While reviewing and cataloging all music, I was curious about certain groups and artists and how I feel about their music today. I decided to rank the songs of some of the greats and after kicking things off with the Beatles and Zeppelin, I settled on Nirvana, one of the greatest bands of all time.

A lot of incredible music released over the course of just a handful of years – 1991 through 1994, as far as my favorites go. Four years? Makes you wonder how far they could have gone had Kurt Cobain not tragically died (official word is suicide…but that’s a discussion for another blog. Needless to say I don’t completely accept the official word).

From my own yearly classifications, 10 of Nirvana’s songs ranked as “awesome” (that’s more than I had for the Beatles, at eight) with an additional 14 garnering the “great” moniker. That’s 24 songs at “great” or “awesome” which tops Led Zeppelin’s 22. In all, Nirvana ended up with 27 songs on my year-by-year lists, and that’s an amazing accomplishment considering they only recorded … well, it’s hard to say just how many songs they recorded. According to Rolling Stone, they recorded 102 songs. But for my rankings I don’t include songs that already made the list but then get re-released as a live or unplugged song. Otherwise I could just add the entire MTV Live in New York album.

In putting this together, I decided to do away with the classifications and give my own hard ranking. With the understanding that, depending on mood, any of these songs can slide up or down 10 spots pretty easily. In fact, Lounge Act was ranked 41st by Rolling Stone…and 5th by me. So when you’re talking about two dozen truly great songs, the difference in enjoyment between listening to No. 1 and No. 20 is almost negligible. All Apologies (pun intended) to the fans of Smells Like Teen Spirit. It’s a great song and it turned the music industry on it’s ear. To me it is the single most important song in modern music and it shaped alternative rock for the next 25 years – a genre which is my favorite. But when it plays, do I get as excited as In Bloom? No, not anymore. So while SLTS is the most important Nirvana song, it is not even in the Top 10 among my favorites.

And of course, I shouldn’t have to explain that the 25th song ranked here is not their worst song – remember they have 102 songs recorded, so the 25th song actually tops 77 others.

The two songs that made my year-by-year list but did not crack the Top 40 are: Aneurysm (1992) and Sappy (1993)

 

1 In Bloom Nirvana 1991
2 All Apologies Nirvana 1993
3 Pennyroyal Tea Nirvana 1993
4 Lithium Nirvana 1991
5 Lounge Act Nirvana 1991
6 The Man Who Sold the World Nirvana 1994
7 Where Did You Sleep Last Night Nirvana 1994
8 Lake of Fire Nirvana 1994
9 Dumb Nirvana 1993
10 Plateau Nirvana 1994
11 Come As You Are Nirvana 1991
12 Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana 1991
13 Polly Nirvana 1991
14 About A Girl Nirvana 1989
15 Drain You Nirvana 1991
16 Sliver Nirvana 1992
17 Breed Nirvana 1991
18 On A Plain Nirvana 1991
19 Something In The Way Nirvana 1991
20 Rape Me Nirvana 1993
21 Heart-Shaped Box Nirvana 1993
22 Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam Nirvana 1994
23 Oh, Me Nirvana 1994
24 Territorial Pissings Nirvana 1991
25 Stay Away Nirvana 1991
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Look at this bullshit headline:

Beer in corner stores could cost Ontario taxpayers $1 billion, industry sources say

Uh, no.

And I’m not some ignorant hack spewing an argument based on gut reaction. Well, okay, it’s a gut reaction. But I really was in the inventory distribution business (I was a planner and an analyst) before quitting to work for myself in the hockey world. I do know what I’m talking about. And logistics and operations took up several courses in University.

industry officials argue that adding thousands of small retail outlets would dramatically increase distribution costs, lowering profit margins for brewers and leading to higher beer prices for consumers

I call bullshit.

This is Molson’s and Labatt’s lobbying at its finest. What do they lose? Well, exclusive rights to set the market as they see fit and profit 100% in their massive duopoly. They are losing the fight at Queen’s Park, so they are taking it to the press. My guess? “Here Mr. Publisher, a free trip to Hawaii!”, “Here Mr. Editor, we’ll lease this nice car for you!” , “And hey, if you don’t mind, tell your readers how much distribution will cost them if we go to corner stores.” (Okay, actually, what probably went down is paying triple for advertising, or buying an extended year of ads or sponsorship in exchange for the friendly article, but the point remains)

The thing is – this will work. It always does. You see it all the time in politics. You can see it in this article’s poll that the readers are swallowing it. If Doug Ford is for it, then we have to be against it, right? Sheep.

If the cost goes up it will be because the brewers raise prices as punishment, not to offset these imaginary costs. The costs will increase, but not $1 billion. Not close. And as Ford says (not a Ford backer, but on this he is right) – costs will be offset by increased sales. If beer doesn’t sell in a certain store, they won’t waste the shelf space. They will only give up shelf space if beer sales justify it. This means good, strong sales – ergo the costs of distribution will justify them.

With added competition, this will mean that the weaker Beer Stores will have to close. Lost jobs. Union jobs. Yes, that’s a downside. But speaking strictly on financial terms this will also help keep costs down – capital costs, labor costs, labor pay gets reined in, etc. But in capitalism if a store can’t pull its weight it should close. By the same token, the price freeze is bullshit too – the market needs to determine the cost of beer. So we have to compensate for Kathleen Wynne’s mistake of negotiating a price freeze. But if we do that, then doesn’t that further offset these so-called $1 billion distribution costs? I mean…that compensation goes directly to Molson and Labatts bottom line, right? Right?

Please, don’t gobble up the slop that the lobbyists are feeding you. And shame on you Toronto Star for giving them this platform. Don’t forget, Toronto Star, how much Molson and Labatts contributed to the Liberal campaign (and the PC one for that matter) in the last election.

We are not a nanny state. Beer needs to be in corner stores the way it is…pretty much everywhere else. There will be growing pains, but once it becomes the norm in society, we will be better for it.

