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In Search of a Perfect Song, Part 6

12-05-2019 | By Carol Clark | Issue 106

Something not so secret about me, I'm more interested in the music than the gear. I've documented elsewhere that I do acknowledge that better gear produces better music, but when it's all boiled down, I get distracted listening to gear because I'm identifying with the music. Granted, there are times when I listen to a favorite song with a new piece of equipment in the system and am blown away by some nuance that was previously undetected. But, first and foremost, it's the songs that move me.

So, here we are again with a list of songs that I consider to be perfect. From my previous articles: In my opinion, a perfect song touches you on many different levels. It goes beyond simply how it sounds into the more ethereal boundaries of how it makes you feel. It is a melding of music, lyrics, vocals, and that something extra. A perfect song does not have to sound golden on my system, but in many cases it does.

In some respects, I consider this installment to be the "random edition." I've written about songs from artists who were supportive of me during my bout with cancer. I've written about songs that struck me the first time I heard them. I devoted a whole installment to the presentation of a song on a system at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. The songs on this list, however, are a collection of random songs, most tied to memories. I don't consider any of these artists as favorites really, but these songs are, well, perfect.


Calla "Stumble" Collisions

I don't really remember how Dave and I stumbled, no pun intended, on this band. The album Collisions came out in 2005, and I don't remember which one of us selected it. [Edited to add: Dave says he picked it out first.] But the song, "Stumble" was always one I particularly liked. As with most of my other Perfect Songs, the vocals really nail it for me. There is a breathy, hurt sound to his voice. The rest of the song feels melancholy too, just drums, bass, and guitar. A few months ago, this song came up while listening to our library on shuffle, and I fell in love with it all over again. I managed to find the LP on Discogs, and it's even more magical on vinyl.


Gary Numan "My Name is Ruin" Savage (Songs from a Broken World)

I loved Gary Numan back in the day, and 1979's Replicas was one of my favorites. Although he's had many releases since then, it was 2017's Savage (Songs from a Broken World) that really renewed my interest. I think the first time I heard this song Dave was playing it in the living room, I was listening from the den. Even at the other end of the house, this song hooked me. It's electronic, like his other music, and his voice still has that quality that sends shivers down my spine, but it also has that something extra. Usually the something extra is so nebulous that it defies description, and this is no exception. Many times, songs affect me in ways I can't describe, so I'll just tie it to that realm where it stirs memories that have no tie to the literal meaning of the song.


Mogwai "Hunted by a Freak" Happy Songs for Happy People

The best description I have for Mogwai is that they are a wall of sound. We have seen them live, and it was very loud. But it was a clean loud that left no lasting effects the next day. "Hunted by a Freak" is, in my opinion, one of Mogwai's quieter songs. There is a specific reason why I deem this song as a perfect song. As with "My Name is Ruin," I experienced this song from a distance the first time I heard it. I was sitting at my computer, editing a story I had written, and Dave was listening to it in the living room. Again, there was that inexplicable spark, it was as if it was a perfect soundtrack to the despair I was reading on my screen. This placed it firmly into the category of Perfect Songs.

So, there you have my random Perfect Songs. I recommend these, as I recommend all my Perfect Songs, but your mileage my vary, meaning they may not be perfect for you. You decide.

Last year I gave a Brutus Award to the streaming service Qobuz (HERE). Now it is more readily available in the U.S., and I once again recommend it. Their library keeps expanding, and the sound quality is very good. Out of curiosity, I wondered how many of my Perfect Songs appear on Qobuz, and I found out many of them do. In some cases, some songs by the artist are available, and some are not. In those cases, my guess is that eventually all songs by the artist will be available. Below are the songs, "Yes" if they do appear on Qobuz, "No" if they do not.

Perfect Songs, Part 1 (HERE)

"Play for Today" The Cure [live version*] No
"Asleep" Godsmack [The Other Side] Yes
"All That Remains" Fozzy [All That Remains] No

Perfect Songs, Part 2 (HERE)

"Peace be With You" Mike Martin [2 of 5] No
"Beg n Borrow" Gravity Kills [Superstarved] No
"Lights Go Out" Fozzy [Do You Wanna Start a War] Yes

Perfect Songs, Part 3 (HERE)

"Play for Today" The Cure [Paris] Yes

Perfect Songs, Part 4 (HERE)

"Torture Day" The Notwist [12] Yes
"Guilty" Gravity Kills [Gravity Kills] Yes
"Blue Monday" New Order [Substance] Yes

Perfect Songs, Part 5 (HERE)

"Alive" The Soft Moon [Total Decay] No
"Burn" The Soft Moon [Criminal] Yes

Perfect Songs, Part 6 (this article)

"Stumble" Calla [Collisions] Yes
"My Name is Ruin" Gary Numan [Broken (Songs from a Savage World)] Yes
"Hunted by a Freak" Mogwai [Happy Songs for Happy People] Yes

If you have a Qobuz account, you can access the playlist of all songs marked with "Yes" above (HERE).

*Postscript. I originally published my first list of Perfect Songs in Issue 26, July/August 2006. At that time, I reported "Play for Today" by The Cure as being a Perfect Song on the cassette tape Concert: The Cure Live, the b-side Curiosity: Cure Anomalies. Well, it turns out I was wrong. I was certain that the particular live version of the song came from that tape. I only listened to cassettes on a Sony Walkman, and by 2006 I no longer had the Walkman, and had no way to listen to tapes. Rather than dig out the copy of the tape to verify, I just presumed that's where I heard it. Flash forward to 2019, and lo and behold, "Play for Today" is nowhere to be found on the either side of the tape. The only thing I can figure out is that I was remembering a version of the song on a bootleg tape I own. Dave and I were lucky enough to see The Cure live in 1981 at the Whisky A Go Go, and through a strange series of events I managed to score a bootleg cassette tape of the very show we saw. I remember thinking about how cool it was that the whole audience was singing along with them. Apparently, I was enthralled hearing me singing along with them! With that in mind, that version of the song is definitely not available on Qobuz.