- "Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands" - XO - Elliott Smith - My favorite Elliott Smith songs seem to master the slow burn. This is where the song starts with maybe Elliott on acoustic for 75% of the song and all of sudden here comes the band. Love this. Can also be heard on "Shooting Star" from the CD From a Basement on the Hill or "Can't Make a Sound" from Figure 8
- "All Over Now" - I'm with Stupid - Aimee Mann - This is the 3rd act in what I think is the best 3 song set I've heard. Songs 1 and 2 are "Superball" and "Amateur" and producer Jon Brion expertly ties it all together by slipping lines from "All Over Now" into "Superball" and then the chorus of "Superball" into the end of "All Over Now". So subtle you might miss it and when you hear it - brilliant.
- "Figment" - Resigned - Michael Penn - Picking a song from the brilliant album Resigned is near impossible but this song stands out for its beauty and for the sheer brilliance of the words: all of them. This is one of those songs that you can read over and over again and find different meaning each time. So many of Penn's songs are poetry. What Penn has mastered is also making the poetry sing.
- "Until the End of the World" - Achtung Baby - U2 - OK, I didn't know the religious meaning of this song until recently but still - this song is simply one of the best rock songs ever made. Every part of the band is at their best here.
- "Four Seasons in One Day" - Woodface - Crowded House - Such a sobering song. Once I sat down and really listened to the words of this song it hit me so hard I nearly cried. The beauty of this song is that it doesn't make it's statement with a brick like many sad songs do.
- "Last Goodbye" - Grace - Jeff Buckley - This song swoops and dives and is one of those songs that is orchestrated to the point of putting you in the subject's place. Of course with a break-up song, most of us have been there.
- "Life is Sweet/Afterlife" - Life is Sweet - Maria Mckee - This song is actually two songs - and is probably the only feel good song on this list. The thing with feel good songs is that they can be trite or sugary sweet. This song is real.
- "There, There (The Boney King of Nowhere)" - Hail to the Thief - Radiohead - Can't believe that my favorite Radiohead song is from Hail to the Thief - a great cd, but no OK Computer. But this song is classic Radiohead - not trippy, great lyrics, and layered.
- "Polaroids" - Fat City - Shawn Colvin -Never mind that I consider Colvin, Michael Penn, and Neil Finn to be the best songwriters alive, I once said that I would marry Shawn Colvin based on her voice alone. This is a song that showcases it.
- "Paper Bag"- When the Pawn... - Fiona Apple - Paper Bag is such a simple song, but Apple is a genre bending artist that is more than just a pop star - she's a songstress that could have fit in in the 40's.
Here's my top 10 iMix on iTunes
Disclaimer - all of these songs are on my computer and I'm sure I missed some things that just haven't ripped. REM seems to be missing as are Prince, the Police, and Peter Gabriel. I also had to fight against the urge to include Driving Me Mad by Neil Finn, but since he was Crowded House, it seemed to be against the rules.