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.
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!
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.
There are so many bands and songs from the 90’s that when you hear a radio staple, often times, you wind up turning up the volume because you haven’t heard that song in a long while and it takes you back to that time. One song that I’ve always done that with is the song “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand” by Primitive Radio Gods. Back in 1996, this song was inescapable. It reached number 1 on the modern rock charts and was featured in the movie The Cable Guy. This song definitely packs a vibe and fits the time quite well. Enjoy this throwback to the simpler times of the mid 90’s.
Primitive Radio Gods- Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand:
Back in 1997, Days Of The New had released their self titled debut album and the lead single “Touch, Peel and Stand” was blowing up all over radio and MTV. I remember this song getting stuck in my head many times around that time, and it still pops in from time to time. And I’m sure once you hear it, it will be stuck in your head for a bit too. Days Of The New was a pretty solid band with lots of good songs. It’s too bad that things didn’t work out for them. I mean they even went on tour with Metallica and Jerry Cantrell. This song though, is so 90’s and it’s still a good song. It’s one of those that when you hear it, you can’t help but sing along to.
While on my Radiohead kick, I came across many videos on youtube from the mid 90’s. One of the ones I clicked on was a song I haven’t heard in a long while and after the song was over it was stuck in my head the rest of the day and night. Now, I’m sharing that joy with you all. The song in question is “In The Meantime” by Spacehog. The song is featured on the band’s debut album, Resident Alien. I remember when this song came out and thinking it was cool and fun. The song and video definitely fits that era of music. So have a little fun with this 90’s rock classic.
Sometimes I truly wonder how certain songs pop in my head. Out of the clear blue a part of a song just appears in my mind and from that point, it’s on. Yesterday while working from home, the song “How’s It Going To Be” by Third Eye Blind just suddenly happened to come through. It’s strange. I wasn’t listening to anything in that realm either but, it was a nice change of pace. After the song popped in my head, I went back and listened to their debut album. I forgot how many good songs are on that one and that’s not just the singles. The album still holds up to this day.