Friday, February 1, 2008

The Anti-Indie, indie movement

The year is 2028.

The independent music explosion of the early 21st century is a distant memory; a rumor said to have been destroyed by the "hipsters," whatever that means. Three members of the Arcade Fire are being held for questioning after they are caught urinating on a park bench in downtown New York. Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, his short stories and novels long out of print, died last year in a fit of Dylan Thomas-inspired alcoholism. Peter, Bjorn & John own and operate their own car wash outside of Stockholm. Jack White manages a seedy strip club in inner-city Detroit called "Detroit Rock City."

We've also come a long way from Feist selling iPods, and Wilco selling Volkswagons.
Every single independent, as well as major record label has been bought, and quickly dismantled, by one unfathomably large music conglomerate: MUSICOR. This consortium of once separate record labels streams the latest "indie" hits directly into your brain via thousands of satellites worldwide for the low low price of four million yen per song. (Don't ask - let's just put it this way: China won.) MUSICOR obtained Capitol, Motown, Sub-Pop, and Sony within the same working day. The label quickly put its new roster to work, and the artists happily obliged. Bono, effectively the Chairman of China, Prime-Minister of Britain and India, and American President, was also made the MUSICOR C.E.O. (Ireland no longer exists. Instead, it is now known as Edge Island.) The conglomerate's roster is put into the field, selling anything imaginable: Sufjan Stevens is peddling Uncle Ben's Rice, Modest Mouse is singing a Wal-Mart jingle...

Ben Gibbard's new solo album of Tony Bennett covers isn't performing as well as expected. Broken Social Scene's histori-musical drama about the "glorious, cultural revolution" in China is also selling poorly. Bright Eyes' latest world tour, modeled after Michael Jackson's "Thriller" Tour of 1983, plunged the singer into bankruptcy, as well as effectively ending his 3-month marriage to an aging Paris Hilton.

Out of the ashes of this failed enterprise emerges a new sound... a type of music so pretentious, even Pitchfork doesn't know what to do with it....the kids on the "scene" so obsessed with elitist musical knowledge even John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity" would tell them to get a life... the genre's main influences so obscure that approximately only 7 people worldwide even were aware these influences existed... the "scene" kids wearing their American Apparel jeans so tight you can count their leg hairs....

It is, the Anti-Indie, Indie movement. You heard it here first.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Facebook applications: into the 17th century and beyond!

"Friends for Sale?"
"Rate my Friends?"
"Human Pets?"

All of these Facebook applications are getting a bit tiresome, increasingly profoundly ridiculous, and now even offensive.

I was invited by a "friend" (the term itself is beginning to lose all of its meaning I'm afraid, due to this social networking conglomerate) to install an application that lets me assign a monetary value to other "friends" and, in turn, buy and sell said friends. "Hmmm," I pondered, "as fun and entertaining electronic human trafficking seems, I think I'll pass." Another application allows you to collect, and trade "friends" using "Human Pets." I don't feel I'm being indulgent or over-dramatic when I think it's this and other applications like this that are becoming truly offensive when they share certain damaging, extraordinarily shameful qualities with the pre-Civil-War United States South.

That being said, I do enjoy some of these seemingly harmless, borderline-intelligible applications, so theoretically you could go calling me a hypocrite. (You'll notice I added the "Philosophers" application moments ago, enjoying every moment of it.) Am I in a negative, pessimistic mood as I'm writing this? On the contrary. (I just finished an exam in which I mopped the floor with Enlightenment philosophy and the French Revolution. Take that, HIS 2336!)

However, I feel it is difficult to refute there is something truly sad, and wrong about these mind-numbing human-objectifying trafficking applications. So please don't go rating, trading, or purchasing me.

In other, music-related news: Listen to Serge Gainsbourg. For the love of all that is sacred, LISTEN to Serge Gainsbourg.

- Zotch

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

MUSIC: Gazette Review - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

This is a highly advanced album.

Josh Ritter’s follow up to last year’s The Animal Years does it all. It jumps, flips, jabs, prods, pokes and plunders the brain in ways you never thought possible. The only thing it does not do, fortunately, is disappoint.

