Longtime members of the local scene weigh in on their favorite Nashville rock 'n' roll songs of the past 25 years 

We Built This City

We Built This City

Last year on the Scene's music blog, Nashville Cream, we filed 19 installments in a series we called "Best Local Rock Songs Ever," wherein staffers and freelancers compiled what we deemed to be the best rock 'n' roll songs ever to come out of the greater Nashville area. The 95 tunes we came up with landed all over the map, from the boogying country rock of Marshall Chapman's 1979 "Why Can't I Be Like Other Girls?" to the glossy electro-pop of How I Became the Bomb's 2006 "Secret Identity" and beyond.

But for our 25th anniversary, we decided to look beyond our own ranks and ask for input from folks who have been a part of the local rock scene over the past quarter-century. Read below to see how the people we polled — from longtime Nashvillian musicians to club owners, writers, DJs and more — responded when asked about their favorite local rock song of the past 25 years, and hear all of the songs via Nashville Cream.

Michael Eades – former webmaster, Spongebath Records; owner, YK Records; curator, We Own This Town
The Features' "33 1/3 gets my pick, because it's the absolute perfect blend of pop and melancholy. It's also got a nice bit of Nashville mythology behind it, as it's part of an unreleased album recorded with Matt Mahaffey (though every fan knows the song quite well). For me, it embodies the great talent of Nashville and the sometimes-unfortunate fate that prevents that greatness from reaching a wider audience. Close Second: "Situation: Hot" by Apollo Up! because it never loses its edge.

Matt Mahaffey — musician (sElf, more); co-founder, Spongebath Records
"Hey Lou," written by Sam Baker, originally performed by Speake. It's been covered by half a dozen local bands, and I always sing along!

Ruby Amanfu — musician
"Noggin' Poundin'" by my former labelmates The Katies. I was a 19-year-old girl, just signed to Spongebath Records. I was taken to The Katies' show. ... I discovered that I had hips that night, dancing to this tune.

click to enlarge Venus Hum
  • Venus Hum
DJ Ron Slomowicz — longtime club DJ; former WRVU 91.1 FM host
Venus Hum, "Soulsloshing." A wonderful electro-pop song heard in their vibrant live shows, which became a major dance-floor smash when they got signed to a major label. Also, Dessau, "Spinning on My Head." Industrial was the sound of WRVU 91 Rock for many years, and this track was always in heavy rotation.

Kurt Wagner — musician (Lambchop)
"I'll Run the Jack on You" by Dave Cloud and the Gospel of Power comes to mind and fits the bill. Should you decide to expand your criteria [past 25 years or "rock"], I certainly have other songs in my head forever.  Namely "Jerusalem  Tomorrow" by David Olney or "Billie Baker" by Tom House.

click to enlarge The Katies
  • The Katies
Elise Tyler — co-owner, The Stone Fox
Lone Official, "Le Coq Sportif." There is something about Lone Official that encapsulated everything beautiful about living in Nashville while George W. Bush was president. Our city wasn't being written about in the L.A. Times, we didn't know what a craft cocktail was. ... Their album Tuckassee Take was released in 2006 on Honest Jon's records. ... It is definitively Nashville, recorded by Mark Nevers and featuring a who's who of the Nashville underground. I will listen to this album for the rest of my life. 

Anna Lundy — Grimey's New and Pre-Loved Music
One of my favorite Nashville rock songs from the last 25 years is "Fight Song" by Lone Official from their album Tuckassee Take. ... Listening to it reminds me of hanging out in Nashville in the mid-Aughts, sitting around on people's porches, leisurely enjoying strong drinks on hot summer nights when often things grew really intense for a bit, but then the mellowness of the evening would return. 

John Bruton — talent buyer, Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom/The High Watt (formerly 12th & Porter)
"Flyboy" by Iodine. Jay Joyce, Chris Feinstein and Brad Pemberton. What a band! Helped make the '90s bearable for me.

Cortney Tidwell — musician (solo, KORT, more)
"Carmen Is Coming" by R. Stevie Moore, because he is Nashville's magick treasure.

Bingham Barnes — musician (Glossary, more); owner, Grand Palace Silkscreen
You know, I've given this a lot of thought, but I just wanna party, with my friends, you know I wanna wanna party party with my friends, ah c'mon ... [RI¢HIE, "I Wanna Party With My Friends"].

Sam Smith — musician (My So-Called Band, Lifeboy, more); illustrator, Sam's Myth
Joe, Marc's Brother, "Mel Bay." Joe, Marc's Brother influenced so many musicians and bands when they arrived from Pennsylvania in the mid-'90s — and penned countless hits that never were — and their influence still lingers to this day. But hearing the six-note opening turnaround of "Mel Bay" for the first time, at my first JMB show, changed my life forever.

Jonathan Marx — musician (Lambchop, Hands Off Cuba, more); music journalist
Medicinal Porpoises, "Let Me Stand Next to Your Porpoise." I'm not even sure if this song ever received a proper release, save for a homemade cassette, but I can say that I've had it stuck in my head at various points over the past two decades. ... Looking back on it now, they (along with some of the other bands that played at Lucy's) represent one of the links between the very small, very local rock scene we had back in the 1980s and thriving local scene we have today.

Bob Orrall — songwriter; co-owner, Infinity Cat Recordings
There was a song by MEEMAW that made me feel like I was hearing the purest songwriting delivered with the most earnest vocals backed by my favorite new band. It was magic. It was "Sister Christ." ... Made me feel like I could be happy living on an island with a MEEMAW cassette. 

click to enlarge MEEMAW
Kelley Anderson — musician; founder, Southern Girls Rock and Roll Camp
One of my all-time favorite local rock songs is MEEMAW's "Blue in the Blacklight." This song has vision and drive. When it first came out I had not heard any bands in Nashville that sounded like this. It was refreshing, with an energy that only young bands can achieve so effortlessly.

William Tyler — musician (Lambchop, solo, Lifeboy, more); co-owner, The Stone Fox
I wanted to pick something by Webb Wilder from the It Came From Nashville album, but it's over 25 years old! "Blue in the Blacklight" by MEEMAW. I've often said, only half in jest, that MEEMAW was the nascent "new" Nashville rock scene's Buffalo Springfield. Everyone in the trio went on to some form of greatness. ... I barely listen to hooky rock songs anymore, or at least the way I used to, but the first time I heard this tune six years ago I listened to it a comical amount of times in a row.

Bruce Fitzpatrick — owner, The End
"Golden Ball and Chain" by Jason and the Scorchers, simply because it makes me feel good when I hear it.

Drew Mischke — general manager, Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom/The High Watt
I tried so hard to pick something else, but it's a song by Cherub, Brandon Jazz and Hanzelle, and it's kinda about me. "Disco Dad." Ties for second place: Kindercastle, "Violet"; How I Became the Bomb, all of Let's Go; Madi Diaz and Jensen Sportag: "Trust Fall (Down We Go Remix)." Sorry that there's not an actual rock song in there.

Mike Grimes — co-owner, Grimey's New and Pre-Loved Music
"We'll Go Walking" by Silver Seas. Daniel Tashian channels Burt Bacharach — a timeless song. Runner-up would be "Electric Shake" by Be Your Own Pet.


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