Tonight 82 songs begin their long march to the championship. Every night from Monday to Thursday you can expect to find a new slate of four to five matchups to vote on, with at least 48 hours to vote. (You can see our post on scoring here.)
Before we begin, let’s take a look at the bracket. We had too many good nominations to limit the field to 64, so at least 18 songs will be “playing in” an additional round. I’ll denote the seeds and play-in matchups below. There are four sets of seeds, from #1 to #16.
You can listen to the songs here and vote by commenting below before midnight on Wednesday, November 26.
#8 Where Did You Sleep Last Night (In the Pines) (Nirvana) vs. #9 I Believe in Miracles (Eddie Vedder). Let’s start with a slugfest between the two titans of grunge. The former ends Unplugged, which is about as haunting as live music gets. An original version (the song’s true origins are unknown) by the legendary Leadbelly is pretty intense too. The latter is on “We’re A Happy Family”, an outstanding, star-studded tribute to Joey Ramone. It’s also in the Pearl Jam live rotation. When I saw them at the Garden I was a little embarrassed that everyone around me knew the lyrics to every song, except this one, when I briefly restored some cred.
#6 Head On (Pixies) vs. #11 Mr. Grieves (TV on the Radio). This is the first of several instances when I get too cute with this stuff, but hard to pass up the Pixies against a cover of the Pixies. The Pixies are covering Jesus and Mary Chain, an 80s Scottish alt-rock band.
Play-in: Mary Don’t You Weep (Bruce Springsteen) vs. The Boxer (Mumford and Sons). Mary Don’t You Weep is an old Negro spiritual that precedes the Civil War that Bruce included on an album of traditional songs in 2006. The song inspired Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and James Baldwin’s title, “The Fire Next Time”. Speaking of Paul Simon, Mumford and Sons re-work one of his masterpieces here. When you’re done, check out a stripped down demo version I found of Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Play-in: Across the Universe (Fiona Apple) vs. Grow Old With Me (Postal Service). John Lennon wrote some tender masterpieces, and these silky voices do them justice. “Grow Old With Me” was released posthumously, which makes it particularly bittersweet.
Play-in: Atlantic City (The Band) vs. Fist City (Little Willies). The Band’s quasi-reunion album in 1993 produced this Bruce cover. The Little Willies cover Fist City, an infectious Loretta Lynn number that was actually banned on certain radio stations in the 60s for the too-hot-for-airplay suggestion that Ms. Lynn would beat the hell out of anyone who made a move on her man.