The article also seriously lacks in clarity when it comes to describing the terms of the agreement, when the agreement expires, and what are the costs of keeping the agreement until the end date.

Update: The Star posted a rebuttal article. Well done! “Beer czar dismisses ‘fear-mongering’ over cost of breaking contract

Some quotes from that article:

“I would say this is irresponsible, this is fear-mongering, this is trying to create chaos …,”

“I’m surprised a bit that people aren’t even showing up and showing their face and … making these comments publicly with attribution. This is from backroom folks who are trying to protect some special interest,”

This is exactly my point. Hopefully most readers see through as quickly as I did. But I fear that won’t be the case…

 

PS – Dear TorStar, open the comments back up so I don’t have to go over to my blog to vent

 

My favorite songs of 1998

Posted: February 8, 2019 in Rankings

At the start of 1998, at the turn of the New Year, I had moved to London and returned to school. This time it was college. Some close friends and family were in this city so it was an easy transition. My mind and heart were still reeling from the breakup that was a good 14 months prior. In London things were much better, because instead of being alone and depressed with no close friends around and few acquaintances, I had plenty around. Plus I made more, including a couple of good ones in college and a couple of good ones who lived next door (one of whom eventually became my brother-in-law). But all this meant was that I had a different friend or group of friends to hit the bar with every night. Three or four times a week, in fact.

I went to school for marketing, but in the summer I found a job as a retail manager and stopped going to class. I showed up for exams and got the credits, because I found it easy. But then I focused on making money, still unsure about what I wanted to do. Only that I wanted to make money and be comfortable. I was heavily in debt ($40 thousand) and thanks to returning to school, it reset the clock as to how quickly I had to pay it back.

In the retail stores we played music, so I was still on top of the latest songs. Not many great ones came out in 1998, though plenty of “not bad” ones. Perhaps it was the rough couple of years I was going through. I did love Fly Away though. It brought me straight back to being a huge Kravitz fan. I thought Uninvited and You Should Come Over were both very underrated songs (and both from Canadian artists). And Pearl Jam Yield came out and the best song on that CD was a song they never released – No Way. The song Money City Maniacs (another Canadian band) will always remind me of GT’s.

In the summer of ’98 I remember being on a rooftop patio when we caught word that the Hip was the ‘secret band’ that would perform in London the next night. We all got up, went home and gathered our things, and we got in line, staying up all night. We got the tickets and I watched the Hip for my second and final time.

The Tragically Hip’s album that summer, Phantom Menace, was the first of what would be a steady string of weak albums for what was an elite band. And Poets was the last of their truly great songs. Everyone loves Bobcaygeon – love love loves it – but it never caught on with me. I bought the Hip’s Live Between Us album after that one, but that would be it for me and buying albums from this band.

Unlike most rankings, I haven’t been simply tossing these up in a numerical order. Because we can all agree that on some days, certain songs kick more ass than other songs – yet other days they do not. It all depends on mood and situation. A song that is ranked 14th today could very well rank 1st tomorrow – if it suddenly comes on the radio during the perfect moment and I start singing along. So I group them instead of presenting a hard-and-fast order:

Awesome
Great
Pretty Good
Not Bad
…with some inter-group splitting.

 

1- Awesome Uninvited Alanis Morissette
1- Awesome Fly Away Lenny Kravitz
3 – Awesome You Should Come Over 54-40
3 – Awesome Cowboy Kid Rock
3 – Awesome No Way Pearl Jam
3 – Awesome Money City Maniacs Sloan
3 – Awesome Poets Tragicallly Hip
8 – Great Celebrity Skin Hole
8 – Great Malibu Hole
8 – Great All Those Yesterdays Pearl Jam
8 – Great Meet Virginia Train
12 – Great Closing Time Semisonic
12 – Great Slide The Goo Goo Dolls
12 – Great Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) The Offspring
12 – Great Thank U Alanis Morissette
12 – Great That Song Big Wreck
12 – Great The Way Fastball
12 – Great Shine Junkhouse
12 – Great American Woman Lenny Kravitz
12 – Great Gasoline Moist
12 – Great In Hiding Pearl Jam
12 – Great Wishlist Pearl Jam
12 – Great Pure Morning Placebo
12 – Great Luv Me, Luv Me Shaggy
12 – Great My Favorite Mistake Sheryl Crow
12 – Great Can’t Get Enough of You Baby Smash Mouth
12 – Great Ava Adore Smashing Pumpkins
12 – Great Black Balloon The Goo Goo Dolls
12 – Great Broadway The Goo Goo Dolls
12 – Great Iris The Goo Goo Dolls
12 – Great Fireworks Tragicallly Hip
32 – Pretty Good Since When 54-40
32 – Pretty Good One Week Barenaked Ladies
32 – Pretty Good Intergalactic Beastie Boys
32 – Pretty Good The Oaf Big Wreck
32 – Pretty Good Never There Cake
32 – Pretty Good What It’s Like Everlast
32 – Pretty Good Out Of My Head Fastball
32 – Pretty Good He Got Game Public Enemy
32 – Pretty Good Come With Me Puff Daddy
32 – Pretty Good The Kids Aren’t Alright The Offspring
42 – Pretty Good I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing Aerosmith
42 – Pretty Good Spaceman Bif Naked
42 – Pretty Good The Scene Big Sugar
42 – Pretty Good Blown Wide Open Big Wreck
42 – Pretty Good …Baby One More Time Britney Spears
42 – Pretty Good Wide Open Spaces Dixie Chicks
42 – Pretty Good Save Tonight Eagle-Eye Cherry
42 – Pretty Good Fire Escape Fastball
42 – Pretty Good Shimmer Fuel
42 – Pretty Good Heaven Tonight Hole
42 – Pretty Good The Dope Show Marilyn Manson
42 – Pretty Good Space Lord Monster Magnet
42 – Pretty Good Given To Fly Pearl Jam
42 – Pretty Good Adia Sarah McLachlan
42 – Pretty Good Lullaby Shawn Mullins
42 – Pretty Good My Favourite Game The Cardigans
42 – Pretty Good We Like To Party (The Vengabus) Vengaboys
59 – Not Bad It’s All Been Done Barenaked Ladies
59 – Not Bad Forest Fire David Usher
59 – Not Bad Together Again Janet Jackson
59 – Not Bad Hands Jewel
59 – Not Bad Ray Of Light Madonna
59 – Not Bad Kind & Generous Natalie Merchant
59 – Not Bad Do The Evolution Pearl Jam
59 – Not Bad Dragula Rob Zombie
59 – Not Bad The Spirit of Radio Rush
59 – Not Bad Bobcaygeon Tragicallly Hip
59 – Not Bad Membership Tragicallly Hip
59 – Not Bad Leaving On a Jet Plan Chantal Kreviazuk
59 – Not Bad Don’t Drink The Water Dave Matthews Band
59 – Not Bad I’ll Be Edwin McCain
59 – Not Bad Perfect Smashing Pumpkins
59 – Not Bad The Rules Tragicallly Hip
75 – Not Bad The Boy Is Mine Brandy & Monica
75 – Not Bad This Means War! Busta Rhymes
75 – Not Bad My Heart Will Go On Celine Dion
75 – Not Bad You Were Mine Dixie Chicks
75 – Not Bad Summer Long Emm Gryner
75 – Not Bad Everything Is Automatic Matthew Good Band
75 – Not Bad Faithfull Pearl Jam
75 – Not Bad Pilate Pearl Jam
75 – Not Bad Something On Tragicallly Hip
75 – Not Bad Thompson Girl Tragicallly Hip
75 – Not Bad Under the Lighthouse Big Wreck
75 – Not Bad When You’re Gone Bryan Adams
75 – Not Bad Back to You Bryan Adams
75 – Not Bad Whippin’ Piccadilly Gomez
75 – Not Bad It’s the End of the World Great Big Sea
75 – Not Bad London Rain Heather Nova
75 – Not Bad Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) Jay-Z
75 – Not Bad Freak on a Leash Korn
75 – Not Bad Mountain Hare Krishna Krishna Das
75 – Not Bad Rico Matthew Good Band
75 – Not Bad MFC Pearl Jam
75 – Not Bad In My Head Queens of the Stone Age
75 – Not Bad You Get What You Give The New Radicals
75 – Not Bad Graduate Third Eye Blind
75 – Not Bad Vapour Trails Tragicallly Hip
75 – Not Bad Any Day Now Watchmen
75 – Not Bad This Mourning Wide Mouth Mason

