Hi [NAME DELETED],I realized the minute I hit send that I should have made a plea to couple "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" with Bushwick Bill's "Ever So Clear," because they comprise one experience in my mind. I usually have to listen to them back-to-back.
I've been agonizing. Here's my list, which has a definite Desert-Island-Disc aspect to it -- I thought of how the songs would work in relation to each other.
New Order, "Leave Me Alone" off _Power, Corruption & Lies_
Pavement, "Grounded" off _Wowee Zowee_
Buddy Holly, "Words of Love" off the greatest hits comp of your choice
Throwing Muses, "Hate My Way" off self-titled debut album
The Geto Boys, "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" off _We Can't Be Stopped_
Coming in just a little lower were songs by the Beach Boys, the Cure, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, and Prince.
Charlie, apologizing for the delay.
And then there's the matter of Prince. I feel that "Kiss" ranks right up there with "Good Vibrations" and "Eight Miles High" in the firmament of greatest singles ever. But I don't listen to it that much for some reason. I listen to "When You Were Mine" a lot more and probably like that song and "Pop Life" best from all the songs in his -- here you go, Steven -- oeuvre.
It's remarkable how powerful the compulsion to have a "representative" list or, better said, a list that represents you "best" is.
In the end, I made my extraordinarily painful decision from a list of about 20 songs that inevitably stop me in my tracks. That is, when I hear them, no matter the place, I have to tune everything else out.
Take the Geto Boys song. I don't listen to it out loud much anymore, because of the language problem -- Skylar picks up words so fast it's astonishing -- but I have on many occasions stood perfectly still trying to pick up the barely discernible words of the song from somewhere in the distance. And I'll even stop dead for the censored version of the song, because I can feel the other words underneath.
But it's definitely the case that I elevated the Geto Boys over songs I seek out more regularly in the interest of balance. The I'm-creating-a-syllabus mindset is hard to shake.