Songs of the Year 1995

“Tomorrow”-Silverchair
Runners Up “Lump” by The Presidents of the United States of America”
Anything off of the Batman Forever soundtrack
Honorable Mention: Smashing Pumpkins “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”

I think 1995 was the year I really started to have my own musical tastes as opposed to what I heard other people enjoy, namely my brother. This rift can be seen most clearly in my liking of the biggest post-grunge teen act from Australia, Silverchair, and my brother’s continued disdain for the band. But, I get ahead of myself. Where was I and where was music in 1995?

I was in the fourth grade. I loved the X-Men and still loved Nirvana so my clothes reflected that: lots of comic t-shirts and flannel–the pictures are pretty funny and invdicative of the times. This is the era of me listening to Nirvana before school while thinking for some reason that being somber was cool. I still didn’t understand Kurt killing himself and I probably still don’t. I can’t remember if POGS were big this year or the year before.

So I do remember rocking out to Alanis Morrisette’s first song, but I would not now include that in songs I really like. I also did buy the Foo Fighters album that year, but I covered that in another post. I didn’t know until recently that Dave Grohl actually played all the instruments on that album which is pretty cool.

There was a rash of deaths, from the odd disappearance into a canyon by the bassist of Iron Butterfly to the overdose of beloved Shannon Hoon from Blind Melon. That hit me as a youth because I distinctly remember the “No Rain” video playing many times that day after my brother had introduced me to the band the year before. Looking at what else was going on that year, I’m sure I could go on for a while so I’ve tried to break it down to two songs and a soundtrack.

1. “Tomorrow” Silverchair

I know my brother still hates Silverchair and I can understand why. They are a grunge enthusiaist band whose first few albums were done when they were barely out of middle school. The reasons he doesn’t like them are the reasons I do like them. Cobain had just died and these kids did an album all on their own which sounded good to me then and not terrible now.

I always crank up “Tomorrow” when it comes on the local alternative station. It’s not the most sophisticated stuff but when I think about what I was doing in middle school, the album becomes even more impressive. I learned to play “Israel’s Son”, the first and second best track on the album, recently on my bass and I definitely felt some nostalgia.

The two above-mentioned songs are my favorites but the whole album is good to my ears even still. Not amazing, but good. The lead singer, Daniel Johns, has disowned the albums and they don’t often play those songs any more,. He calls it “their high school albums or something like that. Nevertheless, I would be proud of such an album at that age and he should be too.

 


2. “Lump” Presidents of the United States of America.
The Presidents are a good band through and through. “Lump” and “Peaches” were gigantic at the time and I have a distinct memory of a kid named James who memorized all the lyrics to both songs. He would walk aimlessly around the playground repeating them and hoping his memorization would impress someone. I don’t think it did as he just looked crazy pacing around and singing to himself, but it certainly left an impression as I remember it sixteen years later. I even remember him doing during lunch while I munched a fluffernutter out of my Batman lunchbox.
“Lump” was huge and anyone alive then will attest to that. I remember the crazy video on a loop on Mtv (which I could only watch when my mother wasn’t around as she thought everything coming from the station was evil and promoted disrespect towards adults. I never understood that and still don’t…). I still watched it whenever I got a chance and would leave it on that station so when she turned on the TV it would come blaring on.

POTUSA had a fun pop sound with charging bass lines and lyrics you could sing along with. Their videos were highly entertaining and this had a lot to do with their success. Their albums were pretty good all the way around. There’s two songs that stick out, “Stranger” and “Naked and Famous”. The latter I enjoy because the chorus is “Everyone wants to be naked and famous” which I have always thought is a great battle cry for rock and roll.

The former rocks because I think it tells a really good story and musically has a very cool loud/soft dynamic. The band attempts harmonies here that come off well/ it’s all about meeting a stripper at a peep show with the most memorable line being “You seem cool for a naked chick in a booth, let’s be pals some day”. Whenever I’ve been in a strip club, which is extremely rare, I always think of the song and wonder what would happen if I started singing it to a stripper. I haven’t tried and it’s a good thing as the only times I am in said establishments, I’m fairly intoxicated.