 

1963  1964  1965  1966  1967  1968  1969

1960s          1970s          1980s          1990s

 

My 40 favorite songs by Led Zeppelin

Posted: January 31, 2019 in Rankings

Still reviewing and cataloging all music, I was curious about certain groups and artists and how I feel about their music today. I decided to rank the songs of some of the greats and after kicking things off with the Beatles, it’s time to dive all the way into rock ‘n roll with another elite supergroup. Possibly my favorite band of all time and in fact I had considered Led Zeppelin as just that for many, many years. Now that I’m into my 40s though, the “modern” bands that I didn’t at the time think qualified…suddenly do. Pearl Jam is no longer “new”, but are actual Hall-of-Famers with 25 years under their belt. But Zeppelin will always be legends and their songs will always hold up.

From my own yearly classifications, 12 of their songs ranked as “awesome” (that’s more than I had for the Beatles, at eight) with an additional 10 garnering the “great” moniker. Zeppelin ended up with 44 songs on my year-by-year lists, and that’s an amazing accomplishment considering they only recorded 108 songs. Nearly half got on my list of favorites.

In putting this together, I decided to do away with the classifications and give my own hard ranking. With the understanding that, depending on mood, any of these songs can slide up or down 20 spots pretty easily. It was definitely not an easy task. And of course, I shouldn’t have to explain that the 40th song ranked here is not their worst song – remember they have 108 songs recorded, so the 40th song actually tops 68 others.

The four songs that made my year-by-year list but did not crack the Top 40 are: No Quarter (1973), I’m Gonna Crawl (1979), For Your Life (1976) and Baby Come on Home (1982).

1 Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin 1971
2 Over the Hills and Far Away Led Zeppelin 1973
3 Bron-Y-Aur Stomp Led Zeppelin 1970
4 Hey, Hey, What Can I Do Led Zeppelin 1982
5 D’yer Mak’er Led Zeppelin 1973
6 Ramble On Led Zeppelin 1969
7 Thank You Led Zeppelin 1969
8 Whole Lotta Love Led Zeppelin 1969
9 Tangerine Led Zeppelin 1970
10 Black Dog Led Zeppelin 1971
11 Kashmir Led Zeppelin 1975
12 Traveling Riverside Blues Led Zeppelin 1982
13 When the Levee Breaks Led Zeppelin 1971
14 Misty Mountain Hop Led Zeppelin 1971
15 Immigrant Song Led Zeppelin 1970
16 Your Time Is Gonna Come Led Zeppelin 1969
17 What Is and What Should Never Be Led Zeppelin 1969
18 The Ocean Led Zeppelin 1973
19 All My Love Led Zeppelin 1979
20 Heartbreaker Led Zeppelin 1969
21 Dazed and Confused Led Zeppelin 1969
22 Good Times Bad Times Led Zeppelin 1969
23 Rock and Roll Led Zeppelin 1971
24 Fool In The Rain Led Zeppelin 1979
25 In The Evening Led Zeppelin 1979
26 Gallows Pole Led Zeppelin 1970
27 Dancing Days Led Zeppelin 1973
28 Out on the Tiles Led Zeppelin 1970
29 Going to California Led Zeppelin 1971
30 Moby Dick Led Zeppelin 1969
31 Four Sticks Led Zeppelin 1971
32 Nobody’s Fault But Mine Led Zeppelin 1976
33 Friends Led Zeppelin 1970
34 The Lemon Song Led Zeppelin 1969
35 Houses Of The Holy Led Zeppelin 1975
36 Celebration Day Led Zeppelin 1970
37 That’s the Way Led Zeppelin 1970
38 Communication Breakdown Led Zeppelin 1969
39 Trampled Underfoot Led Zeppelin 1975
40 Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman) Led Zeppelin 1969

