Eric’s Favorite Songs From 2000-2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Albums of 2015

It’s that time of the year again, here’s my favorite albums and EPs of the year…

My Favorite Albums of 2015:

—Honorable Mention:

MuteMath – Vitals
Spoken – Breathe Again
It Prevails – Perdition
Too Close To Touch – Nerve Endings
Barry Blair – Volume II: Jazz Christmas
Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi
Burlap to Cashmere – Freedom Souls

10. mewithoutYou – Pale Horses

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The strength of mewithoutYou is their uniqueness, and they continue to put that on display here.

9. The Frozen Ocean – Skeleton Key

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Life In Your Way guitarist David Swanson gives us a peak at what it might look like if David Gilmour became influenced by Dustin Kensrue.

8. Haste The Day – Coward

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This was the most surprising album of the year for me. Haste the Day bring back many older and newer band members for a HTD supergroup album, which might actually be the best thing ever made under the Haste the Day name.

7. Dustin Kensrue – Carry the Fire

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Thrice frontman Dustin Kensrue is one of the finest song-writers of our time, and he puts that on clear display here, especially when he addresses our sin-nature on “There’s Something Dark”.

6. No Devotion – Permanence

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Permanence is a very diverse, yet cohesive, 80’s-inspired rock album featuring former members of Thursday and Losprophets.

5. Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion

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Emotion is one of the most thoroughly excellent pop albums I’ve ever heard. Every song offers a contagious chorus and a well-crafted structure. Good luck getting these songs out of your head.

4. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

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Sufjan writes an album about the death of his mother and the man who raised him. This somber, dialed-down version of Sufjan is the one that I find most intriguing. Sure, I want to bury myself in some blankets and cry while listening to it, but it continues to draw me in on a regular basis.

3. Attalus – Into the Sea

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I’ve tried to describe this album to people several times this year and I feel like I never quite do it justice, so I’ll try once more: It’s post-hardcore, but with lots of piano. It’s heavy, but it’s beautiful. It’s the soundtrack of being called out of darkness and into the light.

2. Chvrches – Every Open Eye

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I sure do love synth-pop, and this may just be the most fully satisfying album I’ve heard in that genre. Chvrches dial up the nostalgia, and Lauren Mayberry’s sweet sounding vocals add to the charm. Every Open Eye would’ve been a very worthy number one, but the problem is…

1. Falling Up – Falling Up

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Falling Up may be the perfect band for my tastes and they released their grand-finale of an album in 2015. Jessy Ribordy’s God-given ability to write unusually structured ear worms is on full display here. Josh Shroy puts on the best drum performance of his career. Jeremy Miller (bass), Nick Lambert (guitar), and Daniel Elder (guitar) add heavy, haunting, and beautiful layers to these already massive songs. If you hear one album from 2015, make it this one.

 

My Favorite EP’s of 2015:

5. Cobalt Road – Purgatory

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A nice vaporwave release with some excellent trap beats. This is great for early morning listening.

4. Canopy Climbers – Fever

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This band continues to release great electro-pop songs. The most notable occurrence of that here is the infectious “Fever”.

3. Owel – Every Good Boy

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The title track is a really nice surprise, as the band show they can make a great poppy song, but the other three tracks show Owel in their majestic and beautiful comfort zone.

 

2. Moving Mountains/Prawn – Split EP

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The Prawn tracks are nice and all, but the important thing here is that Moving Mountains are back and as wonderful as ever.

1. Falling Up – House Full of Caverns

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It’s not really surprising that Falling Up can make excellent post-rock, but I’m glad they decided to prove that to us before calling it quits. Hey Falling Up, if you’re reading this, I don’t think anyone will be mad if you change your mind on this whole “ending the band” thing.

My Favorite Songs of the 80’s (10-1)

10. “Fade to Black -Metallica (1984)

Album – Ride the Lightning

I found a list I made in the early 2000’s of my favorite songs of all-time, and I had this listed as number one. While this is definitely one of my favorite heavy songs ever, it hasn’t quite help up to the title I originally gave it.

9. “Fascination Street” – The Cure (1989)

Album – Disintegration 

I don’t think there’s a bass-line that gets me more hyped than this one. I have to give props to Stavesacre for covering this song on Speakeasy, otherwise I may have never dug into the catalog of The Cure.