Now the biggest album of the year for me: the soundtrack to Batman Forever. I believe my brother and his Mixtape girl brought me to this movie and I loved it then. Now I see it and it sucks terribly but the music is still good.I have played the album while entertaining friends almost always to positive results or at least a good conversation on Batman cinema. The Seal song was the huge hit but I can say that “Hold me, Thrill me, Kiss me, Kill me” by U2 is easily in my top five favorite songs for that band.

It is a lame song but I loved it and listening to it now gives me the same thrill as it did then. It’s got this cool groove to it that’s simple but effective. Bono’s vocals on this track have always seemed more badass to me than much of his other work. Now I’m not the biggest U2 fan like my big brother, however, I have listened to much of their work so my opinion is not complete bullshit.

“The Riddler” was probably my first introduction to Method Man, lame as it is. This is more so due to the fact that I later became a pretty diehard Wu Tang Clan fan. Hell, I saw them in concert a few winters ago and still maintain them as one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, but that is clearly for another post. The Offspring cover of The Damned’s song “Smash it up” still makes me nod my head and I never complain about hearing Mazzy Star.

Most importantly, it contains the Flaming Lips song “Bad Days”, which, honestly, I didn’t care for as a youth. Now, after also seeing them and listening extensively to their music, it’s my favorite song by them. Whenever I have a bad day working at my various jobs, I will sing to myself “You hate your boss at you job/but in your dreams you can blow his head off/in your dreams/have no mercy”. Something about saying it and not doing it really does the trick.

Last, but certainly not least, was the Smashing Pumpkins. I know Billy Corgan is sort of a megalomaniac but I really like the Pumpkins. Something about their pseudo metal alternative sound has always struck a chord with me. I love the guitar effects and I feel like the introspective lyrics really speak to me. I have always felt like an outsider to everyone, even though I’m probably not, and Corgan seems to be the penultimate outsider.

I can think of several music-head friends who will shake their head as they read this but, fuck it, we like what music we like and if you defend it well, you’ve already won. I just acquired a re-pressing of the Siamese Dream album and have cranked it on the hi fi, enjoying the remastered sound and annoying the neighbors. But, the big track for me in fourth grade was “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, even though at the time I thought he was saying “I’m still just ready to cage” as opposed to “I’m still just a rat in a cage”. I didn’t need to understand it; I just liked the idea of the world being a vampire and the scary video.

I remember a birthday party I went to where the kid got Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness as a present along with my generous gift of a Wolverine action figure. We played this track on repeat while talking comics and playing with all the new toys. I even remember the kid’s mom giving us directions, saying “it’s the trailer behind Skip’s bar”. My sister, always the member of the family with upper class aspirations, mocked my friend for the whole car ride. But the song has stood the test of time and my memory and this is testament alone to me for its general awesomeness.

9 comments on “Songs of the Year 1995

  1. theelderj says:

    It is still hard for me to conceive of the fact that you look back on Silverchair with fondness for their music. The band inspires some nostalgia in me. I was in a band where at least 4 of us could reasonably be called ‘fat boy’ to some degree or another. My lady friend of the era used to quip that it was about the guitarist. The lead singer said the song was meant for the bassist. I never got over the general badness of the whole thing.

    The sound of the band, from the guitars to the vocals, was mature and right on for the alt-rock milieu. But the soul of the band? Half-baked.

    But, tell me brother, is their more recent stuff actually good?

    • theyoungerj says:

      I honestly haven’t listened to anything by them but it’s something we should look into. As for the soul, the kids were in middle school. You were doing something things in that time frame but I for one didn’t do anything in middle school close to making a hit album.

