Pete Crigler's 101 Favorite Songs

(More Or Less)

by Pete Crigler

This is the type of article I never knew I wanted to write! This is my actual playlist on my iPod, and it’s something I continually update and revise when new songs come into my head. Having written two books and working on a third and putting together my own dissertation has allowed me more access to music and has given me more to time digest and enjoy everything under the sun. These are the best songs I’ve come across in my 34 years, stuff I never get tired of regardless of how many times I hear them.

These runner-ups are just tracks that I can’t get enough of; falling just shy of the 100 best, these are in no definitive order; they just all kick ass.

Stabbing Westward – “Shame”
Pearl Jam – “Jeremy”
Stone Temple Pilots – “Heaven & Hot Rods”
Coffin Break – “For Beth”
Londonbeat – “I’ve Been Thinking About You”
Oingo Boingo – “Just Another Day”
Lamb Of God – “Laid To Rest”
Infectious Grooves – “Violent & Funky”
Fishbone – “Sunless Saturday”
Hoarse – “Crown”
Judybats – “Lullaby”
Faith No More – “Jizzlobber”
Anthrax – “Belly Of The Beast”
Death Cab – “Northern Lights,” “Little Wanderer”

100. Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah” (1994)jeffbuckley_grace
Yes, I know. It’s been on practically everyone’s list and it’s overplayed to death, but it’s still amazing and the definitive version of the track. Buckley’s white boy soul is evident from his very first breath on the track and wraps you in a warm cocoon all the way through.

99. The Dead Milkmen – “Tiny Town” (1985)
The Dead Milkman is one of the first punk bands I ever got into when I was in middle school. This opening track from the debut album is still one of the best representations of the band’s attitude and sound. Growing up in a tiny town, this song stuck out to me early on.

98. The Suicide – “Machines-DDT” (1998)
1:05 of pure punk explosive fury. What more do you really need from punk?

97. The Damned – “Alone Again Or” (1985)
A brilliant cover of the Love classic on the band’s last real album for 16 years, this is a noble way to end the band’s second (or third) phase. It’s full of grit and honesty and has nice flamenco touches scattered throughout. One of the most underrated covers I’ve ever heard.

96. Saigon Kick – “Coming Home” (1991)
One of the best and most vastly underrated so-called hair bands in existence. To be fair, the band had hair and they played heavy rock, but were not a Britny Fox/L.A. Guns type hair band. Kick had depth, soul, and emotion in their music, which can be heard best in this gem from their debut. The last time I saw my birth father in 1996, this was the song I had on repeat as a little nine-year-old rebel who just wanted to hang with his mom instead.

95. The Ramones – “I Wanna Be Sedated” (1978)
Pure Ramones. One of the top five songs most people know by one of the greatest bands I’ve ever heard. What more do you need?

94. Faith No More – “The Crab Song” (1987)
The best representation of Chuck Mosley’s tenure with the band and one of the more epic songs they managed to create before Mike Patton joined.

93. The Drifters – “Under The Boardwalk” (1964)
One of the first songs my mom turned me onto when I was coming of age; it still takes me back to being a young kid and listening to oldies radio, hoping to discover something you’d never heard before.

92. Foo Fighters – “Next Year” (1999)
One of the few Foos songs that never got overplayed; melodic, lush with lots of heavy drumming, the song is a winner and still holds up way beyond the thousandth time you hear “Everlong” or “Times Like These.”

91. Squirrel Nut Zippers – “Hell” (1996)
A swing band playing calypso for the apocalypse? Yes, please and what a delight it is. One of the most charming songs of the ‘90s and one guaranteed to make you happy regardless of your circumstances.

90. Boston – “More Than A Feeling” (1976)
A classic rock gem! Brad Delp’s scream towards the end still gives me goosebumps.

89. Nirvana – “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (1994)
Cobain spilling his guts out on a Leadbelly classic and providing one of the most haunting moments in Unplugged history. If this doesn’t give you chills, you may be dead.

