Finding the joy in choosing my Top 10 songs

In the summer of 2020, my local radio station – WXPN – announced that they were reviving an idea from 2004 where their listeners voted for the 885 greatest songs – the 885 representing their place on the radio dial, 88.5. This time they were more ambitious, they plan to find the 2020 greatest songs. Listeners were asked to post their top 10 before the end of October to help build the list.

If you’ve read other blogs, you’ll know that I love listening to and writing about my love for music. Here’s a great opportunity to indulge that passion.

In the age of Zoom, I saw an opportunity. How about I get a few like minded people together and pick our Top 10s and she them as a group, maybe with some rationale if you want to explain your choices. 

While I think we spent an enjoyable hour, there was some stress, and no little regret at leaving out songs that were like old friends, but didn’t quite make the cut.

Some strategies we heard about for selecting your top 10 best:

  • Google, Amazon, NPR were all sources of best music lists
  • Returning to what was on the 2004 list 
  • Scrolling through playlists on many of the music platforms
  • For me, leaving through my extensive vinyl collection 

In the end the lists felt as much about what got excluded as what was included. For me, I can’t really explain why artists like Richard Thompson, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder and Emmylou Harris didn’t make the list.

Being OK with your list:

  • Deciding to focus on how wonderful the music was that made the list. 
  • Recognizing that some brilliant music wasn’t going to make it, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t brilliant.
  • Understanding that most of the lists included songs from the 60s and 70s – decades that have had a disproportionate impact on much of the popular music that followed in the 40 to 50 years after.
  • Recognize that the 10 songs might not make the best playlist, but individually, these songs bring you great joy, and great memories.

So here’s my challenge for you – pick your Top 10 (and ideally write them in the comments section below). And then find platform of choice, listen to them and reflect on what memories are stirred and how much joy this set of songs gives you.   Namaste

My list:

  • The Beatles – Golden Slumbers
  • Gram Parsons (with Emmylou Harris) – Return of the Grievous Angel
  • Laura Nyro – Stone Soul Picnic
  • Coldplay (and Jay-Z) – Lost+
  • R.E.M. – Man on the Moon
  • Ali Farka Toure – AI Bine
  • Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On
  • The Band – The Weight
  • Nick Drake – Northern Sky
  • Nick Cave – Into My Arms
1 reply
  1. Brendan
    Brendan says:

    Crosby, Stills & Nash – Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
    Green Onions
    Simon & Garfunkel – America
    The Miracles – You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me
    Bob Dylan – Desolation Row
    Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – Express Yourself
    Iggy Pop – Lust for Life
    Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay
    The La’s – There She Goes
    Harry Chapin – Taxi


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