Oh, now that this column is firmly in the ’90s, it has already become difficult for me to narrow down my song choices. 1992 was a fantastic year for music. Get in:
We Are The Music Makers – Aphex Twin
That is such a great title for a song, isn’t it? I have written many things while listening to Aphex Twin. Something about ambient electronica gets my brain moving in the right way for certain fiction-related things. This song comes from his album Selected Ambient Works 85-92, and it’s nearly eight minutes of good stuff.
Mother – Tori Amos
Yessss… We can finally talk about Tori. Little Earthquakes is a near-perfect album – I say “near-perfect” because I’m rarely in the mood to listen to “China” – and “Mother” is one of my favorite songs from it. It has such a hungry urgency and a sadness that appeals to me on a literary level.
When I still danced, I once spliced together (with my ninja-quick cassette dubbing skillz) instrumental portions of “Icicle” and the beginning of “Mother” for a ballet solo piece, and it worked so well. Sometimes I miss dancing, but I’m afriad these cranky bones can’t handle much more than easy yoga now.
Paulina – No Doubt
For me, No Doubt are kind of an a la carte band. I’m not wild about Gwen Stefani as a public personality, but the band itself has some great songs. “Paulina” comes from their first self-titled album, and it’s a somewhat silly song where Stefani acts as backup, and her brother Eric sings about someone “on the cover of a magazine” and “a woman in my nightly dreams.” I don’t know if he refers to the model Paulina Porizkova, but it’s an amusing song, and I think people often forget that they existed as a band before Tragic Kingdom.
My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It) – En Vogue
Oh, good on En Vogue. Young Me did a lot of dancing to the album Funky Divas (especially the breakdown in this song), which also includes a good cover of The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” This video also provided a lot of evidence in the case of Lovely Ladies, evidence that took seed in my kid brain to be interpreted at a later date.
Friday I’m in Love – The Cure
“Friday I’m in Love” might rank as one of the Best Songs of Ever. I have Wish on CD, and regrettably, there’s a scratch on this song. “I don’t care if Monday’s blue / Tuesday’s grey and Wednesday too/ Thursday, I don’t care about you / It’s Friday I’m in love…”
I love sad Cure songs too, but there is something special about their upbeat tunes.
I Feel Lucky – Mary Chapin Carpenter
I went through a stage where I recorded this song onto a cassette so that it filled the entire side, over and over, so I wouldn’t have to rewind. For whatever reason, I was obsessed with listening to it at least once per day. My interest in country music has waned from that late elementary school period, but even though today is the first time in years I’ve listened to “I Feel Lucky,” I still know all the words. The whole album, Come On Come On, is a gem, really. I bet if I put it on now, most of the songs would come back to me, as though no time had passed at all. And if we’re honest, much of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s music is as adjacent to blues and Tom Petty as it is to what we typically think of as country music.
“Dwight Yokum’s in the corner/ tryin’ to catch my eye / Lyle Lovett’s right beside me with his hand upon my thigh…”
I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston
Speaking of cassettes I played a million times, The Bodyguard soundtrack, Side A, is certainly one of those albums. Yes, yes, “I Will Always Love You” is the beyond-famous cover, but all of Whitney’s songs on here are fantastic. “I Have Nothing” might actually be my favorite now, looking at the collection of songs. It’s big and majestic like the best Whitney songs, with horns and a soaring chorus, and even though almost no one can sing as well as her, you better believe I’m singing anyway. “Stay in my arms, if you dare…”
No Ordinary Love – Sade
Love Deluxe was an album that my dad borrowed from our neighbor, Steve, and I ended up being the one who really loved it. I dubbed the music onto cassette and often listened to it before falling asleep. For my purposes here, I almost went with the instrumental “Mermaid,” as it was the song I listened to most often, but “No Ordinary Love” has the beautiful, low groove of Sade’s voice. Also, the video has mermaid imagery, so we’re still good, right? I haven’t listened to this album in ages, and now I’m compelled to reacquaint myself.
Tones of Home – Blind Melon
For Alphabet Soup: The Letter N, I talked about “No Rain” being one of my favorite songs, but since I only own Nico, I wasn’t familiar with the other songs from their first album until the past few years. “Tones of Home” was the second single from that self-titled debut, and it’s fun stuff, despite melancholy subject matter – Blind Melon’s stock in trade, really. Once again, I must say that it’s a major musical loss that Shannon Hoon died so soon.
Stinkin’ Thinkin’ – Happy Mondays
Ah, Yes Please! – the album that bankrupted Factory Records. We haven’t had enough rock from the North of England in awhile, and “Stinkin’ Thinkin'” is the song from Happy Mondays with which I’m most familiar. It’s a woozy, breathless good time. Shaun Ryder is another one of those difficult, possibly mad, talented singers that frustrated everyone until he handed over some brilliant music, and everyone pretended to forget the trouble that led to it.
Freedom – Rage Against The Machine
Normally, I only talk about ten songs per year, but 1992 was an outstanding year. Even by including one extra, I’m still leaving out some other gems that I hope you’ll mention in the comments. However, this time I’m making an exception (probably not the first) for my husband. Rage Against The Machine is his favorite band, and this extra song is for him.
Now then, take a gander at this roundup of 1992 in music, and let’s talk tunes in the comments.