 

My 50 Favorite Songs by The Beatles

Posted: January 20, 2019 in Rankings

Still reviewing and cataloging all music, I was curious about certain groups and artists and how I feel about their music today. I decided to rank the songs of some of the greats and who better to kick things off than with the Beatles. Just a ridiculous amount of great songs that still hold up. From my own yearly classifications, eight of their songs ranked as “awesome” with an additional 23 garnering the “great” moniker. In all, The Beatles recorded 242 original compositions plus 69 covers. Fifty-three of them made my lists.

In putting this together, I decided to do away with the classifications and give my own hard ranking. With the understanding that, depending on mood, any of these songs can slide up or down 20 spots pretty easily. It was definitely not an easy task. And of course, I shouldn’t have to explain that the 50th song ranked here is not their worst song – remember they have 311 songs recorded, so that song actually tops 261 others.

 

1 Hey Jude The Beatles 1968
2 All You Need Is Love The Beatles 1967
3 Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds The Beatles 1967
4 Eight Days a Week The Beatles 1965
5 With a Little Help from My Friends The Beatles 1967
6 Hello, Goodbye The Beatles 1967
7 Revolution The Beatles 1968
8 Eleanor Rigby The Beatles 1966
9 I Want To Hold Your Hand The Beatles 1963
10 Twist and Shout The Beatles 1963
11 A Hard Day’s Night The Beatles 1964
12 Yellow Submarine The Beatles 1966
13 Let It Be The Beatles 1970
14 We Can Work It Out The Beatles 1965
15 Penny Lane The Beatles 1967
16 Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da The Beatles 1968
17 Ticket to Ride The Beatles 1965
18 All My Loving The Beatles 1963
19 The Beatles’ Movie Medley The Beatles 1982
20 A Day in the Life The Beatles 1967
21 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band The Beatles 1967
22 Helter Skelter The Beatles 1968
23 Yesterday The Beatles 1965
24 Free As A Bird The Beatles 1994
25 Strawberry Fields Forever The Beatles 1967
26 Help! The Beatles 1965
27 And I Love Her The Beatles 1964
28 Day Tripper The Beatles 1965
29 I Saw Her Standing There The Beatles 1963
30 I Feel Fine The Beatles 1965
31 Don’t Let Me Down The Beatles 1970
32 No Reply The Beatles 1964
33 I Should Have Known Better The Beatles 1964
34 Paperback Writer The Beatles 1966
35 Can’t Buy Me Love The Beatles 1964
36 Blackbird The Beatles 1968
37 While My Guitar Gently Weeps The Beatles 1968
38 Here Comes the Sun The Beatles 1969
39 Birthday The Beatles 1968
40 Come Together The Beatles 1969
41 Back in the USSR The Beatles 1968
42 Get Back The Beatles 1969
43 She Loves You The Beatles 1963
44 Ballad of John and Yoko The Beatles 1969
45 From Me to You The Beatles 1963
46 Do You Want To Know A Secret The Beatles 1963
47 Nowhere Man The Beatles 1966
48 Please Please Me The Beatles 1963
49 Good Day Sunshine The Beatles 1966
50 Octopus’s Garden The Beatles 1969

 

The three songs that made my lists but didn’t crack the Top 50: Lady Madonna, The Fool on the Hill, The Long and Winding Road

My Favorite Songs of 1963

Posted: December 22, 2018 in Rankings

By popular demand, I have added 1964 and now 1963 (originally the rankings started for 1965). Not as many songs to review so I was able to do it quickly. So much has changed in music over the years. Getting a record deal and gaining traction in 1963 is a lot different from doing the same in 2018. While just 200 to 300 songs were released in ’63, there are over 1700 songs to review in 2017 (as an example).

The Beatles hit mainstream music in this year, with two albums. And of course they dominate the handful of songs that made this list. This is the only year I’ve reviewed in which I didn’t choose a single song for my “Awesome” rating.

Unlike most rankings, I haven’t been simply tossing these up in a numerical order. Because we can all agree that on some days, certain songs kick more ass than other songs – yet other days they do not. It all depends on mood and situation. A song that is ranked 14th today could very well rank 1st tomorrow – if it suddenly comes on the radio during the perfect moment and I start singing along. So I group them instead of presenting a hard-and-fast order:

Awesome
Great
Pretty Good
Not Bad
…with some inter-group splitting.

 

Great – 1 I Want To Hold Your Hand  The Beatles
Great – 1 Twist and Shout  The Beatles
Great – 1 Surfin’ Bird  The Trashmen
Great – 5 All My Loving  The Beatles
Great – 5 I Saw Her Standing There  The Beatles
Pretty Good – 7 Ring Of Fire  Johnny Cash
Pretty Good – 7 Puff The Magic Dragon  Peter, Paul and Mary
Pretty Good – 7 Surfin’ U.S.A.  The Beach Boys
Pretty Good – 7 Then He Kissed Me  The Crystals
Pretty Good – 7 Walk Like a Man  The Four Seasons
Not Bad – 12 Another Saturday Night  Sam Cooke
Not Bad – 12 She Loves You  The Beatles
Not Bad – 12 Wipe Out  The Surfaris
Not Bad – 15 Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah  Allan Sherman
Not Bad – 15 Yakety Sax  Boots Randolph
Not Bad – 15 Surf City  Jan & Dean
Not Bad – 15 It’s My Party  Lesley Gore
Not Bad – 15 My Boyfriend’s Back  The Angels
Not Bad – 15 Little Deuce Coupe  The Beach Boys
Not Bad – 15 Do You Want To Know A Secret  The Beatles
Not Bad – 15 From Me to You  The Beatles
Not Bad – 15 Please Please Me  The Beatles
Not Bad – 15 Da Doo Ron Ron  The Crystals
Not Bad – 15 Be My Baby  The Ronettes

 

1963  1964  1965  1966  1967  1968  1969

1960s          1970s          1980s          1990s

My Favorite Songs of 1964

Posted: December 19, 2018 in Rankings

By popular demand, I have added 1964 (originally the rankings started for 1965). Not as many songs to review so I was able to do it quickly.

