Years in Review, the 1’s


In the last couple of years, I have started looking at past decades; 10, 20, 30 years, etc., and re-determining my favorite songs as tastes change, songs grow tired and new songs may have been discovered. Over the course of the next week or so, I will post the results from 1971, 81 and so on but the first one I have decided to post is the top 25 of 2001. It was a pivotal year in my life and in listening to these countups (as I call them), of the 6 years I looked at this month, this one has the most impressive top 15. Most would likely end up in my top 100-200 songs of all-time, a list I am currently also working on updating.

Number 1, “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge, became my and my husband’s song after seeing the movie. I don’t believe we had a song in the 11 years before this, but this song seemed to sum things up and is still as poignant and beautiful as when we first heard it. Gorgeous and grand, Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman’s voices blend so wonderfully. This song should have been a massive hit and was actually one in Kidman’s homeland of Australia.

Number 2 was and still remains a massive hit, “Drops Of Jupiter” by Train. A song written about his recently passed mother, the song was in heavy rotation on radio when my mom passed on April 19, 2001, on her 68th birthday. Of course, the impact of this tale of being free in the universe has had an enduring legacy for me, my sister Julie, and my husband John. She couldn’t have loved him more. It was certainly a shame she was not alive to see us get married in 2004 on our 14th anniversary. She would have been beaming, and probably was from up above. The song remained #1 on my weekly personal chart for 13 weeks (it was virtually aborted during that time). Every time we hear this we are filled with sadness and joy at the same time. Train’s “Something More” comes in at number 25 and 8 songs from the album reached my weekly chart with 4 reaching #1 (these 2 plus “She’s on Fire” and “Respect”).

Number 10, “Mad Season” by Matchbox 20 is also connected to her death as it was the first song I heard after leaving her house the day she passed. I had found her in bed, not something that ever leaves you and everything around me became surreal. It was hours before it was time to leave, police and ambulance arriving all kind of a blur. When in my car driving home the timeliness of this song was uncanny. Part of the lyric is:

“I need you now

Do you think you can cope

You figured me out

That I’m lost and I’m hopeless

I’m bleeding and broken

Though I’ve never spoken

I come undone

In this mad season”

I certainly had clarity in that moment. Matchbox 20 are one of my favorite artists in the Pop/Rock arena and during their heyday, 1997-2003, they had an impressive string of radio hits. Many of those made my weekly top 10, 6 of those reaching #1. 2001 was a great year for Pop/Rock. For me, little-known artists in the lane had great albums at the time. Dexter Freebish, a Texas band are Number 11 with “Wonderland”. In 2000 they had a moderate hit with “Leaving Town” and the album “A Life Of Saturdays” is one of the best albums in that vein ever. I charted 6 songs from the album. “Leaving Town” is probably in my top 50 of all-time.

Hanson’s second album “This Time Around” was highly underrated. It was a great slice of Pop/Rock and showed a musical maturity that was all but ignored. If they could have repeated the radio success of the first album, they would be recognized for the great catalog they have put out ever since. Number 14, “Dying To Be Alive”, is an example of that maturity. The lyrics are deep and contemplative, the music is exuberant with a background choir and “na na’s” for emphasis. At the end it becomes hushed, and the coda is:

“And we all come,

Tumbling down.

No matter how strong,

We all turn to the ground.

When the day’s gone,

Say “why did I wait?”

Can’t just leave your

Life to fate.

Gotta turn it ’round

Before it’s too late.”

In an interesting twist, a song from that 2000 album was the #1 song of the year on my chart last year. The rocker “In The City” a song I don’t remember from back in the day. incorporates shades of Jethro Tull and a scorching harmonica solo from John Popper of Blues Traveller. I implore you to listen to that song. They actually had my top 2 songs of 2020 as the orchestral version of “Where’s The Love” is almost better than the original, which I absolutely adore. I was told by my podcast partner Jeff that the new version of ‘Love’ is a fan’s version, which I get, but adding the orchestra and making it more Rock than Dance, gives it a truly emotional heft. What a great achievement for a band to create 2 versions of the same song with radically different outcomes.

