1. Björk | Venus As A Boy
There is something about this song, like many of the prominent bands of the mid nineties, that was so other worldly and well put together that I couldn’t ignore it. The entire album is something to treasure, but ultimately the sonic and lyrical imagery created in this song was unlike anything I’d heard before.
2. Fiona Apple | Paper Bag
This album came out in the time where one would take a trip to the record store and listen to albums at listening stations, and build a relationship with them before taking them home. I was in the middle of my tour with Ani DiFranco when I heard this record for the first time. The level of sophistication in the lyrics for this record, and the production values by Jon Brion were extremely influential for me, and I think it’s reflected in some of my records.
3. Toto | Africa
This song makes me happy pretty much no matter what’s going on. A friend of mine sat me down to have me listen to it loudly when I was in my early twenties. It was his favorite song, and though I had heard it before, it was life altering to listen to it so intentionally. The seriousness of the epic nature of it has always impressed me.
4. Tori Amos | Yes, Anastasia
Tori Amos runs through my musical psyche from the beginning. She was there when I started seriously writing songs. I vividly remember seeing Silent All These Years on MTV for the first time, and it changed me. Tori gave me permission to write songs in any form that I desired. Yes, Anastasia from Under The Pink (1994) was my first exposure to a song that progressively moved from theme to theme, and elevated itself to epic proportions. I also love that the lyric half way through eludes to masturbation in such a subtle way. If you know me so well, then tell me which hand I use – Incredible. I love this song. Every time I hear it. This was when Tori was at her strongest, in my opinion.
5. Nina Simone | Feeling Good (Cy Grant Cover)
This song is perfect in all of the right ways. Lyrically, the simplicity and direct nature of it, the way she sings it so melancholically and yet with hope all at once is so fantastic. I love it when singers ride that line. If you listen to the song on headphones you can hear the original vocal take hiding in the tape under the main vocal. It’s really lovely to hear her ghosting herself. But the thing that makes this song is the horn section. The latent plodding of the brass swings it to you like something dirty. It’s brilliant, and my favorite song. It’ll be at my wedding, my funeral, all of my important occasions.
6. Radiohead | Exit Music (For A Film)
Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet was a game changer for the nineties, and I saw it for the first time when I was a sixteen year old, and it was a pivotal soundtrack regardless. Exit Music (For A Film) played over the credits and I rode out the track till the end. I chased this song to own it (considering it was a time that you couldn’t just download things, this was a hard task) and to me, as a 16 year old, it provided the soundtrack to my soul. From the first strum it gets me in that place.
7. Madonna | Vogue
I will always remember this track with the visuals of the Music Video connected to it. I was ten when this song came out and it defines Madonna for me. She has always been a very big part of why I do what I do. She had the kind of Power in the nineties that I had never before seen a woman have. It was impressive, and when she started writing tracks that defined her influence and power, I was smitten. I watched the documentary for the Blond Ambition World Tour so many times that I know it by wrote. She changed the Entertainment Industry for women almost single handedly. I will never take that lightly.
8. Jeff Buckley | Lover, You Should've Come Over
I mean, shit. How can you not love this song. Jeff was other worldly and he was the first musician I was truly invested in when he passed away. Grace was a window to a Magical World for me, vocally, and just in terms of Music being made of Magic. A real joy for so many reasons.
9. Rage Against The Machine | Killing In The Name
Well, this song is a contrast, but very much in the central area of what I love and what I am drawn to. Raw, passionate, Heavy and GOOD! I love Rage Against The Machine for their capacity to stick up for important things. But more importantly, the first time I heard that song live I was standing at a festival in Melbourne, with a close friend of mine. As soon as that song started we all started to jump up and down. I stopped while everyone continued and the whole earth was moving up and down. It was such a trip - the ground - shifting back and forth by the force of the crowd in unison. I enjoyed that very, very much.
10. Gotye | Hearts A Mess
This song gave me chills from the moment I heard it on Australian Radio. It was a long time ago when no one knew how to say his name, and he was easy to find on the Internet! I googled him and emailed him and it turns out that we were already fans of each other's work. Hearing that song started my friendship with Wally, without which I wouldn't have reached as many fans as I have throughout the World. Outside of that, it's a stunning song.