50 Favorite My Morning Jacket Songs of All-Time (50-27)


9 jun 2011, 19:52

I've listened to just about everything MMJ has ever released and ranked a list of approximately 150 songs. This was pretty hard to do and there's quite a few tracks that I originally thought would be no-brainers on here and didn't even make it! So yeah, get ready for snubs. MY ONLY RULE: only original studio versions, no covers or live recordings.

Below are my selections for the top 50 My Morning Jacket songs. I will update this regularly, so make sure to check back!

51. Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 1Evil Urges (2008)
Above a layer of shimmering synths and a tight bassline, Jim James' protagonist wallows in loneliness. Musically, it depicts a cold world where technology increasingly dominates. It's also perhaps the most electronic-heavy track MMJ has done to-date, and it works.

50. They RanThe Tennessee Fire (1999)
Virtually all of The Tennessee Fire invokes a twilight landscape in my mind and “They Ran” validates the mental image. James sings with restrained, romantic bravado (“she had a cigarette, asked if I had a light”), before belting out the soaring refrain.

49. How Do You KnowSweatbees [EP] (2002)
“Who found the fire that burned down the lake?”....“I know 'cause the architect is on the ceiling.” This very odd song encapsulates the reverb-laden and ghostlike-country nature of the band's earlier work like none other.

48. Same in Any Language – Elizabethtown, Official Music Soundtrack (2005)
I have never watched Elizabethtown so I have no idea how the song was utilized. On its own though, it's quite the pleasant listen. The catch here is the sweet guitar riff throughout the song and the sweeping tempo change in the last minute, where some nice vocal harmonies come in.

47. Weeks Go By Like DaysChapter 1: The Sandworm Cometh: Early Recordings (2004)
James' soaring voice takes center stage here on this cousin to "The Bear." “Weeks” is beautiful throughout but the phenomenal chemistry between the vocals and the rest of the band is what makes it one of the most impressive songs in the band's early canon.

46. Butch CassidyThe Tennessee Fire (1999)
Reverting to childlike psyche, few singers can utter the absurdities Jim James does and actually make you believe every word. The harmonizing makes this one special, too.

45. Victory DanceCircuital (2011)
The opener from MMJ's latest offering is a triumphant journey into the abstract. Horn flourishes and an almost industrial sound accompany James in a glorious ascent. The climax recalls the ending of At Dawn closer "Strangulation!," except this time it has a face.

44. If It Smashes DownAt Dawn (2001)
The sound of abandoned carnival equipment. No other Jacket song on an LP incorporates the banjo as prominently as the ghostlike “If It Smashes Down,” as James' beautiful vocals soak in a sheen of reverb. The atmosphere is spine tingling.

43. Thank You Too!Evil Urges (2008)
The R&B/soul incarnation of MMJ tends to be hit and miss, but on the occasions when they nail one out of the park, it's super special. Here, James' delicate crooning is complimented by equally beautiful string arrangements and keyboards on this nod to Gamble & Huff-style Philly soul. A slightly twangy guitar and memorable solo are the cherry on top.

42. Slow Slow TuneCircuital (2011)
Jim's song to his progeny is a lesson in restraint, floating along like a balloon as it climbs to great heights, accompanied by a guitar that knows exactly where to go.

41. Old Sept BluesThe Tennessee Fire (1999)
There's an intimate human quality about this one that's irresistible.

40. Heartbreakin ManThe Tennessee Fire (1999)
Amongst a folky backdrop, the guitar work here is almost surf-like, only heightening the enigmatic nature of The Tennessee Fire opener. The percussion is on point and the breakdowns, luscious in a super lo-fi kind of way.

39. Death Is the Easy WayAt Dawn (2001)
As the title suggests, "Death is the Easy Way" is a melancholy affair. With some beautiful harmonica and that one-of-a-kind reverb soaked lo-fi atmosphere, the Jacket cracks a classic.

38. SoonerChocolate And Ice [EP] (2002)
A beautiful, melodic song about Jim's parents as he recalls his youth. It's one of many spectacular warm and tender moments from the band.