The House of the Rising Sun was probably the best song of the entire decade, so including the year 1964 when it was released seems only right. And with the Beatles putting out their first two albums in 1963, reviewing that year is a must. So my journey through years of music backtracks two more years and will now begin for 1963.

Unlike most rankings, I haven’t been simply tossing these up in a numerical order. Because we can all agree that on some days, certain songs kick more ass than other songs – yet other days they do not. It all depends on mood and situation. A song that is ranked 14th today could very well rank 1st tomorrow – if it suddenly comes on the radio during the perfect moment and I start singing along. So I group them instead of presenting a hard-and-fast order:

Awesome
Great
Pretty Good
Not Bad
…with some inter-group splitting.

 

Awesome – 1 The House Of The Rising Sun  The Animals
Great – 2 A Hard Day’s Night  The Beatles
Great – 2 Louie Louie  The Kingsmen
Great – 2 You Really Got Me  The Kinks
Great – 5 Do Wah Diddy Diddy  Manfred Mann
Great – 5 And I Love Her  The Beatles
Great – 5 Time Is On My Side  The Rolling Stones
Great – 5 Gloria  Them
Pretty Good – 9 It Ain’t Me Babe  Bob Dylan
Pretty Good – 9 The Times They Are A-Changin’  Bob Dylan
Pretty Good – 9 I Get Around  The Beach Boys
Pretty Good – 9 Can’t Buy Me Love  The Beatles
Pretty Good – 9 I Should Have Known Better  The Beatles
Pretty Good – 14 You Never Can Tell  Chuck Berry
Pretty Good – 14 (Oh) Pretty Woman  Roy Orbison
Pretty Good – 14 No Reply  The Beatles
Pretty Good – 14 California Sun  The Rivieras
Pretty Good – 14 It’s All Over Now  The Rolling Stones
Not Bad – 19 The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)  Betty Everett
Not Bad – 19 All I Really Want To Do  Bob Dylan
Not Bad – 19 No Particular Place To Go  Chuck Berry
Not Bad – 19 I Only Want to Be With You  Dusty Springfield
Not Bad – 19 I’m Into Something Good  Herman’s Hermits
Not Bad – 19 Last Kiss  J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers
Not Bad – 19 I Got You (I Feel Good)  James Brown
Not Bad – 19 Dancing in the Street  Martha & the Vandellas
Not Bad – 19 My Guy  Mary Wells
Not Bad – 19 My Boy Lollipop  Millie Small
Not Bad – 19 Downtown  Petula Clark
Not Bad – 19 Fun, Fun, Fun  The Beach Boys
Not Bad – 19 Under The Boardwalk  The Drifters
Not Bad – 19 Baby, I Love You  The Ronettes
Not Bad – 19 Baby Love  The Supremes
Not Bad – 19 Where Did Our Love Go  The Supremes

 

1963  1964  1965  1966  1967  1968  1969

1960s          1970s          1980s          1990s

My favorite songs from 1997

Posted: October 24, 2018 in Rankings

In 1997 I moved into a townhouse with strangers, my two-and-a-half year relationship well and truly over. I stayed in that townhouse, in Guelph, throughout the summer even though I had graduated. I wasn’t sure what I would do with my life. This particular summer may have been the low point of my adult life. In fact, it absolutely was. Miserable over the loss of the girl (regardless of how well it turned out for me), living in a townhouse in a city where all of my close friends had left except for one, and holding a Degree in Stats while not finding a job in that field and instead working two near-minimum wage paying jobs. Delivery driver, and counter guy in the music section at Zellers. I was a delivery driver in a ratty-old pickup truck that I could hardly afford to fill up with gas. In fact, I don’t think I ever “filled up”.

The Zellers job was horrible. I felt so demeaned. I felt as though I was treated poorly and that all of the students in that job were 18 or 19 whereas I was 23. But at least I was in the Entertainment area and got to pick the music. The delivery job was fun in the sense that I heard nothing but music for six hours every Friday and I think Tuesday was the other day. But the pay was shit – worked out to just a tad less than minimum wage, and by the time you paid for gas it was barely two-thirds minimum wage. And I’m including tips with that statement. This is why I always tip delivery drivers handsomely, even if there is a “delivery fee” charged.

On those delivery nights, I remember listening to the Edge. Our Lady Peace came out with an album and Clumsy and Superman’s Dead got a lot of play, as did The Offspring’s new one (Gone Away), and Tea Party’s Temptation. Song 2 and Drinking in LA also reminds me of those nights. My trips to London to hang out with my friends and family, I have memories of Bitter Sweet Symphony, and anything by Third Eye Blind, as well as All For You (Sister Hazel) and of course Tubthumping.

In the end, in December, I made the decision to return to school. I had to get out of the tailspin and going back to school would give me two things. First, it would give me money because I could get back into student loans (yay more debt!). Second, it would give me my friends – because I would go to school in London. I rushed everything together and moved to London at the start of January, 1998. Another interesting year in music for me because – well, that’s coming up next time…

 

Unlike most rankings, I haven’t been simply tossing these up in a numerical order. Because we can all agree that on some days, certain songs kick more ass than other songs – yet other days they do not. It all depends on mood and situation. A song that is ranked 14th today could very well rank 1st tomorrow – if it suddenly comes on the radio during the perfect moment and I start singing along. So I group them instead of presenting a hard-and-fast order:

Awesome
Great
Pretty Good
Not Bad
…with some inter-group splitting.