Ritter’s lyrics remain sharply honed, examining affairs both political and of the heart, from lovers (Or are they?) in a bomb shelter at the end of the world [literally] (“The Temptation of Adam”) to a bareback riding Casanova of the old west (“The Next to the Last Romantic”). The lyrical theme of the album seems to be “love is sometimes tough for a genuinely nice guy,” although that could just be part of Ritter’s natural charm that comes through in his songs (or my penchant for singer-songwriters who seem vaguely Irish).

Musically, things have never been weirder. It’s difficult to write on a specific point of comparison, not only because of the musical diversity on the record, but because of the fresh perspective Ritter brings to all of those familiar classic rock and roll influences. The only thing that any of these tracks have in common is how different (and entertaining) they all are.

If anyone ever refers to this as a “concept album,” please take this author’s word for it that despite any presumptions you have about that sort of thing, it will be one of your top musical purchase of 2007 (unless you happen to buy a Bouzouki, which would be pretty damn cool.).

The only possible label to put on this music, to borrow a phrase, is “Classic Rock of the Future.” (But I’m sure they’ll still file it under “Folk-Rock”)

Friday, August 17, 2007

MUSIC: Growing Pains

I will assume for the purposes of this writing that at least a few people who are reading this that collect records (AKA CDs/Tapes/LPs, whatever). The mindset of this kind of person (and I include myself) is that when you find an artist that you like, you will purchase most records that they put out, regardless of any inconsistent critical favour. This habit for me started in high school, at the outset of my first McJob when I realized I could spend all this money I was getting on music. If I liked The Colour and the Shape by the Foo Fighters, I had every reason to buy One By One and every other record by them. (However, that example is perhaps a bit "cooler" than was typically the case, for the purposes of not embarassing myself.)

Since this happened in high school, and I have grown a bit in terms of maturity and taste (as you all have as well). The artists that wrote all of my favourite songs, as strange as it may seem, have also grown, albeit through different life stages (This is not always the case, as Billy Corgan always believed he was a fucking genius.). Consequently, they're going to keep putting out records that reflect their current emotional state. In some unfortunate cases, these emotional states are motivated primarily by money, but this is not the case that I am talking about specifically.

So, you go off to college and a band you liked in high school comes out with a new CD. But since their last CD, you've discovered tons of new material that is much more artistically challenging, and better reflects your current existence. You like this band, but they're not your holy grail.

It's like buying Weezer's Make Believe (Which I haven't yet, partially prompting this writing) after you've gotten into Tom Waits. There's nothing particularly bad about the album, but they no longer occupy the same space on your "My 50 Favourite Bands" list (Come to think of it, I should write one of those, just to satiate my own curiosity in 20 years.).

(Speaking of Weezer, what the hell is with them claiming that they are either breaking up or 'have written and are demoing 8000 new songs' after every album?)

There are however, bands whose output changes drastically with time. Or maybe it doesn't, but you change the point where their current artistic (irony-quotes omitted) output is kind of alienating, and maybe even insulting to your past associations with them. It's like being friends with a quasi-outgoing sort of person who liked intelligent punk rock, and was maybe a little too much into Chomsky.

You meanwhile leave town, and eventually come back for Thanksgiving/Christmas/Etc., and decide to call this person up. They have since stopped reading altogether, don't really listen to anything worth noting and do nothing but smoke pot and play GTA all day in their parent's basement.

I will buy bad records by artists that I love if I think they are going to go somewhere interesting eventually. But there comes a point where you have to sever ties with crappy music from your past. I have a few bands that I'm still toting around in my head, thinking "I still don't have their newest album...", with part of me knowing that it will never happen. It's the equivalent of "taking a break" in a relationship, or falling out of touch with old friends. It's most likely not going to start up again, and I'll probably never buy another Unwritten Law album.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

FILM: There's a 9 Dollar Hole In My Head

The following is a list of movies that someone made this year, expecting someone else to pay to watch...
This year, I'm approaching September a lot like how I approach the hours between 9 and 10 AM after a night of drinking: groggy, sweaty, and hell bent on never, ever, doing that again. Why? Because this summer's blockbuster movie season has, for all intents and purposes, left me with a giant gapping hole where my brain used to be. The mere fact that my cranium now resembles something like an empty (and hairy) punch bowl is of very little consequence to Mr. Warner or his rat-bastard brother, Mr. Bros. As they light their money rolled cigars with money wrapped lighters which emit money-based flames, I wonder if they realize that now, more than ever, they completely, and utterly, suck.