Number 3, “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake, is a grooving lyrical masterpiece that has been elevated for me over time. I’ve seen the band at least twice and they have a style that is uniquely theirs. John McCrea’s vocals are usually a bit off-kilter which has its own charm. And he often sing-speaks the lyrics (not really rap). All the elements of this song are fabulous, lyrics, trumpet, chant background vocals, “na na’s” (again), and a great bass line. Add lyrics like this:

“I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity

Who uses a machete, to cut through red tape

With fingernails that shine like justice

And a voice that is dark like tinted glass

She is fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack

She’s touring the facilities and picking up slack”

What’s not to love. In its initial run on my personal chart, the #7 Alternative hit only peaked at #3. In 20 years, it has aged to virtual perfection.

Number 4, “Hide” by Canadian singer and blues guitarist Colin James, is his second trip to my top 5 of the year. In 1990 he had my #1 song of the year with “Just Came Back”. What is strange is that he has not had many other songs impact me over the years. These two though, are superb blending of blues and melodic rock.

Number 5 comes out of the ‘90’s female folk scene perpetuated by Sarah Mclachlan and the Indigo Girls. “Crumbs” by Jonatha Brooke stands up within the genre for me unlike most of the songs I appreciated then. Perhaps that is because it didn’t get over-saturated. The song is from the 1997 album “10 Cent Wings” and I re-discovered it in 2001. I love the way the song starts lyrically, “I can tell, by the way you’re pushing crumbs around the table, you’re not listening to me”. There is some grit behind this song, not an acoustic romp (although it starts that way), but a fully-realized sonic pleasure. After the first chorus, it adds crunchy guitar, shimmering synth, organ, and background vocals. The bridge brings in strings and some vocal distortion and it climaxes in wall of sound deliciousness.

Next up, the lead single and title track from my favorite album of 2001, Ben Folds “Rockin’ The Suburbs” sits at #6. I feel like this song is perfect for the climate in this country 20 years later. The song is supposed to be funny, yet not. It exemplifies where a good amount of the angst may be coming from.

“Let me tell y’all what it’s like

Being male, middle-class, and white

It’s a bitch, if you don’t believe

Listen up to my new CD

I got shit runnin’ through my brain

It’s so intense that I can’t explain

All alone in my white-boy pain

Shake your booty while the band complains

In a haze these days

I pull up to the stop light

I can feel that something’s not right

I can feel that someone’s blasting me with hate

And bass

Sendin’ dirty vibes my way

‘Cause my great great great great Grandad

Made someones’ great great great great Grandaddies slaves

It wasn’t my idea

It wasn’t my idea

Never was my idea”

Originally the song was supposed to be aimed at bands like Korn and Rage Against the Machine, but he chose not to make it so explicit. Almost every song from the album made my personal chart, many in 2002 because the album came out on September 11, 2001. Ooh, how weird. “Still Fighting It” at number 15 glides along a similar path to his hit with Ben Folds Five “Brick”. I love how he goes from hypersensitive to caustic humor to upbeat and jolly (“Zak and Sara” which went to #1 on my personal chart in 2002). Folds is another artist I have seen multiple times and John McCrea from Cake supplied vocals on Folds’ song “Fred Jones, Pt. 2” from the album.

Speaking of 9/11, a song that had a connection to it after the fact was “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” by Five For Fighting. That song had an interesting chart ascension on my personal chart, debuting at #75 and jumping to #5 the next week, hitting #1 2 weeks later. This was in July/Aug of 2001, and I cannot recall why that song impacted me so quickly at the time. It definitely has suffered in hindsight, dropping from my #23 of the year then to #63 now. Actually, 13 of the original top 25 of 2001 have fallen out, with the furthest drop belonging to Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” at #85.

