Fifty years, fifty songs, 1969-2018 (I did initially wonder about finishing off with something from this year, but haven’t heard anything I’m certain that I really like yet). With a rule of one track per artist, I’ve endeavoured to find the right balance between artists I love and had to fit in somewhere, somehow (not always successfully; no space for Dylan, for example), and individual songs that simply demanded to be included (which still led to some vicious competition in particular years – yes, it’s possibly cheating to include both Visage and Ultravox, both originally released in 1980, on the grounds that the latter didn’t chart until 1981…).
Much of this is retrospective – that is, I didn’t necessarily like these tracks in the years they were actually released, but only later. That’s obviously true of the 70s ones, as I came to pop music fairly late (the early 80s, in fact), and so the only one of these I definitely knew in the period in question was Dr Hook (one of the two pop/rock records my father owned, along with an early Rolling Stones compilation). But it’s also the case for the late 80s, when either pop music or I lost our ways and I had a few years of obsessive late 60s revivalism (one reason why Britpop never appealed much – I’d already got that sort of nostalgia out of my system), and even more so in the first decade of the new millennium, when I listened almost exclusively to jazz. Even after returning to more popular genres around 2008 thanks to the influence of RR, and then working back through the back catalogues of artists like Mogwai whom I now fell in love with, there are years where nothing much came to mind.*
Are there any obvious patterns in this lot? Probably I’m not the best person to spot them; obviously I think my tastes are eclectic but sophisticated, whereas a more neutral observer might discern some more disturbing trends. Anyway, here we go; as always, it’s the construction of such lists, rather than playing them, that’s the real trip down memory lane, considering all the might have beens…
*Plus the constraint of Spotify not yet having every single track ever recorded. I was more or less resigned to not being able to list the KLF – but why don’t they have Blanck Mass’s Sundowner, for goodness’ sake..?