88. Buddy Holly And The Crickets – “Rave On” (1958)
A favorite of mine since high school, this is rock and roll at its quickest essence. Barely two minutes, but that’s all you really need.

87. Coldplay – “Clocks” (2002)
A band on the cusp of international megastardom, just before they went all pop and I lost interest in them. This whole album still tugs at my heartstrings and brings back so many memories every time this song comes on.

86. The Who – “A Quick One While He’s Away” (Live) (1968)
A performance so legendary that the video was left in a vault until the ‘70s because with this one song, the Who managed to blow the Stones off the stage and rethink their entire presentation. A band on fire that never burned brighter than here.

85. Porno For Pyros – “Cursed Female” (1993)
One of the trippiest songs ever created and one of the most honest. Written in the aftermath of the L.A. riots by a drugged-out Perry Farrell, he managed to create an absolute masterpiece that I never get tired of hearing.

84. The Mamas And The Papas – “California Dreamin’” (1966)mamaspapas_completesingles_150
Oh, those harmonies! One of the best songs ever written and a song that still sounds timeless whenever it blares out of the speakers.

83. The Stranglers – “Golden Brown” (1981)
Is it about a girl? Is it about heroin? Who knows; all I know is that the Stranglers created a masterpiece with haunting, subtle melodies that have always sounded great.

82. Orange 9MM – “7” (1996)
Thunderous bass and roaring guitar, topped off with Matthew Cross’ dynamic drumming and Chaka Malik’s unstoppable vocals made 9MM one of the heaviest bands of the mid ‘90s. Damn shame they never made it big.

81. Monster Magnet – “Powertrip” (1998)
One of those songs you can’t help but yell along to anytime it comes on. Just thunderous and heavy and powerful.

80. Too Much Joy – “Connecticut” (1988)
I had to put them on but it’s so hard to choose just one song. This ended up the winner by default and it just happens to be from the best record they ever made.

79. Peter Murphy – “Marlene Dietrich’s Favourite Poem” (1989)
Murphy’s best vocal performance and a song that just never gets old no matter how many times it comes across your shuffle. Just put it on, relax, and let the melodies and harmonies just take you on a journey.

78. Tool – “Aenema” (1996)
Just brutal and devastatingly good. Seriously, fuck L. Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones! Of course it would be a band like Tool to shine a light on all the Scientology b.s.

77. Suicidal Tendencies – “Alone” (1990)
A song for all times: when you’re down, when you’re happy, when you’re pissed off at the world and you just wanna scream “I don’t care what you think about me, this is who I am!”

76. Faith No More – “Everything’s Ruined” (1992)
This whole album is perfect so I just picked a song that encapsulates my feelings about my surroundings – and why not sum up my feelings with a kickass bass lick.

75. Megadeth – “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” (1990)
Their best moment, hands down. A song that never lets up with intensity and power and drumming that’s some of the best I’ve ever heard.

74. Nick Lowe – “Marie Provost” (1977)
A story told about a dead actress from the ‘30s who was eaten by her dachshund! It didn’t turn out exactly true, but Jesus could Lowe write a witty song about it all.

73. Slowdive – “Some Velvet Morning” (1993)
A spooky, evocative cover of Nancy Sinatra! Ethereal and moody and I loved it from the first time I heard it.

72. Dead Kennedys – “Holiday In Cambodia” (1980)
A big middle finger to corporate culture and probably one of the best singalongs that punk rock ever gave us.

71. Husker Du – “Don’t Wanna Know If You Are Lonely” (1986)
Grant Hart was a hell of a songwriter; it was hard to pick what was his best, but this song is one that I just can’t get enough of. It’s just everything.

70. Talking Heads – “Once In A Lifetime” (1980)
What have you done? You wrote a great song that will live beyond the big suit and the Broadway spectacle and everything else that has been done to the song over the years. It’s just great and always will be.

