Despite my hatred of Top 10 lists, I started thinking about the top ten instrumentals of all time; mainly as an exercise to see if I could even name that many off the top of my head.
And, of course, in my truest Native fashion, number one came to me first. It had to be, without a doubt in my upbringing, yyz. You cannot beat a song set to morse code, especially if it combines the talents of the three members of Rush at what many (non-fans, of course) consider their peak. At least, not when they use breaking glass as a beat.
The next song that came to mind was Whale & Wasp, which is such a beautiful song that most people don't even associate it with Alice in Chains, or vice versa. I want to say it's a lovely duelling instruments piece, but the 'whale' guitar and the 'wasp' guitar work together in such eerie harmony that you can't even think about them clashing. But, as much as I like the song, I realized it wasn't number two; more like three or four. Even though Jerry Cantrell is a genius. Just listen to Nutshell if you don't believe me.
It was then that the idea of doing not a top ten list, but the process of a top ten list occurred to me, and that made everything alright. I hate top ten lists.
So I was thinking about what should come second, possibly Toccatta and Fugue (but not if I limited it to this century). Maybe I'd put Edgar Winter's Frankenstein up there. And I can't think of YYZ without thinking of The Police's Behind My Camel. I decided to intentionally leave Behind My Camel off the top ten because for some bizarre reason, it actually beat YYZ for the grammy in 1981 (?). Well, not too bizarre; the Police are a more popular band. That is the only reason I hate the Police. For being more popular than Rush. And for stealing their grammy.
The top end was giving me headaches, so I decided to move on out to number ten. Why not throw Trailer Bride's Flying Saucer in there for camp value? It's such a charming song, and when I downloaded it, I didn't realize it was an instrumental. I was just waiting for the words to come in, and it bounced playfully along, teasing me with words that would never come. So okay, it's not on the all time top ten, but it's on my personal top ten, and I never said that I wasn't talking about my personal top ten of all time/the past century.
I figured I should include a Southern Culture on the Skids song, too, because most people don't realize that they do quality instrumentals reminiscent of the surferbilly (I think that's a valid permutation of the rockabilly and surfer styles that were prominent then) era. Deja Varoom? No, I think Jack the Ripper parts 1 & 2. You wouldn't believe that the song was done after 1965. And it's tight.
Then I realized I was neglecting the earlier instrumentals; Dave Brubeck's Take 5, Dick Dale and his Deltones, and Duane Eddy's Rebel Rouser (Yikes, I thought that one was called Rabble Rouser). Gee, that could be 6 through 8 right there. Great musical pieces, but they lose points for being removed from my time. Who am I forgetting? Well, lesse. I consider Brubeck to be rock, even though he's pretty much jazz, just cause he's white, and white people didn't do jazz back then. But he got me thinking about jazz; specifically the seminal favorite by Booker T and tha MGs: Green Onions. There is so much funk in that piece that it can knock you straight through time to a point in the not too distant future: the Average White Band's Pick up the Pieces. They get an honorable mention, but I think actually saying "Pick up the pieces" at the end of the song disqualifies them. That, and the list was getting full.
And then I realized I forgot the Minibosses. I was thinking Contra but I love Kraid-Metroid soooooo much. Let us just say that you should go to minibosses.com and download everything. That is, if you're an old school NES gamer. If not, too, because it's that good.
Did I forget anyone? Well, yes, of course. Just going through my .mp3s, I saw Angelo Badalamenti's theme to Twin Peaks (called "Falling" when Julee Cruse sings words to it). Does that count, because an alternate version exists with words? I do not know. I believe it's a chicken and egg problem, so I will just disqualify them with an honorable mention.
I do like
I hope you weren't expecting a finished list. Art is in the process, not the product.