We all have those days when you have a melody stuck in your head and know it’s for a specific song but, can’t quite think of the song. Yesterday I had a specific chorus melody stuck in my head all day and it wasn’t till this morning that I figure out what it was. And now we are here discussing that song which was “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers. Back in 1996, The Wallflowers released their very successful album, Bringing Down The Horse. This album was one of the biggest albums of 96 spawning 4 singles and 3 Grammy nominations with 2 wins for “One Headlight. Interestingly “One Headlight,” was the second single released from the album. This song (and album) are quintessential for the 90’s. It’s one of those songs that fit quite well in the rotation of the radio at the time and to this day, when it comes on, (if you were alive and aware of them at the time) the words start to come back to you and the next thing you know, you’re singing along.
I have this really deep love for the movie Empire Records. Ever since I saw it as a kid, I’ve loved that movie and the soundtrack. There are plenty of songs to focus on from it but one in particular has always intrigued me mainly due to the story of how the song came to be. In between the Gin Blossom’s debut and second albums, there was a song written, “Til I Hear It From You” that would be the lead single for the Empire Records soundtrack. The song was written in a hotel back in 1995 during the annual South By Southwest Festival. The writing of the song according to the story took about two hours with Gin Blossom’s guitarist Jesse Valenzuela and songwriter Marshall Crenshaw having committed a rough version of the tune to tape, and about two weeks later Crenshaw received a copy of the completed track from the band, lyrics having been written by the group’s frontman Robin Wilson. Interestingly too, the Gin Blossom’s were being sought after to be on the soundtrack but due to label issues it was proving to be a struggle. Then as things worked out and the soundtrack to the movie was then switched to the label home of the Gin Blossom’s, A&M Records. The song was a hit for sure and spent soooo many weeks as a staple on rock radio in the mid 90’s. And even to this day, when this song comes on, it takes me back to that time, the movie and eventually wind up singing along!
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge fan of 90’s rock music. There was just something honest and pure about that time before everything got convoluted. One of my favorite things to do back then was just put the radio on and soak up all the songs played. I used to love to keep a blank tape in the stereo to record the songs I liked a lot. One of those songs that I would constantly put on tapes was “Inside Out” by Eve 6. I remember this song coming out and being really into it. It’s one of those songs from the late 90’s that you couldn’t escape and now when you hear it, it automatically takes you back in a good way. The song was a big hit in the US topping the Modern Rock charts 3 different times and 4 weeks at number 1. It even got to 28 on the Top 40 charts. Another interesting tidbit, the band’s self titled debut album was written when the members were 16/17 years old! Here’s to Eve 6 and a great and lasting song!
Back in late 1997 there was a song on the radio that you couldn’t escape. The song would go on to crack the Billboard top 40 chart (peaking at number 4) and was number 1 on the modern rock charts for a record 15 weeks (later broken by Nickelback). The song I’m referring to is “Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground. It’s a very quirky, weird song that while simplistic is super catchy too. The song has some very interesting history too. This was the bands only “hit.” The song was so successful that for a while it had it’s own accountant. In a strange turn, the head of radio promotion of the bands label felt that the song actually hurt the bands career and MTV News even called the song a “career killer” making them a one hit wonder in the end. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Singer John Wozniak has even said he was pleased that the track “became a quintessential ’90s moment.” And it has remained a constant on 90’s playlists and soundtracks. Marcy Playground is still out there playing shows and releasing new material with “Sex and Candy” being a huge staple of the live set.
The other day I was driving with a friend of mine and a 311 song came on. The bass line I heard reminded me of another song but I couldn’t remember at who at that moment. Later that night it came to me in one of those “oh there it is” kind of things. The song I was thinking of was “Here In Your Bedroom” by Goldfinger. This song is from the bands 1996 self titled debut album. The song was inspired by a girl frontman/songwriter John Feldman was seeing. According to the story, Feldman was working at a store selling shoes, and he had a crush on a woman working in the dress department for over eight months. “‘Here in Your Bedroom’ is all about those wacky emotions that a sensitive guy like me gets at a time like that. When we were in her room, there was nothing else going on in the world but me and her,” he told Billboard when the song achieved success. Upon the song’s twentieth anniversary in 2016, Feldmann called it his favorite song on the band’s self-titled debut album, Goldfinger. This song is beyond catchy and it will be stuck in your head the moment the hook hits. Sorry not sorry hahahaha!
