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“What really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter.”
— High Fidelity

Etcetera

Best Songs of 1995

Ask most people what their favorite musical years were, and almost without fail—and often without realizing the connection—they’ll tell you whatever years they were in high school. Despite my intense and unrelenting love of music, I am much like everyone else in this regard. In my commentary preceding my Best Songs of 1994, I mentioned that it might be my favorite musical year of my lifetime. If it isn’t, that is only because 1995 has assumed the role.

In her excellent memoir, Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein perfectly captures the reason this high school-era music (no matter which era was yours) is so potent:

“These songs and albums were the best ones because of how huge adolescence felt then, and how nostalgia recasts it now.”

I might add that at this age, we have accumulated enough life experiences to appreciate music in a new way, but not enough to be nostalgic about our pasts.

For me, too, these high school years were a chance to explore new arenas for discovery. I no longer needed to rely on my Dad, or my sister, or whatever everyone else was listening to. For the first time, I could spend time looking on my own. Twenty years ago, this was a combination of myriad sources: MTV (especially my new favorite, 120 Minutes), the radio (The End and The Mountain), Tower Records listening stations, local musical weekly The Rocket, and yes, a few things my sister liked first.

With rare exceptions (like, say, The Dismemberment Plan’s first record), the vast majority of this 100-song list features songs, albums and artists I knew and loved back then. So many of them now conjure vivid memories, not just of 20 years ago, but also of the 20 years that have passed since. I love them all still. The passage of time and the accumulation of new music into my life has not lessened their impact.

For these year-end lists, I like to undertake the seemingly impossibly task of creating an hours-long mix. The order you see below represents that effort, which you can listen to via Spotify. Sadly all 100 tracks aren't available, but you get the general idea. Track notes to come eventually or maybe never.

  1. Ill Communication

    Against the ’70s

    Mike Watt featuring Eddie Vedder

    Ball-Hog or Tugboat?