69. The Smithereens – “Blood And Roses” (1985)
Some of my favorite songs are carried by either bass or drums. In this case, Mike Mesaros steals the show and Pat DiNizio’s haunting vocals lift the song out of the monotony of mid ’80s rock and into something greater than the band could have ever known.

68. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack – “Hole” (1997)jimmieschickenshack_envelop_150
A great Maryland band signed to Elton John’s label; just a great song with a lot of intensity and power.

67. Barenaked Ladies – “Lovers In A Dangerous Time” (1991)
One of the band’s first recordings, cut for a Bruce Cockburn tribute record in Canada but damn if it isn’t sweet, melodic, and upbeat all at the same time. Makes you forget all about “One Week.”

66. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – “Cut Up” (1991)
Two bassists and a guitarist who just loved to go for it full tilt? Count me in, I’m live by satellite!

65. Soul Asylum – “Cartoon” (1988)
Though Dave Pirner was the primary songwriter for the band, guitarist Dan Murphy wrote this for the band’s fourth record and damn if he didn’t write their best song. Powerful, emotional, sentimental, it just covers everything and one of the few songs that really makes me feel when I hear it.

64. The Replacements – “I Will Dare” (1984)
A double whammy of Minneapolis fun. Bob Stinson’s bouncing riff, the lyrics, even the mandolin part…everything’s just perfect and it’s a song I never tire of because once I hear that riff, I know things are going to be great for the next three minutes.

63. Primus – “John The Fisherman” (1990)
How can you not love a song about fishing?

62. Jars Of Clay – “Frail” (1997)
When I was in a Christian music phase in college, I latched onto this song and never let go. Delicate, gentle, and full of grace, it’s the type of song that keeps on giving.

61. Stone Temple Pilots – “Dead And Bloated” (1992)
Weiland’s vocals, even with a bullhorn, are just astronomical all over their debut. This opening salvo still sounds forceful and heavy all these years later.

60. Soundgarden – “Birth Ritual” (1992)
Chris Cornell reaches vocal heights I don’t think he ever topped. The pinnacle of riffs and vocals that the band never reached again.

59. This Picture – “Naked Rain” (1991)
I first heard this song on a viewing of “120 Minutes” on VH1 Classic at 4:30 in the morning and I fell in love. One of the last great Brit rock songs before grunge took over. It’s just great and it gets better every time I hear it.

58. The Zombies – “Time Of The Season” (1968)
Classic British ‘60s psychedelia and an organ that just won’t quit.

57. Big Boys – “Sound On Sound” (1983)
One of the greatest hardcore bands ever slows it down to a crawl and lets the guitarist sing a moody ballad spiked by bits of radio static. Just a dynamic turnaround from the predominantly raucous hardcore scene.

56. Green Day – “When I Come Around” (1994)
One of the few songs that never gets old despite being overplayed by almost every radio format. Still sounds timeless.

55. Young The Giant – “Apartment” (2010)
One of the newer bands I’ve come across and this is their best song. Wasn’t a big hit, but man is it epic and powerful.

54. Pearl Jam – “Last Kiss” (1998)
Some fans aren’t as fond of this as I am, but when I was 13, it was one of the few songs I could share with my mother that wasn’t deafeningly loud and heavy. For that, and its timeless nature, it earns a high spot on this list.

53. Queensryche – “Silent Lucidity” (1990)
Singlehandedly the greatest power ballad I’ve ever heard. I was a fan when I was five and heard it for the first time and it still gives me chills all these years later. Spine-chillingly great.

52. Mr. Bungle – “Retrovertigo” (1999)mrbungle_california_150
One wouldn’t have expected such a schizophrenic band to have such a wonderfully beautiful track, but bassist Trevor Dunn pulled it off and the band created a masterpiece that needs to be heard to be fully understood.

51. Icicle Work – “Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)” (1984)
A New Wave gem that seems to have transcended the genre and become such a pop gem that it’s left its mark on my very being from hearing all those years ago as a child.

