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Tied to the 90s: 14 songs to help people planning their ten year HS reunion this summer Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Posted by Yostal in 90s rock, DeadOn's Resident Pop Culture Historian, Gen X&Y, Reasons why I am single, Tied to the 90s, Yostal.

Tied to the 90s

Welcome back to “Tied to the 90s“, a not-very complete guide to a decade that was. I’m your host, Yostal, and once more, I’ll be taking you through the pop culture landscape of the 1990s. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please email me at GoinYostal@gmail.com or leave me a comment.

Today, as promised, we’ll be looking at: 14 songs to help people planning their ten year high school reunion this summer. After swearing for nearly a decade that I would not be the one planning my 10 year high school reunion last summer, I was part of the triumvirate that pulled off a very successful shindig. One of the best parts for me was that I was allowed to make the master playlist for the party. I culled the finest from 1992-1996 and got a number of compliments for the list. But, if you’re a member of the Class of 1997, you may be looking for some additional tracks to make your own playlist. So with that in mind, here’s 14 songs that you might want to consider including as you awkwardly reunite with some people whom you maybe haven’t seen in nigh on a decade. Similarly, along the way I’ll be providing you with some helpful reunion survival tips.

1). “The Old Apartment” by Barenaked Ladies from their 1997 album Born on a Pirate Ship

Probably better known from its appearance on the nearly ubiquitous (at least here in SE Michigan) live album, Rock Spectacle, this song is easily one of my strongest musical memories of the year. A great BNL track, a little silliness, but a great deal of heart. The simple lesson of this song is how we deal with change and how what was often seems better than what is now. It’s sad, but hopeful at the end. The memory of this song will likely be stronger in places within yelling distance of Canada, so your mileage may vary on the inclusion of this track.

2). “The Battle of Who Could Care Less” by Ben Folds Five from their 1997 album Whatever and Ever Amen

Come on, no matter how inescapable it was in 1997, you’re not playing “Brick” at your reunion. At least I really hope you aren’t, but you want to include some Ben Folds. No problem, include this wonderful anthem to apathy. If anything, many of your fellow reunion attendees will love your sense of humor for including a track about how they may really feel about your reunion. (Helpful tip: Name tags are your friend, and include some sort of subtle sign to indicate if someone was a member of the class, or just the spouse/fiancee/date of one of the attendees. It’ll be far less awkward that way.)

3). “Zoot Suit Riot” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies from their 1997 album Zoot Suit Riot

You may want to forget it, but 1997 was the peak of the Swing revival movement (damn you Swingers!) So you’re going to need something to give a nod to the genre, but not hammer on it, well, I mean, unless most of your class is a professionally trained dancer, then all bets are off. But, while you could Setzer, or BBVD, I think this one is my favorite track, in part because it’s actually named for something that actually happened in Los Angeles during WWII.

4). “Keep Hope Alive” by The Crystal Method from their 1997 album Vegas

Probably better known for showing up as the theme to Third Watch (hence the YouTube clip), and other media, this is a great piece of electronica, built around a sample of Jesse Jackson’s keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. You’re going to want something that can just be playing as you make small talk. Which brings us to another helpful tip: If you’re going to lie, make sure you have one lie and stick to it. You’re not clever enough to work around a tapestry of lies, OK?

5). “I Will Buy You a New Life” by Everclear from their 1997 album So Much for the Afterglow

OK, this may be slightly cruel to have on your reunion playlist, since the implication that the purchase of a new life is needed, but really, it’s just a good Everclear track, and as much as it is a downer on the surface, it is sweet, the singer’s longer to make life better for the two of them, in spite of the flaws and faults. There’s something reassuring about that. Which brings us to another reunion tip: Don’t bring up anyone’s past unless they bring it up first. It’s just a good away to avoid awkwardness on both sides.

6). “Everlong” by Foo Fighters from their 1997 album The Colour and the Shape

Stemming from Dave Grohl’s relationship with Veruca Salt front woman Louise Post, the Foo Fighters signature song, David Letterman’s favorite song, the exit music for Monica and Chandler’s wedding on Friends, and just a damn fine piece of video from Michel Gondry, you need this song for your reunion playlist. I don’t know what more needs to be said. You gotta promise not to stop when I say when.