    Columbia

    Notes

  2. Mirror Ball

    I’m the Ocean

    Neil Young

    Mirror Ball

    Reprise

    Notes

  3. Kids

    Natural One

    Folk Implosion

    Kids

    London

    Notes

  4. Short Bus

    Hey Man, Nice Shot

    Filter

    Short Bus

    Reprise

    Notes

  5. Astro Creep

    More Human Than Human

    White Zombie

    Astro Creep: 2000

    Geffen

    Notes

  6. Alice in Chains

    Again

    Alice in Chains

    Alice in Chains

    Sony

    Notes

  7. Tales From the Punchbowl

    Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver

    Primus

    Tales From the Punchbowl

    Interscope

    Notes

  8. Adrenaline

    Bored

    Deftones

    Adrenaline

    Maverick

    Notes

  9. Naveed

    Starseed

    Our Lady Peace

    Naveed

    Columbia

    1994 Canadian release; 1995 US release.

  10. Deluxe

    In the Blood

    Better Than Ezra

    Deluxe

    Elektra

    Notes

  11. Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot

    Someday I Will Treat You Good

    Sparklehorse

    Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot

    Capitol

    Notes

  12. Wowee Zowee

    Rattled by the Rush

    Pavement

    Wowee Zowee

    Matador

    Notes

  13. The Great Escape

    Country House

    Blur

    The Great Escape

    Food/Virgin

    Notes

  14. Resident Alien

    In the Meantime

    Spacehog

    Resident Alien

    Sire

    Notes

  15. Wonderful

    Wonderful

    Adam Ant

    Wonderful

    Capitol

    Notes

  16. Happy Days

    Judy Staring at the Sun

    Catherine Wheel

    Happy Days

    Island

    Notes

  17. University

    Bright Yellow Gun

    Throwing Muses

    University

    Reprise

    Notes

  18. Goodness

    Superwise

    Goodness

    Goodness

    Y Records

    Notes

  19. Reloaded

    Dizzy

    Green Apple Quick Step

    Reloaded

    Medicine Label

    Notes

  20. Super Friends

    Feed Yourself

    Sweet Water

    Super Friends

    Elektra

    Notes

  21. 100% Fun

    Sick of Myself

    Matthew Sweet

    100% Fun

    Zoo Entertainment

    Notes

  22. Happy Nowhere

    Speed of Silence

    Dog’s Eye View

    Happy Nowhere

    Sony

    Notes

  23. In Light Syrup

    Janitor

    Toad the Wet Sprocket

    In Light Syrup

    Columbia

    Notes

  24. Forever Blue

    Don’t Leave Me on My Own

    Chris Isaak

    Forever Blue

    Reprise

    Notes

  25. Tragic Kingdom

    Don’t Speak

    No Doubt

    Tragic Kingdom

    Interscope

    Notes

  26. One Hot Minute

    My Friends

    Red Hot Chili Peppers

    One Hot Minute

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  27. 311

    All Mixed Up

    311

    311

    Volcano

    Notes

  28. And Out Come the Wolves

    Ruby Soho

    Rancid

    …And Out Come the Wolves

    Epitaph

    Notes

  29. A Boy Named Goo

    Name

    Goo Goo Dolls

    A Boy Named Goo

    Metal Blade

    Notes

  30. Parachute

    Window

    Guster

    Parachute

    Aware

    Notes

  31. River Songs

    Angeline Is Coming Home

    The Badless

    River Songs

    A&M

    Notes

  32. Trace

    Route

    Son Volt

    Trace

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  33. Din of Ecstasy

    Narcotic Prayer

    Chris Whitley

    Din of Ecstasy

    Sony/Work

    Notes

  34. Everything I Long For

    Bad As They Seem

    Hayden

    Everything I Long For

    Outpost

    Notes

  35. A.M.

    Should’ve Been in Love

    Wilco

    A.M.

    Reprise

    Notes

  36. Four

    The Mountains Win Again

    Blues Traveler

    Four

    A&M

    Notes

  37. Tomorrow the Green Grass

    Blue

    The Jayhawks

    Tomorrow the Green Grass

    American

    Notes

  38. Train a Comin

    Goodbye

    Steve Earle

    Train a Comin’

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  39. Not a Pretty Girl

    32 Flavors

    Ani DiFranco

    Not a Pretty Girl

    Righteous Babe

    Notes

  40. North Avenue Wake Up Call

    Ferris Wheel

    The Freddy Jones Band

    North Avenue Wake Up Call

    Capricorn

    Notes

  41. Jars of Clay

    Flood

    Jars of Clay

    Jars of Clay

    Essential/Jive

    Notes

  42. Pieces of You

    Who Will Save Your Soul

    Jewel

    Pieces of You

    Atlantic

    Notes

  43. Relish

    Pensacola

    Joan Osborne

    Relish

    Mercury

    Notes

  44. Tigerlilly

    Carnival

    Natalie Merchant

    Tigerlilly

    Elektra

    Notes

  45. Pet Your Friends

    Counting Blue Cars

    Dishwalla

    Pet Your Friends

    A&M

    Notes

  46. Frogstomp

    Tomorrow

    Silverchair

    Frogstomp

    Epic

    Notes

  47. Vulture

    Diana

    3lb. Thrill

    Vulture

    550 Records

    Notes

  48. Circus

    Rock and Roll Is Dead

    Lenny Kravitz

    Circus

    Virgin

    Notes

  49. HIStory

    Scream

    Michael & Janet Jackson

    HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1

    Sony

    Notes

  50. Clouds Taste Metallic

    Bad Days

    The Flaming Lips

    Clouds Taste Metallic

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  51. Return of the Rentals

    Friends of P.

