Readers Recommend: Songs That Should Have Made The A List


It’s Thursday, it’s after 10pm, there’s something missing …so as no one else seems to have jumped in here’s a special Reader’s Recommend.

You know how it is – none of us are here to get A Listers, we’re just sharing and discovering music, engaging in banter, swapping recipes…but of course we know that somewhere deep down we do want A Listers , preferably lots of them, and it can get just a tad frustrating. That’s why as the year draws to a close I’m proposing we all deal with those festering asfaeries with some  A List Therapy! The idea is simple – compile your own personal A List of songs you nominated that should have made the A List. These can be the ones that would surely have been obvious shoe-ins,  donded by all and sundry, only to be inexplicably left out of the list. Or (more often in my case) they can be obscure personal favourites that, just for a moment, you thought, just maybe, the Guru will listen and realise what  a brilliant song it is.

The can be from any time in the history of RR, and in keeping with recent developments , The A List can be pretty much any length.

My non-A Listed A List to follow shortly..

61 thoughts on “Readers Recommend: Songs That Should Have Made The A List

  1. In Songs About Weddings, I got in with the first comment. And two songs that absolutely definitely should have made the list: The Dixie Cups’ “Chapel Of Love” and 10,000 Maniacs’ “My Sister Rose”. Neither did. Tsk.

    • And also Microdisney’s rather fine mid 80s indie hit Birthday Girl “When I wed I will dream in a champagne haze of my first affair” – ok it’s onl one verse, but things have been A Listed for less, and it didn’t make Songs About Birthdays either!

    • We’ve all been there (with a few exceptions).
      I should point out that I’ve just had my 3rd A Lister of the year so this topic is posted without bitterness, but I guessed we could all compile a list anyway.

  2. Great B-sides : Killing Joke – Pssyche
    Relentless “thug funk” classic. Still played at virtually every Joke gig.

    Songs About The Police – Angelic Upstarts – The Murder Of Liddle Towers
    Upstartsgate! May have been a bit controversial even for The Guardian.

    Songs About The Police 2: The Disrupters – Stonehenge
    Possibly this band’s finest moment musically, lyrics about the infamous Battle Of The Beanfield. I’ve since found out that a mate of mine was on the way to Stonehenge that year but didn’t like the way the police were diverting people into side fields ..he turned round and went home, and that was probably a good idea.

    Songs About Criminals – The Business – Harry May
    I’m not into the whole cult of gangsters myself, but this is still one of my favourite ever records. What’s his name….?

    Songs About Criminals 2: Case – Criminal Ways
    Mad 80s ska punk

    Discordant Songs : Dirt – Mother
    I had some difficulty with this topic, not having the most finely tuned ears in the first place but I think this fits. One of the pleasures of RR is the way it prompts to give another listen to something you’ve ignored, like this angry but strangely haunting obscurity.

    Songs About Futility: PIL – Theme
    Not my favourite song I nominated on the topic but I thought it fitted perfectly. Hard going.

    TV Themes : Blakes 7
    As an antidote to Theme. Stirring space opera theme tune.

    Songs About Eavesdropping : The Cravats – Rub Me Out
    I’m going to keep on nominating this one – have we had Songs About Pencils yet? Certainly about state surveillance, eavesdropping isn’t specifically mentioned, but it does have some (genuine?) eavesdropping on police radio at the start

    Songs About Toys / With Long Titles: Cult Maniax – The Amazing Adventures Of Johnny The Duck And The Bathtime Blues
    A sad story….not liked by the more po faced 80s punks.

    Songs About September / Songs With Less Than 10 Words:
    Peter The Test Tube Babies – September
    No shoehorning here!

    Songs About Accidents : Flux Of Pink Indians – Tube Disasters
    Certified punk rock classic. A comment on the voyeurism and “vicarious living” of modern consumer society, or just a sick song about train crashes? Perhaps both.

    Songs About Newspapers: Cock Sparrer – The Sun Says
    Less famous than the Jam’s News Of The World, but better imho

    Songs About Corporations : Wire – Go Ahead
    The consensus was avoid songs moaning about record companies, but I still think Wire’ typically dry take on corporate marketing strategies should have been in the list.

    Songs About Gambling: Plan Of Attack – All Or Nothing
    Aussie/Irish oi , never stood a chance of an A Listing, but I like it….

    • Aw, wyngate, you’ve built up quite a list! I didn’t have anything I felt particularly sore about in B-sides week, but I was annoyed that The Stone Roses’ “What the world is waiting for” was listed. IT WAS A DOUBLE-A SIDE! I know because I deliberately sought out a copy that had WTWIWF on the cover as the ‘proper’ A side (because I preferred it to “Fools Gold”).