1- Awesome 4 AM Our Lady Peace
1- Awesome Superman’s Dead Our Lady Peace
1- Awesome Paranoid Android Radiohead
1- Awesome Bitter Sweet Symphony The Verve
1- Awesome Lucky Man The Verve
Awesome – 6 What’s This Life For Creed
Awesome – 6 Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) Green Day
Awesome – 6 All Around The World Oasis
Awesome – 6 Karma Police Radiohead
Awesome – 6 Temptation Tea Party
Awesome – 6 How’s It Going to Be Third Eye Blind
Great – 12 Blame Collective Soul
Great – 12 My Own Prison Creed
Great – 12 Everlong Foo Fighters
Great – 12 Gone Away The Offspring
Great – 12 Jumper Third Eye Blind
Great – 17 Drinking in L.A. Bran Van 3000
Great – 17 Monkey Wrench Foo Fighters
Great – 17 Lakini’s Juice Live
Great – 17 Gasoline Moist
Great – 17 Clumsy Our Lady Peace
Great – 17 Song 2 Blur
Great – 17 Tubthumping Chumbawamba
Great – 17 All For You Sister Hazel
Great – 17 It’s Your Love Tim McGraw
Great – 17 Your Woman White Town
Great – 17 Mouth Bush
Great – 17 I Will Survive Cake
Great – 17 Listen Collective Soul
Great – 17 Brimful Of Asha Cornershop
Great – 17 My Hero Foo Fighters
Great – 17 Flagpole Sitta Harvey Danger
Great – 17 Tangerine Moist
Great – 17 Automatic Flowers Our Lady Peace
Great – 17 You’re Still the One Shania Twain
Great – 17 Someone Who’s Cool The Odds
Great – 17 Semi-Charmed Life Third Eye Blind
Pretty Good – 38 Cold Contagious Bush
Pretty Good – 38 When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down) Great Big Sea
Pretty Good – 38 Ordinary Day Great Big Sea
Pretty Good – 38 Cubically Contained Headstones
Pretty Good – 38 Blue On Black Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Pretty Good – 38 Real World Matchbox Twenty
Pretty Good – 38 Resurrection Moist
Pretty Good – 38 Don’t Go Away Oasis
Pretty Good – 38 From This Moment On Shania Twain
Pretty Good – 38 Kiss Me Sixpence None the Richer
Pretty Good – 38 Fly Sugar Ray
Pretty Good – 38 Surrounded Chantal Kreviazuk
Pretty Good – 38 Hey, Johnny Park! Foo Fighters
Pretty Good – 38 Hitchin’ A Ride Green Day
Pretty Good – 38 Torn Natalie Imbruglia
Pretty Good – 38 Never Ever All Saints
Pretty Good – 38 Man! I Feel Like a Woman! Shania Twain
Pretty Good – 38 Walkin’ on the Sun Smash Mouth
Pretty Good – 38 Release Tea Party
Pretty Good – 57 Brick Ben Folds Five
Pretty Good – 57 If I Had My Way Big Sugar
Pretty Good – 57 Precious Declaration Collective Soul
Pretty Good – 57 I Will Buy You A New Life Everclear
Pretty Good – 57 Walking After You Foo Fighters
Pretty Good – 57 The Grouch Green Day
Pretty Good – 57 Sex and Candy Marcy Playground
Pretty Good – 57 Bitch Meredith Brooks
Pretty Good – 57 D’you Know What I Mean Oasis
Pretty Good – 57 Empty Cell Rusty
Pretty Good – 57 Angel Sarah McLachlan
Pretty Good – 57 There She Goes Sixpence None the Richer
Pretty Good – 57 Mo Money Mo Problems The Notorious B.I.G.
Not Bad – 70 Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees) Aerosmith
Not Bad – 70 Pink Aerosmith
Not Bad – 70 Remote Control Age of Electric
Not Bad – 70 Woke Up This Morning Alabama 3
Not Bad – 70 Barbie Girl Aqua
Not Bad – 70 All That You Are Econoline Crush
Not Bad – 70 Father of Mine Everclear
Not Bad – 70 Raspberry I Mother Earth
Not Bad – 70 Elegantly Wasted INXS
Not Bad – 70 Hush Kula Shaker
Not Bad – 70 Father LL Cool J
Not Bad – 70 The Perfect Drug Nine Inch Nails
Not Bad – 70 Carnival Our Lady Peace
Not Bad – 70 Truly Madly Deeply Savage Garden
Not Bad – 70 The Lines You Amend Sloan
Not Bad – 70 Babylon Tea Party
Not Bad – 70 Firestarter The Prodigy
Not Bad – 70 Midnight Rain Wide Mouth Mason
Not Bad – 88 How Do I Live LeAnn Rimes
Not Bad – 88 Back 2 Back Matchbox Twenty
Not Bad – 88 I’ll Be Missing You Puff Daddy
Not Bad – 88 Adia Sarah McLachlan
Not Bad – 88 Building a Mystery Sarah McLachlan
Not Bad – 88 Sweet Surrender Sarah McLachlan
Not Bad – 88 That Don’t Impress Me Much Shania Twain
Not Bad – 88 The End Is The Beginning Is The End Smashing Pumpkins
Not Bad – 88 Block Rockin’ Beats The Chemical Brothers
Not Bad – 88 Hypnotize The Notorious B.I.G.
Not Bad – 88 Flamenco The Tragically Hip
Not Bad – 88 Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me U2
Not Bad – 88 Staring At The Sun U2
Not Bad – 88 Battle of Who Could Care Less Ben Folds Five
Not Bad – 88 Beetlebum Blur
Not Bad – 88 Personal Holloway Bush
Not Bad – 88 All By Myself Celine Dion
Not Bad – 88 God Made Me Chantal Kreviazuk
Not Bad – 88 Zoot Suit Riot Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
Not Bad – 88 One Creed
Not Bad – 88 Little Wonder David Bowie
Not Bad – 88 Everything To Everyone Everclear
Not Bad – 88 Prosthetic Head Green Day
Not Bad – 88 MMMbop Hanson
Not Bad – 88 Numb Holly McNarland
Not Bad – 88 Virtual Insanity Jamiroquai
Not Bad – 88 Look Like Me Killjoys
Not Bad – 88 St. Joe on the School Bus Marcy Playground
Not Bad – 88 Make You Mad Odds
Not Bad – 88 Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down Puff Daddy
Not Bad – 88 No Surprises Radiohead
Not Bad – 88 Sunny Came Home Shawn Colvin
Not Bad – 88 Too Much Spice Girls
Not Bad – 88 Sonnet The Verve
Not Bad – 88 Discotheque U2
Not Bad – 88 Last Night On Earth U2
Not Bad – 88 Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It Will Smith