I say this because I believe movies have no soul. Not that they ever did. In fact if ever there was something that was completely bereft of a soul, it's the miles and miles of celluloid we make race for us for 9 dollars. But now when I slip comfortably into my Coming Soon mode at the local Galaxy, I can't help but feel that there's something even less in the movies than before. I watch the previews and find myself getting unbearably angry at the dribble, the faux-sensation, the "one-ordinary-man-in-extraordinary-circumstances" this and "isn't-it-funny-how-these-two-characters-are-so-unalike-but-damn-they-better-
get-along-or-else-they'll-never-_____" that. I can't bloody well take it much more to be honest. I find myself not only witnessing a thing without a soul, but feel my own dying - slowly at first, and then as the not-so-clever pun above the release date winks it's smarmy asshole at me, it speeds up and my everything crashes all around me only to be built up once more for the next trailer. Except each time my soul is weakened, vulnerable, and can't stand as much punishment. It'd make a pretty epic movie if that story line weren't so god-damn-beaten to death.

It's the concept of the Swiz, really; one of those old fashioned phrases you'd expect to hear someone in an old-fashioned movie (hey...) say. By definition (who's exactly, I'm not sure), a Swiz is something that appears to be giving to you, but is in actual fact taking something away. A useful hint here would be to picture a cow at a milking farm. To the cow, they are being provided with shelter, grain, and although it has never been witnessed by farmer eyes, a wicked spot to rave when the humans go to bed. But for the farmer, they're getting a sweet deal. They're taking the milk, making mad cheddah (monetary and dairy types alike), and won't stop till the cows come... oh...

A crude analogy, perhaps, but you get the idea. When you strap yourself into the movie theatre expecting to receive all the wonders the dude with the voice in the trailer promised, you realize he is a liar. And liars get their nads kicked.

So, fellow cows, let's think about our situation a minute. Movies today have no soul, meaning that they are bereft of meaning, provide no substance, and enrich our lives to the smallest degree that I've enjoyed mosquito bites more. They're sequels and carbon copies of originals which are adapted screenplays themselves. They're not artistic, they're made solely to make money, and are completely unconcerned as to whether or not you remember them. Most frustratingly, they leave you feeling like so much more could have been done with your time. The grain, per se, sucks.

Does this mean that there aren't bad movies every year? No, of course not. Does this mean that there won't continue to be bad movies in the future? P-lease! But was 2007 ESPECIALLY bad? Yes. Dear God Yes it was, and I hope you're nodding your head in agreement right now thinking back to that time you bought a ticket to I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and heard a tiny scream emit from somewhere deep inside you. That was your soul, and the movies have killed it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

MUSIC: Hospital Music Review

Matthew Good's long awaited Hospital Music is finally here. Surprisingly enough, it's not doing too bad on the charts already. Why is this surprising, you ask? (Please take note at this time that I am a devoted Good fanboy who has followed his music and writings since 2001's The Audio of Being. So, SPOILER: I dug it.)

Mr. Good has created a starkly honest record about the tumultuous last year of his life. Dealing with all of those terrible things that start with "D" (namely divorce, drug addiction, disease, death and general despair) had taken a toll on him that needed to be expressed. The record itself can be primarily described as cathartic, to say the least.

Sounds like it could be shaping up to be a Roger-Waters-esque rock-opera? Not entirely, although it does contain some bits that resemble other works like that.

Although many of the songs are based on very specific incidences, they speak to larger more universal themes that I can imagine will have a profound effect on those who have been through similar circumstances. What I can't imagine is the alienation that one goes through during an ordeal such as this.

Dealing with his failing relationship with the former Mrs. Good, the artist is surprisingly revealing (and has been in other forms for the past year) in the songs Metal Airplanes and She's In It For the Money. The former song is one that plays on the eventual realization in many relationships that you may not be as righteous as you think, and I think that's a particularly far-reaching and powerful statement to make. And although many will take the latter's lyrics at face value ("She's a money grubbing whore"), that could apply to anyone who dates/sees/marries someone with a condition like this. I can't imagine looking up from that hospital bed and seeing the look in her eyes that says "I didn't sign on for this."

