Sonic Youth are my favorite band. They have been for over 30 years now! Amazing! No other group affects my ears like Sonic Youth does. Their music has been the soundtrack to my life and I love it so. I have had the pleasure of meeting Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley from SY but never have I had the chance to meet Thurston Moore or Kim Gordon. Perhaps the future holds some cool surprises!
Either way, here are my Top Ten Sonic Youth videos. This is not a definitive list, as my preferences change depending on when I am asked, but these ten videos are fucking awesome.
Sonic Youth - "Mildred Pierce"
This short number was one of my faves off the "Goo" album. It starts off with a grimy bass groove and the builds and builds to what may be my most favorite recorded scream, outside of certain Doors classics. It's kind of like a grooving punk tune that explodes near the end into the kind of freakout skronk that Sonic Youth do so well.
Sonic Youth - "Disappearer"
This awesome slow-burner is the song on Good that leads into the previous entry, "Mildred Pierce." I love this song. I love the video. Just gorgeous.
Sonic Youth - "Mote"
When I first listened to Sonic Youth I did not realize that there were two different male voices. When I finally understood this I had an even greater appreciation for the SY. This track, my favorite Lee Ranaldo song, is like the epitome of what Sonic Youth do. The first half is an amazing riff-heavy rager counter-balanced by Lee's melodic and clear singing. The second half? a noise-rock skronk masterpiece that I memorized upon countless repeat listens. The video itself is a lo-fi freakout of found porn and war footage interspersed with grainy pixel video of Lee performing the song alone.
Ciccone Youth - "Macbeth"
Sonic Youth was always informed by the pop music world, even if it was only to ridicule it. The members of SY, along with some friends, created Ciccone Youth, a riff on Madonna's last name. The self-titled album is awesome and this track may be my favorite off of it. Noise as beauty. Melodious chaos. Gorgeous sonic moments composed of pure squalls of feedback. The video was filmed by the one and only Dave Markey, who filmed the amazing 1991: The Year Punk Broke.
Sonic Youth - "Teenage Riot"
I had heard of Sonic Youth, but had never seen a video of theirs on MTV (and I watched a LOT of MTV back in the 80's). One day, while up late recording videos off of 120 Minutes with my VHS, I saw this and taped it. I watched it over and over and over again. I had never heard anything like this before! It was so different from the Van Halen, Megadeth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Misfits, and Jane's Addiction music I was listening to at the time. It is my all-time favorite SY song. The pastiche video gave me my first glimpse of these noise-rock heroes of mine.
Sonic Youth - "Hoarfrost"
This is perhaps Lee Ranaldo's finest "quiet" track. It is a perfect meditation on the stillness and silence that greets you on a cold, frozen morning. This song makes me think of memories, of the past, of lives that were not mine.
Sonic Youth - "Drunken Butterfly"
Sonic Youth had a contest to see if any fans could make a video for a song off of their "Dirty" album. The puppets won. I love this song. It is one of my favorite Kim Gordon tracks. I remember driving through downtown Houston with my roommate Scott blasting this track and marveling at it's heaviness.
Sonic Youth - "Death Valley '69"
An early masterpiece of paranoia and fear and outright exultation! The album this song comes from, "Bad Moon Rising" is a very dark album tonally. It speaks of the ugly, hidden layers beneath 1980's plastic America. This song used to scare me, with it's dual-perspective lyrics sung by Thurston Moore and Lydia Lunch detailing kidnapping and torture out in the California desert, a la the Manson family. The video is, I think, a Richard Kern production, and equally sordid and grimy.
Sonic Youth - "Shadow of a Doubt"
This was the second SY video I taped off of the 120 MInutes. What a vastly different song than "Teenage Riot." From pensive rhythms, to shouts and fear, back to slowness and quiet desperation. It was the first time I began to fall in love with Kim Gordon. I would watch it and wonder if this was even a proper song! That is how different SY sounded to my metal/punk ears.
Sonic Youth - "Silver Rocket"
Oh man, when I first heard this song on the "Daydream Nation" album. It hit home right away. It startts off like a hardcore punk romp and Thurston screams about the rocket in his pocket and then it blows the fuck up! Noise! Skronk! Then the riff comes back baby!!!!!!!