      • I should point out here again, there’s no sore points in my list really…apart from the Upstarts…and The Business…and…well,ok the odd one or two. The idea was more that these were some nominations that I thought fitted really well that I really liked, and I thought that would make a good list in itself. I had a look back through the topic titles just to see what songs jumped out.
        It is annoying I suppose when your nom gets passed over in favour of something that doesn’t actually fit – but then at least one of my bona fide A Listers only had one relevant line in the entire song.

  3. Hey guys, I can’t remember what topic I punted this one for, needless to say it didn’t make it. if ‘Songs about girls at bus stops’ ever gets full topic status, I’m sure it’ll at least make the b-list.

    “Girl At The Bus Stop” – My Drug Hell


    • I did just find this, from 2007, on a GU music blog about “Song characters shouldn’t be dragged into the real world”

      28 December 2007 07:29PM
      There was that bbc4 show that tried to track down the girl who “came from greece with a thirst for knowledge, studied sculpture at st martin’s college” – the result was predictably dire.

      I’d really like to know about the muse that inspired “Girl At The Bus Stop” by My Drug Hell, however….


      Also featuring Kalyr and Steen and AlexaK in the comments:

      29 December 2007 05:33PM
      I hope Desdinova (from Blue Oyster Cult’s bogglingly weird “Imaginos”) remains fictional. Otherwise people might start blaming him for 9/11.

      30 December 2007 09:22PM
      I like the girl in Belle and Sebastian’s Expectations who makes life-size models of the velvet underground in clay.

      29 December 2007 05:12PM
      I heard Dedicated Follower of Fashion was inspired by Ray Davies’ accountant- can anyone confirm/ deny this?

      and since comments closed early on RR.. I searched “village people new year” and that was the first video that seemed relevant based on the first 10 seconds. I have no idea who those people are!

    • An all too familiar “bus stop rejection” scenario. A woman I know was once approached by a strange (in more than one sense apparently) guy at a bus stop who asked “What would you say if I asked you outy on date?”. She was slightly wary and pointed out that she didn’t know him at which point he ran off down the road waving his fist in the air. I’d like to think it was her in this song but 1995 is wat too early.
      I liked the “so-minimal-it’s-hardly-there” guitar solo on this track.

      • He may have harboured and dwelled upon it for years before writing the song – you never know. My new year’s resolution is to accost more people at the bus stop. 🙂

  4. Cold White Christmas Casiotone For The Painfully Alone anti-xmas.
    it’s perfect – but listenable too, in a harsh way.

    Hit Sugarcubes accidents –
    pregnancy tune done to odd icelandic perfection… you can’t get much bigger life changing accidents.

    Because We’re Dead Slow Club afterlife
    the song is sung, then the last line states the title – for afterlife perfect.

    Last Train Home Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip argue
    I Don’t Have To Stand Here With You Fighting About The Size Of My Dick Ballboy argue

    Animal Farm Fini Tribe – companies and corporations – the McDeathburger rant says it all.

    Let’s Fall In Love And Run Away From Here Ballboy escape.
    the dreams of helping a lap dancer escape – brilliantly set up and vividly imagined.

    Wicked and Weird Buck 65 escape.
    this tune is nominated over and over and still I can’t get the slice of genius in.

    Godzilla Vs The Island Of Manhattan (With You And I Somewhere In-Between) Ballboy 10 word or more titles… only because I thought I put the effort in (and the song I typed out got picked – pissing me off more.. great song – but not what I call a recommend)

    Brakes/ Wolfgang Press/ oh I could go on for ever…

  5. It’s only a game, but sometimes… Well, I’m sure you know what I mean. These are the two that hurt most:

    Okkervil River – Plus-Ones (Songs About Numbers – it’s a song about songs about numbers AND it’s absolute genius. I didn’t even nominate, but I still feel bitter.

    Jill Scott – Watching Me (Songs About Surveillance – there were some real shoe-horns in the final playlist, so why an on-the-money track by an unlisted artist didn’t make it, I don’t know)

    There are lots of others –

    Bishbosh mentions The Dixie Cups not getting listed for Songs About Weddings, but the Dixie Chicks’ White Trash Wedding definitely should have been too.

    Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro – how is “Son, I’m 30 / I only went with your mother ’cause she’s dirty” not one of the 10 greatest opening lines??

