On my brief visit to E=MC in Durham, North Carolina (pre-cross-country 6 day road trip), we are at Allen & Sons BBQ, licking our fingers at red checkered table cloths and drinking sweet tea with a group of his grad school friends when someone poses me the question that probably gives me the most anxiety of all questions ever.
The guys have been throwing the question around the last few days, and are reciting one another's lists back to each other, and I am terrified they are going to turn on me and demand to know my answer. It makes me sweat (or maybe it's because it's 90 degrees with %143 humidity).
Halfway through a bite of my pulled pork sandwich, it happens.
"Okay, your turn. What are your top five favorite songs. Of all time."
Damn. There it is. The anxiety rises in my chest and I eyeball the nearest exit.
I don't know why I get this way! Definitive questions always make me waffle: I feel like I need a top ten, at least, for anything, and even then I have awkward addendums ("Honorable Mentions," Alternates, etc). I cringe when I think about the application I submitted to Princeton University as a high school senior: as part of their folio of information they request from you, they ask you ten simple questions about your preferences in music, movies, art, books and the like.
I stressed out about it for like, a week, filled in my answers, immediately second guessed the impression said answers would give about me, typed and printed new answers, and pasted them on top of the old ones. I might have even done this multiple times for certain questions. (I am sure all of the answers were wholly unimpressive and unremarkable, hence my ensuing letter of rejection).
But I still get like that. I don't even have any "Favorites" sections filled in on Facebook anymore because the idea that my list isn't actually correct or complete or truly representative of me really freaks me out, plus, it changes a lot. So I just scrapped it altogether.
This is all running through my brain as I flail around for a way to start answering this impossible, difficult, frustrating demand to put a box around your tastes and catalogue your love for one of the most lovable things in this life- music- and so I am wholly suprised when I answer almost immediately, with unequivocal confidence,
"Oh, Number 1 for sure is "Night Moves," by Bob Seger."
"AAAAAH! SUCH A GOOD ONE! Great choice! I can't believe I missed that one! So good!" choruses the table.
And then from there I throw out a whole bunch of other ones, only once every tenth suggestion or so moving it into one of the top five spots.
I think the list ended up shaking out something like this:
1. "Night Moves" - Bob Seger
2. "Fast Car"- Tracy Chapman
3. "Neighborhood #1" - Arcade Fire
4. "Lover, You Should Have Come Over," - Jeff Buckley
5. "Come on Eileen"- Dexy's Midnight Runners
With the following somewhere in the top 15:
"Beast of Burden" - The Rolling Stones
"Walking on Broken Glass"- Annie Lennox
"Let's Stay Together"- Al Green
"Just Like Heaven"- The Cure
"The Trapeze Swinger"- Iron & Wine
"Ex-Factor" - Lauryn Hill
"No Sleep Til Brooklyn"- The Beastie Boys
"I Want You"- Bob Dylan
"As Long as You Follow"- Fleetwood Mac
"Don't Stop"- Brazilian Girls
Which is weird, because none of these slots are represented by my favorite bands/artists(Ray LaMontagne, The Decemberists, Neko Case, Air, John Mayer, Fiona Apple, The Black Keys, Wye Oak, Everything But the Girl) which is maybe because I just can't pick a representative one song from any of them? Or maybe it's that a "favorite song" is just chosen by entirely different criteria.
These favorite songs are ones I NEVER get tired of, and am ALWAYS jazzed about when I hear them. They all make me feel something specific, and are often times tied to a moment worth remembering (or in some cases, a moment I wish I remembered, like, when Dance Fighter paid the karaoke DJ $15 so I could sing "Night Moves" at my 21st birthday party. There are pictures, at least).
So, I'm curious- what are your favorite songs? Can you pick just 5? What's your criteria? Are they representative of your favorite artists? Don't be shy!