 

 

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My First Re-Birthday

Posted: October 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

IMG_E1332On August 30, 2017, one year ago today, I received stem cells from a world donor who was found to be a perfect match. Finding a perfect match was extremely fortunate as many people have to settle for half-matches or worse, which decreases the likelihood of successful grafting in your body. In May, 2017, I had been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), which is a cancer of the bone marrow, and after a month of “lighter” chemo treatments it had expedited to AML (leukemia) and I had to be admitted to hospital.
Today is a day for celebration and a day for reflection. I celebrate because the hard part is over and I have come out of it happy and healthy. I reflect because I honestly haven’t done so. As soon as I left the hospital I put it behind me. I’d think about or discuss it as “that time I was in the hospital” but my mind would gloss over and ignore what went on in there and all the things I went through. Like a locked compartment in my brain. To think about it just causes me to tear up so the easy solution is to not think about it.

Last year I told everyone that when (not if) I made it to one year post-transplant, I would disclose the survival rate that my hematology doctor gave me. Before I could sign off on receiving the stem cell transplant, I had to acknowledge that I was given the three-year survival rate of a man in my age group with my symptoms that were given the same stem cell transplant. So here I am and here it is. It was 40%. I was given that number and then had papers put in front of me that I needed to sign before they would make preparations. Forty percent three-year survival rate after this transplant. And I signed it because non-treatment would mean certain death, likely within a year. It was too late to seriously consider homeopathic or other solutions (I had already jumped on those, as I’m a big believer in trying everything if it can’t make things worse – but wasn’t enough time to properly see any through and comment on if they helped).

So then I was admitted to hospital in July for nearly four weeks. To start off – I had a Hickman line put in my chest. This is a tube that leads to a main ventricle going to my heart. This way, instead of getting 100 needles per day, they can hook it up to me directly. I actually got my stem cells through this tube. The tube remained hanging from my chest until New Year’s Eve.

Most of the chemo happened in the first week. But it was a rough chemo – the kind you hear about with the vomiting, etc. But I was one of the stronger patients who could actually get back to eating after a few days. I was a picky eater with what I could (or wanted to) hold down, but I have family who supported me and ran around the city getting whatever I asked for. On August 19 I was released from hospital for five days, but on the 19th I had been given a lumbar puncture for spinal fluid and it resulted in a massive neck ache for three of those five days, kind of sucking the fun out of my brief home time. But I did what I could to spend time with my kids because the next phase meant that I couldn’t see them.

The stem cells…
stem cellsI was back in the hospital on August 24, after a “last dinner” with the wife and kids at a restaurant. Then it was a different chemo per day on the 25th – 28th. After that, on the 29th, was full radiation. This killed everything in my marrow both good and cancerous, and left me with zero immunity. And on August 30 I was reborn. With no immunity to fight these “invading” stem cells, the hope was that it would be accepted into my body and that within two weeks it would become new marrow and start creating healthy blood. This was helped along by different doses of different chemos, just making sure that none of my body’s defenses would fight or hinder the process. I actually maintained a decent appetite, one of the better cases for sure. Although around Day 10 I had sores in my mouth that everyone gets from one of the chemos or the radiation (I forget which) that forced me to eat pretty much through a straw. But this only lasted four days (most people this can last a week to 10 days so again – lucky).

I had a little exercise bike and was also encouraged to walk around the isolated ward (with a mask). I was able to go once around by Day 10, and then each day I would try to add to that – twice, three times… My entire stay in the hospital the nurses (one and all – amazing amazing amazing people and unbelievably patient and helpful and how can they stay so cheerful? Wow) took my vitals every two hours (every hour the first while after the transplant), even overnight. I remember over two dozen blood transfusions. I remember working on the Fantasy Guide here and there on the laptop when I was able, but had relied on my team for updates and helping out with the many customer issues that cropped up – specifically Mario Prata, Mike Clifford, Ian Gooding, Neil Parker, Mike Hiridjee, Cam Robinson and Riasat Al Jamil. I remember having to drag the damn IV pole around on my walks, or into the bathroom. I remember binge-watching Justified, and all the Mission Impossible movies, and watching Suits and Ozark when my wife visited. And Family Guy. I remember the KFC Zinger, Dominos pizza, and McDonalds nuggets – cravings of things during times when the stomach was delicate, and these greasy items actually worked!

On September 19 I was released from hospital. Possibly in record time, but certainly close to it. But on September 18 the isolation order was lifted and you know what I did? I had my wife bring the kids. At the time I had just found out that I was probably going to be released the next day and would see the kids anyway, but I hadn’t seen them in a few weeks and I wasn’t going to wait another day. We just hung out in the visitor’s room and played a couple of games, ate ice cream and then we all gathered to work on a big puzzle as a family. I remember on the rooftop patio raising my six-year-old Mackenzie to see over the rail down below – and I remember not having the strength to similarly lift my eight-year-old Avery to do the same (a reminder of how weak I was).
The next day I did indeed get released. I would never forget the hugs the kids gave me when they got off the bus that afternoon. I remember trying so hard to get home in time to do that and just making it by mere minutes.

