XXIII. It Was There, If You Knew Where to Look
By the nineties, I hadn't lived at home for quite a while, so putting this section together was mostly a matter of guessing which parts of my music collection my folks would enjoy. Thus, heavy on the lighter pop side of things, but not a lot of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, P.J. Harvey, etc. Even without those stalwarts, I think it turned out pretty good.
Wicked Game, Chris Isaak
The aural equivalent of a David Lynch movie. Eventually, it was featured in a David Lynch movie.
I Can’t Make You Love Me, Bonnie Raitt
To my knowledge, the greatest song ever written by an All-Pro NFL offensive lineman (Mike Reid, Cincinnati Bengals).
Losing My Religion, R.E.M.
Dance With the Tiger, Rosanne Cash
Kiko and the Lavender Moon, Los Lobos
An entire generation of kids is going to grow up, and when they hear this song wonder, “why is this band covering that song I heard Elmo sing on Sesame Street?” The song came from their incredible album Kiko, their first collaboration with producers Mitch Froom and Tchad Blake. An album of amazing depth, perfectly illustrated by the Duke Ellington-like horns which kick off this song.
Human Touch, Bruce Springsteen
The second time around, Bruce got that whole marriage thing right:
Baby, in a world without pity
Do you think what I'm askin’s too much
I just want to feel you in my arms
Share a little of that Human Touch
Feel a little of that Human Touch
Give me a little of that Human Touch
Harvest Moon, Neil Young
If Ever I Lose My Faith In You, Sting
Mr. Jones, Counting Crows
All I Wanna Do, Sheryl Crow
I’m Alive, Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne has never matched the fame and success that he reached in the late 1970s, but his 1990s albums were criminally underrated. His election to the Hall of Fame was richly deserved.
Seasons of Love, Cast of “Rent”
Push, Matchbox 20
Hand in My Pocket, Alanis Morissette
Walt Whitman’s Niece, Billy Bragg & Wilco
Playing music to a set of Woody Guthrie lyrics that had been packed away for decades, Bragg & Wilco’s collaboration came totally out of left field, and exceeded just about everyone’s expectations. A classic case of the whole exceeding the sum of its parts.
I’ve Been Everywhere, Johnny Cash
Not Dark Yet, Bob Dylan
After nearly two decades of work that could only be classified as mediocre when judged against that which had come before, the release of Time Out of Mind in 1997 qualifies as one of the great moments in rock history. As good as anything Dylan has ever done, it was (in the words of Greil Marcus) “a bleak, blasted album,” one that proved in no uncertain terms that Dylan could still have an impact. A decade later, he is still going strong.
Ray of Light, Madonna
Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams
Ghost In This House, Alison Krauss
The voice of Alison Krauss on this song is nothing less than a gift from God.
Man! I Feel Like A Woman, Shania Twain
I Try, Macy Gray
Smooth, Santana featuring Rob Thomas