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101 Best Songs of 1988:#1 – Guns n’ Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine (2 Viewers)

I’m sure there was some sort of “I hate to do this, but I have to” sentiment on Chuck’s part. 

Getting back to the “was Griff canceled” debate, when I was in college in the early 90s, the main incidents of what we call “being canceled” today that I can remember were Griff and various Holocaust deniers. 

 
#6 - INXS - Never Tear Us Apart

Never Tear Us Apart was the fourth single off INXS's mega-hit 1987 album Kick. The song itself is gorgeous but the video manages to surpass it- filmed on and around the Charles Bridge in a pre-Velvet Revolution Prague.  Never Tear Us Apart only reached #7 on the Hot 100, but RS ranked it #282 on their greatest songs of all time. 

Never Tear Us Apart

 
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#98 - The Dead Milkmen - Punk Rock Girl

"If you ain't got Mojo Nixon then your store could use some fixin'."

For some reason, I spent parts of 1987 and 1988 obsessed with the Dead Milkmen.  I listened to their tapes on repeat.  I drew their cow logo on my paper-bag textbook covers.  I quoted their lyrics in the vain hopes that someone would catch on.*

"One Saturday I took a walk to Zipperhead..."

After I moved to Philly in 1996, I spent too many weekends blowing my meager paycheck on South Street.  I would hit Zipperhead to see if they had any Doc Martens on sale, then my favorite CD store that had the best selection of industrial music on the planet (Digital Underground), and this huge Blockbuster that was the only one in the area that had Laser Discs and they often sold pre-rented ones at huge discounts.  From there it was a cheesesteak at Jim's or maybe Ishkabibbles and booze at Tattooed Moms.  South Street was already starting to shift from punk/alt to corporate and hip-hop by then, and now it just kind of sucks.  No more Zipperhead...

Good times.

Punk Rock Girl

* my favorite DM song was "Stuart" off the same album (Beelzebubba) as "Punk Rock Girl."  On a whim, I flew out to the Iowa State Fair this year and Ms. Scorchy texted me a line from "Stuart" about the large underground gay population in Des Moines.  It warmed my heart.
Late to the thread, thanks for the stroll down memory lane.  I lived about 15 minutes away from South Street but over in NJ.  We were frequent visitors in the time between getting our driver's licenses and leaving for college.  ~1993-1994.

 
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#5 - Tracy Chapman - Fast Car

When Tracy Chapman's debut album was released in April 1988, neo-folk was not a thing on pop radio. I guess Suzanne Vega had a hit the previous year with Luka, but at least in my crowd, a lot more people made fun of it than actually listened. 10,000 Maniacs were huge on college radio but hadn't yet crossed over.  Fast Car  just seemed like it came from a different planet than the pop and hair metal permeating the top 10 in August '88.  

Though it peaked at #6 on Billboard, Rolling Stone has it as the highest-rated song from 1988 on its all-time 500 (#78).  Maybe a tad high for me just because I'm not a huge folkie, but I will say that Bruce Springsteen - despite all his efforts and acclaim - never wrote a song that captured the hopes and struggles of the working poor like Tracy Chapman did with Fast Car.

Fast Car

 
Lehigh98 said:
Late to the thread, thanks for the stroll down memory lane.  I lived about 15 minutes away from South Street but over in NJ.  We were frequent visitors in the time between getting our driver's licenses and leaving for college.  ~1993-1994.
I was just walking down South St today with my son. Pointing out where various things used to be that he couldn't have cared less about. He much prefers sneaker stores to Zipperhead and record shops.

 
In high school, we had a lip sync competition in the main auditorium - a few hundred people came.

I dressed up as David Lee Roth and somehow pulled off doing Hot For Teacher (our principal was a hard was). I was unrecognizable in my tiger striped spandex track pants, a blue tank top, blonde wig, sunglasses, and red bandana. Even did the splits like in Jump. In short, I KILLED it. The crowd went bonkers.

One of the three black girls in our school did Fast Car dressed in all black, stationary on a stool, and not even pretending she was playing the guitar in her lap.

She took first. I took second.

It was there and then that I realized it was going to be tough being a white man in America. 😠

 
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#9 - The Church - Under the Milky Way

The second entry from The Church was the first single off the amazing Starfish.  Under the Milky Way hit #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #24 on the Hot 100, becoming the only song by the Church to make the US Top 40.  I think their follow-up album Gold Afternoon Fix should have found similar success, but I guess the band's moment of American semi-fame had passed.  

Since I'm currently fixated on the concept of selling out, here' what Church bassist and the co-writer of UTMW had to say on the subject (lifted from Wiki):

The Church may slag it off, but it totally worked in Donnie Darko.