8. “Love That Knows No Bounds” – Rich Mullins (1987)

Album – Pictures in the Sky

I didn’t dig far enough into Rich Mullins’ discography to find this song until almost twenty years after I got my first Rich Mullins cassette, but for me this song rivals his most beloved tracks. I actually would’ve like to hear this song go on for a couple more minutes and expand to an even more epic tune, but I guess you’re always supposed to leave them wanting more. He did a fine job of that here.

7. “New Year’s Day” – U2 (1983)

Album – War

To me, this is the best song u2 ever recorded. It sounds so cold and lonely, yet massively appealing. On top of the song being great in and of itself, The Edge gives a killer performance, and Bono manages to not over do it on the vocals.

6. “Just Like Heaven” – The Cure (1987)

Album – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me

Where “Fascination Street” (see above) shows that The Cure can master a darker pop song, “Just Like Heaven” shows they can also master a fluffier kind of pop.

5. “J For Jules” – ‘Til Tuesday (1988)

Album – Everything’s Different Now

Aimee Mann is one of my favorite female vocalists ever, and this song is a prime example of why; she is the queen of melancholy pop vocals. This song is a prime example of heart aching lyrics with a vocal performance that completely matches.

4. “The Party’s Over” – Talk Talk (1982)

Album – The Party’s Over

I wonder if the genius of Talk Talk’s synth-pop days would be more appreciated had they not practically invented post-rock a few years later. This song, not “It’s My Life”, should be perceived as the crowning jewel of Talk Talk’s early work.

3. “Send Me an Angel” – Real Life (1983)

Album – Heartland

There may not be a song on this list that I have more nostalgic ties with than “Send Me an Angel”. Why? Because this song was in a movie called “The Wizard” that I used to watch over and over when I was 6 or 7 years old. Personal memories aside, this is just a fantastic slice of 80’s pop music.

2. “Lovesong” – The Cure (1989)

Album – Disintegration

Somewhere between the dark and gritty “Fascination Street” (#9) and the beautiful pop-goodness of “Just Like Heaven” (#6) lies “Lovesong”. This tune packs the perfect balance of The Cure’s sound around a simple decree to “always love you”.

1. “The Chauffeur” – Duran Duran (1982) 

Album – Rio

This song could have just as easily come out in 2015 as in 1982, that’s how impressive the production is on this track. It’s really quite remarkable to listen to this on good headphones and think about the fact that it’s 33 years-old. There’s several effortless moves from one stunning part to another, and there’s so much nuance in the background that you may hear something you didn’t notice before after many listens. As bad as I wanted to put “Lovesong” number one, there’s just not a better song in the 80’s than this one.

My Favorite Songs of the 80’s (20-11)

20. “The Dance” – Garth Brooks (1989)

Album: Garth Brooks

This is one of the best country singles of all-time, if you ask me. Garth was influential in country music becoming the pop-with-twang that it is now, but he was country enough that I would guess he has some regret for setting into motion what the genre has become today.

This song is not on Youtube. C’mon Garth, get with the times!

19. “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” – The Smiths (1986)

Album: The Queen Is Dead

The first time I heard this song was when Anberlin covered it as a B-Side in 2007 (this fact makes me pretty un-hip, but it is what it is). The lyrics to this song are flat-out bizarre, but that’s what makes this track so interesting.

18. “Verge of a Miracle” – Rich Mullins (1987)

Album: Pictures in the Sky

In the mid-90’s I bought Rich Mullins’ Songs compilation and it opened me up to a less cookie cutter style of Christian music than what I was used to. “Verge of a Miracle” was one of my favorites on it, thanks in large part to its absolutely beautiful verses.

17. “Love Is a Battlefield” – Pat Benatar (1983)

Album: Originally released as a single only.

If someone slept through the 80’s and told me to play one song for them that sums of the music of that decade, I think I’d play this one.

16. “With or Without You” – U2 (1987)

Album: The Joshua Tree

Before actually writing out this list, I would’ve guessed this to be an easy top-10 choice for me. As you’ll see later, this is not my favorite song of the decade by this band, but this is definitely the point where they perfected that U2 sound.

15. “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley (1984)

Album: Building The Perfect Beast

I’ll start my out by saying that I’m not an Eagles fan at all. I don’t completely  “dislike” them,  I just find them to be incredibly bland. I really can’t explain how Don Henley was able to churn out a song this good. Even the album “Boys of Summer” comes from is terrible…if you’re an Eagles fan, pretend my entire commentary of this song says “Surprisingly fantastic!”

