his already-considerable credit. I'm cheating with this choice again actually. Straight-up bone-idly forgoing the rules now. Shaking this shit up. This is an honourable mention, as whatever attributes constitute a song have been systematically and emphatically dismantled by The Necks and they've emerged on the other side of the Psycho-Phonic filter with a genuinely unique and beautiful Musical form. Every time they walk on-stage or into a studio they have no pre-conceived ideas of what they will play. They set out on a sonic journey and en route create an unique, improvised abstract composition that plays not only with the ambience and acoustics of the room but with the very meta-mind of the audience. I implore you to see it live, it's an experience that makes you reconsider the fundamental properties of Music itself and... It's fucking awesome.

6. Wilco | At Least That’s What You Said
Picking the Wilco song that I most adore is an impossible and futile task but, thankfully, not one I have to perform regularly or that has any consequence whatsoever. The afore-multi-mentioned Genius-in-chief James O’Rourke produced this; maybe the greatest record of all time if such a thing existed, A Ghost Is Born. His Jazz-infused shapes and Experimental tendencies are all over it, his production choices are so understated and considered that it has an almost Otherworldly Grace and Glacial Tastefulness. The core of the record, though, is Jeff Tweedy’s prodigious song-writing, which almost always has an unusually pronounced classic quality, allowing the arrangements and musicianship to confidently veer off into unchartered waters without ever losing sight of the song. Every time I hear the unexpectedly dissonant, stabbing kick-in I'm taken aback. Another bonafide Eureka! moment.

7. The Band | The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Speaking of classic, this song embodies every sense of the word and defies the insensitivity of genre. Every element works in harmony with every other. The spellbinding, soulful chord progression, the perfectly stated instrumentation. The gorgeous, roomy recording. It's hard to imagine another group of musicians then or especially now being able to discuss the American Civil War, from the perspective of a poor Southerner, with such Authenticity, Balance and Grace. It sounds like it could have been recorded 100 years ago or any time in between. Levon Helm, who grew up in Arkansas, delivers a heart-breaking and authoritative vocal performance for the ages. The second and third verses in particular always seems to destroy me, with some inspired double-time drum licks from Levon and the introduction of what I always assumed was a harmonica but what is in fact in-house innovator Garth Hudson playing the accordion through an array of effects. The World doesn't deserve this basically.

8. Genesis | Carpet Crawl
I don't imagine the self-appointed, imaginary taste-makers of today would consider a Genesis shout-out very cool, or maybe since Mark Kozelek covered this song a couple of years back it's come full-circle and this is now the very pinnacle of Post-Cool obscure references. Who could possibly give a fuck and, even more curiously, why? The fuck? Possibly. My first musical memories are of discovering my dad's Prog-Rock records at a very young age and getting utterly lost in the fantastical worlds that the sprawling double-vinyl, triple-gatefold, quadruple-spangled sleeves conjured up. I forget which early-Genesis album it would have been on, but I can't describe the feeling of first hearing a reprise half-an-hour after the initial passage. I've been attempting to recreate the emotion with my own Music ever since. This was Peter Gabriel's last record with the band, and this is the high point. The combination of piano and harpsichord, the slow crescendo of sixteens on the high-hat. This song remains truly magical to me.

9. Broadcast | Oh How I Miss You
I don't recall when I first heard Broadcast. Over an indeterminable amount of Space-Time though, they've slowly but surely penetrated my Perception-nodes from some intangible place, performing a kind of Transcendental flanking manoeuvre on my cerebral cortex, catching me off-guard in a lucid dream and lulling me into submission with a chorus of sine waves. At any rate, I wish I'd heard this record when it was first released. I really regret never seeing them live, I hear it was incredible. This is a pretty arbitrary song selection (again) as they have a fathomless, beautiful back-catalogue, but this springs to mind presently for some reason. The fact that it's just a couple of bars repeating for just over a minute is irrelevant as it plays on in your subconscious indefinitely, turning your very mind into an Analogue tape-loop machine, the definition deteriorating slowly as the refrain repeats over and over...

10. Tom Waits | Anywhere I Lay My Head
I do remember vividly first hearing Tom Waits. I was around 16 or 17, pretty late to what was clearly an apocalyptically debauched party. I'd never heard anything like it before. Rain Dogs is his tenth studio album and he is firing on all cylinders here. He'd been refining his form for over a decade, slowly amping up the volume on the spaces in-between the notes on the piano, deconstructing the American songbook and seemingly distilling his vocal chords in a whisky barrel. The result on Rain Dogs is so striking, it still sounds super-fresh and entirely timeless, like you've stumbled onto a ghost ship of drunken sailors in the Bermuda Triangle. This is the last song on what is simultaneously a bizarre and a perfect album, the dream combination. The dream combination of those vocals and that brass section is so powerful, it's just final.