Number 7 is another song featuring “na na’s” and another song from a previous year. The Christian band All Star United released the album “International Anthems For The Human Race” in 1998 and the song “Worldwide Socialites Unite” is a raucous and undeniable happy song, at least on the surface. The band was known for sarcastic lyrics:

“Don’t ask, don’t tell

And please don’t stare at the emperor

In his underwear

Special thanks to the snack committee

Heavens, don’t those tarts look pretty

Worldwide socialites unite

Enjoy the conversation

But try to keep it light

Just avoid the friction

And if you feel conviction

Well then, baby, step outside

Let’s keep the “lite” in social

Let’s keep this social light

Let’s keep the “lite” in socialite”

In the end, the song makes me incredibly happy. This is another song that did not reach #1 on my weekly personal chart, peaking at #3. This year I charted a song from their 2007 album “Love and Radiation” (there is no timeline on when a song can chart for me, it’s all based on when I discover it). “Take Me Away” eclipsed ‘Socialite’ by peaking at #2 in February but its stature over time, I trust, will not pass that one on my all-time list.

Moving from a couple of fun and sarcastic songs we go full throttle in the opposite direction. The title of Number 8 is “Bitter” and comes from the one-hit-wonder band Nine Days. After 3 independent albums, the Albany New York band scored a #1 Pop hit in 2000 with “Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)”. This is the opposite of that happy little ditty, from the same album, “The Madding Crowd”. It, at the time, was probably the most gut-wrenching song that I loved. A teardown of a selfish and shallow girlfriend:

“If I could change anything then I would change everything.

These bitter days shall remain.

So carry your blues behind your eyes,

Don’t flatter yourself I will survive.”

It is strangely beautiful, and the ending instrumental coda keeps ascending like he is moving on and rising above the bitterness. In 2019 I actually came upon the most gut-wrenchingly emotional song I have ever heard, in the song “Pink Motel” by Canada’s The Glorious Sons. That song spent 10 weeks at #1 on my chart and I get teary-eyed almost every time I hear it. It has 2 distinct choruses with a bridge that can only be described as screaming anguish. The song acts as an arc with that being the center point. The second chorus that bookends the middle is one of my favorite moments in music. It is a breathtaking piece of music. Not surprisingly it currently stands as my #3 song of all-time. This is another must-hear song. It may not be for everyone, but you might be forever changed.

Another about-face going to number 9. From bitterness to new love. The second entry from “Moulin Rouge” is Ewan MacGregor’s take on Elton John’s “Your Song”. Of course, with Elton being my main man of the ‘70’s, the original was a fav from 1970 but this version takes it to another level for me. It seems the song deserved a theatrical treatment. All the nuances of the lyrics are acted out in this remake. Besides the fact that Ewan’s voice is lovely and nuanced, the operatic background touches really enhance the final product. If you are not a theater person, this may not work for you, but I hope Elton was pleased with the update.

Numbers 10 and 11 have already been discussed and number 12 changes things up again. “Wonderboy” by Tenacious D (the comedy rock duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass) is actually my second favorite comedy song of all-time. My fav is “Stonehenge” by Ylvis. That’s a whole thing I won’t get into here. You should watch the video; well, you should watch both videos. The Ylvis video has lyrics which can be very helpful. My favorite line from “Wonderboy” is “there, the cravaass, fill it with your mighty juice”.

Number 13 is by the Country group Lonestar. “With Me” is a joyous tune that my husband John likes, and he does not like Country music. Sometimes happy music is just happy music. Their massive hit “Amazed” was the first Country song to top the Hot 100 and the Country chart since “Islands In The Stream”. It was also sung at our wedding in 2004 by our good friend Chris.

Number 16, “Strong Enough”, comes from Tal Bachman, the son of Randy Bachman who was the founding member of the Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive. The song is from his 1999 debut album which also featured the Pop top 10 song “She’s So High”. I clearly came late to the album. ‘High’ peaked at #30 on my chart in 1999 and over a year later I debuted the song “Romanticide”, the first of 5 more songs from the album to make my chart. He had promise but was never able to repeat his initial success.

