the midlife 150: favourite music 1970-2009

January 28, 2010

Compiling an extensive ranked list, in one’s idle moments, of favourite music from the last 40 years surely signals some kind of crisis. The conceit that it somehow matters whether that Pixies track is three, seven or 13 places ahead of that Ekkehard Ehlers track dissolves under the mildest scrutiny – it is one of the least important pieces of data ever captured.

To persevere anyway requires a cognitive dissonance that is only three, seven or 13 steps away from full acceptance of the fact that, from here on in, an increasing percentage of your thoughts will not only not matter to anyone else – they won’t matter much to you either. Once these thoughts reach 100%, well …

The flip side to this is the certainty that the individual pieces music contained in such a list not only matter to you, they matter to lots of other people too. And when you collect them together and associate them with all the other artefacts of humanly organised sound that have ever existed things don’t seem so bad after all.

So welcome to the midlife 150.

Like any list worth its name, there are rules:

  • It covers music first made available between the beginning of 1970 and the end of 2009, though please make allowances for mild inaccuracies at the edges
  • Artists can only appear more than once as part of different ‘acts’. For example, Lou Reed can appear as a solo artist and as a member of the Velvet Underground
  • Tracks that constitute whole albums have reluctantly been excluded. It didn’t seem fair, though it is mortifying that The NecksDrive By doesn’t make it as a result
  • It represents my opinion only at the precise moment it was compiled, and entries and their rankings may well have changed by the time they are published, particularly in the lower reaches of the chart

I’ll update this post as each entry is published; the plan is to get to number one by the end of 2010 2011 2012. I hope you find something new that you like.

All midlife 150 posts

#150 Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again by The Books

#149 Tender To The Blues by James Yorkston & The Athletes

#148 Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

#147 Left To My Own Devices by Pet Shop Boys

#146 Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

#145 Reflection Nebula 056n by Tadeo

#144 Don’t Buy Ivory, Anymore by Bojan Zulfikarpašić

#143 Fake Tales Of San Francisco by Arctic Monkeys

#142 Hurt by Johnny Cash

#141 Mother And Daughters Now Mothers by Chris Bowden

#140 Manchild by Neneh Cherry

#139 Slow Jam by Four Tet

#138 Up With People by Lambchop

#137 Toxic by Britney Spears

#136 Moya by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

#135 The Past Is A Grotesque Animal by Of Montreal

#134 Green Grass Of Tunnel by Múm

#133 Time & Space by Grooverider

#132 Behind The Mask by Yellow Magic Orchestra

#131 Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone by The Temptations

#130 I’ve Been Riding With The Ghost by Songs: Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co.

#129 Concrete Schoolyard by Jurassic 5

#128 The Rhinohead by Von Südenfed

#127 Pick Up The Phone by The Notwist

#126 Family Tree by TV On The Radio

#125 Movin’ On Up by Primal Scream

#124 Plays John Cassavetes (part 2) by Ekkehard Ehlers

#123 Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers

#122 Hamburger Cemetary by Slowblow

#121 Pull The Wires From The Wall by The Delgados

#120 Undertow by Stars

#119 Londinium by Archive

#118 Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem

#117 With Arms Outstretched by Rilo Kiley

#116 Gasoline Alley Bred by The Hollies

#115 Hate To Say I Told You So by The Hives

#114 Ms. Jackson by Outkast

#113 Our Lips Are Sealed by Fun Boy Three

#112 Hypnotic Drugstore by Jimi Tenor

#111 Down To The Well by Pixies

#110 Different Trains – After The War by Steve Reich

#109 Vatnajökull by Chris Watson

#108 Nobody’s Diary by Yazoo

#107 Headhunter by Front 242

#106 Vitamin C by Can

#105 Over Jordan by Papa M

#104 The Box by Orbital

#103 Love And Communication by Cat Power

#102 Ten-Day Interval by Tortoise

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