14. “Such a Shame” – Talk Talk (1984)

Album: It’s My Life

“Such a Shame” has always played second fiddle to “It’s My Life”, and maybe that’s why I prefer it. It’s that ‘root for the underdog’mentality, I guess. This really is a great single, worthy to be remembered along side the title track.

13. “How Soon Is Now?” – The Smiths (1985)

Album: Meat Is Murder (Reissue). Originally a single only release.

A sad song with the potential to make you feel better about your own situation, cause nobody can match the sadness expressed by Morrissey. This is my favorite among the many influential tracks recorded by The Smiths.

12. “Pictures of You” – The Cure (1989)

Album: Disintegration

The first in an upcoming onslaught of singles by The Cure, which should be expected considering The Cure is by far my favorite band of the 80’s, and Disintegration is my favorite album of that decade. This particular song is a 7 minute example of how pretty sadness can sound.

11. “Listen” – Tears For Fears (1985)

Album: Songs From the Big Chair

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a pretty unexpected song to appear on a list like this; it’s very progressive sounding, and mostly instrumental. Plus, this band has lots of massive hits, and most of you probably aren’t even familiar with this one. Put your headphones on and see if this track tickles your ears like it does mine. Maybe you’ll see that there’s more to Tears For Fears than radio hits.

My Favorite Songs of the 80’s (30-21)

30.2 “Friend of a Wounded Heart” – Wayne Watson (1987)

Album – Watercolour Ponies

You know you can’t deny the strength of this Christian power ballad. What a joy to know that God is there for us when we’re hurting.

30.1 “Every Heart That Is Breaking” – Twila Paris (1988)

Album – For Every Heart

This is also a Christian power ballad about God being there for us when we hurt, which is why it is also #30. (Actually, I just forgot to include this song when I originally made my list.

29. “In Too Deep” – Genesis (1986)

Album – Invisible Touch

This is not the most critically appreciated era of Genesis, and this song is typical 80’s cheese, but I dig it.

28. “Tomorrow Started” – Talk Talk (1984)

Album – It’s My Life

I really like atmospheric synthy jams, and this one is hard to beat.

27. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” – Crowded House (1986)

Album – Crowded House

This is just a perfect 80’s radio single. Too bad stuff like this doesn’t stand a chance on the radio these days.

26. “Shout” – Tears For Fears (1985)

Album – Song From The Big Chair

You already have an opinion on this song; you won’t click play, nor care what I have to say.

25. “Why Must I” – ‘Til Tuesday (1988)

Album – Everything’s Different Now

The beautiful melancholy voice of Aimee Mann makes an already sad song sound 10 times sadder.

24. “Wrapped Around Your Finger” – The Police (1983)

Album – Synchronicity

The Police had lots of big songs, but this is a no-brainer pick for my favorite by them. This song has an atmospheric tinge, that I wish the band would have touched on a bit more often in their recordings, because it’s quite stunning.

23. “A Little Respect” – Erasure (1988)

Album – The Innocents

My favorite thing about this song is also my least favorite; the melody is so strong that it gets stuck in my head for days.

22. “Blue Monday” – New Order (1983)

Album – Power, Corruption & Lies

This is one of the most important and influential dance-pop singles ever, and it’s not hard to see why.

21. “Awesome God” – Rich Mullins (1988)

Album – Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth

I remember singing this song with a group of friends in front of the church when I was in 8th grade. Rich Mullins was one of the first true artists whose lyrics really resonated with me.

To read part one and an overview of my list go to Songs 40-31

My Favorite Songs of the 80’s (40-31)

As you read through my list of favorite 80’s songs you’ll find yourself asking many questions, like: Where’s Prince? Where’s “The Boss”? Where’s Michael Jackson? Madonna? Have you never heard The Pixies or R.E.M.? Talk Talk is on here, but not “It’s My Life”? Think you’ve got enough songs by The Cure? My answer to you is to keep in mind that this is not a list of “The Best Songs of the 80’s”. This is a list of My Favorites. Completely subjective.

I was 6 years old when the 80’s came to a close; If I had made this list back then, not only would I have been a very strange child, but “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles and “Jump” by Van Halen probably would have topped this list. I discovered most of these songs well after the end of 80’s, although I vaguely remember hearing several of them all throughout childhood. So, put on your neon spandex, here we go:

40. “Secret Ambition” – Michael W. Smith (1988)

Album – i 2 (EYE)

You think 80’s music, in general, was over-the-top? Check out this track. “Secret Ambition” somehow manages to be cheesy and overblown, yet serious and epic.