7). “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day from their 1997 album Nimrod

If you went to 95% of American high schools in 1997, this track was likely your class song, and you thought you were so clever for picking a track that you felt perfectly summed up the high school experience (and then, three years later, you were thankful that you didn’t have to suffer through Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever)” as your class song. Isn’t it odd that Green Day’s two biggest hits in the U.S. are down tempo numbers? Oh, another reunion tip: Know your drinking limit so you don’t make a fool of yourself that you won’t be able to live down until 2012.

8). “The Impression That I Get” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones from their 1997 album Let’s Face It

Every few years, there is a claim by the people in the know in the music industry that there is a ska revival going on in our midst. I think that for as long as we have kids in high school bands who want to find a way to get their friends from the brass section involved, there will always be a ska undercurrent in this country. Anyway, you have a high energy number that will keep things rolling along to another reunion tip: Don’t use your reunion to tell the girl that you secret have had a crush on for the last ten years how you feel about her. Talk to her, catch up, get the email address, then, three weeks later, spill. It’ll be far less awkward for you when she politely stops talking to you.

9). “Hypnotize” by The Notorious B.I.G. from his 1997 album Life After Death

I’m sure that someone could put together a fine hip-hop playlist for you, if that is the way your class’ musical tastes ran. I’m also sure that there could be a wonderful country playlist put together as well. But, in the wake of Biggie’s death (and his penchant for showing up at parties when summoned in a mirror), you need this track which has an awesome bassline and makes reference to Blue’s Clues? Wait..what?

10). “Don’t Go Away” by Oasis from their 1997 album Be Here Now

I don’t want to say too much about this because I have a major Oasis post coming up sometime this summer and I don’t want to use my A-Material on a throw away inclusion here, but you do kind of need this song, even if it is from the latter half of the year. “Don’t Go Away” is a wonderful anthem to longing for more time and holding fast when the world is slipping away from beneath you, one half of the weird duality of emotion you get at the end of high school, sad because it’s over, but ready to move on to the next chapter. It will evoke powerful memories. The line “Because I need more time to make things right” leads us to yet another reunion notion: Bury the hatchet. It happened, it’s in the past, and if it can be forgiven, it should be. Ten years is too long a time to nurse a hurt, too long to be angry at someone, especially if you were friends before it happened. Find a way to forgive, and begin again on new terms.

11). “Breathe” by The Prodigy from their 1997 album The Fat of the Land

Because at some point, you’re thinking that you want your reunion to look like a John Woo film, with quick cuts, flashing ambient lights, guys with a pair of handguns diving across the floor of a crowded club, shooting at each other with reckless and wanton disregard for the other people there and you’ll need a driving song in the background to put it all in perspective and create a YouTube masterpiece for all the world to see. Thank you The Prodigy, you’ve solved all of our problems!

12). “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind from their 1997 album Third Eye Blind

Yeah, this probably wasn’t a good choice, but remember, it’s arguing against suicide, which you may feel like you need at the end of the reunion night. Plus, if you play the B-Side of the single, it’s “Graduate”, so you have that tie in as well. But it does have a good guitar solo at the end of the song, something else there as well. The reality is, it was this or “Semi-Charmed Life”, you know, the song about crystal meth addiction? Any other single, and we start sliding into 1998…

13). “Come Down” by Toad the Wet Sprocket from their 1997 album Coil

This song is on here solely because I wanted some Toad on the playlist, and “Crazy Life” didn’t seem appropriate what with it being about the Leonard Peltier case and all (and yet, somehow, “Jumper” did. I make no sense of my own logic, so it’s best not for you to try either. ) Additional reunion tip: Wear something that photographs well, as this may be the last memory people have of you until 2017.

14). “Happy” by Travis from their 1997 album Good Feeling

I wanted to end on an up note, and the Scotsmen do it for me here (plus, it wouldn’t be right to have a column called “Tied to the 90s” without discussing a song from the album from which I drew that phrase). Though most Americans probably still don’t know of the band, and those who do wouldn’t have heard of them until The Man Who, this is a great upbeat sing-along song that will hopefully sum up your reunion experience

And I’m so happy ’cause you’re so happy
I’m so happy ’cause you’re so happy
I’m so happy ‘ause you’re so happy
And I’m so happy ’cause you’re so happy

Really, if you can go away feeling that, you’ll be all set. I wish all of you Ol’ 97s going to your ten year this summer the best of luck. Have a great time!

