Friday Fun: My Top Ten 90's Songs, #10

I have tried in various ways to mix in some lighter content, without much success.  This time, I figured I would do a song a week on Fridays, as part of a Top Ten gimmick.  For the first series, I figured I would do my Top Ten songs of the 90s.  This is, for better or worse, my decade musically--I was 11 when it started and 21 when it ended.

I should say that this Top Ten is entirely personal--these are my favorite songs, not some "objective" attempt to go for the ten best songs of the decade (to the extent that is even a meaningful thing).  It is entirely idiosyncratic and personally-driven, and it makes no pretense either to a comprehensive knowledge of music.  It's just me.

Before getting to #10 of the Top Ten, a few preliminary picks.  I'll start with an honorable mention.

I'm not even convinced this song is very good, but it will always stick with me, as it was the song playing when I got kissed for the first time.  Which was a pretty significant moment in my life, and since this is my countdown, it deserves a spot.

On a less positive, and less subjective note, I think there can be no serious debate as to the worst song of the 90s.

I hate this song.  If you want me to confess to any crime you can think of, put me in a room and play this song in a loop.  That voice is the worst.  Ack.

Not as bad as 4 Non Blondes, but certainly a personal non-favorite, we also have the most overrated song and band of the 90s.

When I was in college, particularly as a freshman, this was the song and album all the girls wanted to hear, so you had no choice but to at least pretend to like it.  The first Dave Matthews Band album (Under the Table and Dreaming) was OK, but the rest of the catalog is uninspired and over-rated.  Not a fan.

Anyway, on to #10

#10:  "Allison Road" by the Gin Blossoms (off of New Miserable Experience (1992))

Of all the mid-90s bands that were kind of like the Gin Blossoms, I like the Gin Blossoms the best.  They had much more of a pop sound than the more self-conscious grunge bands of the same basic time period.  This was not a "hard rock" band, nor was it a band that was attempting to convince you that they were thinking deep thoughts (*cough* Live *cough*--more on them in future Fridays).  They just wrote and played catchy songs, and they were really good at it.  There is a kind of simplicity to their songs which is really appealing, and I think it makes their songs somewhat timeless.

New Miserable Experience was their breakthrough album, and it sold 4 million copies, which is pretty-good-but-nothing-special for the time and unbelievably good by today's standards.  There are basically four songs on the album that you may have heard before.  The chart-topper was "Found Out About You" (which peaked at #1 in Modern Rock tracks in '93), but I think most people remember the more upbeat "Hey Jealousy."

Those are both fun songs, but the other two songs--"Allison Road" and "Until I Fall Away"--are simple little bits of great, tight songwriting.  "Allison Road" is about a simple, easily relate-able situation--you have broken up a relationship with someone, and you basically know that you have made a mistake, but you can't go back and fix it.  What I like about the song is that there is absolutely no fat or wasted motion in the song--it communicates its message perfectly well with an economy of words,  This kind of focused writing is one of the things that makes Lennon and McCartney geniuses (I will argue that "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is the best written song ever, because it communicates a complicated emotional situation in a way everyone can relate to in about 60 words), and while the Gin Blossoms are not the Beatles, this song is Beatles-esque in that way.

"Until I Fall Away" is a prettier and more musically interesting song, but the lyrics are a little more "intentionally ambiguous" in that way that Michael Stipe of R.E.M. is so good at.  It's a good song and I considered going with it here, but the focused writing of "Allison Road" gave it the nod.

The Gin Blossoms had another hit record in 1996 with Congratulations, I'm Sorry, best known for the song "Follow You Down."  They broke up the next year, basically bringing an end to their career.  This was not an earthshaking or revolutionary band, but it was a fun band that wrote fun songs that make you feel good when you listen to them.  That's worth something.


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