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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 2006

As I did for 2005, I made an in-the-moment Best of 2006 back in the day. It featured 32 songs. I even made CD packaging for the 2-hour mix, its cover a crossword puzzle of my own creation. Well into 2007, I would revisit the year with a new compilation of 18 favorites from 2006, largely ones I had missed—rather that simply omitted—with my first pass.

All 50 of those songs are included here, plus 50 more. Most of the remainder were songs I would not discover until 2008 and beyond, but a good portion of them were ones I liked, but did not yet love, back in ’06. Time has a funny way of changing our opinions, so long as we maintain a connection with the thing we once believed we’d pegged. With that in mind, it might be more accurate to say that my connection to these songs, both the ones I pronounced as “best” back in 2006, and those which I would not find until much later, has only deepened over time.

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. Duper Sessions

    (I Wanna) Call It Love

    Sondre Lerche

    Duper Sessions

    Astralwerks

    Notes

  2. Back to Basics

    Ain’t No Other Man

    Christina Aguilera

    Back to Basics

    RCA

    Notes

  3. Kingdom Come

    Show Me What You Got

    Jay Z

    Kingdom Come

    Roc-A-Fella

    Notes

  4. Check On It

    Check On It

    Beyoncé

    Check On It

    Sony

    Notes

  5. The Looks

    Easy Love

    MSTRKRFT featuring John Legend

    The Looks

    Last Gang

    Notes

  6. Destroy Rock & Roll

    In My Arms

    Mylo

    Destroy Rock & Roll

    Breastfed

    Notes

  7. FutureSex/LoveSounds

    My Love

    Justin Timberlake

    FutureSex/LoveSounds

    RCA

    Notes

  8. Classics

    Montanita

    Ratatat

    Classics

    XL

    Notes

  9. Loose

    Say It Right

    Nelly Furtado

    Loose

    Geffen

    Notes

  10. Both Sides of the Gun

    Better Way

    Ben Harper

    Both Sides of the Gun

    Virgin

    Notes

  11. The Information

    Solider Jane

    Beck

    The Information

    Interscope

    Notes

  12. Rather Ripped

    Incinerate

    Sonic Youth

    Rather Ripped

    Geffen

    Notes

  13. Carnavas

    Lazy Eye

    Silversun Pickups

    Carnavas

    Dangerbird

    Notes

  14. Return to Cookie Mountain

    Wolf Like Me

    TV on the Radio

    Return to Cookie Mountain

    Interscope

    Notes

  15. At War With the Mystics

    The W.A.N.D.

    The Flaming Lips

    At War With the Mystics

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  16. Reiter In

    Mountain Side

    Chris Whitley & The Bastard Club

    Reiter In

    Red Parlor

    Notes

  17. American V: A Hundred Highways

    God’s Gonna Cut You Down

    Johnny Cash

    American V: A Hundred Highways

    American Recordings

    Notes

  18. Hello Zero

    Decoder Ring

    Pufferfish

    Hello Zero

    self-released

    Notes

  19. How to Grow a Woman From the Ground

    Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

    Chris Thile

    How to Grow a Woman From the Ground

    Sugar Hill

    Notes

  20. Hello Love

    When Doves Cry

    The Be Good Tanyas

    Hello Love

    Nettwerk

    Notes

  21. Engine EP

    Restless

    Langhorne Slim

    Engine EP

    Namack

    Notes

  22. Sera Cahoone

    Couch Song

    Sera Cahoone

    Sera Cahoone

    self-released

    Notes

  23. White Lies

    For Today

    Jessica Lea Mayfield

    White Lies

    self-released

    Notes

  24. Rabbit Fur Coat

    The Big Guns

    Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins

    Rabbit Fur Coat

    Team Love

    Notes

  25. The Gun Album

    With a Gun

    The Minus 5

    (The Gun Album)