Under the Milky Way
This post reminds me of @timschochet identifying this song as the basis of calling the Church a one hit wonder.  :D

 
I was nowhere near a folkie, nor even aware of what Tracy Chapman was singing about when she sang of poverty, but I felt it in that song. Aching. 

We've gotta make a decision 
Leave tonight or live and die this way 

So urgent.  

 
In high school, we had a lip sync competition in the main auditorium - a few hundred people came.

I dressed up as David Lee Roth and somehow pulled off doing Hot For Teacher (our principal was a hard was). I was unrecognizable in my tiger striped spandex track pants, a blue tank top, blonde wig, sunglasses, and red bandana. Even did the splits like in Jump. In short, I KILLED it. The crowd went bonkers.

One of the three black girls in our school did Fast Car dressed in all black, stationary on a stool, and not even pretending she was playing the guitar in her lap.

She took first. I took second.

It was there and then that I realized it was going to be tough being a white man in America. 😠


Fast Car is much harder to lip sync to.

 
#5 - Tracy Chapman - Fast Car

When Tracy Chapman's debut album was released in April 1988, neo-folk was not a thing on pop radio. I guess Suzanne Vega had a hit the previous year with Luka, but at least in my crowd, a lot more people made fun of it than actually listened. 10,000 Maniacs were huge on college radio but hadn't yet crossed over.  Fast Car  just seemed like it came from a different planet than the pop and hair metal permeating the top 10 in August '88.  

Though it peaked at #6 on Billboard, Rolling Stone has it as the highest-rated song from 1988 on its all-time 500 (#78).  Maybe a tad high for me just because I'm not a huge folkie, but I will say that Bruce Springsteen - despite all his efforts and acclaim - never wrote a song that captured the hopes and struggles of the working poor like Tracy Chapman did with Fast Car.

Fast Car


The Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute (aka Freedomfest) took her from relative obscurity to overnight sensation. She actually performed twice at Wembley bc Stevie Wonder had an equipment issue. 

Here's the moment that changed her life forever:

Fast Car - Wembley June 11, 1988

I remember watching it thinking "there's nothing else like this on the radio rn." Although tbh I'm not sure if it was this song or "Talkin' bout a Revolution" - I just remember going directly to the record store bc I had to hear more. 

Stevie Wonder landed in England on the Saturday morning of the concert and went straight to Wembley Stadium, where a room was prepared for him and his band to warm up. He was to appear in the evening after UB40. His appearance had not been announced. UB40 were finishing their set on the main stage, and Wonder's equipment was set up, plugged in and ready to be rolled on after a 10-minute act on a side stage. He was about to walk up the ramp to the stage when it was discovered that the hard disc of his synclavier, carrying all 25 minutes of synthesised music for his act, was missing. He said he could not play without it, turned round, walked down the ramp crying, with his band and other members of his entourage following him, and out of the stadium. There was an urgent need to fill the gap he had left and Tracy Chapman, who had already performed her act, agreed to appear again. The two appearances shot her to stardom, with two songs from her recently-released first album, "Fast Car" and "Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution". Before the concert, she had sold about 250,000 albums. In the following two weeks, it sold two million.


Fast Car was performed during her 2nd appearance.

 
#5 - Tracy Chapman - Fast Car

When Tracy Chapman's debut album was released in April 1988, neo-folk was not a thing on pop radio. I guess Suzanne Vega had a hit the previous year with Luka, but at least in my crowd, a lot more people made fun of it than actually listened. 10,000 Maniacs were huge on college radio but hadn't yet crossed over.  Fast Car  just seemed like it came from a different planet than the pop and hair metal permeating the top 10 in August '88.  

Though it peaked at #6 on Billboard, Rolling Stone has it as the highest-rated song from 1988 on its all-time 500 (#78).  Maybe a tad high for me just because I'm not a huge folkie, but I will say that Bruce Springsteen - despite all his efforts and acclaim - never wrote a song that captured the hopes and struggles of the working poor like Tracy Chapman did with Fast Car.

Fast Car
Fast Car exploded onto the scene like a bomb.  Everyone who was of the 80s era recalls where they were the first time they heard it and they also remember the most memorable part which is the vocals.

The first time I heard it I was with my roommate and we both were impressed then we saw the MTV video and we both were like, hmmnn I can't tell if that Tracy Chapman is a dude or not.  I think everyone was as confused at first so it made you listen more intently to give a deeper appreciation of the lyrics.    

Fantastic tune and was also in my top-five on the year. 

Add, Chapman born and raised in the home of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Cleveland Ohio.  :bowtie:

 
I still can’t past how the acoustic in Fast Car is lifted right from Jack and Diane. 
Parts of both songs are identical, and they’re both in A major. Pretty sharp divergence after the opening cords in both arrangement & lyrics. Cougar wrote the song about an interracial couple, & Jack wasn’t a football player. The record company suggested the changes and he agreed.

