So, really quickly, the ground rules. These aren’t about artists, or albums, or even songs, but rather, moments: that piece of a song that draws you into it; that piece of a song that you wait to happen again; that piece of a song that is running in your head when you can’t sleep; that piece of a song that you find yourself humming at inopportune times.
That piece of a song that you can’t live without.
This is the eleventh in a series: The first one had 25; the second one had 24; the third one had 23; the fourth one had 22; the fifth one had 21; the sixth had 20; the seventh had 19; the the eighth had 18; the the ninth had 17 and the tenth had 16.
You should go back and read the other ones. I’ll wait.
15 MUSICAL MOMENTS TO DIE FOR
- There is so much sadness and rebirth packed into every second of New Order’s debut single that I sometimes think it might be the greatest thing that anybody has ever recorded. Given the circumstances, its practically a miracle they were able to craft something so epic, so gorgeous, so perfect. So forever. And, if you had the 12″ — the one with the green cover — it was etched right there on the run-out groove: “Watching love grow, forever.” Indeed. At 3:07 in Ceremony by New Order
— From 1981’s endless, timeless “Ceremony” 12-inch single
- “Oh fuck it,” Daniel Caws declares, half bemused and half exasperated, “I’m gonna have a party.” It’s clearly the only logical response to a shitty year. And obviously, his mates think so, too, cos they’re ready to chuck it all for some fun as well. At 1:47 in Blankest Year by Nada Surf.
— From 2005’s underrated The Weight is a Gift
- Finally — finally! — the pills kick in, and everybody’s head explodes at once, just in time for one last half celebratory / half melancholy chorus at 2:48 in Yellow Pills by 20/20.
— From 1979’s hit-plus-filler 20/20
- With Barbara Manning making sure they’ve got all 25 present and accounted for, Cole Marquis speculates on exactly what those pills — every color of the rainbow, no doubt — can do for you. First off, his guitar solo, which is only scratching the surface of the thrills to come at 1:50 in 25 Pills by 28th Day.
— From 1985’s immortal 28th Day EP
- Driven by a glorious Jackson 5 sample, Treach hilariously punctuates the most joyous cheating song ever written with the concept of an O.P.P. “establishment.” Hmm, I wonder who wrote the bylaws? I’m guessing pretty much everybody who ever shouted back “yeah, you know me!” At 3:45 in O.P.P. by Naughty by Nature.
— From 1991’s well-crafted debut Naughty by Nature
- In the transitional spring of 1995 — just seconds before I would figure out how to work on the internet forever — I was living in Oakland and Rox was living in Hollywood with Jimmy. So every month, I would fly down via the cheap $29 Southwest Oakland-Burbank fares and we would spend our weekends driving around L.A., just doing that stupid shit you do the last time you can reasonably claim to be young. Oh, and and singing “late-leee” and “may-beee” over and over again — making fun of Liam’s affected sneer even as we were loving Noel’s eternal popcraft. After that, we all got older, but not as old as the Gallagher brothers. At 2:40 in Live Forever by Oasis.
— From 1994’s next-big-thing Definitely Maybe
- I know why Nick Drake purists probably hated that VW ad that used his song. Years after pop songs became just one more way of advertising a product and advertisments became just one more way of exposing songs, I still sometimes get squicked at the whole thing, whether it’s the use of “Ceremony” to sell vodka, or that weird Red Stripe commercial where they neuter fucking Frankie Goes To Hollywood by not using the word “come.” So I know how much it makes me a hypocrite to say that I loved that VW ad, and it turned me onto the song. Hell, we even bought the car, which Rox fell in love with the second she saw it on the lot. It all leads me to conclude that the problem with always pitting Art against Commerce is sometimes commerce is art. At 0:00 in Pink Moon by Nick Drake.
— From 1971’s pink pink pink pink Pink Moon
- While we’re committing crimes against Nick Drake, how about taking one of his delicate, pretty chamber pop songs and turning it into a full-bore rock anthem? Sounds like sacrilege at worst, and a mess at best. Perhaps, but in the hands of these crazed Swedish psychedelic wizards, it also becomes transcendent, especially when the guitars kick in at 3:30 in Fly by The Soundtrack of Our Lives.
— From 2009’s secret best record Communion
- Paul Revere and the Raiders overcame their dumb-ass name by kicking out a string of great dumb-ass hits in the mid-60s by fusing raw American garage rock with a British Invasion pop sensibility. And the greatest and most dumb-ass of all? This rewrite of “Louie Louie” — or was it a rewrite of “You Really Got Me” — where the double guitar solo sounded less like a choice they made and more like a choice that they didn’t. At 1:00 in Just Like Me by Paul Revere & The Raiders.
— From 1967’s totally boss Greatest Hits!
- Riding the waves of East Bay Ray’s punky surf guitar (or is that surfy punk guitar?), Jello Biafra reminds of us of a Charlie who did surf. Over dead bodies. At 4:00 in Holiday in Cambodia by Dead Kennedys.
— From 1980’s fast, funny & fierce Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
- Paul Kelly already had a good song: a bore-into-your brain riff, an indelible melody line and a lyric about love, loss and (possible) redemption. All he needed to turn it into a great song was a low-down guitar, which he conjures up at 1:42 in To Her Door by Paul Kelly & The Messengers.
— From 1987’s overlooked pop gem Under The Sun
- Cramming more ideas — big, small, sincere and ironic — into 30 seconds that most bands did in their entire career (or was that their entire Korea?), Steve Malkmus wants to make one thing perfectly clear: he isn’t particularly a fan of big hair. Unless, of course, he’s being ironic. Whether or not that sentiment extends to his entire band is unclear, because they’re too busy singing doo-doo-doo-dah-doo dah-doo-doo-doo-dah-doo-hoo-hoo! At 2:16 in Cut Your Hair by Pavement.
— From 1994’s masterpiece Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
- When a guy known for cool is getting ever more desperate, something’s up. That’s why even despite his drummer’s support, the more Matt Berninger declares that he won’t fuck you over, the more I worry about how it’s all gonna turn out for you. At 2:25 in Mr. November by The National.
— From 2005’s breakthrough Alligator
Fueled by one part angst, two parts overdubs and three parts cocaine, Lindsay Buckingham’s guitar forever wins his break-up with Stevie Nicks. Also winning? Mick Fleetwood’s drums, which point out who will be banging Stevie next. At 2:53 in Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac.
— From 1977’s mega-everything Rumours
- Leave it to Pete Townshend & Keith Moon to ruin a perfectly lovely pop song with their godawful noise, which freaked out their U.S. record company so much that the first time many people heard it was at the very end of the film that bears its name. Even now, it seems menacing and evil, a perfect counterpoint to the harmonies that dominate the rest of what is one of the definitive songs ever written about hanging out with your friends. At 1:58 in The Kids Are Alright by The Who.
— From 1965’s fucking amazing debut My Generation
That’s it! We’re up to 210 moments, all told. Next time: 15 MORE Musical Moments to Die For.
- 16 Musical Moments to Die For
- 17 Musical Moments to Die For
- 18 Musical Moments to Die For
- 19 Musical Moments to Die For
- 20 Musical Moments to Die For
- 21 Musical Moments to Die For
- 22 Musical Moments to Die For
- 23 Musical Moments to Die For
- 24 Musical Moments to Die For
- 25 Musical Moments to Die For
- 207 of The Greatest Indie Rock Songs of All Time