Nearly two weeks ago, I turned 40. That milestone naturally prompted some nostalgia. To me, nothing evokes the past more than the music of days gone by. Accordingly, about forty days before my birthday, I took to Facebook and posted one song per day for each year that I’ve lived. Using the hashtag #40Songs40Days40Years, I offered a bit of commentary on each song (an example of which you can find in the screenshot above). I timed the project such that I would post my final selection – a song from this year, 2015 – on my actual birthday in mid-December. Today, on the last day of the year, I’ve assembled a list of all of the songs in one place.
For each year, I scoured the contents of my iTunes library and record collection for the perfect choice. For many years, I easily identified the perfect song (usually one which I remembered fondly or which I felt perfectly captured the spirit of that particular year). Other years proved far more difficult, particularly the dreaded 2013. Throughout the endeavor, I was ever mindful of the words of Rob Gordon, the character played by John Cusack in High Fidelity, who analogously remarked in that film:
. . . [T]he making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you ‘re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.
Wise words. Thus, I established some rules for the project. I followed most of them (including the very strict requirement that only one song could appear per year, making the choice for 1991 an extraordinary dilemma). I did, however, break the self-imposed rule that a particular band could only appear once on the list. In the end, I even created a three hour Spotify playlist collecting all of the songs I chose (which I hope you will enjoy).
Without further ado, the complete #40Songs40Days40Years list is below.
- “Thunder Road,” by Bruce Springsteen, from the album Born To Run (Columbia Records, 1975).
- “Blitzkrieg Bop,” by the Ramones, from the album Ramones (Sire, 1976).
- “Heroes,” by David Bowie, from the album “Heroes” (RCA, 1977).
- “Radio, Radio,” by Elvis Costello, from the album This Year’s Model (Radar, 1978).
- “Suspect Device,” by Stiff Little Fingers, from the album Inflammable Material (Rough Trade, 1979).
- “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” by Joy Division, from the single of the same name (Factory, 1980).
- “Ceremony,” by New Order, from the single of the same name (Factory, 1981).
- “Tell Me When It’s Over,” by The Dream Syndicate, from the album The Days of Wine and Roses (Ruby Records/Slash, 1982).
- “Kiss Off,” by Violent Femmes, from the album Violent Femmes (Slash, 1983).
- “The Killing Moon,” by Echo & The Bunnymen, from the album Ocean Rain (Korova, 1984).
- “Bastards of Young,” by The Replacements, from the album Tim (Sire, 1985).
- “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,” by The Smiths, from the album The Queen Is Dead (Rough Trade, 1986).
- “Where The Streets Have No Name,” by U2, from the album The Joshua Tree (Island, 1987).
- “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies, from the album Surfer Rosa (4AD, 1988).
- “Strange,” by Galaxie 500, from the album On Fire (Rough Trade, 1989).
- “Candy,” by Iggy Pop, from the album Brick by Brick (Virgin, 1990).
- “Black,” by Pearl Jam, from the album Ten (Epic, 1991).
- “Sweetness Follows,” by R.E.M., from the album Automatic for the People (Warner Bros., 1992).
- “Soma,” by Smashing Pumpkins, from the album Siamese Dream (Virgin, 1993).
- “Pay No Mind (Snoozer),” by Beck, from the album Mellow Gold (DGC, 1994).
- “Fake Plastic Trees,” by Radiohead, from the album The Bends (Capitol Records, 1995).
- “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” by Oasis, from the single of the same name (Creation, 1996).
- “No Surprises,” by Radiohead, from the album OK Computer (Capitol Records, 1997).
- “Oh, Comely,” by Neutral Milk Hotel, from the album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Merge Records, 1998).
- “Wise Up,” by Aimee Mann, from the original motion picture soundtrack to the film, Magnolia (Warner Music, 1999).
- “The Night,” by Morphine, from the album The Night (DreamWorks Records, 2000).
- “Fell In Love With A Girl,” by The White Stripes, from the album White Blood Cells (Sympathy, 2001).
- “Dear Chicago,” by Ryan Adams, from the album Demolition (Lost Highway, 2002).
- “Maps,” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, from the album Fever To Tell (Interscope, 2003).
- “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels),” by Arcade Fire, from the album Funeral (Merge, 2004).
- “Mr. November,” by The National, from the album Alligator (Beggars Banquet, 2005).
- “The Funeral,” by Band of Horses, from the album Everything All The Time (Sub Pop, 2006).
- “Intervention,” by Arcade Fire, from the album Neon Bible (Merge, 2007).
- “For Today,” by Jessica Lea Mayfield, from the album With Blasphemy So Heartfelt (Polymer Records, 2008).
- “You and I,” by Wilco, from the album Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch, 2009).
- “I Think Ur A Contra,” by Vampire Weekend, from the album Contra (XL, 2010).
- “If It’s Alive, I Will,” by Angel Olsen, from the album Strange Cacti (Bathetic Records, 2011).
- “Continuous Thunder,” by Japandroids, from the album Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl Record Co., 2012).
- “Spring Break (Birthday Song),” by Ex Cops, from the album True Hallucinations (Other Music Recording Co., 2013).
- “Archie, Marry Me,” by Alvvays, from the album Alvvays (Polyvinyl Records, 2014).
- “The Only Thing Worth Fighting For,” by Lera Lynn, from the digital single of the same name (Harvest Records, 2015).