I recently made a big career change. It’s scary and exciting, but I can tell that it’s mostly exciting, because whenever I think about it, this song pops into my head …
“I’m tired of the old shit. Let the new shit begin!”
That’s the Eels’ ode to getting on with moving on, Old Shit/New Shit, and it just so happens that they released a new album quite recently. So in celebration of new shit and new albums, I thought I’d ressurect my “Mega-List” tradition, where I pick a favourite band and choose my 50 favourite tracks by them.
So here it is. I’ll write a little about selected tracks, and include a quote from each song (seeing as E’s lyrics are often the best part). If you’re a fan of Eels, please let me know what you think of the choices. If you haven’t heard much of them before, I hope this post will help you set off on a journey to discover their incredible music!
(Note: Songs from the newest album weren’t eligible for this list)
50. Hello Cruel World – A Man Called E (1992)
“Hello cruel world/So this is you/A broken heart/But with a view”
It’s a bit weird to start the list off with a track that isn’t strictly by the Eels (it’s from an early solo album by main man, E) but considering the title, it couldn’t be more appropriate.
49. The Man – Tomorrow Morning (2010)
“The old homeless guy who smells like pee/Stops talking nonsense and says “Morning, E”
48. Trouble with Dreams – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005)
“Trouble with dreams is you can’t pretend/something with no beginning has no end”
47. Fashion Awards – Shootenanny (2003)
“Let’s go down to the fashion show/With all the pretty people and piles of blow”
46. New Alphabet – Wonderful Glorious (2013)
“When the world stops making sense/I make a new alphabet”
45. Selective Memory – Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)
“I wish I could remember/but my selective memory won’t let me”
44. Love of the Loveless – Shootenanny (2003)
“I got something that you need/I got the love/Love of the loveless”
43. Grace Kelly Blues – Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)
“The kid in the mall works at hot dog on a stick/His hat is a funny shape, his heart is a brick”
42. All in a Day’s Work – Shootenanny (2003)
“When I was born the doctor said/there’s something wrong inside that baby head”
The band opened with this the only time I’ve ever seen them live. E was nowhere to be seen. Then he appeared on the balcony amongst the crowd, playing harmonica. It was brilliant.
41. The Good Old Days – Shootenanny (2003)
“It’s up to you and me, and who’s to say?/These could be the good old days”
40. Peach Blossom – Wonderful Glorious (2013)
“Open the window, man, and smell the peach blossom/The tiger lily/The marigold”
39. The Only Thing I Care About – Broken Toy Shop (1993)
“Played every record that I owned today/But the only thing I care about got away”
Another one from an early solo album, which I don’t even have because it’s kind of rare. I found out about this song via. the ‘Eels with Strings’ live album – and that live version is still favourite.
38. Mental – Beautiful Freak (1996)
“They say I’m mental ‘cos I’m not amused by it all”
37. Ant Farm – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“Hate a lot of things/But I love a few things/And you are one of them”
36. Efil’s God – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“Don’t close your eyes as I turn into dust”
35. Kinda Fuzzy – Wonderful Glorious (2013)
“In my heart there lives a little riddle”
34. Hospital Food – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“Tiptoe through the alley and tiptoe through your life/You’ve still got comin’, be it gun or be it knife”
33. Fresh Blood – Hombre Lobo (2009)
“You gotta pull me out of this mud/Sweet baby, I need fresh blood”
32. Electro-Shock Blues – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“Write down, I am OK/A thousand times, the doctors say/I am OK/I am OK/I’m not OK”
A harrowing, minimilast song with lyrics adapted from the notebook of Elizabeth Everett (E’s sister). Elizabeth was institutionalised then committed suicide shortly before E wrote this and most of the ‘Electro-Shock Blues’ album.
31. The Beginning – End Times (2010)
“Everything was beautiful and free, in the beginning”
30. The Medication is Wearing Off – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“See this watch she gave me?/Well it still ticks away/The days I’m claiming back for me”
29. Bus Stop Boxer - Souljacker (2001)
“One lucky kid waiting for the bus/made a winner out of one of us”
28. Losing Streak – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005)
“Feeling like the weight that weighed a ton/is lifted off my shoulders now/My losing streak is done”
27. Old Shit/New Shit – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005)
“I’m tired of the old shit/Let the new shit begin”
26. That’s Not Really Funny - Souljacker (2001)
“The little boy will wipe his nose because it’s runny/Then point at me and laugh, but that’s not really funny”
25. 3 Speed – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“Looked into the sky last night, and I thought I saw a bomb/Why won’t you just tell me what’s going on?”
