Okay. Is it ever possible to list the GREATEST songs of all-time? Heck, no! That would assume you’ve listened to EVERY song ever recorded. Hmm, even if you spent 24 hours every single day of a full 100-year life, even without taking time off for eating, urinating, sleeping, or what-have-you, it’s just not possible.
Not only that, music, like all great art, is completely subjective. We all may agree that “Like a Prayer” is a much better Madonna song than “I’m So Stupid” (so is the song, btw), but that doesn’t necessarily make it so. Each of us has had unique lives, unique surroundings, and unique experiences, not to mention our unique DNAs and personalities. Like I tell my students all the time, people are different, and THAT’S OKAY! So just because you happen to think the Simpson sisters (Jessica and Ashlee, not Lisa and Maggie) are the greatest songwriters of our time, I’m not going to jump up and down and brand you a musical imbecile (confession time: I actually have two of Jessica’s song on my mp3 player: “I Think I’m in Love With You” & “A Public Affair,” as for Ashlee, again, heck no!). Some people like apples. Some people like oranges. Doesn’t mean I have to throw (up) anything.
So with that in mind, I present my list of Top 101 Songs of All-time. You’re free to disagree (and you will), you’re free to present counter-opinions, but let’s call a truce: no hatred from either side. Thanks.
My list (in reverse order, of course) starts off with “The Dance” by Garth Brooks. It’s one of only three country songs in my Top 101 (the highest being a duet at #25), not surprising since country is probably my least favorite kind of music. A lot of country songs are quite good, and I enjoy them; I just get the nagging feeling that I would be enjoying them even more without the whole cowboy vibe and the whole twang thing. Still, a good song is a good song is a good song, and “The Dance” is a great song.
I discovered this song pretty late. I simply knew Garth Brooks as the balding country guy who kept picking up the country awards at all the awards shows. Then one night in the early 90s, I was watching Entertainment Tonight when they showed a segment on Garth’s video for “The Thunder Rolls.” In the video, Garth is seen not only singing but also playing an abusive husband, and apparently, his real-life wife was initially not too happy about his decision. I heard the snippet of the song being played, and I was surprised that it sounded pretty good. So I went searching for other Garth material, which is how I came upon “The Dance.”
It’s such a well-packaged song. The lyrics, the voice (no twang, thank you very much), the melody, it’s just all put together so well. In fact, it may all have ended up a bit too perfect, if not for the very end, when a somewhat disturbing piano coda comes in from nowhere to finish the song. Awesome touch to keep away the sap. So party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth!
P.S. After writing this, I became curious how Garth and his wife are doing now. According to Wikipedia, they divorced in 2000, and Garth then married Trisha Yearwood (who knew?). I wonder if Garth ever reminisces about any dances he had with his ex-wife…