Earlier this week I posted my list of the 100 Greatest Songs from the Golden Age of Alternative Rock. The mid nineties was a time when the music business was so prosperous that even minimal effort could result in a Gold record. I doubt anyone outside of the Deal family could name a second song by The Breeders yet Last Splash still went platinum. I contributed to many of those RIAA certifications (R.I.P. BMG 10 albums for a penny deals that they kept letting you quit and renew for a new batch of albums).
1. Anna Begins – Counting Crows: Not only one of my favorite deep cuts from the era, but one of my favorite songs ever in the history of the world. “Every time she sneezes I believe it is love” meant everything to me in my youth. Still does.
2. The World Has Turned and Left Me Here – Weezer: The Blue Album had the most songs of any album on my list as every song is great. This is my favorite of the rest, just another great teenage anthem.
3. Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Nirvana: Quite possibly the greatest performance ever to air on MTV Unplugged.
4. Warehouse – Dave Matthew Band: Record companies are usually good at releasing singles, but for some reasons the singles off of Dave Matthews Band albums are never my favorites. Ants Marching may be my fifth favorite song off their major label debut. The best is Warehouse which only get more epic when you hear it live. And thanks for the band’s penchant for releasing live albums, which will be easy to find because even though they always switch up set lists, there is always a good chance that this song will be represented.
5. Bad Habit – The Offspring: The ultimate road rage song. I probably listened to it way too much while learning to drive.
6. Immortality – Pearl Jam: No list is perfect and my own personal eyeballing of mine is there could have been a lot more Pearl Jam. It is probably after the success of the first album, they decided to step back from the spotlight not making music video or releasing proper singles leaving individual radio station to play their own favorites. Immortality is just the kind of mood I am in right now, but anything on those next two albums is worth checking out.
7. Let Me In – R.E.M.: Those first three R.E.M. albums from the nineties are worth checking out, this is probably the best track on their most fuzzed out album of the trio.
8. Happy Endings – Better than Ezra: I recently read an article where the lead singer suggested that they may have had Goo Goo Doll’s career had they been on a better record label and not one that went under. As a owner of all their albums sans their last I would have to agree as they made some of the best adult contemporary music of the past decade. You can hear them go down that root on songs like this.
9. Sad Songs and Waltzes – Cake: The band had a minor hit with their I Will Survive cover, another stand out on the same album was this Willie Nelson classic. The irony of course was during the alt-rock era, depressing songs were all the rage.
10. I'm the Ocean – Neil Young: The godfather of grunge hooked up with Pearl Jam and made an album which sounded exactly like you expected. This seven minute epic without a chorus is the highlight of the Mirror Ball album.
11. I Love You Mary Jane – Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill: When I first started working on my list I considered some more “alternative” rap song like Insane in the Brain. Instead I will include Cypress Hill’s awesomely weird collaboration with Sonic Youth for the Judgment Night Soundtrack where the two bonded over their love of the sticky icky. The song worked a lot better than their track with Pearl Jam.
12. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins: In the of the alt-rock heyday, who would have expected the Smashing Pumpkins to start their double album with a sweet, well, melon collie, piano-based instrumental.
13. Sir Psycho Sexy – Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Peppers are weird to begin with, but this was easily their most bizarre track from Blood Sugar Sex Magic. The teenage version of myself loved the lady cop verse.
14. Slide Away – Oasis: That first album was brit-pop gold, this was definitely my favorite non-single.
15. The Wanderer – U2: Nirvana gets a lot of credit for the start of the alt-rock era, but with Achtung Baby, U2 was getting weird at the same time. They got even weirder on Zoorepa which ended with a country euro-trash song featuring Johnny Cash on vocals, a year before his carreer got resurrected with the American Recordings series.
16. Swing On This - Alice In Chains: Who would have guessed Alice in Chain would ever release a song that was actually danceable?
17. Pillar of Davidson – Live: There were plenty of epic songs on Throwing Copper, this song may have actually been the most epic.
18. Bogusflow – Beck: DGC Rarities vol. 1 was a must own by any alt-rock fan with plenty of rare gems. At the time, Beck was heading for one hit wonderdom and this drunken Bob Dylan type song was not going to help him out of that label but was awesome nonetheless. I am still waiting for vol. 2.
19. Mad Dog 20 / 20 – Teenage Fanclub: Fun fact: The first legal drink I ever bought was Mad Dog 20/20. I cannot confirm nor deny it is because of this song.
20. April 29, 1992 (Miami) – Sublime: Humorously the band actually got the date wrong in the actual lyrics song (April 26), legend has it that the take with the mistake was the best so they kept it.
21. Steven's Last Night In Town – Ben Folds Five: There were not many New Orleans inspired tracks during the alt rock era, but this one was really good.
22. Brother – Toad the Wet Sprocket: This was off their “rarities” album which was one of the few albums that was just as good as the “proper” albums in an artist discography.
23. Price to Pay – Blues Traveler: Just great storytelling in this song and of course plenty of harmonica.
24. Carrion – Fiona Apple: The big hits of this album were song of Fiona’s more angry songs; I also appreciate her more subtle songs like this one.
25. Nada – The Refreshments: In the introduction I mentioned how easy it was to get a Gold album, this is one of the few bands from the time that did not manage one and I am not sure why, I really enjoyed both of their albums. Maybe too southern and not enough alternative in their rock. And then too weird for the country crowd. Nada was a great way to end that first album.
Shamrocks and Shenanigans (Butch Vig Mix) – House of Pain: Another rap song I considered for this list, but the Butch Vig version. Vig was fresh from producing Nevermind and a few years away from becoming a founding member of Garbage and gave an alt-rock bent to the song.
Iron Man – The Cardigans: I considered a couple songs by the band for this list but Lovefool was a bit too poppy and Been It just missed the cut (had I expanded the end date by a year, My Favorite Mistake would definitely made the list). But the album was much more weird and darker than you would expect from the group that brought you Lovefool, case in point this trippy cover of the Black Sabbath song.