I’ve decided on a merger of sorts. Over the last few years I’ve been thinking about who would end up being my ten favorite bands of the 1990’s. It took me five years to figure it out, but I’ve finally done it. I’m not doing a stupid countdown or anything, either, because it’s simply impossible for me rank my ten favorites. Each of them have meant so much to me at different times for me to pick one over the other. Perhaps I have an inkling of who my favorite two or three bands are from that era if someone had a gun to my head, but nobody does. See?

So here’s the deal. Over the next ten weeks, my MP3 of the Week feature will showcase a song from my ten favorite bands during the decade when music moved me most. Perhaps during that time it was msuic that even moved me like nothing else has in my life. It changed my career. It changed my tastes. It opened my eyes to all formats and genres. It indirectly, and probably most importantly, made me more accepting of people, no matter what race, religion or sexual preference. It cemented important friendships that remain steadfast and true to this day. It made too many truly unforgettable moments and memories. What a time.

So I hope you are able to download even a few of these songs over the next few installments and experience the soundtrack to my life for a decade.

First up are the Bottle Rockets. I’ll probably say something like this every week, but I don’t really have enough space here (or writing talent, for that matter) to explain what an incredible live band this is. Just know that there was a time when I was absolutely, positively convinced that a live show couldn’t get any better. Until I saw Sloan, that is, but that’s another story.

The Bottle Rockets were originally (and probably unfairly) a part of the great alt.country scare of the 1990’s. Let it be said here: this band is a rawk band, tried and true. Hailing from the small town of Festus, Missouri, they’re certainly bound to throw in a few southern accents here and there, but they’re fooling nobody – this was thee most rocking bar band you would have seen back then. There was nobody better.

They were also a little older, fatter and had longer beards. They somehow played great guitar solos while chugging entire pitchers of beer onstage. When someone once yelled, “show us your tits!” at a show in New York, they happily obliged, undoubtedly making that person, and the rest of us, regret that request being made. One particular highlight still makes me smile: one night at The Mercury Lounge in NYC, they came out on stage with a bucket. Inside the bucket were all of the songs they had ever recorded and they proceeded to let the fans simply pick songs out of the hat for the rest of the night. That was their set. Classic. I still have thier original t-shirt, too, which is a complete rip-off of the Harley Davidson logo, and while it’s largely relegated to the pile of shirts I only wear under my hockey equipment anymore, at one point it was in very heavy rotation in my daily life.

The Bottle Rockets also serve another specific memory for me – it was at their show in Austin, Texas sometime in the late 1990s where I believe I got as drunk as I ever have in my lifetime. By the end of the show, I was sitting against the back wall of the Waterloo Brewing Company, just smiling at what I was witnessing. Rock bliss.

In looking for a song, I can’t say that Nancy Sinatra is my favorite Bottle Rockets song, but I do believe the song speaks to everything this band is all about – well written tributes from middle America. Drunken tributes, maybe, but tributes nonetheless. This song is specifically written from the point of view of a regular dude who just happens to be watching some late night TV and comes across an infomercial selling one of those 1960’s retrospectives called “Swinging Sounds of the Sixties,” and features some Nancy Sinatra footage. They paint the rest of the picture….

Give it shot, won’t you? Let me know your thoughts if you care to.