Here are my best 21 songs of 2008, each with a lyric snip and brief comments. I have an iMix of my Best Songs of 2008, though iTunes missed 2 tracks (#6 & #15). I'm trying to fix it, but not sure if I can. Shoot, you can search for them. C'mon!
I have to say this list was nearly impossible to form. It's easier to pick favorite tracks from albums. I like different songs during different moods, at different times of the day, etc. I should also add that great albums don't always produce the most or best stand-alone tracks. So while my Best Albums of 2008 list often coincides with this one, that isn't always the case. So here's my list of the Best Songs of 2008, starting with honorable mentions.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): "You're Not Broken" and "Baker Lake" by Sera Cahoone, "Wucan" by Black Mountain, "American Hearts" by AA Bondy, "Tornado Longing for Freedom" by The Music Tapes, "My Backwards Walk" by Frightened Rabbit, "Godspeed" by Jenny Lewis, "Nine in the Afternoon" by Panic! at the Disco, "Old Enough" by The Raconteurs, "For Emma" by Bon Iver, "Soul on Fire" by Spiritualized
21. "Out There on Thin Ice" by Cut Copy -- "If that's what it takes, then don't let it tear us apart, even if it breaks your heart." -- Fun and relational. What? Yeah, fun.
20. "The Rip" by Portishead -- "Through the glory of life, I'm scattered on the floor, disappointed and sore." Starts sad and introspective and rolls into a cool synthesizer (not an oxymoron). And of course it's trippy, it's Portishead.
19. "The Snow Leopard" by Shearwater -- "Well, i've had enough, wasting my body, my life. I'll come away, come away from the shallows." I don't know what this song is about (more here?). But it's beautiful and a bit enchanting to me.
18. "Furr" by Blitzen Trapper -- "And now my fur has turned to skin. And I've been quickly ushered in to a world that I confess I do not know. But I still dream of running careless through the snow." I see this as a coming-of-age story of a young man who loses ties with mom and runs wild until he meets a girl, who tames him. Love it.
17. "White Winter Hymnal" by Fleet Foxes -- "And, Michael, you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime." No idea what this song is about, or if they intend to say anything. Whatever. Gorgeous.
16. "Lost Coastlines" by Okkervil River -- "And every night finds us rocking and rolling on waves wild and wide, well we have lost our way, nobody`s gonna say it outright." Boundaries? Morality? Politics? What it means to tour as a band? A great song featuring both Will Sheff and Jonathan Meiburg on vocals.
15. "The Wolves (Act I and II) by Bon Iver -- "Someday my pain, someday my pain will mark you." I'm a sucker for a slow build. Sadness. Mourning. Love lost. Icy cold in a grey world. This was stunning in concert. It still gives me shivers.
14. "I'm Alright Now" by David Ford -- "And television is just some weak anesthetic to numb the senses til you're out like a light. Like all these drugs they seem to promise you the earth and then they don't keep you warm in the night." Ford knows he is seriously flawed, yet holds a sense of hope.
13. "On the Death of the Waters" by Shearwater -- "Turn your bow to the biggest wave, but your angel's on holiday and that wave rises slowly and breaks." First delicate, then in your face, and then hyper-delicate. True Shearwater.
12. "One Day Like This" by Elbow -- "So throw those curtains wide! One day like this a year'd see me right!" Feel good song of the year. Easily. "Cause holy cow, I love your eyes."
11. "Song for the Road" by David Ford -- "For this evening i will play back every message that you sent so i can sleep to the sound of your voice." Titled well, it's about Ford missing his girl while on the road. A truly lovely song that almost hurts with longing.
10. "Only as the Day is Long" by Sera Cahoone -- "All my insecurities are breakin' me up inside. You light another cigarette and my eyes are on fire." I think this is about a crappy relationship. Sera's voice is haunting to me.
9. "Bob" by Drive-By Truckers -- "Bob ain't light in the loafers, he might kneel but he never bends over." A descriptive song about a single man who lives life his own way. It's not an appealing lifestyle, but we've all probably met "Bob" before.
8. "Grounds for Divorce" by Elbow --"There's a hole in my neighborhood down which of late I cannot help but fall." <<< Tremendous lyric. A rocking song worth an upgraded subwoofer.
7. "Murder in the City" by The Avett Brothers --"Always remember, there is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name." A quiet, simple acoustic ballad about family, fathers and brothers.
6. "Wise Man" by Liam Finn --"He's a coloring in book that's been all colored in." Is this John Lennon? Holy cow. I play this one over and over. A fun beat and curious lyrics. About his dad? The transition from father to son?
5. "Oxford Comma" by Vampire Weekend --"Why would you lie about something dumb like that? Why would you lie about anything at all?" Despite the f-bomb, this is a catchy and playful song that keeps you thinking.
4. "Goodnight Girl" by The Nadas -- "Crumpled up and thrown away, to resurrect another day. Goodnight girl. Say goodbye." A rock ballad about the closing of the bar where The Nadas were the house band. I really dig this tune.
3. "Blue Tulip" by Okkervil River -- "Hats off to my distant hope, I'm held back by a velvet rope, and he's behind the wall the smoke machine has made between us." A soaring ballad apparently about groupies. Whatta song!
2. "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver -- "In the morning I'll be with you, but it will be a different "kind." I'll be holding all the tickets, and you'll be owning all the fines." Could be #1 on a different day. Sounds like a Justin Vernon hasn't gotten over a past relationship (album is For Emma, Forever Ago, a former flame). It's painful and he's vulnerable. Powerful.
1. "Flume" by Bon Iver -- "Only love is all maroon." While I flip-flopped my #1 and #2 for a long time in creating this list, I went with my gut on this one and think I have it right. But I'm still trying to figure this song out, which is a part of the intrigue. It has some pregnant lyrics (pun intended). I hope Bon Iver keeps this kind of magic around for the next handful of years. It's a beautiful thing.