That’s all I have for this week. I genuinely hoped you enjoyed it, and please come back next week for another edition of “Tied to the 90s”. Until then, this has been Subcommandante Yostal, logging off.



1. ladyandrea - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I love the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies album and I also love the story behind Zoot Suit Riot, but it is nowhere near the best one from that CD.

2. goathair - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wow. ’97 was a good year for singles.

Also, while we’re talking swing music, Squirrel Nut Zippers are awesome.

3. Elric VIII Emperor of Melnibone - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

“Graduate” is better for 1998 anyway, as it was on the soundtrack for Can’t Hardly Wait (which is either one of the best soundtracks out there or worst – I can never decide)

Unfortunately, the song that got played to death in 1997 was How Do I Live . . . but that’s probably best left forgotten and off this list.

4. ladyandrea - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I love Squirrel Nut Zippers and I love you for knowing about them. I also love Royal Crown Revue.

5. Yostal - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lady Andrea,

Of anyone I know, I think you would end up pulling off one of those classic 1940s swing-era dresses with the most aplomb.

And darn it, I knew I was forgetting someone in the Swing revival.

6. Peter Cavan - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What about something for those of us planning (or waiting for someone else to plan) a 15-year reunion? How about some KLF? A little “Baby Got Back?” Firehouse, anyone?

Once again I’m reminded I might be slightly outside the DeadOn demographic.

7. Jerkwheat - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We has demographicz?

Will that make us more popular?

8. Yostal - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You know Peter, not opposed to that…Give me two weeks?

9. ladyandrea - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Yost, that may be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. I wish I could get a few custom-made because actual 40s dresses are always too small. They didn’t grow ’em like me back then. : )

Peter, you are not slightly outside anything. I love Firehouse. Love of a Lifetime is one of my top power ballads.

10. Peter Cavan - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

@Yostal: Take your time. I’m still waiting for the invitation to my 10-year reunion.

11. SA - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Goathair you are indeed right. Some of my favorite songs came out in ’97.

And thanks a lot Yost. After reading this I realized that at my 10-year high school reunion the only thing I’ll hear are the Backstreet Boys, Nsync, and Britney Spears.

Damn graduating in 2003.

12. Peter Cavan - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I just downloaded Firehouse’s first album. I haven’t heard these songs in 15 years, and I’d forgotten how awesomely bad they were. I wish I could say I hate Firehouse, but I’d be lying. If I did my next five guilty pleasure songs, either “Don’t Treat Me Bad” or “Love of a Lifetime” would have to be on that list.

13. Yostal - Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Never fear, my quick modern rock playlist for 2002-03:

“When I’m Gone” by 3 Doors Down
“Swing, Swing” by All-American Rejects
“The Boys of Summer” by The Ataris
“I Miss You” by blink-182
“Clocks” by Coldplay
“Caught in the Sun” by Course of Nature
“Get Loose” by The D4
“We Used to Be Friends” by The Dandy Warhols
“Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional
“Grace is Gone” by Dave Matthews Band
“Somewhere in the Middle” by Dishwalla
“Danger! High Voltage” by Electric Six
“The Only Way (Is the Wrong Way)” by Filter
“Times Like These” by Foo Fighters
“Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne
“Falls on Me” by Fuel
“Here Is Gone” by Goo Goo Dolls
“I’ve Got a Feeling” by Ivy
“The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” by Jason Mraz
“Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet
“Clarity” by John Mayer
“Spin” by Lifehouse
“Why Can’t I” by Liz Phair
“Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5
“Bright Lights” by matchbox twenty
“I Saw” by Matt Nathanson
“Inside of Love” by Nada Surf
“Little By Little” by Oasis
“Breathe In” by Paloalto
“I Am Mine” by Pearl Jam
“Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service
“Bad Day” by R.E.M.
“Come Around” by Rhett Miller
“Wonderwall (cover)” by Ryan Adams
“Faraway” by Sleater-Kinney
“Good Souls” by Starsailor
“Get to Me” by Train
“Love Will Come Through” by Travis
“Electrical Storm” by U2
“A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton
“I’m Still Here” by Vertical Horizon
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
“Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard

14. DougOLis - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You’re truly trying to kill me with the lack of Radiohead (OK Computer) again aren’t you? I guess because it came out at the beginning of the summer it might not belong, but then again some of those came out in later 97 too.

