My 20th Favorite Song of All-Time

First, let’s recap what has come so far:

100.  “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something
99.  “Jack & Diane” by John Mellencamp
98.  “Hotel California” by The Eagles
97.  “American Pie” by Don McLean
96.  “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson
95.  “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” by Dr. Dre
94.  “Bushwick Blues” by Delta Spirit
93.  “For the Workforce, Drowning” by Thursday
92.  “Fish Heads” by Barnes and Barnes
91.  “Shimmer” by Fuel
90.  “Rubber Biscuit” by the Blues Brothers
89.  “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals
88.  “Asleep at the Wheel” by Working For a Nuclear-Free City
87.  “There’s an Arc” by Hey Rosetta!
86.  “Steam Engine” by My Morning Jacket
85.  “Scenario” by A Tribe Called Quest
84.  “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane
83.  “Fits” by Stone Gossard
82.  “Spring Flight to the Land of Fire” by The Cape May 81. “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” by The Postal Service
80.  “Sober” by Tool
79.  “Dream is Collapsing” by Hans Zimmer
78.  “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?” by The Beatles
77.  “In This Light and on This Evening” by Editors
76.  “Lemonworld” by The National
75.  “Twin Peaks Theme” by Angelo Badalamente
74.  “A Comet Appears” by The Sins
73.  “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” by The Decemberists
72.  “Pepper” by Butthole Surfers
71.  “Life Wasted” by Pearl Jam
70.  “Jetstream” by Doves
69.  “Trieste” by Gifts From Enola
68.  “Oh My God” by Kaiser Chiefs
67.  “The Righteous Path” by Drive-By Truckers
66.  “Innocence” by The Airborne Toxic Event
65.  “There, There” by Radiohead
64.  “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews Band
63.  “Symphony 1: In the Barrel of a Gun” by Emily Wells
62.  “The Best of What’s Around” by Dave Matthews Band
61.  “Old Man” by Neil Young
60.  “Cumbersome” by Seven Mary Three
59.  “Knocked Up” by Kings of Leon
58.  “Machine Head” by Bush
57.  “Peaches” by Presidents of the United States of America
56.  “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones
55.  “Fell on Black Days” by Soundgarden
54.  “The New Year” by Death Cab for Cutie
53.  “Call Me Al” by Paul Simon
52.  “Real Muthaphuckin’ Gs” by Eazy E
51..  “Evening Kitchen” by Band of Horses
50.  “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand” by Primitive Radio Gods
49.  “Top Drawer” by Man Man
48.  “Locomotive Breath” by Jethro Tull
47.  “We Used to Vacation” by Cold War Kids
46.  “Easy Money” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
45.  “Two-fifty” by Chris Walla
44.  “I’ve Got a Feeling” by The Beatles
43.  “Another Pilot” by Hey Rosetta!
42.  “Revelate” by The Frames
41.  “Wise Up” by Aimee Mann
40.  “Sample in a Jar” by Phish
39.  “Spitting Venom” by Modest Mouse
38.  “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow” by Nice & Smooth
37.  “I Shall Be Released” by The Band
36.  “When I Fall” by Barenaked Ladies
35.  “East Hastings” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
34.  “Terrible Love” by The National
33.  “Jolene” by Dolly Parton
32.  “Sometime Around Midnight” by The Airborne Toxic Event
31.  “This Train Revised” by Indigo Girls
30.  “Mad World” by Gary Jules
29.  “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes
28.  “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads
27.  “Growing Old is Getting Old” by Silversun Pickups
26.  “Brian and Robert” by Phish
25.  “Is There a Ghost?” by Band of Horses
24.  “Be Safe” by The Cribs
23.  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland, Hugh Martin, and Ralph Blane
22.  “Ashes in the Fall” by Rage Against the Machine
21.  “We Laugh Indoors” by Death Cab For Cutie

and my 20th favorite song of all-time is:

“Dondante” by My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket are an impossible band to pin down: they write some straight-forward country songs, some songs that are eerily close to being Seventies standards, some hard rockers, and then what I think of in my head as “loneliness space fusion”, although I’m sure music people might have a more appropriate name for it.  “Dondante” falls into this latter category.

Starting out at a low, creeping, spacey drawl, the song builds musically into an explosive yawp of yawning sadness.  It might not sound inviting, but I’ll admit to thinking it is the sound of a decent portion of my inner life—and I suspect the inner lives of many.

The lyrics are like many of frontman Jim James’ lyrics: mysterious, almost nonsense masterful setpieces that leave the listener to provide the context of a specific story which nonetheless appears to be universal.  There are very few words to “Dondante” (the meaning of the title we are also left to guess at).  James is telling a story of someone he used to know.  They seem to be dead, he seems to have warned them about something, he seems to have made his peace with it.  But elements of the story are left unresolved.  As a listener who has had his share of massively depressing departures, I can’t help but place my own experiences onto James’ specific dread nightmare.  Here are all the lyrics to “Dondante”:

In a dream I saw you walkin’,
like a kid, alive and talkin’,
that was you.

In the classroom you were teachin’,
on the streets you were policin’,
that was you.

To the ones that I know most
I will tell them of your ghost
like a thing that never, ever was.

And all that ever mattered
will some day turn back to batter
like a joke.

Behind thin walls you hid your feelings.
Takes four legs to make a ceiling,
like a thing.

In a dream I saw you walkin’
with your friends, alive and talkin’.
That was you.

Well I saw it in your movement,
even though you never knew it.
Well, I knew how sweet it could be
if you’d never left these streets.

You had me worried—
so worried—
that this would last.
But now I’m learning—
that this will pass.


OK, it’s Seth again.  Below is the studio version of “Dondante”.  Below that is one of the many, many live versions out there.  If you at all like the studio version, try the live version, it really cannot be stressed enough how much of a difference the live version of this particular song makes.  It’s like the difference of viewing something in two dimensions and suddenly seeing it in three dimensions.  Yes, the live version I’ve included is 15 minutes long, but it will rip your fucking heart out.

2 Responses to “My 20th Favorite Song of All-Time”

  1. I’ve come to really enjoy this song from the mix you sent me a while back. To me it might as well be an instrumental. I hear the singing, but to my knowledge I can’t recall any of the lyrics. The live version I hear might as well be scatting. It’s really just this atmospheric gem (loneliness space fusion is a pretty brilliant title). I skipped over your analysis of the lyrics and the actual lyrics because I don’t want it to influence my experience with the song. It truly is that though. Despite it’s melancholy tone it’s not something I turn to when I’m down either. That guitar and sax solo never cease to amaze me. Yeah, I writing many short statements, but I’m OK with that. Great song. Thanks for hipping me to it.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Yeah really the lyrics here are of minor importance to the song, but just a great example of what Jim James does, but one of the few instances where I will say the greatness of the song is in no way impacted by not knowing them. This version I posted here has one of the best sax endings of any version I’ve seen!

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