100 songs

To celebrate this blog reaching its hundredth post, I have decided to choose ten of my favourite songs relating to the number 100. Yes, this is my centenary post!

Perhaps not the grandest gesture of them all, but I still found it an interesting exercise. As is usually the way with these things, the list is necessarily rather random, but covers singer/songwriters, power pop, indie, prog and chart pop.

1. Gene ClarkOne In A Hundred

I’ve gone for the unreleased single version recorded by The Byrds in 1971 which then came out on Gene’s solo album Roadmaster two years later, rather than the one on 1971’s White Light (although it’s that version in the Spotify playlist at the bottom).

The word “hundred” doesn’t actually feature in Gene’s lyrics. It’s a nice jangly number, with some excellent bass work by Chris Hillman.

2. Gruff Rhys100 Unread Messages

A track off 2014’s oddball (natch) concept album American Interior. The record was based on the life of eighteenth century Welsh explorer John Evans who produced an early map of the Missouri river and vainly sought out a rumoured tribe of Welsh Indians in America!

This song doesn’t really relate to the concept, but is a great, quirky tune from the former Super Furry Animal and features some superb drumming like a galloping horse from Kliph Scurlock, formerly of The Flaming Lips.

 “When you said that you loved me, I knew it wasn’t true. One hundred unread messages, and not a single note from you.”

3. Big StarS/T 100/6

This is the very short closing track off their classic debut #1 Record, with great harmonies. As I have stated in this blog before, if you don’t know Big Star, then it’s time you rectified this terrible omission in your musical knowledge.

For the uninitiated, the lyrics in full are:

“Love me again, be my friend. I need you now, I’ll show you somehow.”

And that’s it.

4. Sonic Youth100%

The first single and opening cut off 1992’s Dirty album, their second on a major label, this was dedicated to a friend of the band who was killed by a gunman the year before:

“Can you forgive the boy who shot you in the head, or should you get a gun and go and get revenge?”

Apparently, the yellow Fender bass played by Kim Gordon in this video was borrowed off Keanu Reeves. The things you can learn on Wikipedia!

5. Vashti BunyanIf In Winter (100 Lovers)

A fairly obscure female singer-songwriter who was rediscovered some years ago, becoming an influence on the freak folk likes of Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom.

She only released one album, 1970’s Just Another Diamond Day, before retiring from the music business. She made a comeback with Lookaftering in 2005, so just the 35-year absence then!

This track is a demo from 1966 that first saw the light of day in 2007 on the Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind (Singles And Demos 1964 To 1967) compilation.

In the song, she is jilted by a man so vows to take a hundred lovers and treat them just as badly, but then changes her mind, probably quite wisely for her own mental well-being.

6. Haircut One HundredCalling Captain Autumn

Not a centenary-themed song, but a band. Nick Heyward’s combo only released two albums (although he had left before the second one), with this coming from their 1982 debut Pelican West, which hit the heady heights of #2 in the UK charts.

The lyrics are pretty nonsensical, but this is one of my favourite songs off the record, with its cod funkiness and sax solo. Not a remotely hip album, but an underrated pop gem I propose.

7. The ChillsHouse With A Hundred Rooms

The greatest ever Kiwi band? Surely.

This was released as a single in 1987, with the marvellous Party In My Heart as one of its b-sides. It’s more widely available on the Brave Words CD, though that now seems to have been deleted.

Not one of their greatest ever songs, but still a lovely little number.

8. Caravan100% Proof

This is the instrumental closing part of the Nine Feet Underground suite that takes up all of side two of prog rockers Caravan’s third album In The Land Of Grey And Pink from 1971.

This is like a softer version of Black Sabbath that segues into and out of something a little jazzier, which is indeed an odd concept.

Prog is an area I’ve only dipped my toes into over the years, and not one I’m likely to plunge much further into as it is often a little too florid or obtuse for my liking, without the stridency or aggression that helps overcome those issues with the more challenging music I am more comfortable with such as Captain Beefheart, James Chance and of course The Fall.

9. Conor OberstHundreds Of Ways

This was the lead single off 2014’s Upside Down Mountain album, his first for a major label, Nonesuch Records.

“I used to think that time was of the essence, now I just wish I could get some sleep”

Recorded in Nashville, it kicks off with some jittery rockabilly guitar, with great wailing backing vocals from Swedish duo First Aid Kit behind his own quivering singing. The country influence is there in the background.

10. Bee GeesTurn Of The Century

The opening track off 1967’s Bee Gees’ 1st, which is obviously enough actually their third long player, though it was their first album to be released outside of Australia.

The album hit the top ten in both the UK and USA, while this baroque pop song is written and sung by Barry and Robin Gibb. Surely this could only have been released in 1967?

“I’m gonna buy myself a time machine, go to the turn of the century”

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Playlist

Here are most of these songs on Spotify:

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