24. To Lick Your Boots – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005)
“People spend their days trying to find new ways/to put you down, all over town/But they’re not fit to lick your boots”
23. Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“Laying on the bathroom floor/Kitty licks my cheek once more/And I – I could try/But waking up is harder when you wanna die”
It’s one of the most brutal, emotionally-raw openings to an album ever. And I love it for that. However, it makes it one of the least appropriate albums ever to put on at a party.
22. Hey Man, Now You’re Really Living – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (2005)
“Do you know what it’s like to fall on the floor/cry your guts out till you’ve got no more?/Hey man/Now you’re really living”
21. Bombs Away – Wonderful Glorious (2013)
“I’m no longer keeping my mouth shut/Bombs away! Gonna shake the house”
20. Dog Faced Boy - Souljacker (2001)
“Ma won’t shave me/Jesus can’t save me/Dog faced boy”
19. Saturday Morning – Shootenanny (2003)
“I’m gettin’ up and comin’ over/We’re gonna rock the neighbourhood!”
18. Somebody Loves You – Shootenanny (2003)
“Somebody loves you, and you’re gonna make it through”
E has known his fair share of depression and tragedy. So when he tells you that everything will be OK – because no matter who are somebody loves you – that means a lot.
17. Sound of Fear – Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)
“Some people like to call me Chuck/It’s Charles, and you are shit out of luck”
16. Climbing up to the moon – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“It’s getting hard to tell where what I am ends and what they’re making me begins”
15. Souljacker, Pt 1 - Souljacker (2001)
“Trailer park of broken hearts/Won’t let you leave until you’re bleeding”
14. PS. You Rock My World – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“I was at a funeral the day I realised/I wanted to spend my life with you”
Electro-Shock Blues is a record that really takes you on a journey, and it’s nice to have that journey end on a relatively positive note. Especially when it’s as masterful as this.
13. Tiger in my Tank – Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)
“I bought some rock-star ashes from the back of Rolling Stone”
12. My Descent into Madness – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“Twenty days go by and every day looks the same”
11. I Like Birds – Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)
“It’s all right if you act like a turd/Cos’ I like … birds”
10. Manchild- Beautiful Freak (1996)
“I will quietly standing by/While slowly I am dying inside”
This song makes me want to cry. I could be wrong but I’ve always assumed it was about E watching his sister fall into a downward spiral – which is heartbreaking considering Elizabeth’s eventual fate.
9. Susan’s House – Beautiful Freak (1996)
“TV sets are spewing Baywatch, through windows into black”
8. Going to Your Funeral Pt 1 – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“Going to your funeral and feeling I could scream/Everything goes away”
7. Fresh Feeling - Souljacker (2001)
“Old paint is peeling/This is that fresh – that fresh feeling”
Most of the description I’ve written are for the sad songs, but the Eels work often has great humour to it. It can also be genuinely uplifting, as this track shows.
6. Beautiful Freak – Beautiful Freak (1996)
“You’re such a beautiful freak/I wish there were more just like you”
5. Cancer for the Cure – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“Father knows best about suicide and smack”
4. Flyswatter – Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)
“Field mice, head lice, spiders in the kitchen”
3. Novocaine for the Soul – Beautiful Freak (1996)
“Life is white, and I am black/Jesus and his lawyer are coming back”
The Eels biggest hit (it made the US Top 40) is a little masterpiece of 90’s indie rock.
2. Mr E’s Beautiful Blues – Daisies of the Galaxy (2000)
“God damn right, it’s a beautiful day”
My introduction to the band. Perfect pop in every way.
1. Last Stop: This Town – Electro-Shock Blues (1998)
“You’re dead but the world keeps spinning/Take a spin through the world you left”
Another incredible pop song, yet it’s also crammed full of the same eloquent misery that makes so much of E’s work so interesting. The two elements are balanced brilliantly – making it a track I can listen over and over again.
Hey, you made it all the way to the end! Wanna check out more lists like this? There’s plenty of Flaming Lips and Radiohead right this way.