From that point I would go to Princess Margaret for twice weekly checkups. My immunity was like that of a newborn so I needed to sterilize a lot and avoid crowds. Getting sick could mean breaking the graft and losing my donor’s cells, which would mean either starting all over again or dying. I was able to sit at the computer for as long as an hour. I tried working out right away, starting with 20 sit-ups and 10 minutes on the treadmill. I remember my stomach muscles killing me the next day so after learning that lesson, I started with five sit-ups and five minutes on the treadmill! And then I would add one sit-up each day and one minute on the treadmill each week.

But then I had a setback. The Epstein-Barr Virus is a virus that everyone has and easily fights it off. But I got it in November and couldn’t fight it. I was exhausted all day, couldn’t do any work and would miss workouts after I had built them up to 40 sit-ups and 15 minutes on the treadmill. So I was given a form of chemo every Friday for three weeks until it was gone. That was it for the setbacks. In mid-December I was back working out, had regained 10 pounds (I had lost 25) and started getting my hair back. By February I was down to every two weeks for hospital checks, and by March I was doing full workouts and at monthly hospital checks (where I am at today).

Today I can go to the movies. I still need to avoid crowds when I can and getting sick is still not a good idea, of course. But I’m out of the red zone and into more of a yellow zone. I feel good and have no restrictions in terms of my abilities. Today I savor more in life, show more patience, and hug my children even more than before.

I can also, if the donor is willing, discover the name and location of the person who saved my life. And I will be thanking that person will all my heart.

A big thank you to my wife, who was steadfast by my side, and took care of everything at the house with the kids at the same time. And who made me meals to whatever I could handle, or bought them for me if that was what it took. My parents and sisters, especially Brandy who practically forced her way into visits whether I wanted them or not (turns out I did) – and made sure my wife had relief. My sister-in-law who worked near PMH and so she came to see me every day and also ran around buying whatever craving I had. (I remember she once took me up to the rooftop patio to eat food that I requested and she bought. I remember fainting there and she had to round up help and get me into a wheelchair and wheel me back to my room. Good times.) Thank you to my in-laws, my dad and my uncle who came over and cleaned up the gardens, the car, the deck and yard while I was out of commission for the summer.

And finally, I want to thank my friends and my readers, often one and the same. Your positive messages on social media and on my website had an unbelievable impact, often making me cry after feeling such kindness. Throughout my hospital stay I would go back and read them, drawing inspiration from the ones who have gone through similar or know somebody who has.

Here’s to continued positive news over the next year and beyond. Feeling blessed and lucky.

One Year Ago…

Posted: May 18, 2018 in The Battle Against MDS

A year ago, on May 19, I received a phone call at around 4:40 that would change my life. It was Friday of the long weekend and Dr. Crump from Princess Margaret called. He had been monitoring my blood for two years because early on they thought I had lymphoma, but when that was ruled out they just monitored until something changed. I remember Avery answered, and it had to be the first or second time she ever answered the phone. When she handed it to me and I heard Dr. Crump’s voice, that feeling of dread and fear welled up right away. Why would one of the most esteemed lymphoma specialists in the world call me personally? Let’s just say that I knew it wasn’t to wish me a happy long weekend.

I hurried into my office to get away from the kids and that was when he dropped the bombshell. They had diagnosed me with Myelodysplasia. My wife happened to text me from the GO train at the same time, wondering why she couldn’t get through when she was calling. I’m Googling this new term and texting her back while trying to keep it together for my conversation with Crump. Reading it on Wiki as fast as I can so I can get questions for Crump, who was giving me plenty of time to ask them, was a bit of a scramble. But I was told that it was serious and I was looking at immediate chemo treatment and almost certainly a stem cell transplant for my bone marrow.

There was a lot of panic and crying in private that night, I was only able to speak to my wife about it while trying to remain normal for my kids. Saturday found me still devastated. Was I going to live two years? What would I do with that time? The last few months would likely be horrible. Would treatment delay things for 10 years? Five? Would I see my daughters grow into adulthood? At this point…if I was offered a way to lock in 10 years of life in exchange for giving up the risk of one year or 20 years or just plain “not knowing”, I would have taken that deal in two seconds. Just to see Avery get through high school and Mackenzie get close and know that they were on the right life path was my only goal. That remained my thinking for the next couple of months. I started thinking about writing letters to my kids, to be given to them each birthday as they grew up after I was gone. I started running through plans to further organize my websites to transition to a full-time manager or a new owner, to make sure my family was taken care of. These are things you think about!

On Sunday I had regained full control of my emotions, though that really just meant I was a robot. We took the kids to Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and that actually got me to laugh and broke me out of my haze.

Two or three weeks later, I shared the news with my friends and my readers and was overwhelmed with support. I would often go back and read the powerful words people wrote over the next few months. A week after that, my wife and I sat down with the kids and explained what was happening.

The summer was a whirlwind. Within two months I found out that my sisters were half-matches but that the registry had found two full matches in the world bank. Also, my cancer had moved quickly into full-blown leukemia and I would need to be admitted to hospital right away. That’s where I spent the better part of two months. I got the stem cell transplant on August 30. Today, more than eight months later, I am completely healthy. All of my blood counts are great and other than a blip in November things have only been moving positively with nothing to suddenly alarm us. All I need to do now is avoid crowds and sick people, and stay out of the sun as best I can until one year (my first re-birthday on August 30). I have been very lucky and I know, personally, that others have not. I appreciate my time with my kids a whole lot more and I am trying hard to be a more positive person. It has been a year to remember, or maybe one to forget?

Needless to say – I would turn down that 10-years-of-life offer if it were given today!