    But I have to go to bed now…

    • Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro – how is “Son, I’m 30 / I only went with your mother ’cause she’s dirty” not one of the 10 greatest opening lines??….


      massive donds.

    • I have a vague memory – I could be wrong – of 10,000 Maniacs’ What’s The Matter Here? making the Surveillance A List. A great song it is, a great song about surveillance it is not… (Apols to whoever nommed it.)

  6. I’m still smarting from Teardrop Explodes ‘Use Me’ being ignored for ‘B-sides’, even though Mr Guru went on the thread over the weekend to say how much he was loving it…

    • I gave it a listen and quite liked it. Years ago a mate told me that Primal Scream’s Rocks Off was a cover of this (which it clearly isn’t) and although I knew he was wrong I couldn’t quite seperate the two in my head.
      The trouble with that topic was that it was wide open – we could all (and most of us did) nominate loads of songs.
      Have you abandoned the mothership or have you just been temporarily absent?

      • “I gave it a listen and quite liked it.”


        Yes, it was a wide open topic (like the b-sides). Not just my own (obvious) bias on this one though, Exile is a classic album that was really an album, not just a single or 2 + filler. I had a lotta, lotta recommend clicks on it, and many, many donds and comments – it shoulda been on there 😦

        Or to paraphrase something Shoey said in the listing comments – Album openers topic – good. Singles on the list – not good.

        I’ve been absent on the mothership as i get insanely busy between T’giving and Xmas every year. But i have a feeling i’ll be doing the same as Fintan in the future – catching up on listening to music elsewhere, and maybe dropping in on the mothership every once in a rare while.

  7. I thought Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge” – whoever nommed it – was an A-list shoo-in for ancient history.

    I lost track of how many times I nommed “I Want My Baby Back” by Jimmy Cross under various rubrics.

    But one that I – and everyone else – missed under “gardening” and I was to embarrassed to nom it myself was “Honey” (See the tree, how big it’s grown…) Sappy and overblown, yes, but still we need a country tearjerker every now and then. (It’s one of the four basic food groups, I think.)

    Here’s the 1979 cover by fellow Alabamian Jimmy “Orion” Ellis (from Selma, Alabama) – one of music’s truly bizarre characters who was murdered tragically in a botched armed robbery.

    I had actually met Jimmy a few years before he died and he was truly a great and talented guy.

  8. Oooh… this’ll have to be a quick run through, because I’m meant to be going to the post office and moving stuff around so that the spare room is fit for small residents (the kids’ bedroom is still soggy from the water tank leak that occurred while we were away and… well. It needs drying out, and it can’t be good for them to sleep in a damp room).

    Anyway, the ones that sring to mind are:

    Ruby Blue, “Primitive Man” (Hunting)
    Laki Mera, “Fool” (Fools)
    All About Eve, “Farewell Mr. Sorrow” (various topics)

    I’m sure that there were many more.

  9. I do not really have a full A list that I would recommend from songs I have nominated.

    But the TV Themes A list I would completely re-write.

    Of course I recognise that Japanese songs which the the lyrics as well as the music are important are really not very likely to be selected… I although I was disappointed that the three YUI tracks I nominated did make it, even if they were fantastic tracks. But I nominated several other really great tracks.

    I was really feed up with TV Themes.actually…That week should have been called British or American TV themes. The quality of the music on the A list was pretty poor actually (no offence is intended to anyone other than JD) and you can only understand this list if the selection method was if the track reminded JD of his favourite TV programmes and not anything to do with the quality music.

    This track really should have made that list.

    Love Love Psychedelico with Shadow Behind which was the theme for the really great detective drama Absolute Zero.

    • Sorry! ! ! !

      Of course – “three YUI tracks I nominated did make it” – Should be “three YUI tracks I nominated did NOT make it”

      I was getting angry about that stupid week list again and made a typing mistake ! ! ! !

  10. I’ve had 8 ‘listers this year so perhaps I shouldn’t complain – but I will anyway, because none of them were by TP, even these two which, in a world free of guru prejudice, should surely have been listed, so perfectly on topic were they (and such wonderful songs):

    For RR Songs about a change of mind

    [audio src="" /]

    You Can Still Change Your Mind by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from their album Hard Promises

    and for RR Songs about leaving

    Time To Move On by Tom Petty from his solo album Wildflowers

  11. The bind I’m perpetually trapped in is the underlying belief that, by selecting only the perfect Grateful Dead songs for any single topic, the guru will have an epiphany and not only realise that they should be in the A-list but also be so thoroughly enamoured by the music that they become evangelical Deadheads…. The last two songs where I came very close to convincing my conscious self that this might happen were Maki’s nomination of Loser, for Songs About Gambling, and my nom of Sing Me Back Home for Songs About Departures.

