Pitchfork.com presents The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to The Greatest Songs From Punk to the Present

by Haley Cullingham

Music geeks, rejoice! Pitchforkmedia.com, one of the websites responsible for bringing essential and respected music criticism to the world of the internet, has released The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide To The Greatest Songs From Punk To The Present. The first noteworthy thing about this bright orange tome? It’s list begins in 1977, with David Bowie’s Heroes, automatically separating it from the pack of musical best-of lists by skipping ahead, past the 30 years of musical invention that usually dominate most collections of the greats. Pitchfork has created a modern musical encyclopedia. This is not your parent’s best-of list, it’s yours, and the books goes out of its way to celebrate all the things that have made the last three decades some of the most exciting and inspired in music history.

From the Introduction, written by Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber, this book displays an exhaustive love for music of all kinds. Aside from the 500 songs, which range across all musical genres, from The Clash to Grandmaster Flash to Johnny Cash, the book includes specific lists of the top tracks from out-there musical niches, like Italo, No Wave, and Yacht Rock, as well as the best use of indie songs in commercials, and a list of songs about 9/11. Opening to a random page reveals efforts from The Roots to Neutral Milk Hotel, Portishead to DJ Shadow, Johnny Boy to Justice Vs. Simian. By the time you reach Chapter 9: 2003-2006, you feel torn between intense musical nostalgia, inspiration to become a DJ, and a fervent desire to get drunk and dance until your feet fall off.

Beyond the musical inspiration, the book’s dead-on interpretations of popular culture, and the ever-changing musical climate, are as illuminating as the website’s usual efforts. As the intro to Chapter 9 says, "No doubt the globalization of the music landscape, where elements from every place and time are up for grabs, has only just begun. Here’s what it looked like as it was just beginning to hit it’s stride." So spend an afternoon curled up with this book, and then spend the next few days myspacing new bands, searching through used disc racks for Patti Smith albums, and forming your own eloquent thoughts about the musical past, present, and future.