    The Rentals

    Return of the Rentals

    Maverick

    Notes

  52. 13 Unlucky Numbers

    California

    Wax

    13 Unlucky Numbers

    Interscope

    Notes

  53. Insomniac

    Brain Stew

    Green Day

    Insomniac

    Reprise

    Notes

  54. Different Class

    Common People

    Pulp

    Different Class

    Island

    Notes

  55. 1977

    Goldfinger

    Ash

    1977

    Reprise

    Notes

  56. Sparkle and Fade

    Heartspark Dollarsign

    Everclear

    Sparkle and Fade

    Capitol

    Notes

  57. You'd Prefer an Astronaut

    Stars

    Hum

    You’d Prefer an Astronaut

    RCA

    Notes

  58. Nobody's Cool

    Rock Chick

    Lotion

    Nobody’s Cool

    spinART

    Notes

  59. The Presidents of the United States of America

    Peaches

    The Presidents of the United States of America

    The Presidents of the United States of America

    Pop Llama/Columbia

    Notes

  60. Merkinball

    I Got Shit

    Pearl Jam

    Merkinball

    Epic

    Notes

  61. What's the Story Morning Glory?

    Wonderwall

    Oasis

    (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

    Epic

    Notes

  62. Collective Soul

    December

    Collective Soul

    Collective Soul

    Atlantic

    Notes

  63. Jagged Little Pill

    Ironic

    Alanis Morissette

    Jagged Little Pill

    Maverick

    Notes

  64. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

    1979

    Smashing Pumpkins

    Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

    Virgin

    Notes

  65. It's Heavy in Here

    Fanfare

    Eric Matthews

    It’s Heavy in Here

    Sub Pop

    Notes

  66. Yes

    Honey White

    Morphine

    Yes

    Rykodisc

    Notes

  67. Gorgeous George

    Girl Like You

    Edwyn Collins

    Gorgeous George

    Bar/None

    1994 European release; 1995 U.S. release.

  68. This Is How We Do It

    This Is How We Do It

    Montell Jordan

    This Is How We Do It

    Def Jam

    Notes

  69. Miss Thang

    Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)

    Monica

    Miss Thang

    Rowdy

    Notes

  70. E.Eternal 1999

    1st of tha Month

    Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

    E.Eternal 1999

    Ruthless

    Notes

  71. Poverty's Paradise

    World Go Round

    Naughty By Nature

    Poverty’s Paradise

    Tommy Boy

    Notes

  72. Conspiracy

    Get Money

    Junior M.A.F.I.A.

    Conspiracy

    Atlantic

    Notes

  73. Mr. Smith

    Loungin’

    LL Cool J

    Mr. Smith

    Def Jam

    Notes

  74. Labcabincalifornia

    Runnin’

    The Pharcyde

    Labcabincalifornia

    Delicious Vinyl/Rhymesayers

    Notes

  75. Brown Sugar

    Brown Sugar

    D’Angelo

    Brown Sugar

    EMI

    Notes

  76. Me Against the World

    Dear Mama

    2Pac

    Me Against the World

    Interscope

    Notes

  77. Soul Food

    Cell Therapy

    Goodie Mob

    Soul Food

    La Face

    Notes

  78. I Wish

    I Wish

    Skee-Lo

    I Wish

    Scotti Bros.

    Notes

  79. Gangsta's Paradise

    Gangsta’s Paradise

    Coolio

    Gangsta’s Paradise

    Tommy Boy

    Notes

  80. Greatest Hits

    Blood Brothers

    Bruce Springsteen

    Greatest Hits

    Columbia

    Notes

  81. American Standard

    Margaret

    Seven Mary Three

    American Standard

    Mammoth

    Notes

  82. I Should Coco

    Time

    Supergrass

    I Should Coco

    Capitol

    Notes

  83. !

    If I Don’t Write

    The Dismemberment Plan

    "!"

    DeSoto

    Notes

  84. Foo Fighters

    I’ll Stick Around

    Foo Fighters

    Foo Fighters

    Roswell/RCA

    Notes

  85. Garbage

    Only Happy When It Rains

    Garbage

    Garbage

    Almo Sounds

    Notes

  86. To Bring You My Love

    Down by the Water

    P.J. Harvey

    To Bring You My Love

    Island

    Notes

  87. Elastica

    Stutter

    Elastica

    Elastica

    DGC

    Notes

  88. Grandpaw Would

    Away With the Pixies

    Ben Lee

    Grandpaw Would

    Grand Royal

    Notes

  89. Ben Folds Five

    Philosophy

    Ben Folds Five

    Ben Folds Five

    Passenger

    Notes

  90. Penthouse

    23 Minutes in Brussels

    Luna

    Penthouse

    Elektra

    Notes

  91. Elliott Smith

    Needle in the Hay

    Elliott Smith

    Elliott Smith

    Kill Rock Stars

    Notes

  92. Toy Story

    You’ve Got a Friend in Me

    Randy Newman

    Toy Story

    Walt Disney

    Notes

  93. Post

    It’s Oh So Quiet

    Björk

    Post

    Elektra

    Notes

  94. Hi, How Are You Today?

    Sleepy Maggie

    Ashely MacIsaac

    Hi, How Are You Today?

    A&M

    Notes

  95. Everything Is Wrong

    Feeling So Real

    Moby

    Everything Is Wrong

    Elektra

    Notes

  96. Maxinquaye

    Aftermath

    Tricky

    Maxinquaye

    Island

    Notes

  97. Exit Planet Dust

    Alive Alone

    The Chemical Brothers featuring Beth Orton

    Exit Planet Dust

    Astralwerks

    Notes

  98. The Bends

    Black Star

    Radiohead

    The Bends

    Capitol

    Notes

  99. Above

    River of Deceit

    Mad Season

    Above

    Columbia

    Notes

  100. Washing Machine

    Diamond Sea

    Sonic Youth

    Washing Machine

    DGC

    Notes