Fast Car exploded onto the scene like a bomb.  Everyone who was of the 80s era recalls where they were the first time they heard it and they also remember the most memorable part which is the vocals.

The first time I heard it I was with my roommate and we both were impressed then we saw the MTV video and we both were like, hmmnn I can't tell if that Tracy Chapman is a dude or not.  I think everyone was as confused at first so it made you listen more intently to give a deeper appreciation of the lyrics.    

Fantastic tune and was also in my top-five on the year. 

Add, Chapman born and raised in the home of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Cleveland Ohio.  :bowtie:
Memory is a funny thing. I texted my BIL asking where he first heard the song. “On my home from work, it came on WLAV. Instead of going home I went right to the record store. I’d never heard anything like it.”

I thought we watched Freedomfest together but he reminded me I was remembering the day Mandela was released (late 1990.)

 
I don't remember Fast Car being anywhere near that important...or popular. :shrug:
I can see that it, but it got a fifteen year-old rockaction to buy an acoustic folk album. I mean...that was not what I was listening to. And it was because I liked that song. A lot. 

I'm not trying to lionize anything. There had to be huge luck involved in getting on MTV's rotation, but that's who was determining who heard what, and she was good. 

 
Cougar wrote the song about an interracial couple,
Aha moment.  Did he drive a fast car?

There had to be huge luck involved in getting on MTV's rotation...
MTV was historically all-white until Michael Jackson forced them to integrate.  Virtually no black artists were played until Quincy Jones threatened them so ANY black artist who got airplay on MTV earned it but Chapman got a lucky break when Stevie Wonder couldn't perform at Nelson Mandella's 70th birthday event where.

She went from selling only 250,000 records to ten times that amount after her performance one week later causing her rocket-like launch up the charts to #6.

Years later in 2011 it charted again to #4 in the UK after a performer used the song on Britain's Got Talent.  

 
I don't remember Fast Car being anywhere near that important...or popular. :shrug:
It got to the deep recesses of rural Australia and hit me like a ton of bricks. I bought it on CD single and 7” vinyl the next day. I wasn’t interested in anything that didn’t have a synth on it at the time, just like you and your poodle rock infatuation, but this song broke through in a way that is very, very rare. 

 
#4 - Metallica - One

By all rights, I should hate Metallica.  Metallica, along with Meat Loaf and Dr. Hook, were my freshman-year roommate Bob's three favorite bands/acts.*  I could write up hundreds of Bob stories and most of them would be funny even to folks who never met him, evidenced by the fact that my teenage son still asks me to tell them on road trips, and he typically only laughs at me and not with me.  Just to set the scene, Bob was maybe 5'6 and 130 pounds soaking wet.**  He had perfect SAT scores but got booted from the mechanical engineering program for bad grades (he never went to class).  He didn't shower much, his side of the dorm room was a total wreck, and he loved to watch imported Anime laser discs. On the other hand, he was great guy and super generous and gloriously weird and the best spades partner ever, and I'm still sorry I hurt his feelings so badly when I told him I just couldn't live with him again sophomore year because the mess (and the anime) was driving me crazy.

Bob could play along with every song on every Metallica album note for note, which he did for several hours a day with his Les Paul guitar plugged in and distortion pedal activated.  Luckily, Bob usually slept till noon and was kind enough not to play after 9 pm, but any time in-between was fair game.  I would be sitting down eating my microwaved Oscar Meyer cheese-filled hot dogs for lunch while trying to watch The Young and the Restless and Bob would pop up, plug in, and start shredding away.  He was so damn good at it that I didn't even mind.  Still, you would think hearing ...And Justice for All accompanied by shrieking guitar hundreds of times would make me hate it, but nope.

1986's Master of Puppets was critically acclaimed and huge in the thrash metal underground, but it still only sold around 500,000 copies in its first year and peaked at #29 on the Billboard album chart.  1991's black album, meanwhile, launched Metallica to global mega-stardom.  ...And Justice for All was the bridge between those two worlds - proof that Metallica could get even bigger and more dynamic after the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton.  It was released in early September of 1988 and sold almost 2 million copies in the US before the end of the year - peaking at #6 on the charts - all without much commercial airplay, at least until the release of the video for One in early January the following year.  

Maybe Metallica's most hard-core fans would roll their collective eyes at me saying One was the best song on the album, but I was never that hard-core anyway.  It also takes some pretty twisted logic to view an 8-minute song about a blind, deaf, speechless, armless, and legless WWI veteran as a "sellout."  The video is a flat-out masterpiece.

One

* Bob's nickname was The Dragon.  We didn't give it to him.  When his mom called, she would actually say, "Hi Scorchy, is The Dragon there?"