50. Screaming Trees – “Working Class Hero” (1995)
A Lennon cover thrown away on a ’95 tribute record that never gets enough love. Between the Trees knocking this song out of the park and Mary Chapin Carpenter doing “Grow Old With Me,” this is a record that deserves repeated listens. One time hearing the Trees version and you’ll forget all about Green Day’s bland, dull version.

49. Sponge – “Plowed” (1994)
A song that I crank up every time it comes on with a riff that just crushes my soul. Between the riff and the drumming, there wasn’t any way this ‘90s gem wouldn’t find a permanent place in my playlist.

48. Metallica – “Battery” (1986)
One of the best album openers ever and a song you don’t get to hear very often on the radio, which is a damn shame. The pummeling intensity is enough to shock any music fan.

47. For Squirrels – “8:02 PM” (1995)
Another one of the greatest album openers ever. A pounding, dynamic rocker from a band that sadly never got the chance to show off how truly amazing they really were.

46. Rob Rule – “Only Thing” (1994)
One of the most obscure tracks ever. From the ashes of Mary’s Danish comes a song written by the bass player about his loving wife who keeps him propped up despite his challenges. Can’t wait to finagle this song into my wedding somehow. Simply one of the most beautiful love songs I’ve ever heard.

45. Otis Redding – “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (1968)
The next two are classics that I was introduced to by my mother as I was growing up. Songs like these will always be timeless no matter how many people end up covering them.

44. Jim Croce – “Time In A Bottle” (1972)
See above description as it fits this gem, too.

43. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – “All I Ask of Myself Is That I Hold Together” (1995)
A slow burner of an opening track that explodes into a sort of techno alternarock wonderland. Totally worth wading through the ambience.

42. Peter Schilling – “Major Tom (Coming Home)” (1983)
Yes, it’s a takeoff on Bowie’s classic “Space Oddity,” but I only heard this song first and it’s always stuck with me as a classic sing-along. I get nostalgic for the ‘80s every time this song comes on.

41. fulflej – “Microwave” (1996)
A Richmond, VA oldie that I discovered while writing the first book and I just fell for instantly. Sung in a childish voice with lo-fi music behind that stops for a surf guitar break with some punk rock tendencies, it’s just got everything you would want in an undiscovered gem. Unfortunately, it’s not available digitally but is definitely worth finding.

40. Tripping Daisy – “Prick” (1995)
A nearly ten-minute song about drug abuse with a solo straight out of ‘80s hair metal? Sign me up! It’s amazing; just listen to the damn thing and you’ll get what I’m saying.

39. The B-52’s – “Private Idaho” (1980)
Get off your ass and dance!! Who cares what a “private Idaho” is; just dance!

38. Death Angel – “Seemingly Endless Time” (1990)
A vastly underrated thrash metal bands with their one shot at the majors; this opening track raised the stakes for other bands to be more adventurous and not just showcase the fastest riffs imaginable.

37. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put A Spell On You” (1956)
Got turned onto this when I was a wee lad and just loved the insanity of it and just how out there it was. Still an unsung classic.

36. Otis Redding – “You Left the Water Running” (1976)
An unreleased gem released long after Otis’ death that I discovered on a compilation of singles when I was in college. Otis’ voice is as pure and the message of the song gets right to the point. Sometimes outtakes are the best.

35. Fishbone – “Pouring Rain” (1988)fishbone_truth_150
Chris Dowd’s finest moment; a combination of pure soul, funk and manic energy combined into one of the smoothest jams I’ve ever heard.

34. The Rutles – “I Must Be In Love” (1978)
Yes, it’s a Beatles parody but dammit, it’s a great song regardless and it deserves as great a reputation of the song it parodied.

33. Snow Patrol – “Run” (2003)
Just a glorious, majestic song that evokes beauty and power and still feels that way now, even though the band doesn’t really sound like this anymore.

32. XTC – “King For A Day” (1989)
Colin Moulding taking the lead and ran with it to create a song that could only be described as awe-inspiring. One of the songs that I never ever skip.

