Here Comes My Top Ten

I’ve been listening to Brian Eno’s “Here Come the Warm Jets” lately on my drive to and from work. What a great album! I’m always amazed by the variety of sounds and textures in these ten songs. From the weird buzzing and wild thrumming on “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch” to the quavering Hawaiianesqe slide guitar on “Some of Them Are Old” or the strident ‘Oh No’s in the background of “Dead Finks Don’t Talk”, it all adds up to more than the sum of its parts.
My favorite song on this CD has always been “On Some Faraway Beach”. The innocuous piano line repeats, a pure and simple melody, as the background builds, the drums becoming more intense, a crescendo of orchestral obbligatos adding depth, building toward a climax that leaves the listener feeling insignificant in a universe that is beyond human comprehension. And then finally the lyrics, which are best not examined too closely, for who among us has ever found the meaning of life in a pop song. Eno, himself, has stated that the lyrics take hardly anytime to write and that he often begins with nonsense syllables.

What makes this music so great is that it is exactly as it should be. There is nothing you could add that would make it better, nor is there anything that needs to be taken away. His later ambient work is, of course, more minimalist and good in its own way, but, while I often find myself in agreement with the philosophy that ‘less is more’, I doubt I will ever like it as much as I like this album.

Realizing for the umpteenth time how much I like this music prompted me to think about my top ten list which heretofore has never existed. Unlike the John Cusack character in the movie “High Fidelitiy”, I am not a list maker by nature nor even, if truth be told, the type to blog. But I’ve decided not to let either of these factors stand in my way.

One problem that has always prevented me from making such a list is the idea of deciding which album deserves the number one spot, so I’ve decided to rank them in chronological order rather than favorites because, after all, different moods deserve different songs. Here it is then:

1. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground (1969)

2. Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets (1973)

3. Patti Smith – Horses (1975)

4. Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express (1977)

5. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)

6. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville (1993)

7. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)

8. Elliott Smith – XO (1998 )

9. Stephen Trask – Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

10. Sleater-Kinney – The Woods (2005)

A quick glance at this list shows that the musical choices span four decades. A more detailed examination reveals a curious phenomenon: not a single work from the 1980’s has made my top ten. Why is this? you ask. In a word, Reaganomics.

I moved to New York City in 1982 and lived there for four years. In 1986 I moved to San Francisco where I remained for three years. These are inarguably two of America’s best cities. But by the end of the decade I’d had enough. I moved to Taiwan, married a local, had a kid, and really had no intention of ever returning here. An unfortunate series of events brought me back to my home town some thirteen years ago and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to leave again.

I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer last May and, except for a little pill that I am to take daily for the next 5-10 years, I have finished treatment. Chemo and radiation have turned my mind to sludge. Maybe the fog will lift soon. Maybe the cancer won’t come back. The important thing is I finished my top ten list. I always wondered what it would like.




2 responses to “Here Comes My Top Ten

  1. Hello there! I stumbled across your page by accident, and I’d just like to say I’m glad you’re sharing your top 10 list, because it’s brilliant! I’m really glad to see Here Come the Warm Jets so high – usually it doesn’t get the credit I think it deserves. It’s also my 2nd favorite record, after Bowie’s Low. Anyway, god bless, and stay strong!


  2. Pingback: Remembering Roxy Music « Lo-Fidelity

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