THE GREATEST OF ALL TUNES (G.O.A.T.) is a salute to the greatest songs of all time. I’m doing it in real time, as I decide to include a song, and before today, I had a top 10.
Today, the second rap song goes on the list and, more importantly, today my list goes to 11. Here’s where we are so far:
- Layla by Derek and the Dominoes (1970) (link)
- Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana (1991) (link)
- Surrender by Cheap Trick (1978) (link)
- Better Things by The Kinks (1981) (link); and: Covers of the top 30 Kinks songs here and here
- Ironic by Alanis Morissette (1995) (link)
- Somebody Told Me by The Killers (2004)(link)
- Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Richard Hawley (2007) (link)
- Misfits by the Kinks (1978) (link); and: Covers of the top 30 Kinks songs here and here
- Grindin’ by Clipse (2002) (link)
- Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum (1969) (link)
So: Is Biggie’s “origin song” better than Layla? Teen Spirit? No. But how good is it?
Every line is a masterpiece: “Born sinner, the opposite of a winner/Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner…” Juicy is an origin story. It’s nostalgic without being cloying, it pays tributes to the greats without cribbing from them, it tells of growing up poor and black without using it as an excuse to become a gangster. “Considered a fool cause I dropped out of high school/Stereotypes of a black male misunderstood/And it’s still all good.” And most of all, it’s full of B.I.G.’s love of hip hop.
My favorite couplet: “We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us/No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us/Birthdays was the worst days/Now we sip champagne when we thirst-ay…”
So why is it called Juicy? Because it’s framed around a sample from “Juicy Fruit” by Mtume.
Further listening: You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Kills You, Mo Money Mo Problems, Big Poppa.
And as for my top 11, I’m knocking Alanis down. Sorry. Ironic is a great song, but Juicy’s knocking you down to #6. But at least you’re still top 10. Poor Norman Greenbaum now drops below that mark–but I think we all knew it would. Since I’m putting songs on this list as I notice them throughout my life, it’s inevitable that some will drop quick. In fact, some may not stay once I hit #100–they’ll fall off.
Covers:Believe it or not, quite a few…