This may be localized to San Diego, but any 1997 songs damn well better include Dammit from Blink 182’s Dude Ranch.

If anyone plays Creed, I will personally come to you and cut out your kidneys.

Other songs to consider: “Bittersweet Symphony” – The Verve
“The Difference” – The Wallflowers
“Sex and Candy” – Marcy Playground
“Du hast” – Rammstein
“Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” – Will Smith (hate it but it was huuuuge)
Something from “Come on Over” – Shania Twain
“Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” – Backstreet Boys
“Don’t Speak” – No Doubt
“Tubthumping” – Chumbawumba
Wasn’t this about the time Weird Al was popular too?
“3AM” – Matchbox Twenty

Sorry for taking up so much space; at least I’m not as angry as 2 weeks ago.

15. steve - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

If I never hear Tubthumping again, it will be too soon. I hated that song when it came out, and still do… with a passion.

16. the_bad_one - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

1.) “The Old Apartment” – The drive from my best friend’s house to our high school is exactly the same length as the radio version of “The Old Apartment.” This was determined after a rigorous battery of tests.

2.) “Battle of Who Could Care Less” – Excellent call on the Ben Folds here. But you know you’re going with “Kate” if you have a friend with that name.

7.) “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” – I simply cannot stand this song. I hate it so very, very much. If I ever hear it again, it’ll be too soon. It’s not that I hate slow Green Day, it’s just something about this song and how overplayed it was on the radio and overused on TV.

8.) “The Impression That I Get” – This song, on the other hand, I continue to love. Yes, I do play the trumpet. Why do you ask?

14.) Happy – Well, “U16 Girls” would just be really inappropriate (PS: Travis!).

17. gordonshumway - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You are always the awesomest, Yost.

My very own class of ’97 reunion is this summer… I’d like to hear a little Sister Hazel, if you want to know the truth. That probably makes you all think less of me.

That Everclear album is fantastic, but I think it came out post-graduation in ’97… it was totally the soundtrack to the first semester of freshman year though.

18. Jerkwheat - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

gordo – I too share a secret Sister Hazel enjoyment.

19. DougOLis - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I never said that I liked the songs; just ones that were popular around that time and deserved a mention.

20. ladyandrea - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

G-Shum, All For You is one of my favorite songs from 1997.

21. Yostal - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

J-Money…Good call. That Sister Hazel song is an excellent choice. I always liked “Change Your Mind”, even if Al Gore claimed he had been listening to it on the campaign bus during Choose or Lose 2000.

22. MoL - Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I echo your sentiments. As a ’97 graduate (or any year for argument sake) there is a fine line between songs that I relate to high school and those that relate to college. No offense to Yostal here, but the majority of these songs I associate with freshman year rather then senior year. A couple of picks that I recall from winter/spring of ’97:
I’ll Be Missing You — Puff Daddy
Jenny Says — Cowboy Mouth
Return of the Mack — Mark Morrison
You Make Me Wanna… — Usher
The Freshman — Verve Pipe
One Headlight — The Wallflowers
No Diggity — Blackstreet
I Want You — Savage Garden
Da Dip — Freaknasty
Pony — Ginuwine
Secret Garden — Bruce Springsteen
The Refreshments — Banditos

23. Yostal - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

None taken MoL, not being my grad year, that fine line of distinction that I do have with 1996 is less clear for 1997, so I completely understand. Sadly, iTunes had no Month/Year sort function, so I appreciate the corrections.

24. gordonshumway - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MoL- I LOVE Cowboy Mouth. Thanks for mentioning them.

And I just listened to the Refreshments’ Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy yesterday. Why did they have to break up before they could write another 74 songs about Mexico???

25. DougOLis - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

When was Peaches by POTUSA popular?

26. J.L. White - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My 10-year reunion (which I won’t attend) is also this year, and this list is helpful. However…..only 1 rap song? For 1997? Not very representative of the times, wouldn’t you say? Sorry, just that some of those songs don’t ring a bell for me, that’s all.

/being a self-centered dick

27. Yostal - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

J.L. White,

My knowledge of rap and hip-hop is painfully small, and I admit this freely. To pretend that I had some deep insight into the rap and hip-hop world in 1997 would be disingenuous at best, but I fully acknowledge that this list is largely reflective of my own personal musical experience.

28. MoL - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Does anyone else associate “Good Riddance” with the montage prior to the last (and underrated/underappreciated) last episode of Seinfeld?

