This afternoon, the US will get to experience a solar eclipse. It has been a very long time since I remember seeing this phenomenon? In the 1970s, I remember our elementary teachers taking us outside to watch an eclipse while using a simple hole projector so we would not look directly at the sun. The science nerd inside me is excited to watch this astronomic event.
Now, last week, I mentioned that I had watched Nat Geo’s excellent miniseries about The Nineties. Well, thanks to Son #1, I got to see CNN’s excellent series called The Nineties. After checking our CNN Go, I discovered that last night’s episode was about the music of The Nineties. Boy, was it ever outstanding! The hour-long episode covered everything from the fall of 80s hair metal and cheap dance/pop to the rise of alternative music, Britpop, country music, gangsta rap and boy/girl bands. As a matter of fact, I became eager to share my excitement of seeing this show. So, if you get a chance to watch this show then do it!
Today, we begin our journey into my Top 50 Alternative Rock Music of the Nineties. Specifically, I am presenting numbers 41 through 50. Now, a long-time friend of mine, Mike, thinks he knows my list’s Top Three. And, he might be correct. He is the type of friend who has a pretty good idea of my tastes in music. Well, Mike, I guess you will find out at the end of the week! But, if anyone could figure out my Top 5, it would be Mike.
Okay, enough of the eclipses, TV shows, bets with friends, and the rest. Let’s get on with it! Ladies and gentlemen, on with the countdown!
41. Alice in Chains – “Man in the Box” (1990). After lead singer Layne Staley passed away, I read somewhere his mom immediately realized that the ‘Man in the Box’ was Layne himself and that he was crying out for help. Unfortunately, the help that his friends attempted to gave Layne was too late. Yet, this song ushered in the Grunge Era, with its sludge-sounding guitar tuning and the lyrics describing the pain of a depressed individual.
42. Blur – “Song 2” (1997). Once grunge imploded, England exported their Nineties version of power pop that was collectively known as Britpop. This was the UK’s antidote for the grunge headache from which everyone was suffering. Now, it was cool again to be a rock star.
43. R.E.M. – “Everybody Hurts” (1992). This song was one of two songs that brought the archetypal R.E.M. sound to them asses. “Everybody Hurts” was the emotional centerpiece on their brilliant masterpiece Automatic for the People.
44. Foo Fighters – “My Hero” (1997). This is the sound of Dave Grohl breaking free of the Nirvana myth in order for him to ascend to the Throne of Rock Music’s Newest Rock Star. Fortunately for us, Grohl accepted his fate and maybe the last rock star ever. This is Grohl’s anthem for the ages.
45. Counting Crows – “Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)” (1994). When Counting Crows burst onto the scene, they were being favorably compared to Van Morrison. From the sound of Adam Duritz’ voice to the soulful, organic sound of the Crow’s Band-like sound, Counting Crows were touted as an American cure for grunge overkill. And, this particular song had been left off the band’s debut album and was released on their label’s compilation of unreleased songs from bands of the alternative nation.
46. Nirvana – “Come as You Are” (1991). What can I say about Nirvana that has not been said before. They were a shooting star in rock history, but, man, did that flame ever burn so bright.
47. Gin Blossoms – “Found Out About You” (1994). Gin Blossoms’ debut album was similar to Counting Crows’ debut in that the band’s sound was refreshingly organic, though the Blossoms’ sound was rooted a little more in the power pop arena than the Crows. Still, at the moment the burst on the scene, Gin Blossoms were a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately for the band, the man who had written many of their hit songs on that debut album, Doug Hopkins, had died right before the release of the band’s debut album.
48. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Love Rollercoaster” (1994). I know this is a cover of the Ohio Players’ Number One hit from 1975. But, the Chili Peppers cover it in their signature reckless abandon that seems as if they will lose control of the song at any moment. Yet, the band never loses control as they help bring Bevis & Butthead to the masses by allowing this song to be on the animated duo’s big screen debut.
49. Radiohead – “Creep” (1993). Before Radiohead arguably became one of the finest bands in the world, they released this grunge song that captured the mood of Gen Xers all over, with its alienated youth lyrics and the scratchy guitar hook that introduces the simple refrain, “I’m a creep.”
50. Foo Fighters – “Learn to Fly” (1999). Not only can Foo Fighters hit you over the head with rocking anthems; they can also demonstrate musical finesse as they do on this power pop classic. And the best thing about this song? The classic comedic abilities of Dave Grohl in the video for this song.
So, there are the first ten songs in My Top 50 Alternative Songs of the Nineties. At the time, I did not really get to enjoy the music of the Nineties at the time while working full-time, going back to college and, most importantly, being a husband and parent. So, as I play a little catch-up in my musical library, I love getting to hear that soundtrack, albeit a couple of decades later. And, as the Rolling Stones once sang all those years ago, “It’s only rock & roll, but I like it, like it, yes I do.”