While most of the songs deal with the aforementioned "D" word, that's not to say that it's all depressing. When I said that there were parts that resembled a rock-opera, I was thinking in particular of The Boy Come Home, which seems to be about Good returning to his parent's home for a period of time. There is a definite change in the album at that point, with a shifting tone moving more towards optimism (The Devil's In Your Details (although I could be way out to lunch on this one)).

I would have assumed that the two cover songs included on the record would stick out like a sore thumb, but I am happily mistaken. The Dead Kennedy's Moon Over Marin and the late Daniel Johnston's album-closer True Love Will Find You In The End fit perfectly in the framework of the record.

Production wise, the album is a complete departure. Self-produced and (mostly) self-performed, Mr. Good manages to make the rough-around-the-edges aesthetic work to his advantage, and it's something I look forward to in the future.

All in all, this is the kind of record that separates an artist from his contemporaries. If this doesn't translate into album sales, then that is a shame.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

MUSIC: The Saddest Music In The World

As my introduction to the blog, instead of telling you my favourite t-shirt or the last fast food meal I ate, I decided to take a cue from Guy Maddin's film The Saddest Music In The World.

What is truly the saddest music in the world?

Now there's a difference between sad and bitter. Sadness, in my eyes, is about loss. A sorrow that cannot be hidden or "forced". To a musician, such unhappiness is usually a blessing and a curse.

We have lost many a beloved depressing idol (Nick Drake, Jim Morrison, Elliott Smith) and have nearly lost many others such as Matthew Good, Cat Power and Trent Reznor.

The goal of this post is not to dwell on how much of a bummer Nine Inch Nails are at their best. Nor am I here to tell you my favourite Nirvana songs.

I have selected 25 essential depressing cuts that speak to me on some previously unheard of level. Now before I begin and people start to disagree with me, I want to state that these are cuts from my personal collection.

My selections tend to favour North American artists; however I've tried to keep my search as wide as I could given certain limitations.

I would love to hear about the picks of everyone who visits here, so simply email me or post here with any suggestions. Being an avid music fan, I will likely (as long as you put it nicely) listen to your recommendations.

And because I'm in an extra good mood I have available here a podcast which includes the Top 10 Saddest Songs on my list.

Enough said. Let the countdown begin.


25. I've Been Thinking (Handsome Boy Modeling School feat. Cat Power)

This collaboration between Cat Power and Dan The Automator (Gorillaz, Deltron 3030) proves one of the most fruitful ones on Handsome Boy Modeling School's latest LP White People. Chan Marshall contemplates the state of her relationship in such a sexy, suave way that it would make Feist jealous. The rainy-day vibe, a la Riders On The Storm, guarantees this song's inclusion on this countdown.

24. Non-Zero Possibility (At The Drive-In)

Being the last cut on At The Drive-In's last album Relationship Of Command, this song gets me every time. How I wish I had written this song. The punk attitude gets a literate treatment and as much as people knock Cedric Bixler Zavala's lyrics for being too nonsensical, the line "let's just paint you a pretty face" should be as well-known as Trent's "I hurt myself today". Even though the band was falling apart during the making of this album, that fact allowed them to reach ever greater heights.

23. Dead Meat (Sean Lennon)

I'll be the first to admit Lennon's latest album Friendly Fire was certainly not worth the 8 year wait. This being said, being the son of the ridiculously talented John Lennon and Yoko Ono, some talent's bound to rub off. "Dead Meat" is Lennon's send-off to his ex-girlfriend Bijou Philips, who weirdly enough, sings back-up vocals on the track. This is an expertly constructed song filled with passion and is one of the best songs of 2006.

22. Take You On A Cruise (Interpol)

I'm not exactly sure how Interpol can be completely engaging yet a tad bit disappointing at the same time. Much like Damon Albarn of Blur fame, I believe these guys still haven't written their best material. Their live shows often boast identical setlists for months on end, but they weather the criticism and Joy Division jokes to make incredible rock songs. "Take You On A Cruise" is a beautiful lullaby drowning in guitars and reverb that is better than any drug.

21. Parting Ways (Pearl Jam)

Here we go, I'll say it. Eddie Vedder is the emo artist of the 90's. And what happened to one of the 90's biggest icons when the decade came to an end? His relationship with his then-wife Beth Liebling came to a bitter halt. And although he's "too big a man to say" he knew they'd soon be parting ways.

