Thursday, April 21, 2011

100 Other Songs: Introduction

This companion countdown to my last exercise of 100 hit songs features songs that never made the U.S. Billboard Top 40—in many if not all cases didn't even get within shouting distance of it, though some may have been hits in their own right on UK, rhythm and blues, dance, country, and other charts. That left things much more wide open, in terms of making choices, but oddly seemed to have the effect of making it harder to put together a big list. Maybe it was for reasons as simple as that I didn't have a reference book to hand and instead had to work with only random scraps of notes in piles of old notebooks, previous attempts at such lists, a failing memory, and an overstuffed hard drive.

But these exercises need their ground rules—it's in the nature of things, otherwise we face chaos—so here's one: I set a time limit of 12 minutes, which meant no chance for "The Creator Has a Master Plan," "The Little House I Used to Live In," "Highlands," "The Diamond Sea," "Change Your Mind," "King Kong," "Dark Star," "Who Do You Love," and just about anything by the Allman Brothers or Miles Davis (not easy—there have been periods when I've used "Right Off" and "Pharoah's Dance" like favorite 45 singles of the moment). Maybe I can get it together to do a list of album sides sometime.

Another ground rule: no TV themes, hence sayonara "Captain Kangaroo" and "The Little Rascals," which are short but powerful, putting me instantly back to breakfast cereal in pajamas at the crack of dawn.

I'd also like to say that I'm not unaware of some tendency to favor or even over-favor the music of, approximately in this order, the Beatles, Lou Reed, the Pet Shop Boys, and Jonathan Richman. I did what I could to deal with that, short of an arbitrary rule limiting appearances, which it seems to me would have produced an unfortunate or even egregious distortion. As with James Brown in the last list, I tend to use the number of appearances as well as the rankings as some approximation of how much pressure the catalogs of certain artists are able to bring to bear on me.

A good friend of this blog—the eponymous proprietor over at KindsaLuv—was kind enough to cobble together a PDF of my last countdown, complete with an attractive graphic that he put together from pictures I used. For those interested, it could well make a handy printable/portable edition. Get it here.

Thanks to other list-makers who inspire me to this madness—Phil Dellio, Scott Woods, Steven Rubio, Tim at Antagony & Ecstasy, Stephen at Checking on My Sausages, and the cantankerous crew at Wonders in the Dark. Thanks to Comrade DougJ at Balloon Juice for following along and generously handing out links (and for all his great work at that blog, along with Tim F., Anne Laurie, Kay, cranky blog commander, and everyone else there). Thanks always to everyone who cares. Here we go.

Scheduling notes: For the duration of this countdown, and depending as always on stamina, Fridays will continue on movies and Sundays on books. Saturdays once again devoted to albums, and/or now and then a LAMB Movie of the Month. Everything else is countdown.


  1. I've been erratically blogging and blog-reading for the past few months, and while I've seen your song countdowns on my sidebar I hadn't really followed it. Now I'm going to have to go back to catch up, and follow this one as well.

    Plus I'm in a musical frame of mind, thinking of doing a "May Mixtape" feature where every day is a different YouTube song, following the order of a playlist I've made.

  2. I hope you're still planning to get to your Beatles series. Sounds like an interesting project and I've been looking forward to it.