What Is Your All Time Favorite Song?

photo by Christopher Nelson

We are asking you now to vote for your favorite 20 songs of all time. Let’s face it, this is impossible. You risk the knowledge that you’ve had to leave out songs that you know are actually better than the ones you’ve put down. There are classic songs that should be on your list, songs that are found on all best of lists… but THIS list, this list is harder because its YOUR favorite and not anyone else’s.

It’s easy to judge one another when we see what you put down and even more so what order its in or heaven forbid, what you left out! Plus a list is a fluid thing… it’s going to change. You might leave off a song you love right now, but in five years that could still be one of your favorite songs. Your mood, your age, your ability to remember every song you’ve ever heard for as long as you’ve been alive… these all play a part.

I just sat down and gave myself one hour to put together my top 99 songs. Why 99? Because 100 seems final. There are a lot of things that influenced my list. There are just obvious loves of bands songs (Pixies, U2, Talking Heads) and there are songs that I fell in love while listening to and played a part in my wedding (Sigur Ros and Eric Satie). My show played a massive part of my list with many favorites showing up there. One of the strongest influences for me was a narrative. It turns out from looking at my list I love a story within a song (The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers, LCD Soundsystem, Mountain Goats, U2). My #2 is sometimes my #1, “Lisa” from The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers. It’s one of the most honest, moving songs I’ve ever heard. They are able to take a story of an imaginary friend and make it a heartbreaking song about moving on and loss. Maybe the most influential was the death of my mom and the songs that were there during that time, at least my #1 which is both narrative and in my opinion nails the entire process of losing someone and its something that gave me comfort when I needed it most and for that, I owe it my top spot.

Now, we’re asking you to vote for YOUR all time favorite songs. You have just until 1PM today!

1. LCD Soundsystem “Someone Great”
2. The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers “Lisa”
3. Pixies “Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
4. Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart”
5. Pixies “Where Is My Mind”
6. The Smiths “How Soon Is Now”
7. Eric Satie “Gymnopedie No 1”
8. Talking Heads “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)”
9. Mountain Goats “This Year”
10. Sigur Ros “Med Sud I Eyrun”
11. The Jesus and Mary Chain “Just Like Honey”
12. New Order “Age of Consent”
13. Pixies “Debaser”
14. Replacements “Can’t Hardly Wait”
15. U2 “Red Hill Mining Town”
16. Janes Addiction “Jane Says”
17. The Verve “Bittersweet Symphony”
18. LCD Soundsystem “All My Friends”
19. Stone Roses “I Wanna Be Adored”
20. The The “This is the Day”
21. Echo and the Bunnymen “The Killing Moon”
22. New Order “Regret”
23. U2 “A Sort of Homecoming”
24. U2 “With or Without You”
25. Janes Addiction “I Would For You”
26. Smashing Pumpkins “1979”
27. Public Enemy “Fight the Power”
28. Sugar “Hoover Dam”
29. Simon & Garfunkel “The Only Living Boy in New York”
30. Radiohead “Let Down”
31. Shawn Smith “Wrapped In My Memory”
32. The National “Lit Up”
33. Leonard Cohen “Famous Blue Raincoat”
34. Arcade Fire “Wake Up”
35. PJ Harvey “You Said Something”
36. The The “Love is Stronger Than Death”
37. Morrissey “Every Day is Like Sunday”
38. John Lennon “Imagine”
39. Neil Young “Harvest Moon”
40. Johnny Cash “Hurt”
41. Pearl Jam “Alive”
42. Yo La Tengo “You Can Have It All”
43. Nine Inch Nails “Head Like a Hole”
44. New Order “Temptation”
45. Prince “When Doves Cry”
46. Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime”
47. Smashing Pumpkins “I Am One”
48. Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
49. Elbow “Station Approach”
50. Mother Love Bone “Chole Dancer/Crown of Thorns”
51. U2 “Zooropa”
52. Robert Earl Keen “Feelin’ Good Again”
53. English Beat “Save it For Later”
54. Nick Drake “Pink Moon”
55. Joy Division “Transmission”
56. Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues”
57. U2 “All I Want Is You”
58. REM “Fall On Me”
59. Elliott Smith “Between the Bars”
60. Replacements “Within Your Reach”
61. The Smiths “What Difference Does It Make”
62. Band of Horses “Funeral”
63. Foals “Spanish Sahara”
64. Helio Sequence “Keep Your Eyes Ahead”
65. Mazzy Star “Fade Into You”
66. Sugar “Helpless”
67. The Rolling Stones “Sympathy For the Devil”
68. Screaming Trees “Dollar Bill”
69. Miles Davis “Freddie Freeloader”
70. REM “Nightswimming”
71. Snow Patrol “Run”
72. Gui Boratto “No Turning Back”
73. The Rolling Stones “Get Off Of My Cloud”
74. The Jayhawks “Waiting For the Sun”
75. Jeff Buckley “Hallelujah”
76. Jose Gonzalez “Heartbeats”
77. Lou Reed “Perfect Day”
78. Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
79. Unkle “The Answer”
80. Magnetic Fields “Papa Was a Rodeo”
81. Maps “To the Sky”
82. MGMT “Kids”
83. Michael Jackson “Billie Jean”
84. Simple Minds “Don’t You (Forget About Me)
85. Ministry “Stigmata”
86. Velvet Underground “Sweet Jane”
87. We Are Augustines “Chapel Song”
88. Moby “God Moving Over the Face of the Water”
89. Washed Out “Feel It All Around”
90. Sunny Day Real Estate “In Circles”
91. Unkle “Lonely Soul”
92. World Party “Is It Like Today”
93. XTC “Dear God”
94. The Waterboys “The Whole of the Moon”
95. Pixies “Alison”
96. Breeders “Cannonball”
97. Yo La Tengo “Damage”
98. Baby Dayliner “You Push I’ll Go”
99. Mint Royale “Show Me”

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  1. Leah
    Posted September 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting your top 100.
    I created a “John’s Top 100″ playlist and look forward to listening to it!

  2. Taylor
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Wow, what a challenge. While I like it, I also love NOT remembering my “favorites”… I’ll hear something on the radio, for example, that I haven’t heard for years and say out loud “I love this song!”. It’s a similar idea as John’s 99. Or maybe I’m just daunted about where to start ;)

  3. Jim D.
    Posted December 16, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Wow, great list. No wonder I love your show!

  4. John F
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    I don’t think I could really do this off the top of my head. It is impossible and I’d be disappointed almost immediately when I realized a song I loved was left off. I love Sugar’s Hoover Damn as much as you do, but I was intrigued by The Only Living Boy in New York…I’m a big S&G fan and I just saw Tori Amos at The Paramount do Scarborough Fair and loved it. I live in Boston, but was out there on business. Anyway, I was baffled by a couple of your choices with regard to Talking Heads (The Big Country for me), Nirvana (probably In Bloom for me), XTC (where do I start) and PJ Harvey (probably This is Love for me), but this isn’t an exact science. I’ll tip my hat to Billie Jean though. I’ll take Gimme Shelter by you know who as my favorite song just ahead of half a dozen tracks by The Who, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles…love your show!

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