20. Asleep (The Smiths)

I'm sure this song could bum even Andy Dick out. Mr. Self-Deprication (a.k.a. Morrissey) is the poster boy for these kinds of lists and it just wouldn't feel right without him. What was the B-side to "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" turns out to be the real winner and one of The Smiths' best songs.

19. Afraid Not Scared (Ryan Adams)

Not being as big a Ryan Adams fan as many of my friends doesn't stop me from recognizing the genius in much of this man's work. I recently read his celebrity playlist for iTunes which was loaded with hip-hop. I first thought this was really weird, but after giving Love Is Hell another listen, I realize that Adams probably listens to agressive music to allow himself to write the many haunting ballads he is arguably best known for. The man sums it up best himself; it sounds "like someone possessed".

18. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles)

Forget all the Sgt. Pepper's hype for a minute. I believe The Beatles self-titled "white album" captures them at their best. After watching the film Concert For George that captures an all-star tribute to the songs of George Harrison, I was reminded of how much of a gem this song is. Paul McCartney on piano. Eric Clapton on lead guitar. Songs shouldn't be allowed to be this good. It depresses the rest of us.

17. Seule (Patton / Kaada)

This short-lived collaboration between Norwegian icon John Kaada and the schizophrenic musical mastermind Mike Patton (ex-Faith No More, Peeping Tom) produced a song so potent with death that it sounds like a 3-minute funeral. And I'm inclined to have this play on repeat for a while.

16. The End (The Doors)

Without even having seen Apocalypse Now, this song should still be able to resonate with all music fans. All it took to ensure The Door's legacy is a story that includes references to the oedipus complex. This song shows us why The Doors still matter today. Now if only I could shake the memories of Ian Astbury singing this.

15. The Slaughter (John Frusciante feat. Flea)

I just wanted start by saying if I were to ever pick a favourite song, this might be it. A depressive vibe isn't the only thing it has going for it. That explains its place here at number fifteen. This song represents what the Red Hot Chili Peppers would sound like without their weakest link (Anthony Kiedis). I take this song literally as John's explanation of his breakup with actress Milla Jovovich. But its greatness is not contained to the reality of John's situation at the time. John sounds more emotionally complicated than I've ever heard him. And he's certainly not one to shy away from sharing his feelings. Brian Wilson-esque harmonies, Depeche Mode synth parts and standup bass. Oh, and this song has both real drums courtesy of Chad Smith and a programmed beat. I could go on forever so I'll just stop now.

14. Concerto De Aranjuez (Francis Goya)

It's weird how I came upon this guy. It was mostly by accident. I was looking for music that sounded Mexican and this Belgian artist came up. I was blown away by the passion he plays with and the emotional highs he can reach given only a short time-frame. I dare you to find a song this sexy and sad.

13. Grapefruit Moon (Tom Waits)

"Everytime I hear that melody, something breaks inside
And the grapefruit moon, one star shining, is more than I can hide."

Along with Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits has to be one of the greatest living poets. Here's the thing though, he's also a incredibly skilled musician. "Grapefruit Moon" appears on his debut album Closing Time, and even though I enjoy all things Waits, this song should have been way more popular. Maybe it's just best as a secret in the Waits community. If you haven't heard this, you don't know what you're missing. Even though you'll feel like a moping regular in the local piano bar, you'll be hearing some of the finest music there is to hear.

12. Avalanche (Matthew Good)

I don't know what it is about avalanches. They inspire the best of us. A total of three artists on this list have all written songs with Avalanche in the title (in case you're wondering, the other two are Ryan Adams and Sufjan Stevens). Matthew Good has recently shed some light on his emotional state during the making of his debut solo album Avalanche on his blog. It's a depressing read, but it's good. Matt has taken the time to shed light on bipolar disorder as it affects many people who don't even know about it. Back to the song "Avalanche"; this marked a new complexity in song-writing for Good. The song builds and then dissolves to come full circle back to the first line and melody. Based on a few listens, Good's new album Hospital Music (which is available everywhere July 31st) proves even more promising than this.

11. Battery In Your Leg (Blur)

The last song Blur's original lineup ever recorded together. Guitarist Graham Coxon (also an accomplished solo act) wrote a haunting riff that digs the band's grave. Since Think Tank, Blur have decided to record again (with Coxon), but the skeptics insist that Think Tank will never be lived up to. Lead singer Damon Albarn has said the lyrics to this song are written about the state of the band, a kind of ceremonial love song saying goodbye to Coxon after they grew apart.

