2011 MUST HAVE: Top Classic Tunes by Seattle Bands

Photo: Erik Simkins

Want to call yourself a Seattleite? Add these ditties to your iPod.

Few American cities are as closely associated with their music scene as Seattle. The metropolis that gave birth to grunge music, flannel-clad youth and Sub Pop Records has a long and storied musical tradition. As such, whether you’re a lifer or a newcomer, your MP3 player should properly reflect your appreciation for these rock and roll roots. Are these Must-Have classics part of your regular playlist?

Photo: Erik Simkins

Alice in Chains | Would?

A song from a Seattle band about a deceased member of a Seattle band, famous for being on the Singles soundtrack, the most Seattle of Seattle movies. Doesn’t get more Seattle than that.

Band of Horses | No One’s Gonna Love You

The 3rd track on the trio’s 2007 Cease to Begin album has a dark, mellow tone and sounds like a gloomy, overcast, drizzly day. In other words, like any Seattle day from November to April.

Blue Scholars | North by Northwest

This eclectic hip hop duo was spawned on the University of Washington campus and this track pays tribute to their Emerald City roots, making reference to The Stranger, the Mariners and the “sight of Coffee shops on every single block.”

Green River | 10,000 Things

This seminal Seattle band featured Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, and Mudhoney’s Marc Arm. While never achieving the success level of other local bands, they made history as the first band to release a record on Sub Pop and are widely recognized as the first “grunge” band.

Guns N’ Roses | It’s So Easy

Okay, Guns N’ Roses is not a Seattle band. But bass player Duff McKagan is a Seattleite and he co-wrote the 2nd track on the band’s multi-platinum debut, Appetite for Destruction. If this song doesn’t make you want to chug whiskey and fight in an alleyway, you don’t have a pulse.

Heart | Magic Man

If you’re not familiar with this hard rockin’ 1970s hit, then you’ve never listened to a classic rock station. This is the Wilson Sisters at their best, before they started producing sugary power pop for the MTV crowd.

Hey Marseilles | Rio

This song is the antithesis of the Seattle band stereotype – and, as such, an indicator of where our jewel of a music scene has been headed. No heavy guitar chords, no primal howling, no sadness; just an upbeat tune that features cello, trumpet and a lot of hand clapping.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience | Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

There may be more popular Jimi Hendrix songs but there aren’t any as sonically profound. Jimi’s guitar work is so powerful you almost believe he could, in fact, stand next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of his hand.

Kenny G | Songbird

Just kidding. Sure, Mr. G might hail from Seattle, but no self-respecting music aficionado would be caught dead with one of his songs on their Ipod. And playing his songs because they “help you fall sleep” is not a valid excuse.

Mother Love Bone | Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns

Another track from the film Singles, this marriage of two songs is the emotional spine of the soundtrack, a fitting tribute to the band’s late singer, Andrew Wood, given his friendship with the other musicians on the album.

Nirvana | Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle

It’s not the best Nirvana song ever recorded, but clearly a tortured Kurt Cobain empathized with the plight of Farmer, the controversial Hollywood actress and fellow Seattle native. Plus, you get to hear Cobain screech about the “disease-covered Puget Sound.”

Queensrÿche | Jet City Woman

Jet City isn’t the most popular nickname for Seattle, but clearly this hit song from the Bellevue-based metal band had something to do with the Emerald City based on the amount of references to the rain.

Pearl Jam | Why Go

While it was never released as a single, this track is the epitome of what put this band on the map in the early ‘90s.  It’s a loud, relentless, angst-ridden trip into the psyche of an unlucky young woman whose life clearly sucks.

The Presidents of the United States of America | Peaches

This isn’t the kind of song that will have you rethinking the way you look at the world, but it is damn catchy. Plus, the video featured the band fighting with ninjas.

The Sonics | Have Love Will Travel

Ok, so our editor-in-chief is the proud niece of this band’s sax player. Point aside, no other band — worldwide — is as often cited as being the “founders of garage rock” as this 1960s-era Tacoma band. Despite their seemingly dated founding, this band still rocks — currently selling out shows around the world (including a recent “homecoming” New Year’s Eve show in Olympia) and even releasing a new album, “8.” It’s difficult to hone in on one and only one “must listen” song but the feet (yeah, both of them) tapping tune that is “Have Love Will Travel” is a top favorite. And, of course, when that stellar sax solo comes around we’re certain you’ll be hooked.

Soundgarden | Outshined

If you were only allowed to take one Soundgarden song with you onto a desert island, this would be the one. The low, thunderous guitar and Chris Cornell’s high-pitch wailing make this an absolute masterpiece that served as a bridge between ‘80s metal and ‘90s grunge.

Temple of the Dog | Say Hello to Heaven

This band, featuring members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, was formed to pay tribute to the late Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. While “Hunger Strike” was the bigger hit from this collaboration, this song is a more personal homage to their fallen friend.