    Yep Roc

    Notes

  26. Another Fine Day

    Strangers

    Golden Smog

    Another Fine Day

    Lost Highway

    Notes

  27. Post-War

    To Go Home

    M. Ward

    Post-War

    Merge

    Notes

  28. The Believer

    Singular Girl

    Rhett Miller

    The Believer

    Verve Forecast

    Notes

  29. The Longest Meow

    The Heart Bionic

    Bobby Bare Jr.’s Young Criminals Starvation League

    The Longest Meow

    Bloodshot

    Notes

  30. Broken Boy Soldiers

    Level

    The Raconteurs

    Broken Boy Soldiers

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  31. Show Your Bones

    Gold Lion

    Yeah Yeah Yeahs

    Show Your Bones

    Interscope

    Notes

  32. The Back Room

    Munich

    Editors

    The Back Room

    Fader

  33. The London Heads

    Thoughts of Rena

    The Voom Blooms

    The London Heads

    self-released

    Notes

  34. A Lesson in Crime

    Be Good

    Tokyo Police Club

    A Lesson in Crime

    Paper Bag

    Notes

  35. First Impressions of Earth

    You Only Live Once

    The Strokes

    First Impressions of Earth

    Sony

    Notes

  36. Stranger Than Fiction

    The Book I Write

    Spoon

    Stranger Than Fiction

    Sony

    Notes

  37. It's Never Been Like That

    Long Distance Call

    Phoenix

    It’s Never Been Like That

    Parlophone

    Notes

  38. So This Is Goodbye

    In the Morning

    Junior Boys

    So This Is Goodbye

    Domino

    Notes

  39. True Skool

    True Skool

    Cold Cut

    True Skool

    Ninja Tune

    Notes

  40. Saturday Knights

    45

    The Saturday Knights

    45 digital single

    self-released

    Notes

  41. Game Theory

    Long Time

    The Roots

    Game Theory

    Def Jam

    Notes

  42. Once Again

    Heaven

    John Legend

    Once Again

    Columbia

    Notes

  43. Naturally

    How Long Do I Have to Wait for You?

    Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

    Naturally

    Daptone

    Notes

  44. Idlewild

    Idlewild Blue

    Outkast

    Idlewild

    La Face

    Notes

  45. St. Elsewhere

    Crazy

    Gnarls Barkley

    St. Elsewhere

    Downtown

    Notes

  46. The Garden

    Throw It All Away

    Zero 7

    The Garden

    Atlantic

    Notes

  47. The Eraser

    Harrowdown Hill

    Thom Yorke

    The Eraser

    XL

  48. The Warning

    And I Was a Boy From School

    Hot Chip

    The Warning

    Astralwerks

    Notes

  49. Etiquette

    Love Connection

    Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

    Etiquette

    Tomlab

    Notes

  50. Free to Stay

    Find a Way

    Smoosh

    Free to Stay

    Barsuk

    Notes

  51. Standing in the Way of Control

    Standing in the Way of Control

    Gossip

    Standing in the Way of Control

    Kill Rock Stars

    Notes

  52. The Dead 60s

    Riot Radio

    The Dead 60s

    The Dead 60s

    Sony

    Notes

  53. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

    A Certain Romance

    Arctic Monkeys

    Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

    Domino

    Notes

  54. Robbers & Cowards

    Hospital Beds

    Cold War Kids

    Robbers & Cowards

    Downtown

    Notes

  55. Putting the Days to Bed

    Rich Wife

    The Long Winters

    Putting the Days to Bed

    Barsuk

    Notes

  56. Stadium Arcadium

    Make You Feel Better

    Red Hot Chili Peppers

    Stadium Arcadium

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  57. Pearl Jam

    Unemployable

    Pearl Jam

    Pearl Jam

    J

    Notes

  58. Everything All the Time

    The Great Salt Lake

    Band of Horses

    Everything All the Time

    Sub Pop

    Notes

  59. Two Thousand

    So Far We Are

    French Kicks

    Two Thousand

    Vagrant

    Notes

  60. We the Vehicles

    Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts

    Maritime

    We the Vehicles

    Flameshovel

    Notes

  61. Hello, Dear Wind

    Chariot

    Page France

    Hello, Dear Wind

    Suicide Squeeze

    Notes

  62. Subtitulo

    El Otro Lado

    Josh Rouse

    Subtitulo

    Nettwerk

    Notes

  63. Comfort of Strangers

    Rectify

    Beth Orton

    Comfort of Strangers

    Astralwerks

    Notes

  64. Half the Time

    Wall Street

    Pablo

    Half the Time

    230

    Notes

  65. Belle

    How to Say Goodbye

    Paul Tiernan

    Belle

    self-released

    Notes

  66. Time Being

    All in Good Time

    Ron Sexsmith

    Time Being

    Universal/Ironworks

    Notes

  67. The Animal Years

    Good Man

    Josh Ritter

    The Animal Years

    V2

    Notes

  68. Ben Kweller

    Penny on the Train Track

    Ben Kweller

    Ben Kweller

    ATO

    Notes

  69. Modern Times

    Someday Baby

    Bob Dylan

    Modern Times

    Columbia

    Notes

  70. Innerspeaker

    Three More Days

    Ray LaMontagne

    Till the Sun Turns Black

    RCA

    Notes

  71. The Cost

    People Get Ready

    The Frames

    The Cost

    Anti

    2007 U.S. release.

  72. Powder Burns

    Underneath the Waves

    The Twilight Singers

    Powder Burns

    One Little Indian

    Notes

  73. World Waits

    Been Here Before

    Jeremy Enigk

    World Waits

    Lewis Hollow

    Notes

  74. Esopus No. 4

    Lisa

    Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers

    Esopus CD No. 4: Imaginary Friends

    Esopus

    Notes

  75. Collected

    Live With Me

    Massive Attack

    Collected

    Virgin

    Notes

  76. Time Without Consequence

    Love You More

    Alexi Murdoch

    Time Without Consequence

    Razor & Tie

    Notes

  77. Gulag Orkestar

    Postcards From Italy

    Beirut

    Gulag Orkestar

    Ba Da Bing

    Notes

  78. Let's Get Out of This Country

    Alaska

    Camera Obscura

    Let’s Get Out of This Country

    Merge

    Foreign bonus track more commonly released in 2007 on If Looks Could Kill.

  79. The Greatest

    Willie

    Cat Power

    The Greatest

    Matador

    Notes

  80. The Maldives

    Goodbye

    The Maldives

    The Maldives

    self-released

    Notes

  81. Words Are Dead

    Falling Through the Roof

    Horse Feathers

    Words Are Dead

    Kill Rock Stars

    Notes

  82. What the Toll Tells

    Waves of Grain

    Two Gallants

    What the Toll Tells

    Saddle Creek

    Notes

  83. The Tallest Man on Earth

    Walk the Line

    The Tallest Man on Earth

    S/T

    Graviation

    Notes

  84. Lightness

    Safe Travels

    Peter and the Wolf

    Lightness

    self-released

    Notes

  85. Remember That I Love You

    Tire Swing

    Kimya Dawson

    Remember That I Love You

    K

    Notes

  86. Eyes

    Eyes

    Rogue Wave

    Eyes digital single

    Sub Pop

    Notes

  87. Yellow House

    On a Neck, On a Spit

    Grizzly Bear

    Yellow House

    Warp

    Notes

  88. You in Reverse

    The Wait

    Built to Spill

    You in Reverse

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  89. Meek Warrior

    Gone Beyond

    Akron/Family

    Meek Warrior

    Young God

    Notes

  90. Four Winds

    Smoke Without Fire

    Bright Eyes

    Four Winds

    Saddle Creek

    Notes

  91. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

    Star Witness

    Neko Case

    Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

    Anti

    Notes

  92. The Gleam

    If It’s the Beaches

    The Avett Brothers

    The Gleam

    Ramseur

    Notes

  93. In the Sun EP

    In the Sun (Free Acoustic Couch Rehearsal)

    Michael Stipe & Joseph Arthur

    In the Sun EP

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  94. The Swell Season

    Falling Slowly

    The Swell Season

    The Swell Season

    Overcoat

    Notes

  95. How We Operate

    How We Operate

    Gomez

    How We Operate

    ATO

    Notes

  96. Nightcrawler

    Maybe I’m Right

    Pete Yorn

    Nightcrawler

    Columbia

    Notes

  97. Ganging Up on the Sun

    Satellite

    Guster

    Ganging Up on the Sun

    Reprise

    Notes

  98. The Crane Wife

    The Crane Wife 3

    The Decemberists

    The Crane Wife

    Capitol

    Notes

  99. Hazeltons

    Liner

    Justin Vernon

    Hazeltons

    self-released

    Limited release

  100. Nuclear Daydream

    You Are Free

    Joseph Arthur

    Nuclear Daydream

    Lonely Astronaut

    Notes