37. Sec WalkinEvil Urges (2008)
Shades of James Taylor color this mid-tempo soft rock/soul hybrid. The presence of pedal steel guitar and James' falsetto actually add a lot to the song. The crystalline production makes it a fitting (and infectious) follow-up to "Thank You Too!" on Evil Urges.

36. I Think I'm Going to HellThe Tennessee Fire (1999)
James delivers a fantastic vocal performance as his protagonist tells the tale of life as an arsonist. The vocals are perfectly distorted by their lo-fi surroundings, drowning with guilt as if the memory of the fateful night was just a little cloudy.

35. War BegunThe Tennessee Fire (1999)
Lo-fi and laid back, this number features Jim singing with conviction as the music meanders around the tones in his vocals. A nice little acoustic guitar solo toward the end. File this one under "short and sweet."

34. Easy Morning RebelIt Still Moves (2003)
Strong from start to finish, a fierce guitar and poignant horns compete for your attention alongside James' impassioned singing. An NPR critic criticized James for supposedly misrepresenting scripture in the lyrics, but I don't really give a fuck. It rocks out and the outro in the final minute is epic guitar bliss.

33. Can You See The Hard Helmet On My Head?Chocolate And Ice [EP] (2002)
Alongside some nice percussion and a subtle synth backdrop, James delivers a sweet vocal performance on this song, mid-tempo and folky in nature. His lyrics here are based in some sort of meta-candid universe, as if he were singing about himself with only video footage of himself as a jumping-off point.

32. One In The SameIt Still Moves (2003)
One of my frustrations with the newer Jacket releases is Jim's move from reveling in the dark and melancholy. The ending of It Still Moves is dreamy, humbling, and gut-wrenchingly depressing. On the verge of suicide and at the top of his lungs, James' protgaonist proclaims: "To all the people I've loved, don't think poor of me." It's a hauntingly beautiful and personal account of the sadness that consumes our lives at one point or another.

To all the people I've loved, don't think poor of me

31. DancefloorsIt Still Moves (2003)
Rooted in country music, "Dancefloors" features a number of memorable lines, as James' tenor takes a southern feel. The interplay between the keyboard and guitar creates a ridiculously catchy lope, which breaks into a no-holds barred guitar and saxophone solo. Some MMJ songs run longer than they should, and at six minutes, this is one of them. If "Dancefloors" were slimmed down by a minute, it might crack the top 25.

Dancefloors, headlights, and my brother's gasoline

30. Phone Went WestAt Dawn (2001)
Jim plays the role of hopeless romantic here, yearning passionately. It's a sweet, slow-building tune suffocating in that beautiful reverb. Strong hints of dub throughout are a sign of things to come on Z.

There'll be a knock on your front door

29. SweetheartChocolate And Ice [EP] (2002)
Exactly like the title says. The seductive piano and bongo drums add a special touch to this short, simple, and magnificent love song -- truly one of Jim James' most under-appreciated moments. It's like "Skyway" with a happy ending.

Sweetheart, lover, words you use for me
I worked to get you forever, to melt you into me

28. It Beats 4 UZ (2005)
This might have been the first MMJ song that I really fell in love with. It's not hard to see why with its steadfast percussion, vocal effects, thick atmospheric production, and beautiful strings that make it a perfect intermediary between Z's opener and "Gideon." Jim's vocals sound like a shaman's here, transcending time and space. Andrew Bird's gorgeous whistling solo in the final minute is the icing on the cake.

Who can count the time I'm beating with my hands?
Who can stop the smoke from breathin' in my head?

27. CircuitalCircuital (2011)
The title track to MMJ's newest offering contains lots of tiny elements reminiscent of the band's greatest moments, which I guess makes this a great moment in itself. The vocals here are spectacular, but it's the song's build-up that makes it truly special. That infectious "Salisbury Hill" style acoustic guitar giving way to a delightful keyboard accent and virtuosic guitar playing, including a solo that doesn't last nearly long enough. It's the sound of something great coming -- a relationship, Spring.

Well you can fling open the windows!


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