39. “Valentine” – Bryan Ferry (1985)

Album – Boys and Girls

This song is just so relaxing. Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits, adds some beautiful guitar that really makes this track special.

38. “In Your Eyes” – Peter Gabriel (1986)

Album – So

The first radio hit to appear on my list, this new-age sounding ballad peaked at number 26 on the pop charts.

37. “Lorelei” – Cocteau Twins (1984)

Album – Treasure

Weird, beautiful, and atmospheric; “Lorelei” may be one of the most unique tracks of the decade.

36. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police (1983)

Album – Synchronicity 

Ah, the most famous stalker-anthem-disguised-as-a-love-song. I fell in love with this riff thanks to Puff Daddy (Not a joke, unfortunately).

35. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2 (1983)

Album – War

This was on one of the first mix-CDs I ever made, and I still like it. U2 steadily went further and further off the rails as time went on, but in the 80’s they had some great tunes.

34. “Rip In Heaven” – ‘Til Tuesday” (1988)

Album – Everything’s Different Now

Everything’s Different Now is an 80’s pop/rock masterpiece, and this is one of a few tracks from that album that I’ll be highlighting on this list.

33. “I Know It’s Over” – The Smiths (1986)

Album – The Queen is Dead

Morrissey is so good at wallowing that sometimes I actually enjoy hearing it.

32. “Candy” – Talk Talk (1982)

Album – The Party’s Over

Talk Talk are most-known these days for being pioneers of the post-rock genre, but they were originally Duran Duran-esque synth-poppers. As you’ll see on this list, I happen to believe they had more great songs than most of their more popular peers.

31. “Reptile” – The Church (1988)

Album – Starfish

I first heard this genius riff over the speakers at IHOP. Not sure if the thought of stuffed french toast when I hear it has any impact on its ranking.

My Favorite Songs of the 90’s Part 10 (10-1)

10. “Some Kind of Zombie” – Audio Adrenaline (1997)

From the album also called Some Kind of Zombie, this was Audio A’s final song featuring the guitar talents of Barry Blair (who is now the guitar player at my church. Small world.) I remember telling my mom something along the lines of, ‘I usually don’t like music this heavy, but I love this song’. It’s probably safe to say that this was a gateway for the love I would develop for metal in the early 2000’s. The loud-soft-loud combo was in full effect in the 90’s, but on this song they make it sound unique. The guitars are heavy, yet kinda chaotic and creepy. The soft parts utilize acoustic strumming, violins, xylophones and such. Of all of the so-called “youth group anthems” of the day, I think this is by far the best one. Sorry, “Jesus Freak”.

9. “Comfortably Numb (Live From Pulse) – Pink Floyd (1995)

I feel like I’m cheating a little by including this song, considering the original recording was released in 1979, but the truth is I prefer this live version from Pulse. I couldn’t bring myself to penalize my favorite live track ever. It just had to be in the top 10. David Gilmour plays the most impressive guitar solo I’ve ever heard, somehow improving on the already incredible solo on the version from The Wall. I’m a sucker for an atmospheric sounding song, and “Comfortably Numb” is definitely that.

8. “Tea and Sympathy” – Jars of Clay (1997)

It’s hard for me to not view this song as the soundtrack to a broken heart. I was experiencing heartbreak of different kinds in 1998 when Jars of Clay released Much Afraid. Aside from dealing with typical teenage drama, my parents were getting divorced. I found a little solace in a song that pleaded for someone to not throw away the special thing that they had together. It’s a bit perplexing that I’m still able to gain such enjoyment from a song that accompanied such a difficult time in my life. I guess that just speaks to what an incredible track “Tea and Sympathy” is.

7. “Sanctuary” – Chris Rodriguez (1999)

I used to listen to this song when I was dealing with some sort of spiritual warfare and it would help put things in perspective. I sin, but God forgives me. I run and hide, but God finds me. I’m unsure of the reasons things are happening around me, but I’m secure and sanctuaried by God. The fact that I deserve absolutely none of that makes it even more incredible, and this song from the Streams compilation is an excellent one to help me meditate on the beauty of grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” A beautiful song about a beautiful thing.