31. Miracle Legion – “The Backyard” (1983)
This was the band’s first ever single! That should be a great sign of how truly special this band was and why it’s worth digging into their vastly underrated catalogue.

30. The Spinners – “I’ll Be Around” (1972)
If this isn’t on your playlist for a dance, party, wedding, any kind of function, you must not be a human and I don’t wanna know you. Just classic ‘70s soul; play the song and dance.

29. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Warped” (1995)
Some people aren’t big on One Hot Minute, but this song can’t be stopped. From the slow build to the explosive punch of the drums and that great Navarro riff, this should have been the song that got played to death, not “Californication.”

28. R.E.M. – “The One I Love” (1987)
A song that has only grown on me over the years, a song I can never not sing along to, and a song that puts me in a good mood even if I catch the tail end of it.

27. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Who’ll Stop The Rain” (1970)
A track that reminds me of driving around with my grandfather in his little truck and puttering around town. Some things just stick with you in those times; better this than Skynyrd or Dan Fogelberg.

26. TAD – “Plague Years” (1991)
A vastly underrated song by a vastly underrated band. Blast this song loud and let the feelings just flow.

25. Killswitch Engage – “Temple From The Within” (2002)
This is a song that is this high because it’s just so heavy. It’s loud, bombastic, and begging to be played loud and constantly. Piss off your conservative friends, wake up your liberal friends, just play the damn thing and relax.

24. Pearl Jam – “Given To Fly” (1998)
One of their last great singles for quite some time, one of their strongest, and one that still resonates with me. A spiritual journey in a rock song, this song is one that cannot be stopped nor should it ever be.

23. Therapy? – “If It Kills Me” (2003)
Underrated Irish band with one of their hardest hitting songs. It takes me back to college watching the music video in lo-fi quality on Yahoo! Just another song that reminds me of some great times and that’s why it’s higher than it normally would be.

22. Anthrax – “In My World” (1990)
One of their top ten songs ever, but it’s hard to pick just one so I went with one of the longest ones; that way it feels like it’s never going to end.

21. Rick Nelson – “Gypsy Pilot” (1971)
One of those songs I heard in college and I just couldn’t get enough. This was right before “Garden Party” when Rick was still trying to reinvent himself. Eerily, writing a song about a plane crash that ends in the sound of a plane descending and crashing, Rick was predicting his own fiery death. Spooky, spectacular stuff.

20. Morphine –“In Spite Of Me” (1993)
Beautiful mandolin led song with nothing else but Mark Sandman’s haunting vocals. One of the few songs of theirs lacking trademark sax but God, it’s just so beautiful.

19. America – “A Horse With No Name” (1972)
A song I have liked since I was at least seven or eight and I never get tired of it, despite the less than stellar reputation it’s received from younger generations. I still smile whenever it comes on, and I hope that feeling never goes away.

18. The Ocean Blue – “Breezing Up” (1991)
Spacey, amazing pop song that puts you in a spring feeling. You just begin imagining yourself on a beach just relaxing with water all around you.

17. Blind Melon – “Galaxie” (1995)blindmelon_soup_150
Shannon Hoon died two months after this album came out and the video is an abomination that’s incredibly hard to watch, but the song is amazing and makes you forget all about “No Rain.” The heights this band could have reached if Hoon hadn’t died would have been unbelievable. This song only hints at what could have come.

16. Nirvana – “Come As You Are” (1991)
Yes, their material is some of the most overplayed on radio, but damn if this song isn’t the best. One of their few tracks I never ever get tired of.

15. Violent Femmes – “Country Death Song” (1984)
A song written in study hall about a farmer who throws his daughter down a well and then hangs himself in shame? You end up with one of the greatest songs and most fevered performances I’ve ever heard. This one came to me as I was entering high school and despite the subject matter, it became part of the soundtrack of the high school experience as I knew it. Who’da thunk it?

