A couple more songs from great albums that aren't in my top 10 list:
Joanna Newsom – “Baby Birch”
Beautiful is not a sufficient word for Joanna Newsom’s Have One on Me; it’s too broad. Beauty wears many faces. For example: “Baby Birch,” although beautiful, is devastating. My chest caves in four inches, my head falls: “This is a song for baby birch,” she welcomes. Be ready, my heart, you will fall farther, sigh heavier: “I wish we could take every path / I could spend a hundred years adoring you / Yes, I wish we could take every path, / because I hated to close / the door on you.” Some have speculated that the song is about abortion or a stillborn child. Could be. Regardless of the subject matter, it’s still a “nine-minute-ache” – to borrow a description I’ve read. Indeed, it has haunted me at times with the weight of its sadness. Although difficult to digest in its fullness I’ve known early on that this was a superb album, and “Baby Birch” fills me with so much of whatever it is filled with that I cannot deny how often I have carried its weight with me.
Liars – “Scissor”
The song’s basic plot: man finds body, man drags body to the car, body awakens. Liars have always seemed to gravitate toward the grotesque, but even when this is not their theme they manage to spread their dementia through the music. Take “Scissor,” the first track from Sisterworld. Here’s a song that, regardless of lyrics, would still sound fearsome, cowering and ominous. The minor-keyed chorus of falsetto-ed harmonies that opens the track is exposed as sinister by the lower, quivering octave. Even Billy Corgan opted for that softer, lace-thin voice at times, but it was rarely mistaken as a voice of comfort. So it is with Agnus Andrew. By song’s end, he’s the boogeyman once again, howling in the corner: “When I saw her blinking eye / she was a-LIIIIIIIIIIIIVEEEE!!!!” “Scissor” gave me chills all year. So did the excellent video.