10. Your Ex-Lover Is Dead (Stars as remixed by Final Fantasy)

This first Canadian entry on the countdown hits with twice the emotional punch. Final Fantasy (a.k.a. Owen Pallett of Arcade Fire fame) puts his subtle, melodic touch on a song that was already great. This song eliminates the grandiose feel of the original with sparse piano parts and carefully crafted violin harmonies. This is a remix that works, which is a rare occurance. Too bad Final Fantasy is the only one Stars should have trusted to remix their songs on their album Do You Trust Your Friends?.

9. Poke A Pal (Mugison)

Icelandic singer/songwriter Mugison is part of a dying breed. Pop musicians that make albums, not just filler noise. Mugison's story is engaging in its own right (he was considered "handicapped" because he couldn't write things down logically) but his music stands above any image that could be created. Thanks to Mike Patton's recommendation on a French radio show, I checked out this man's catalogue. If anyone is interested, most of his stuff is available as a free download on his website. I don't know how he makes money, but I don't think he cares. For Mugison, it's all about the songs, and "Poke A Pal" is outstanding.

8. The Needle And The Damage Done (Neil Young)

Harvest to this day remains a folk gem. "The Needle And The Damage Done" makes me proud to be Canadian. Neil Young can do more with a guitar and a microphone than most current bands today. A song that touches on the abuse of drugs, as is fairly obvious, it hurts to hear Neil Young hurt.

7. Already Dead (Beck)

Look only at the title and you'll know that Beck is a mess in this song. The end of a tumultuous 9-year relationship must be a bummer. I can picture a bed-ridden Beck calling Nigel Godrich (Radiohead) and asking him to come over. The "bendy" guitar solo in this is also haunting as hell. Sea Change is Beck's singer/songwriter album and while I don't wish a breakup upon anyone, I wonder if Beck will ever be this good again.

6. Twilight (Elliott Smith)

In case you didn't know, Elliott Smith took his own life. Perhaps the 90's answer to Nick Drake, it was apparent Smith felt really out of place. You can't argue with the appeal of this song, released posthumously on his album From A Basement On The Hill. I have a friend who, according to his iTunes count, has listen to this song the equivalent of over two days. That's impressive longevity.

5. Crowd Surf Off A Cliff (Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton)

The Metric front-woman's side project seems to matter so much more than her day job it's weird. Critics like the Toronto Star's Ben Rayner will probably disagree with me, but this is Haines at her best. She doesn't need loud alt-rock riffs to feel at home. The daughter of the acclaimed poet Paul Haines, Emily's literate side really rears its head here.

4. John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (Sufjan Stevens)

Ambitious is a word often associated with Sufjan Stevens. But writing a pretty song about a child-rapist that makes us feel his guilt? That's damn near unheard of. This ballad off Sufjan's award winning Illinois album is so creepy but brilliantly arranged and written most will love it, but won't want to listen again. The thought is just too scary.

3. One Hundred Years (The Cure)

What would a list like this be without The Cure, one of the most influential bands of the planet? It's a shame they mostly influence shit like Fallout Boy, but they are truly Gods at what they do. A song that includes the lyrics "waiting for the death blow", "it doesn't matter if we all die" sung over a bass-heavy hypnotic riff is a winner in my books. And don't think The Cure have gotten sick of this song. This first track off Pornography has been played on every tour since its release.

2. Street Spirit (Radiohead)

Thom Yorke says to "immerse yourself in love" at the end of this song. What's the point, Thom? I can't even think about love when listening to this song. Yorke has said "Street Spirit", unlike their other depressing material, "has no resolve". Maybe it's good I don't listen to this too intensely. They lost me at "cracked eggs, dead birds".

1. Fire And Rain (James Taylor)

What could be more depressing than Radiohead? James Taylor? Before your write me an angry email, consider this. James Taylor tells the story of his friend Suzanne's sudden death. Unlike the other songs on this list, this song actually has a twist of optimism looking back on its meaning. Taylor was so distraught by losing a close friend that this taught him to appreciate every day even more. He never wanted such an unfortunate circumstance to get the best of him again. In the end, James Taylor's best song has shed some light at the end of a very dark tunnel.