** Our decided size differential never stopped Bob from yelling "PINHEAD" at me whenever I annoyed him.

 
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Andy Dufresne said:
I don't remember Fast Car being anywhere near that important...or popular. :shrug:
I said in the post on Talking 'Bout A Revolution that I think Tracy Chapman's album was the only one in 1988 that was owned by both me and my girlfriend's mom.  Even my brother - who is 10 years older than me, still almost exclusively listens to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker, and has maybe like 10 records released since his graduation (1980) - shocked me by turning up and singing along to Fast Car one day when he was giving me a ride to work.  I agree that maybe it's not top 100 of all time huge, but it was pretty dang big.

 
Andy Dufresne said:
So what year is next? Because I just listened to two killer songs from '86...
This has been a blast for me but I definitely need a break.  I told Tim I would check with him before starting another but '86 isn't on my to-do list regardless.  Have at it, Andy.

 
I enjoyed all the Fast Car discussion.  Maybe I should go away for a couple days more often.

I was back in my hometown visiting family today and I drove by what was once the weird non-mall record store.  My father (the police officer) didn't like me going there because he thought it was a front for a drug operation.  I have to admit it was sketchy, but it was also the only place to buy/trade used CDs.  It was there that I traded Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation for $5 in store credit a few weeks after I bought it.  Anyway, I found it  a little freaky that I was thinking about that exact thing when I noticed that it's now a christian mission named...  Thirst No More.  Thurston Moore?  

 
Andy Dufresne said:
I don't remember Fast Car being anywhere near that important...or popular. :shrug:
Not that MTV was necessarily THE benchmark for how popular a song was (there were Stryper songs that got played to death from '86 to '88, and I think only one or two made the top 40), but Fast Car received HEAVY, MASSIVE airplay on MTV.  

 
Andy Dufresne said:
I don't remember Fast Car being anywhere near that important...or popular. :shrug:


Me neither. 

I was 22 in 88, and into rock and metal. Songs like Fast Car weren't on my limited radar then. I do like it a lot better now.

 
scorchy said:
#4 - Metallica - One

Maybe Metallica's most hard-core fans would roll their collective eyes at me saying One was the best song on the album, but I was never that hard-core anyway.  It also takes some pretty twisted logic to view an 8-minute song about a blind, deaf, speechless, armless, and legless WWI veteran as a "sellout."  The video is a flat-out masterpiece.


I like 80's Metallica a lot, and I agree - it's the best song on that album. 

 
This all made me laugh and smile. Heh. Good stuff. 

I was already a diehard Metallica fan when ...And Justice came out. I was disappointed in the new album, but "One" was truly a good song. Loved it. And it was huge and everywhere. I never considered them sell-outs, I just didn't like the newer album, which was more ponderous, a little slowed-down, and just seemed less aggro than Master or Ride. 

The video and song still haunt an elder me at this day and this age. I've, at times, been an advocate for war, but I've seriously reconsidered my stance on war and how it tears apart people and families as I've aged. This video plays and played no small part in that. Corny though that may sound, it's true. 

 
I am still not a fan of the sound of the Justice album but there are some good songs on it.   One is probably the best song but I like Harvester of Sorrow and Shortest Straw more.  
Huge fan of To Live Is To Die.  These are solid tracks as well.  Love the selection Scorchy.

 
Huge fan of To Live Is To Die.  These are solid tracks as well.  Love the selection Scorchy.
My original 100 had three Metallica songs, with To Live is to Die joining One and Dyers Eve.  In the end, I felt like like that two was more fitting.  Parts of To Live is to Die are downright beautiful.

 
I am still not a fan of the sound of the Justice album but there are some good songs on it.   One is probably the best song but I like Harvester of Sorrow and Shortest Straw more.  
I'm not huge on the production either - not enough bass for sure.  Still, One is always one of my 4 or 5 go-to songs when I'm demoing new speakers.  I wanna feel the drums hitting me right in the middle of my chest without the overall tinny-ness on the top-end shredding  my ears.  Plus the dynamics of the song are just incredible.  It's always funny to get the sales guys' reactions - apparently most folks who demo speakers listen to Steely Dan, Allison Krause, and jazz.

 
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scorchy said:
#4 - Metallica - One
What a ####### terrible song.  Like a ####ty version of the Avalanches.  

This song shouldn't be on the list let alone #4.  Horrible choice.

 
Speaking of which, there are like four bands that are named or have been named the Avalanches, the one I know best being the big beat 90s disc jockey act from Australia. 

So that comparison makes no sense unless you're narrowing down who The Avalanches are, something I presume those in the know are supposed to know. 

"One" could be there for its cultural importance regardless of its merit as a song. It was everywhere in '88.

 
I should back up. Everybody has differing opinions, and sometimes strong ones, about songs they like/dislike. 

Just curious what brought that on in particular. 

 

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