You can talk about genres, artists, albums, or even songs, but sometimes what keeps us coming back to music is the discovery of the transcendent musical moment. For me, “the moment” is the part of the song that fully and utterly engages me; the reason that I keep coming back to it.
I’m not necessarily talking about hooks here, because the purpose of a hook is the draw you into a song. I’m really talking more about traps: the part of a song that that keeps you there.
The is the second in a series. The first one had 25, this one has 24.
Every single moment I’ve listed below kills me single every time I hear it.
Oh, and this isn’t in any kind of order, despite the numbering.
24 MUSICAL MOMENTS TO DIE FOR
- Pete Shelley gets emphatic about the amount of love left in this world at 3:57 in I Believe by The Buzzcocks.
— From 1980’s angst-filled A Different Kind of Tension
- Little Steven and Bruce sing the raggedy chorus chock full of hoyay and imperfect harmony at 2:10 in Two Hearts by Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band.
— From 2001’s gangs-all-here-so-let’s-party Live in NYC
- When I was 19, I spent the summer hanging around a house full of college girls who had nothing but a few 8-tracks of 1970s Country Music on permanent rotation. Somehow, Waylon Jennings’ Greatest Hits became an unexpected respite from the likes of the Oak Ridge Boys, and ever since, I’ve always loved to hear the weird, quivering guitar twang at 0:00 in Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? by Waylon Jennings.
— From 1979’s near-perfect Greatest Hits
- The secret backing vocals help provide the jukebox soundtrack to jangly guitar heaven at 3:30 in Knee Trembler by The Close Lobsters.
— From 1989’s totally forgotten Headache Rhetoric
- The guitar, violin and — most importantly — the drums kick in, propelling Win Butler’s anti-sleep anthem at 1:05 in Rebellion (Lies) by The Arcade Fire
— From 2005’s critical fave rave Funeral
- Ray Davies executes his perfect take-down of suburbia: “All the houses on the street have got a name / Cos all the houses on the street they look the same” at 2:58 in Shangri-La by The Kinks.
— From 1969’s sometimes my favorite Kinks album Arthur or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire.
- The sly, understated majesty of the chorus at 1:28 in Tom Boy by Bettie Serveert.
— From 1992’s charmingly shambolic Palomine
- When I was in high school, we used to argue who was the “fastest guitarist, man.” I always put Michael Schenker on my short list for how he keeps the notes spinning and spinning and spinning into higher and higher and higher gear at 4:08 in Rock Bottom by UFO.
— From 1974’s check out our new lead guitarist Phenomenon
- Propelled by Ricky Wilson’s eternally-awesome rhythm guitar, Tom Verlaine takes off — and shows off — at 3:30 in Breaking in My Heart by Tom Verlaine.
— From 1979’s near-perfect Tom Verlaine
- Mac McLaughlin gets all methaphorical-like while exploding into the chorus at 2:12 in Mower by Superchunk.
— From 1993’s indie-standard On The Mouth
- It’s a surprisingly cool August day and you and your friends have nothing to do and all of the time in the world in which to do it at 1:50 in Summer by War.
— From 1976’s awesome collection Greatest Hits
- Emily Haines’ chant of “Park that car, drop that phone, sleep on the floor, dream about me” begins to build and build and build and build at 2:06 in Anthems For a 17-Year-Old Girl by Broken Social Scene.
— From 2002’s sometimes transcendent You Forgot it in People
- Listen close enough, and you can practically hear American Indie Rock being made up on the spot at 1:40 of Walk By Your House by The Individuals.
— From 1982’s just-reissued Fields
- Paul, George and (especially) Ringo are all together, but John’s head is in the clouds, seeding a downpour of psychedelia at 0:50 in Rain by The Beatles.
— B-Side to 1966’s guitars vs. harmonies “Paperback Writer” single
- Jason Isbell’s rock ‘n’ roll-loving father gives him the best advice ever at 0:58 in Outfit by Drive-By Truckers.
–From 2003’s fully Southern Decoration Day
- Robert Pollard gets lost in an echo-y cavern full of guitar chords piercing the darkness like stalactites at 2:06 in Look At Them by Guided by Voices.
— From 1996’s still magical Under the Bushes, Under The Stars
- Paul Weller — and his Rickenbacker — make reality seem pretty easy, all things considered at 3:32 in Away From The Numbers by The Jam.
— From 1977’s mod-reviving In The City
- Bernard Sumner celebrates his band’s most perfect chorus with a little yelp at 3:20 in Age of Consent by New Order.
— From 1983’s statement of purpose Power, Corruption and Lies
- Scott Oliver hopes that he doesn’t die while Manny Diez reminds you that he almost did at the breakdown at 3:08 in The Shiny Unfeeling by The Miss Alans.
— From 1990’s transitional debut Smack The Horse
- Eddie Kendricks reveals just how deep the fantasy went and yet it still seems more romantic than psychotic at 3:08 in Just My Imagination by The Temptations.
— From 1971’s post-psychedelic Sky’s The Limit
- Thank gods that Lloyd Cole still lives like this so that rest of us don’t have to at 3:16 in Vin Ordinaire by Lloyd Cole and The Negatives.
— From 2001’s comeback The Negatives
- The way the entire band joyously piles on during the chorus at 0:50 in Alice on The Radio by The Cat Heads.
— From 1988’s shamefully out-of-print Submarine
- After 7 minutes of raining pure psychedelic noise bliss, Ira Kaplan stumbles into the perfect riff, and finally after all of those years of loving The Velvets, they love him back at 7:07 in Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind by Yo La Tengo.
— From 2006’s return to form I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
- The awesomely gorgeously perfect horns that frame: “Do you know what I saw today? / A man blow himself away over youuuuu” at 2:50 in Forbidden Fruit by The Blow Monkeys.
— From 1986’s hits -plus-filler Animal Magic
There you go. Combined with my previous effort, that makes 49. And I’ve only scratched the surface. There are loads more on the horizion.
Um, you may want to check #6 again. That’s “Arthur.”
That’s right! “Arthur.”
That’s a good Bruce moment. I have two of those that I’m going to share, because it’s the Internets and it’s free for me to do so. Both of them live versions:
1) Badlands from Live 1975-1985: About 4 minutes in when the band kicks back into high gear after the musical interlude.
2) My Love Will Not Let You Down–FIRST FRACKIN’ CHORUS only one minute into the song. It still gives me chills. Only bested by the NEXT CHORUS at 2 minutes in!