Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 20)

20. "Secret Heart"
Artist: Ron Sexsmith
Year: 1995

I imagine we all have a tale or two of being blown away by an opening act we never heard before. Ron Sexsmith kicking things off for Elvis Costello and the Attractions on Aug. 6, 1996 at D.C.'s Capitol Ballroom might be my best from nearly 30 years worth of attending shows. I remember "Secret Heart" like it was yesterday. It was delivered with such passion and pain. You just wanted to pat the protagonist on the back and whisper, "Go on. Let her in. It's going to be alright." I never do this, but I didn't even wait to get home. I bought Sexsmith's self-titled album at the merchandise table that very night.

I'm not the only one who thinks this song is special. It has been covered by the likes of Rod Stewart, Feist and Nick Lowe, and the list of artists that have sung his songs is a mile long. I hope the love he has received from his peers has helped pay the bills because in a commercial sense he has never come close to getting the credit he deserves. There is barely a blemish in his long and distinguished discography, and I think the singer-songwriter only loses his way when he strays from keeping it simple. Just give me the man and his acoustic guitar and I'm satisfied. I have spent untold time bashing the decade, but Sexsmith makes all of that negativity melt away. 'Ron Sexsmith' would certainly be among my 10 favorite albums of the '90s.

Here is Sexsmith performing the song on Costello's program "Spectacle" in 2009. Just beautiful.

The Top 100 Songs from the 1990s (So Far...)

100. Die Funf Fruende - JETZT!
99. Save Ferris - Come on Eileen (Night Mix)
98. World Party - Put the Message in the Box
97. Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Merched Yn Neud Gwallt Eu Gilydd
96. The Ocean Blue - Sublime
95. Puffy Ami Yumi - Wild Girls on Circuit
94. The Muffs - Oh Nina
93. Smoking Popes - Need You Around
92. The Feelies - Sooner or Later
91. Luscious Jackson - Naked Eye
90. The Lemonheads - Into Your Arms
89. fIREHOSE - Disciples of the 3-Way
88. The Sugargliders - Letter From a Lifeboat
87. Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks - Orange Crate Art
86. Vegas - Walk Into the Wind
85. k.d. lang - Miss Chatelaine
84. Robert Crenshaw - All I Want to Do Is Be With You
83. The Pretenders - I'm Not in Love
82. Jeffrey Foskett - Thru My Window
81. Superchunk - Slack Motherfucker
80. Blondie - Maria
79. Sloan - Everything You've Done Wrong
78. Brighter - Does Love Last Forever?
77. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - History of Lies
76. Squeeze - Some Fantastic Place
75. Paul Weller - Uh Huh, Oh Yeh
74. Maria McKee - I'm Gonna Soothe You
73. Marine Research - Parallel Horizontal
72. Morrissey - Our Frank
71. Annie Lennox - No More 'I Love Yous'
70. Jellyfish - The King Is Half Undressed
69. The La's - Timeless Melody
68. Jonathan Richman - Surrender
67. Kirsty MacColl - Titanic Days
66. Roddy Frame - Reason for Living
65. The Divine Comedy - Becoming More Like Alfie
64. Siouxsie and the Banshees - Kiss Them For Me
63. Electronic - Get the Message
62. Scritti Politti - Brushed With Oil, Dusted With Powder
61. The Clean - Draw(in)g to a (W)hole
60. The Chamber Strings - Telegram
59. David Bowie - Something in the Air
58. Lambchop - Your Fucking Sunny Day
57. James - Laid
56. Suede - Metal Mickey
55. Blueboy - Popkiss
54. The Sundays - Here's Where the Story Ends
53. Brendan Benson - I'm Blessed
52. The Lucksmiths - Untidy Towns
51. Heavenly - Atta Girl
50. Freedy Johnston - Responsible
49. Neil Finn - She Will Have Her Way
48. Nick Heyward - Kite
47. Bjork - Big Time Sensuality
46. Velocity Girl - I Can't Stop Smiling
45. Buzzcocks - Innocent
44. Aztec Camera - Spanish Horses
43. Sugar - Gee Angel
42. Marshall Crenshaw - What Do You Dream Of?
41. The High Llamas - The Sun Beats Down
40. The Orchids - Peaches
39. Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas
38. Elastica - Stutter
37. Prefab Sprout - Looking for Atlantis
36. Frank Black - Headache
35. The Pastels - Thru' Your Heart
34. Elvis Costello - Sulky Girl
33. The Hit Parade - The First Time
32. Pulp - Common People
31. Portishead - Sour Times (Nobody Loves Me)
30. Supergrass - Alright
29. Robin Hitchcock - So You Think You're in Love
28. The Beautiful South - Old Red Eyes Is Back
27. The Sugarplastic - Radio JeJune
26. Crowded House - Not the Girl You Think You Are
25. Billy Bragg and Wilco - California Stars
24. Doves - Sea Song
23. The Flaming Lips - Race for the Prize
22. The Popguns - Still a World Away
21. Lloyd Cole - No Blue Skies


Echorich said...

Great pic Brian! Sexsmith is a songwriter's singer-songwriter and he deserves that accolade completely.

charity chic said...

If the other 19 in the top 20 are as good as Ron we are in for a treat

kevinpat said...

Ah yes. That's a beautiful song with a perfect arrangement (although Feist does it justice as well…). And I can quite see the dilemma in choosing from this guy's early catalogue. But that first (released) album is a full listen. All the way through. They seem so crafted that they had been sitting around aging to perfection until release. The follow-up Other Songs is a matched successor too. Got some beats too! Ha! Love it. Great choice and probably an appropriate spot, although I'm wondering what could be more perfect…..Hmmmmm? Soon to find out….. Yay on this one!

Brian said...

No pressure, CC. Gulp.

Thank you, Echorich. Once again, you have surprised me. Makes my day.

Kevinpat, I'm not talking to you after getting spanked for Lloyd Cole. Ha! No, Cole is not for everyone, but he is kind of a big one in these parts. I think you will appreciate his lyrics, if not his vocals. Glad Sexsmith gets a passing grade. Those early albums are especially good. I think he was married, with a child and working as a courier in Toronto when he wrote that self-titled album. I feel like he still has to scrap when we should all be bowing before him.

The Swede said...

It's a staggering injustice that Ron isn't a household name. This is a sublime choice.

kevinpat said...

Oh no!! Am I gonna get Yoko Ono-ed?? That was no spank Brian. No! Just me trying to hear what you all hear. I did listen!! It made me wanna play my American Music Club cds. They have that same droll but they are so down in the gutter you have to believe them. Walking on thin ice. Ice. Ice. Ice. (to go full Yoko circle. I guess I like extremes.

And Ron Sexsmith.

syaver said...

I just found your blog about a week ago and have a couple of comments - a) this song is just about damned near perfect, and b) I love this project and will be slowly going through the other posts. Oh, one more c) IF I CAN EVER GET PAST THE VIDEOS FOR THE SCHOOL! I get stuck there an awful lot...

Great job, and since it was a post by kevinpat on Twilightzone that got me here, you have one more reason to forgive him.

kevinpat said...

@syaver Psss, The check is in the mail. Thanks! :)))) (And welcome to the sandbox!)