I’ll never forget the first time I heard the song “Plowed” by Sponge. I was a kid maybe 10 or 11 and I was watching Empire Records and towards the end of the movie, when they are getting ready for “the get together” to save the store, this song was played. I loved it instantly. What a great use of the song in that scene. Interestingly, the song isn’t included on the soundtrack. That’s something that’s always bugged me. Plowed is also such a quintessential 90’s song that, it has to be included in this topic. The album that “Plowed” is on, Rotting Pinata is a terrific album from start to finish. If you’ve never heard it, you should!
It’s very bizarre at times how I get songs stuck in my head. Half the time, they just appear out of thin air and the next thing I know, I’m singing it and it won’t leave my head. This morning while thinking of what to write, the song “On A Rope” by Rocket From The Crypt somehow got in my head. RFTC is one of the most underrated bands from the 90’s. They are unique and fun but also deep on a level that hit’s home in the right ways. This song was the third single from their 1995 album, Scream Dracula Scream. Interestingly too, while promoting this album, Rocket From The Crypt would tour with Rancid and Soundgarden. “On A Rope” would go on to also become a hit in the UK. This song is so 90’s and it holds up quite well in the 21st century as well! So, if you’ve never heard of Rocket From The Crypt, this song and the album it’s on is a wonderful place to start!
The Butthole Surfers song “Pepper” is quintessential 90’s. Not only is it a 90’s staple but, it reached number 1 on the US Billboard Modern Rock Charts. I still remember hearing this song when it came out. I was wrapping up sixth grade and this song took over for me that summer. Electric Larryland was played a ton that year. My childhood best friend and I knew all the words to “Pepper,” so much so we would drive his mom nuts singing it in the car when we would go places. The Butthole Surfers are legends in the alternative music world and rightfully so. They are unique and very influential. I’d love to hear a new album from them. I’m sure it would be quite interesting!
Butthole Surfers- Pepper:
Butthole Surfers- Pepper (Live On David Letterman-1996):
It’s always interesting how songs get stuck in your head. This morning, I woke up with a riff in my head. At first I couldn’t place it and I still don’t know where it came from but, after thinking about what it was, I figured out it was “Cannonball” by The Breeders. Ever since this song was released in 1993, it’s been one of the best of the 90’s. Kim Deal is one hell of a writer and it shows ever so distorted on this song. Her contributions to The Pixies are legendary but, The Breeders is really where she established herself as a force. Interestingly, the video for the song was directed by Spike Jonze and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. The video features the band in a garage, and the Deal sisters in what seems to be a dressing room trashed with clothes, sitting in a chair together. There are also shots of a cannonball rolling down suburban streets, as well as a shot of Kim singing underwater. When you think of 90’s songs, if you don’t include this on your list, you are missing the mark for sure!
Back in 1995, Everclear released their second album, Sparkle and Fade. This album would put Everclear on the map especially, because of the success of the song “Santa Monica.” I distinctly remember hearing this song on the radio and really liking it. I even remember that same day, seeing the video for the song on MTV. Throughout the years, “Santa Monica” has been a staple on rock radio. Interestingly, this song was not officially released as a single. As it turns out, rock radio stations across the states started playing the song due to requests and it wound up being number 1 on the mainstream rock charts for 3 weeks. Another fun tidbit is that due to the events of 9/11, “Santa Monica” was placed on the do not play list by Clear Channel. This is one of those 90’s songs that still holds up to this day and I’m pretty sure that if you hear it on the radio, it’ll all come back to you.