Angie Aparo, a solo artist from Atlanta, had a major impact on my chart with his 2000 album “The American”. 8 songs from it appeared on my personal chart with 2 of those making the top 25 of the year, “Hush” at number 17 and “Cry” at number 22. “Cry” became a crossover hit for Faith Hill in 2002, its best showing was on Adult Contemporary where it went to #1. Her husband Tim McGraw also covered another song from Aparo’s album, the song “Free Man”. McGraw hit #1 on my chart once, in 2002, with the album cut “Angel Boy”.

Another artist with 2 songs in the top 25 here (and another based in Atlanta) is the Josh Joplin Group. “Camera One” at number 21 was the first song by an independent artist to hit #1 on the Adult Alternative chart. It crossover over to Pop and was also featured on an episode of “Scrubs”. Their style was perfect for the soundtracks of shows like “Dawson’s Creek” and “Northern Exposure” at the time.

Their song “Matter” falls in at number 24. Both songs were produced by Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads fame. They both have also grown for me over the years as they peaked in 2001 at #5 and #4. “Matter” is a contemplative song and should have been a single.

“Dreams are not lost

They merely fall beneath the ashes

Of what is left to the soul

From where it starts to where it catches

And this is the time until it passes”

It is interesting that there are a lot of songs by one-hit-wonder artists on this list. Number 18 is from another, Harvey Danger, whose claim to fame is the 1997 song ‘Flagpole Sitta”. “Meetings With Remarkable Men” is from their second album, 2000’s “King James Version” and shows up here based on extensive airplay on my Spotify playlists this year. This was a true re-discovery and I’m so glad. The remarkable men are Jesus Christ, Morrissey, and Kip Winger. I should post the entire lyrics but here’s the first verse

“I had a lovely brunch with Jesus Christ

He said, “Two words about inanity: fundamental Christianity,” yeah

The food was very nice

But then, He had to go and die for my sins and stick my ass with the check

“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”

(Go near an open window and that’ll be the end of me)”

Another song you should check out. Also, I had no idea lyrics were to become such an integral part of this discussion.

Number 19 comes from the other end of the spectrum, arguably the greatest American Rock band of the last 50 years, Aerosmith. “Jaded” which peaked at #6 on my weekly personal chart in 2001, has a great pop chorus with the hook, “my my baby blue”. Their ballad “Fly Away From Here” was originally my #11 of the year in 2001 and now has fallen to #49, though the competition within the top 50 now is strong. It sits between 2 great songs, “Bohemian Like You” by the Dandy Wharhols and “The Call” by Backstreet Boys.

Rounding out the top 20 is “AngeL’ by Stabbing Westward, an industrial band from Illinois. Not necessarily a go-to genre for me but occasionally a song will hit the right note. This is actually kind of an industrial power ballad if there is such a thing.

The corresponding Spotify playlist has the entire top 200 excluding the songs not available on Spotify. From the top 25 “Worldwide Socialites Unite” and “Angel” are not available, but you can find them on YouTube.

Tim’s Top songs of 2001

1          NICOLE KIDMAN & EWAN McGREGOR    Come What May

2          TRAIN Drops Of Jupiter

3          CAKE  Short Skirt/Long Jacket

4          COLIN JAMES           Hide

5          JONATHA BROOKE Crumbs

6          BEN FOLDS   Rockin’ The Suburbs

7          ALL STAR UNITED   Worldwide Socialites Unite

8          NINE DAYS    Bitter

9          EWAN McGREGOR   Your Song

10        MATCHBOX 20         Mad Season

11        DEXTER FREEBISH  Wonderland

12        TENACIOUS D          Wonderboy

13        LONESTAR     With Me

14        HANSON        Dying To Be Alive

15        BEN FOLDS   Still Fighting It

16        TAL BACHMAN         Strong Enough

17        ANGIE APARO           Hush

18        HARVEY DANGER    Meetings With Remarkable Men

19        AEROSMITH   Jaded

20        STABBING WESTWARD       Angel

21        JOSH JOPLIN GROUP         Camera One

22        ANGIE APARO           Cry

23        RONAN KEATING     Lovin’ Each Day

24        JOSH JOPLIN GROUP         Matter

25        TRAIN Something More

By: Radio Tim 
Dec 23, 2021