Day 44. Your favorite song from the 90s
“Locked Out” – Crowded House
As we continue the “Your favorite song of the XXs” series, you should know I’m technically breaking the rules with my dates. For an explanation, go here.
So we’re up to the 90s. A decade that will be forever associated with flannel and Seattle. And yet there was so much more.
A lot of people would probably have picked something by Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Me? I never bought into the Nirvana myth. (If you ask me, Dave Grohl was the really talented one in that band. The Foo Fighters are just so much better.) And I would piss the Pearl Jam people off because instead of something off Ten (which they treat like some sort of sacred cow), I’m much more likely to pick a song like “Leash,” “Spin The Black Circle” (Pearl Jam’s ode to vinyl) or “Off He Goes.”
Not familiar with a song I’ve mentioned?
Click above to hear samples.
Overall, I never really got into the grunge thing. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. There were too many “me too” bands that got airplay that were simply mediocre. Or just plain bad. As a result, the grunge fad (yes, it was a fad) took the attention away from other bands that were either as deserving of it, or in many cases more so.
Crowded House falls into that category. They scored a huge hit the first time out with “Don’t Dream It’s Over” in 1986, but if you were to ask most people, they probably couldn’t tell you much after that. The fact is they released another three albums before (in order):
- Breaking up
- Drummer Paul Hester killing himself
- Band leader Neil Finn reforming the band (seemingly in some sort of guilt-driven response)
“Locked Out” was on Together Alone, released in October 1993. It was an interesting time for me. I’d gotten my first job out of college and had moved into my first real apartment. I can picture pulling into the Royal Park Apartments while listening to “Locked Out” on WBRU. When I got the album, I immediately latched on to the song as my favorite track, an upbeat, guitar-driven track that belied its lyrical subject matter. (The rest of the album? Meh. I wasn’t thrilled with it. I felt the songs were all too similar in tempo and mood. I wanted more stuff like “Locked Out,” frankly. But this was one case where repeated listenings definitely bore fruit, so much so that now Together Alone is my favorite Crowded House album.)
Neil Finn is a craftsman. He tends to write complex songs that sound deceivingly simple, with lyrics that sometimes make you scratch your head. (“Locked Out” doesn’t fall into either of those categories. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for me to get into quickly.) While Crowded House was huge in Australia, they just never got the attention they deserved here.
Side note: We went to see Crowded House on that tour at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. I remember that the opening act was some unknown chick named Sheryl Crow. She had some song—”All I Wanna Do” I think she called it—that was about to be released as a single. She pointed out that the poet whose poem she used as the lyrics was in the audience. I wonder what ever happened to her? Flash in the pan, I guess.
So like, every other one of these decade things, I have some runners-up. Again these are highlights, not a comprehensive list:
- “Ride With Duce”—Ric Ocasek. Never released in the U.S (but you can listen here). Was on an aborted album, Negative Theater, that only got release in Europe. You can pick up on a copy on eBay right now for cheap—somewhere between $200 and $400. (Buy two!) Luckily I got an MP3 somewhere for free. Don’t tell anyone.
- “Dim”—dada. “Dizz Knee Land” got all the attention from Puzzle. “Dim” is a rocker that probably could have been just as popular. It’s a good late night highway-driving song.
- “Tremble For My Beloved”—Collective Soul. These guys are sort of like AC/DC in that you know exactly what you’re getting every time. But they know how to write a catchy riff.
- “MMMBop”—Hanson. Shut up! I like it. There’s nothing wrong with some bubblegum every once in a while. I said shut up!
- “Birdhouse In Your Soul”—They Might Be Giants. I’m always amazed at how this song can instantly get an entire audience bouncing up and down in unison. Plus, it’s narrated by a freakin’ night light. How can you not like that?
- “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”—They Might Be Giants. This easily could have been my pick for favorite cover song. Just remember: every gal in Constantinople lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople. So if you’ve a date in Constantinople, she’ll be waiting in Istanbul.
- I’ll Be Your Shelter”—Taylor Dayne. I should hate this song, especially since it was written by the despised Diane Warren. What can I say? Everyone has a weakness. (Two if you count “MMMBop”)
- “The Dividing Line”—Genesis. Figures the first drum solo Genesis does is on the album after Phil Collins leaves. No matter, this song rocks. All 7:45 of it.
- “Wildflowers”—Tom Petty. This is a pretty song that I’m surprised wasn’t released as a single.
All right. I’m off to hide from all the flannel-wearing Kurt Cobain and Ten fanatics. Or those who want to kill me for “MMMBop” and “I’ll Be Your Shelter.” But in the meantime, what did I miss? What’s your favorite of the 90s?