My 10 favorite songs from the most awesome band in the world, Barenaked Ladies

Before I made the trek from Tulsa to Oklahoma City the other night, one of my colleagues at the station in T-town noted on Facebook how “One Week” wasn’t nearly the best Barenaked Ladies song.

And I totally agree.

But his post set me off on a 90-minute BNL listening-fest on the way home, and it inspired this blog post where I’m going to try to rank my Top 10 Barenaked Ladies songs. It’s not that tough to narrow to ten, but ranking them from there is really tough.

I wouldn’t boot a one of ’em.

My relationship with this Canadian band goes back to my days working at Insite Interactive in Dallas, where my buddy Danny turned me on to Steven Page, Ed Robertston and their classics. With Barenaked Ladies, you’ve got a batch of early quirky acoustic classics and the more modern pop gems. This was right about the time “One Week” became popular. It was that tune that put the band on the broader map, although I think I’d argue that it was “The Old Apartment” that separated their acoustic era from the pop one.

One of the things that has always appealed to me about Barenaked Ladies is how positive their songs are, even amid the band’s own turmoil. Steven Page left or was fired a few years ago due to drug problems and bi-polar disorder, as I understand it, and it was kind of heartbreaking for fans who washed themselves in their uber-optimistic vibe. They were sort of the last band you’d expect this from, and it was kind of like seeing your favorite married couple get a divorce.

For what it’s worth, Page did reunite with the band for the band’s 2018 induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and it might portend further reunions. Page told The Globe and Mail that the decision to let him perform with vocal partner Ed Robertson and the rest of the group was up to them.

One never knows what the dynamics were that caused the split, and addiction takes a toll on behavior and relationships, many of which can’t be repaired, especially at a professional level. However, if I could wave a magic wand, I’d love to see these guys roll into their 50s and 60s back together, making crafty new pop music.

They’re the musical heroes the world needs right now, to be perfectly honest.

Well, here goes nothing — my Top 10 Barenaked Ladies songs:

10. Be My Yoko Ono

Favorite line:
I mean if I was John and you were Yoko I would gladly give up musical genius
Just to have you as my very own personal Venus

 

9. It’s All Been Done

Favorite line:
Alone and bored on a thirtieth-century night
Will I see you on The Price Is Right?
Will I cry? Will I smile?
As you run down the aisle?

 

8. Brian Wilson

Favorite line:
You can call me Pavlov’s Dog
Ring a bell and I’ll salivate
How’d you like that?
Dr. Landy tell me you’re not just a pedagogue

 

7. Too Little, Too Late

Favorite line:
I’m gaining strength, trying to learn to pull my own weight
But I’m gaining pounds at the precipice of too late

 

6. One Week

Favorite line: the whole damned song. It is lyrically odd and brilliant. Make no mistake, this is a wonderful tune.

 

5. Falling For The First Time

Favorite line:
I’m so thrilled to finally be failing
I’m so done, turn me over cause it feels just like I’m falling for the first time

 

4. Get Back Up

I really, deeply love this song. It was recorded and released well after Steven Page left the band, and it feels like Ed Robertson wrote this as encouragement to himself and the band. Plus, he references one of my favorite movies, “Moneyball.”

Favorite lines, two of them:
Now I’m ready for the big rebound
I know you can’t win them all, but I’m swingin’ like Pitt gettin’ hits in Moneyball

Standing eight and I’m on the ropes
Knees givin’ but I wont lose hope
Not the second coming of Muhammad Ali, but can I get a “WOOT” for the boxing imagery?

 

3. Pinch Me

As I understand it, this is a tune Ed Robertson wrote largely about feeling down when the band returned to Canada after first having big success in the United States. As always, and as I’m apt to do in my writing as well, BNL makes it all feel upbeat.

Favorite line is really a favorite verse:
On an evening such as this
It’s hard to tell if I exist
If I pack the car and leave this town
Who’ll notice that I’m not around
I could hide out under there
I just made you say “underwear”
I could leave but I’ll just stay
All my stuff’s here anyway

 

2. Odds Are

Truth be told, this is my favorite Barenaked Ladies song — and like “Get Back Up,” it was released after the great Steven Page left the band. This is catchy, clever, positive and 100 percent true. I wish people would listen to this song more often because, truly, regardless of what one is going through, the odds are that it’s gonna be alright.

Favorite line is, again, a whole verse:
Hit by the A-Train, crashed in an airplane
I wouldn’t recommend either one
Killed by a Great White or a meteorite
I guess there ain’t no way to go that’s fun
But somewhere in the world someone is gonna fall in love by the end of this song
So get up, get up
No it’s never gonna let up so you might as well sing along

 

1. If I Had $1,000,000

It’s hard to discount anybody’s opinions; they’re just opinions. But I’d guesstimate that at least 90 percent of BNL fans would list this as their favorite. The way I’d describe it is that, to me, clearly, this is the most beloved classic in their discography and it’s the reason we all fell in love with ’em.

My favorite line, and there’s so many to pick from:
Well I’d buy you some art (a Picasso or a Garfunkel)

It’s like their success has given the rest of us songwriters permission to let our inner nerd shine.

Shine on.

You can find my music at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic

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