I’m not doing a “best songs of the decade” post because, well, there’s still another year left whether anyone admits it or not. No jumping the gun here, no sir.

I will, however, share a list of great songs I listened to this year. Now, granted, these are hardly songs from 2009. There’s one, but the rest are nowhere near it. What I mean to say is that these are some of the best songs I listened to in 2009. And I don’t mean to be contrary–I just open the door and see what wanders in. That’s my process of fishing around for new music.

Everything old is new again. Most of these songs were hardly new to me in 2009. Some were, but I’ve known most of them for years and years. So I guess you could say they took on a new context or fell out of the blue at just the right time and suited me to a tee. Essentially, this list of what 2009 sounded like to me.

A good song is a good song no matter where you find it (or re-find it, in my case). Watching Lost, I heard songs that reappeared with new color and life. Songs like “Shambala” and “Make Your Own Kind of Music.” They’re ancient, reaching back into my childhood. My dad used to hum or sing or deconstruct Three Dog Night songs constantly, and while I was really kind of annoyed as a kid, it’s been long enough that it’s not so bad now. Bringing them into my ongoing leviathan playlist has been a treat.

Most other songs on the list have long been imprinted in my music DNA. Gladys Knight, the Fifth Dimension, the Spinners… Their melodies are interchangeable with my memories–I don’t see where one stops and the other picks up.

The Darjeeling Limited was a surprisingly enjoyable soundtrack, perhaps the best I’ve heard in ages. (Since High Fidelity, at least.)

The best thing, musically, that I uncovered this year was the Temptations’ discography. Hearing them on the radio has always been wonderful, and they have an awesome array of pop masterpieces floating through the airwaves. But delving into their albums has been incredibly rewarding. I’m very glad the stray thought to do so stuck.

Best song I’ve turned up this year: Definitely David Ruffin’s “I’ve Lost Everything I’ve Ever Loved,” by a mile. Though Paul Williams’s lead vocal on “Don’t Look Back” is excellent too. Driving around, doing Census work this past spring was very, very nice; not because of the work, but because I could roam around the Eastern Panhandle, listening to the Temptations and get paid for it.

Okay. Well, here’s the list:

01. Three Dog Night “Shambala”
02. Mama Cass “Make Your Own Kind of Music”
03. Fifth Dimension “Wedding Bell Blues”
04. Shankar Jaikishan “Bombay Talkie”
05. Gladys Knight & The Pips “Midnight Train to Georgia”
06. Spinners “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love?”
07. Beach Boys “Heroes & Villains (Mono Version)”
08. David Ruffin “I’ve Lost Everything I’ve Ever Loved”
09. Nat King Cole “It’s Only a Paper Moon”
10. Temptations “Don’t Look Back”
11. Tom Waits “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)”
12. Demon Beat “Bad Man”*
13. Eels “All the Beautiful Things”*
14. Elvis Costello “Oliver’s Army”
15. Shankar Jaikishan “Typewriter Tip Tip Tip”

*Not available in this compilation.

Top Songs of 2009