6. “Humble Thyself” – Luna Halo (1999)

I was already a big fan of Luna Halo when I received the Listen: Louder compilation that featured this song. The band’s debut album, Shimmer, is one of my favorites of the 2000’s. I probably picked up Listen: Louder just to have the only known Luna Halo song to not be on their album. This is a beautiful, atmospheric, remake of a worship song based on James 4:10. Well, atmospheric aside from one section near the end of the song where a dizzying guitar solo is played over a somewhat-heavy riff. I will never understand why this band abandoned this sound for more generic sounding pop-rock.

5. “To the Moon & Back” – Savage Garden (1996)

This song, from Savage Garden’s self-titled debut, combines space rock and dance music to make my favorite pop radio hit of the 90’s. There are so many elements of this song that I love: The angelic background vocals, the killer bass-line, the clean rhythm guitar riff, the memorable chorus. I can’t really imagine there ever being a pop hit more suited to my tastes than this one.

4. “Wild Horses” – The Sundays (1992)

I was raised on Southern Gospel and Country music, as many children who grew up in Baptist churches in Kentucky probably were. Rock music didn’t really catch my attention until I was 13 years old, and classic rock was pretty foreign to me until years later. But before I get to that, let me tell you about Super Bowl XXIV in 1995. It was the Chargers and the 49ers. I have no recollection of anything that happened in the game, nor did I even know that this was the specific Super Bowl that would feature one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard, until the internet search I recently did.

For years I would occasionally remember a commercial with horses running through the snow and the sound of an ethereal voice singing a beautiful melody with the line “couldn’t drag me away”. Over time I forgot how the song sounded, and I apparently never thought to try to find it on the internet once I had it easily available a few years later. I did happen to remember that the commercial was played during a football game, which it turns out was Super Bowl XXIX.

Fast forward to 2009 when I’m listening to a Rolling Stones compilation and I hear a very familiar lyric, “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away”. ‘That’s It!’, I thought. Finally a mystery that I had forgotten existed was nearly solved. Now, I just had to find out who had covered this song. I clicked on a version by The Sundays, from their album called Blind. I heard the beautiful voice singing the first verse and it sounded promising, then that chorus hit and I knew I had found the song that had eluded me for over a decade. There was that incredible voice singing “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away”. It was like I was instantly taken back in time to when I recorded football games on VHS and watched them many times over. Mildly dramatic story aside, this is just a ridiculously beautiful song.

3. “With You” – Monica (1995)

This album cut from Miss Thang sounds like 90’s slow jam R&B mixed with late 2000’s chillwave. It sounds so obviously retro, that it almost comes across as futuristic. If you’ve been following this list, it’s no secret to you that 90’s R&B holds a special place in my heart, but this song is a perfect time capsule that sums up everything I love about the genre. The contemporary R&B movement is attempting to bring this sort of overly chill, yet beat-driven niche back, but I’ve yet to hear anything that rivals “With You”.

2. “Eileen’s Song” – Burlap to Cashmere (1998)

I purchased the album Anybody Out There? while I was in Washington D.C. on a 10th grade class trip. I don’t specifically remember what I thought about “Eileen’s Song” the first time I listened, but I know that at some point it began to impact me in a big way. I particularly remember using the “roses in your eyes” line in one of my own writings when I was I young man. Yes, I was lacking in originality, but the point is that I was so impacted by the words that I literally wished I had written them. This is more than just a song with inspiring lyrics about two people trying to make it in this crazy world, though. The atmosphere that the keys set at the very beginning of this song is breathtaking. The guitar solo two and a half minutes in is one of my favorite guitar parts in all of music. Honestly, everything about this song is perfect to me.

1. “Sorry” – Five O’clock People (1999)

It was sometime in 1999 and my cousin had just witnessed a band called Five O’clock People perform live at a local bookstore. I opted to attended a church lock-in with my then-girlfriend instead of going with him. Had I known that I would’ve been able to witness this incredible song live, and that my relationship with that girl would’ve lasted a measly three months, I wouldn’t hold any regret for my decision making on that night. My cousin probably had no idea what would be sparked in me when he brought me an autographed copy of their CD sampler that he picked up at the show. It featured three songs from their album called The Nothing Venture. Track 2 on that CD was “Sorry”. From the first time I heard it, I was absolutely blown away. The beautful sound of the instruments, the deep melancholy feel, the poetic, yet relatable lyrics. These are all things that excite me in new music to this day. This is the first song I ever remember thinking, ‘I can’t listen to this song as much as I want to, because I love it too much to cause myself to get tired of it’.

So, here it is. My Favorite Song of the 90’s, and one of my very favorites of all time, if not my very favorite.