14. Alice In Chains – “Would?” (1992)
Just listen to Layne Staley’s voice and performance. Enough said.

13. Counting Crows – “Colorblind” (1999)
Most notable for being featured in the movie Cruel Intentions, but damn if it isn’t one of the loveliest ballads I’ve ever come across. A song that grips you from the first listen and never lets go.

12. Love – “Always See Your Face” (1969)
Arthur Lee’s last gasp as a great songwriter and he was able to pull this out of his back pocket and prove to the naysayers that his creativity was still there, even if the mass audience was not. I came across this track on the “High Fidelity” soundtrack and was immediately blown away. Simply one of the best songs of the ‘60s that so few have ever heard.

11. Faith No More – “King For A Day” (1995)
One of their best ballads and one of Patton’s best ever performances. Don’t ever let anyone die with that silly look in their eyes.

10. Harry Chapin – “Sniper” (1972)
Loosely based on the University of Texas sniper Charles Whitman, this nearly ten-minute psychological exploration is one of the most harrowing things ever put down on record. It’s also a pretty cool psycho sing-along in your car. Probably the best thing Chapin ever recorded and one is hard pressed to realize this is the same guy that recorded “Cat’s In The Cradle.”

9. Lamb Of God – “Overlord” (2015)
Randy Blythe finally tried clean singing and what resulted is spooky, haunting, and heavy as shit. A lot of critics have complained their last few records have all sounded the same, but this is the song that broke those notions. Just an exquisitely good metal track.

8. 311 – “Prisoner” (1997)
I know, 311 shouldn’t be this high. This song wasn’t even included on their best of; it’s not regarded that highly but as an eleven-year-old hearing the song on MTV, I was sucked in. This is without a doubt, the 311 track that still gets the most plays in my iTunes. And I still love it as much as I did twenty odd years ago!

7. Mother Love Bone – “Chloe Dancer/Crown Of Thorns” (1990)
Andy Wood died before ever knowing how legendary this song would become. Once it was placed on the Singles soundtrack, it became one of the go-to tracks that everyone kept playing on endless repeat. Its status has only grown exponentially over the last thirty years as a definitive grunge classic.

6. Metallica – “One” (1988)
What more can be said about this song but turn the bass up! Always a song that gets me pumped up despite its subject matter. A nearly eight-minute jam that rarely ever lets up until the end, it’s been one of my favorites for almost twenty-five years.

5. The Judybats – “Saturday” (1992)
A day in the life of a guy in small town: going to the corner store, checking out the girl from elementary school, watching football. A great song with lyrics that I can relate to in a small Podunk town with great vocals and dynamic drumming. It’s just the band’s best song, the main one in a loaded catalogue with tons of great Heiskell written songs.

4. Harry Nilsson – “The Moonbeam Song” (1971)
A beautiful gorgeous song with subtle bass work, light percussion, and the astounding vocal delivery of Nilsson. A song that can put you in a delightful mood no matter what kind of day you’re having.

3. The Damned – “Life Goes On” (1982)
A bass riff that later became the basis for “Come as You Are” with delightful vocals by Captain Sensible; it’s just outstanding. I hadn’t heard it until Fred Armisen who is a massive Damned fan mentioned it and I was like, “Oh, why haven’t I heard this?” Then I did and I was absolutely blown away. It instantly became my favorite Damned song and quickly rose through the ranks to become my favorite punk song. ginblossoms_new

2. Faith No More – “Ashes To Ashes” (1997)
This song is so good I want it played at my funeral! Ethereal, haunting, moody, atmospheric; it’s just one of the best damn things I’ve ever heard and I’ve always felt this is a song that everyone should hear. 

1. Gin Blossoms – “Found Out About You” (1992)
I have enjoyed this song since I was about eight, but it wasn’t until about high school that it became my all-time favorite. It’s just always been there and nothing has ever been able to dethrone the song, even as my tastes have changed and grown. I don’t ever look for it to be dethroned and a part of me hopes it never is.

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