29. Jerkwheat - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MOTHER FUCKER! Did I just see some Cowboy Mouth love?

The Mouth damn near made me pass out from exhaustion with their energy.

30. gordonshumway - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerkwheat, between that comment and our shared birthday, sometimes I think we are siblings.

31. Jerkwheat - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I was in the front row one time and Fred made me hug everyone next to me and was all ARE YOU WITH ME JERKWHEAT?!?!!?

but seriously, they are another great band to talk to as well – great, down home New Orleanians

32. DougOLis - Thursday, May 17, 2007

MoL: I absolutely do for better or worse.

33. Hail Leroy - Thursday, May 17, 2007

MoL – Count me in with DougO; every time I hear that song (far too often) I think of the last ep of Seinfeld.

Second the call on “Kate” but basically anything other than Brick or Song for the Dumped from W&EA would work. Maybe Steve’s Last Night in Town?

And speaking of being outside the DeadOn demo – I’m rapidly approaching 20-year territory, but I don’t know that I could deal with seeing a track list from 1988; basically a wasteland as far as I can remember

34. Encouraging Referee Pittman - Thursday, May 17, 2007

From Michigan and no love for 3rd wave ska? For shame!

OK, yeah, I still like it. Who wants some? :)

35. ray - Thursday, May 17, 2007

please continue with these 90s mixtapes. these are the greatest blog posts ever.

go on with the chlorophyll!

36. SA - Thursday, May 17, 2007

Add another in the Sister Hazel and Cowboy Mouth love.

Hmm…some hip hop in ’97. I’m a fan of rap but I honestly can’t think of anything.

37. SA - Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oh, and good song choices Yost. I’m more optimistic about my high school reunion. If I ever change my mind and go to the thing.

38. Greek McPapadopoulos - Thursday, May 17, 2007

I approve. Suggestions:
Blur – Song 2
Dandy Warhols – Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth
Cornershop – Brimful of Asha
Offspring – Gone Away
Our Lady Peace – Superman’s Dead

But good stuff!

39. Michael - Friday, March 14, 2008

Quick point: Biggie says “bruise crews who do something to us.” Sadly, no mention of “Blue’s Clues” in that great song.

And, no offense, that list of songs for 2002-03 is straight-up awful. Granted, 1999-2003 or so was one of the worst times in history for most white-guys-with-guitars bands, but still. Dashboard Confessional, Lifehouse, and 3 Doors Down are all atrocious. Here is some help:

“Relative Ways” – . . . And You Will Knows Us by the Trail of Dead (one of the best rock songs of the last 20 years)
“So Says I” – The Shins
“Has It Come to This?” – The Streets
“Seen the Light” – Supergrass
“There Goes the Fear” – Doves
“The Laws Have Changed” – The New Pornographers (probably the best anti-G.W. Bush record made)
“No One Knows” – Queens of the Stone Age
“PDA” – Interpol
“Maps” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (if you wanna count this as 2004, I understand)
“Do You Realize???” – Flaming Lips (come on, that is MUST)
“Bandages” – Hot Hot Heat
“Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” – Broken Social Scene
“Silence Is Easy” – Starsailor (superior to “Good Souls”)
“Don’t Know Why” – Norah Jones (softer, but a huge hit and quite lovely)
“I Believe in a Thing Called Love” – The Darkness
“Cry Me a River” or “Rock Your Body” – Justin Timberlake (simply huge, and two great singles)
“Up the Bracket” – The Libertines (you have to be a fan of this band, right? The Brit Next-Big-Thing who actually were that great?)
“I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” – Wilco (I am assuming no YHF was an oversight)
Anything from Sea Change by Beck
“Work It” or “Gossip Folks” – Missy Elliott (the greatest female hip-hop artist of all time at her peak; “Da Rain” could have made the 1997 list, but that is forgivable)
“Without Me” – Eminem (perhaps Em’s funniest song, and also his best lead single of any of his albums, better than “My Name Is” or “The Real Slim Shady” or “Just Lose It”)
Any 50 Cent single from Get Rich or Die Tryin’

And the God-strike-you-down miss: “Hey Ya!” by OutKast. For Christ’s sake, that was the only song on American radio in the summer and fall of 2003, AFAIK. The only on other song that sticks out clearly from that time was “Danger. . . High Voltage!” We should collaborate in the future, I think. . .

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