  2. kate58 says:

    Damn, this post makes me feel OLD. Iin 1995 I graduated from uni, & a long-time fan of Method Man. I continue to grieve for Kurt – how sad is that! But I’m still grieving for Janis & Jimi & Run & Ray & 2Pac & many others as well…..

    • theyoungerj says:

      I agree with everything you said and add a few more names like Lowell George, Gram Parsons, and Duane Allman. To add one more thing, I caught Wu Tang Show three years ago and it was off the hook. One of the best shows ever and Meth is definitely the hype man. Thanks for reading!

  3. Wendy says:

    Great songs, a memorable year indeed, great post!

  4. professormortis says:

    I love how very 1990s the big soundtrack of songs that may or may not have even been in the movie to go along with the giant, terrible summer blockbuster now is. I recall my brother really, really liked that Seal song off it and how much that disappointed me. I mean, sure, “Crazy” might have been almost acceptable, but “Kissed From a Rose”?

    The Pumpkins song reminds me of listening to The Truck Woman (the one of whom I once drunkenly told you “I like woman…built like truck” in my best Boris Badanov) sing “Despite all my rage I am just a Chinchilla in a Cage” my freshman year (maybe?) of college.

    1995 makes me think of the plague of bad music that my peers were into at the time. TLC, Hootie and the Blowfish, Montell Jordan (actually, “This is How We Do It” is still a guilty pleasure), Green Day, Live, Pearl Jam’s “Better Man”, Sheryl Crow-I wasn’t having any of that. And that’s just the top 40! My Middletown friends were deep into Industrial by this point, so lots of Ministry, Nine in Nails, White Zombie and so forth. I feel like I heard a lot of Rage Against the Machine, and let’s not forget the waning days of Alternative with folks like Bush and Alanis Morrisette. Let’s not forget stuff like Blues Traveler (makes me think of my sister and others in broomstick skirts and patchouli stink on everything. I also find that, for whatever reason, the real one hit wonders (Skee-Lo, “I Wish”, perfect example) really bring me right back to the time. I’m trying to think of what the hell I was listening to at the time, probably more stuff dug up from the 1970s-I hadn’t hit my funk phase, yet, but I think my punk diggings had mutated into proto-punk and punk influencing stuff like The Velvet Underground by this point. Oh! My big David Bowie period was on, and I was listening to a lot of 1920s Louis Armstrong.

    • theelderj says:

      Blues Traveler? I’ll raise you a Gin Blossoms and Collective Soul for mediocre post-alt bands I saw in concert.

      I was at the H.O.R.D.E. festival in 1995 the week Jerry Garcia died and saw Blues Traveler in all of their glory. The reason the death of Jerry is important is that during the sweltering patchouli drenched show my friend kept yelling “the fat man’s dead, let’s party”. Understandably, with the health of the lead singer of blues traveler and the audience of the H.O.R.D.E. festival, no matter how this comment was received anger resulted.

      Industrial? I hated White Zombie but liked NIN. Now, when I heard Zombie, I like it. With all my other tastes, this makes no sense

      • professormortis says:

        Gin Blossoms-they always make me think of earlier than 1995….1995 was a transitional year for me, while their big hits were solidly in my high school years. I guess “Hey Jealousy” peaked in late summer 1993, while “Found Out About You” peaked in 1994, so I think between my first ruinous crush on a girl and my ruinous high school relationship. Anyhow, I recall when Jerry died, mainly because the people I was with insisted we would “never forget”-so I haven’t-it was summer, I was volunteering testing river water, and eating lunch. Nothing quite as dramatic as yelling that!

        I was on the fence about the Industrial stuff, I mostly just knew I wasn’t going to fit in with the people at those shows and bore a slight grudge against it as it was yet another thing I didn’t share with my high school friends, who were okay guys but with whom I mainly shared the nerdiest of interests with-RPGs, paintball, war games-but not films, style, comics, music, anything else.

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