  12. Nope, can’t think of any !
    I comfort myself with the knowledge that the entire music dept of the Guardian appear to have dreadful taste anyway. Have you seen their “songs of the year” !
    Gadzooks !
    I regard it as a badge of honour not to have any A listers. Each week ( usually) I greet the list with a sigh of both recognition and resignation ( and, perhaps, a little whimper of regret).

  13. I’m sure there are tons, but one that really hurt was the omission of the bang-on Spacegirl, from Imagined Village, for the Space theme earlier this year. I know DsD will back me up on this one…

  14. Oddly, the only two that still stick in my mind are Lord Beginner’s “General Election” which was B-listed for songs about the vote and Al Bowlley’s “You Ought To See Sally On Sunday” which was B-Listed for songs about the weekend. Some people are never satisfied……………

  15. After Rory McLeod’s ‘The Singing Copper’ was ignored for Songs About the Police, and not only ignored but passed over for a song nobody recommended, it would be an understatement to say my interest waned. I had an ‘A’-lister recently, but I couldn’t have cared less. Here’s Rory:

  16. I still haven’t got over Einstürzende Neubauten’s Silence is Sexy not getting in the list for songs about silence, back in the days before Spotify and other ways of getting gurus to hear music without them having to buy it. It is perfect but I had to wait some years before I got them listed.

    I think almost every track from Jack’s The Jazz Age should have been selected for whichever topic each one is relevant to – Drinking, Songs Inspired by Films, Literature, Drugs, Night and Darkness etc

    I’m also certain that Devendra Banhart could be perfect for song in another language and my favourite old goths the Fields of the Nephilim for long songs.

    Mostly it seems to be bands I get annoyed about, rather than individual songs, I try to forgive and forget, don’t want to be bitter 🙂

  17. Nice one, Wyngate.

    I’ve largely given up on RR and can’t honestly remember things I’ve suggested, although I thought most of them were good at the time. I’ve only ever had one A-lister and that was Roy Harper, on my 50th birthday, which was kind of the best birthday present. Sad, but true.

    I know I’ve nominated Al Stewart and ‘Clifton in the Rain’ for various things, it’s a cracking song, so here it is from an old folkie:

  18. When all the assfairies are gone there really isn’t any reason to play RR anymore. Wish well justified & well supported suggestions carried a little more weight than they do on the Mothership. That horse has been beaten to death though. Don’t think it’s unique to the JonD era either. It’s been the way of things since Maddy retired.

    • I agree – that’s what made me sigh about Los Campesinos! getting in with my typed out nomination – but Ballboy didn’t, with a great worked out explanation (for long titles)
      But it just came down to being able to count past 10.

      ..and no – it’s not just Jon D – had fun reading ToffeeBoys rant last night from all those years ago.. nothing changes – but you do need fresh blood to do the picking, every once in a while, otherwise it becomes stale.

      But I enjoyed my bicker with Jon the other week – I think adults can disagree without the need for it to be personal or unpleasant.
      (In private I’ll swear my bloody head off about it though)

  19. ..and no – it’s not just Jon D

    Sorry, people, but it is all about JonD for me: ALL of the previous gurus have been perfectly willing to pick stuff they didn’t personally like. He isn’t. That’s not a position I’m prepared to accept. By all means, gimme a shout when he has a week’s holidays from JDR, but otherwise, nah.

    • Understand the position, but don’t see any difference in approach from JonD than RobFitz or PMac, apart from JonD making the mistake of actually saying he’s only going to pick songs that he likes (he also said that the A-list was “definitive” & later admitted he was wrong – I have to give him credit for being willing to listen & compromise).

      DsD is more a part of RR than whatever guruincharge we have. Understand that views are polarized, but you cutting off your nose is spiting our faces. Please reconsider taking part – just stay away from the “results” thread (& who knows, Jon may surprise you yet).

  20. Hi wyngate. Do you mind if I sit this one out?

    I’m still emotionally scarred from Super Solos week; PLEASE don’t make me scratch that particular scab off . . .

  21. The very first week I wanted to recommend was the week, way back when, when Dorian (I miss him) suggested the topic “sexual jealousy”, which turned into basic’jealousy’ when the book came out. I was too late to the party, as a first timer, missed the deadline, but i still think I would have made it that week with Smog’s ‘Your New Friend’.

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