I don’t know how to start this so I’ll just jump right in. This is my ‘greatest hits’ sort of album! I tried to select songs that have similar themes to each other, but overall it just mattered that I liked them. I have moved a lot in my life, so a lot of the songs on this list reflect that, so expect songs about going home, or leaving home, or regrets. For me, each of these songs fits a plane ride to a new life somewhere else.
I heard this song a long time ago, sometime in the night. Being a tired kid, the synthesizers made me think of aliens. While that is certainly something I still associate this song with to this day, that is not the reason I still listen to it. This song has some fantastic wordplay in it, with a catchy hook and energy to support it.
And what a pretty night, what a pretty night
You finally fit into my shoes, I'm never dressed for the occasional
Invasion of surprises, I don't get surprised
You think your secret's safe with you
I'll catch it swinging through the grapevine
So for background, I’m trying to restrict myself to one song per band to make sure I have some variation on this list. I knew that I had to put a Green Day song on here, as they are my favorite band. It was difficult to pin down which one to do, so I chose this one. Clocking in at over 9 minutes, JoS goes through a key change, tempo changes, and many themes. While it is the second song on the American Idiot album, it is the one that sets the story for the rock opera. It is majestic, well crafted and is a true testament to what Green Day can do.
Home is where the heart is
But what a shame
Cause everyone’s heart
Doesn’t beat the same
An absolute classic from the (in my opinion) best prog-rock band in the world. Fly by night is the song that captures the spirit of this list; leaving everything behind and starting again. The chemistry between Geddy Lee (vocals and bass), Alex Lifeson (guitar) and Neil Peart (drums) is unmatched, and on great display in this song. The way this song is put together with fantastic melodies, a great guitar solo, and an iconic sound make it a perfect fit for this list.
Leaving my homeland
Flying alone and
My life begins today
The last song off of their latest album Shapeshift with Me, this song carries a fantastic cadence. To be quite honest, I stole ideas from this song for one of my own songs. That is how much I enjoy it. The lyrical themes, the simple but effective guitar style, and the percussion bring this song together very nicely as a casual ride through sentimentality.
160 miles to Cincinnati
Plastic Christ my hearts breaking in my chest
160 miles to regret
Did you know this song is actually a cover? I didn’t. That is how much soul the late Johnny Cash put into this song. The lyrics are brutal and truthful, and the instrumentation is beautiful. While it is not my favorite song in the world, the amount of talent and heart on display in this song make it fantastic.
What have I become
My dearest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
Consider this a tonal reset for this list. I started with some softer songs, and now its time to turn up the distortion. This song was Sum 41’s return to the stage after a few years away. It has everything needed to turn an album around, a beginning that slowly builds into a fast paced riff. In terms of melody, the verses don’t have a lot of it. But the chorus and bridge are great, and the lyrical content has vivid imagery.
You walk beside the dead where
The angels never tread well
At least I've still got a soul to sell
This is a song that brings me back to laying awake at night next to the radio when I was 8. I had my radio set to this one station, FM 88.7. On Friday nights they had listeners vote on the songs that they had played through the week, and from 9 to midnight they counted down to the song with the most votes. This song won a few times. It combines many elements that I love. Regret, hope, positivity, and looking towards the future. The instrumentation is a bit simple, sure, but the melodies and lyrics make up for it.
I was once a boy in love with strangers
As I watched them smoke their cigarettes I waved
I was much too young to think of danger
I was curious and innocent and brave
Like the Sum 41 song, this song is Breaking Benjamin’s comeback song after years of court cases and illness for the members of the band. Breaking Benjamin is a very consistent band. The songs are very formulaic, with muted verses and triumphant choruses. This song is no different. The theme of the song is, well, failure. While the guitar solo is fairly weak, the chorus and ending are fantastic. They bring back the memories of long bus rides home from school, excited to go home and listen to the new singles from the album.
The dark before the dawn,
The war will carry on.
Look for the light that leads me home.
This song starts off perfectly, with the ambiance of crickets and light guitar. The song then blasts off with incoming distortion and vocals. I really love this song, the lyrics are amazing, the melodies and guitars blend perfectly, and the drums are varied and interesting. Now, the song does have a ‘shouty bit’ which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for me its well earned and fits with what the song has been building up to.
As the hungry sails unfurl
We are thrusted from the shore
And its you that we search for
The All American Rejects are a really strange band for me. I can’t ever get into their music, but every few years I find them again and fall in love with them for a week. It’s probably mostly nostalgia, but hey, what’s wrong with that? Of course, you probably already know this song, so I don’t really need to describe it, do i?
Another day, and you've had your fill of sinking
With the life held in your
Hands are shaking cold
These hands are meant to hold
Beginning the transition to the end of this list is an energetic acoustic track. This song contains the story of two brothers who enlisted in the army to fight in world war 2 and then died on a beach. This is a song that reminds me of my brother. We used to do everything together, but now go to college on the opposite sides of the country.
Just to see your face for one moment
I’d cross the ocean again
The end is not the end
Simply put, this is a song that reminds me of my brother, following up on the theme from the song before it. When I was younger, my brother and I played the video game Rock Band, which had this song on it. At the time this song wasn’t one that I cared much for, but finding it years later took me on a massive nostalgia trip. This song isn’t perfect, and there are plenty that I like more than it, but I feel it deserves a spot here.
It's a long way
Back to the place where we used to sit
When you and I were just little kids
This is the best Christmas song in my opinion, as it is not about religion but about family. Tim Minchin is a comedian who usually fills his songs with wit and jest. While some of that exists in this song, it takes a back seat to the sentimentality that surrounds the holiday season.
And if my baby girl, when you’re 21 or 31
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself 9000 miles from home
You’ll know whatever comes that
Your brothers and sisters and me and your mom
Will be waiting for you in the sun
This song is my favorite song to close out a setlist with. It was the song that my group of friends listened to constantly during my Sophomore year of high school, and it will always hold a place in my heart for that. There were countless times where I would strum out the first chord on my acoustic guitar and have all of my friends singing with me. The soft acoustic guitar, light piano, and general feel give it a lullaby, goodnight feel that I love.
Did you stand there all alone?
Oh I cannot explain what's going down
I can see you standing next to me
In and out somewhere else right now
What good album is complete without bonus tracks? Well, many I’m sure but I just have a few honorable mentions to add to this list.
This is one of my new favorite sad songs, but it couldn’t beat the other house of heroes song I had already picked.
Plugging myself in here, I write my own music. There are a few songs of mine that I would put on this list, but I feel that I am incredibly biased and I want to maintain some professionalism for this non-professional post. This is totally not me begging for people to listen. Totally not.
Because they are great, really.
Thanks for reading! I hope you have a good day, and have success wherever life takes you.
-June, Host of June's Tunes