Sonic Youth – Dirty: #385 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Sonic Youth - Dirty

So why is Sonic Youth’s Dirty on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

I’d wager that for most Sonic Youth fans or heads or stans or whatever the kids are calling it these days, Dirty would not be their most favorite album.

Dirty is my favorite Sonic Youth album, and thus it gets the best billing in these here best 1,000 albums ever rankings.

A good chunk of the reason for this is “100%,” my best-est Sonic Youth song of them all.

And man, “100%” starts with that crunch crunch crunch-y guitar that kicks off into orbit.

Here’s something else I realized about “100%,” and maybe this is one of those weird mini-epiphanies that hit in middle age that are strikingly obvious to the more (sonic) youth-types: this is a song that gets better and better the LOUDER you turn it up.

A 100% of my love up to you true star
It’s hard to believe you took off, I always thought you’d go far

“Sugar Kane” is also a Top 5 Sonic Youth song for me*. I’ll lean on this description of the song, from Medialoper: “…a variation on the classic “Baba O’Riley,” “Sweet Jane” chord changes, with Kim Gordon’s bass carrying much of the load as both guitars float around.”

I also hunted around a bit to find out what the song is about, and opinions ranged from the fact that Sugar Kane is the name of Marilyn Monroe’s character in Some Like It Hot to, “Yo, it’s about cocaine, right?”

* “Kool Thing,” off of Goo (#568 of best 1,000 albums ever), “Incinerate” from Rather Ripped (#778), and “Silver Rocket” from Daydream Nation(#426) likely round out my Sonic Youth Top 5, though let’s not consider that official, shall we?

The ideal version of Sonic Youth for me is most often when they fuse their inventive, experimental, and art rock inclinations with a core pop music sensibility and killer hooks. “Chapel Hill” is an exquisite example where it all works swimmingly. And check out the downbeat harmonies that rival the best by the likes of Alice in Chains.

Personal stuff that has something to do with Sonic Youth’s Dirty

I wish I could say that I was hip to Sonic Youth and Dirty when it was released in 1992, but I totally wasn’t! Beyond the era being pre-Internet and the time and effort required to discover new music in those days (especially indie and underground stuff), it took me years to get on and get with Sonic Youth’s unique frequency. I had a similar experience with Pavement, for what it’s worth.

One of the great joys of this best 1,000 albums ever project is that I carved out the space to really spend time with bands/musicians who had long languished on my “I should really do a deep dive on at some point…” list.

With some (Bruce Springsteen and any number of current pop and rap stars, for example), I confirmed that it’s mostly just not my thing. And with others, like Sonic Youth and Pavement, things clicked and unlocked and synced (or something!) in a way that would never have happened either at other points in my life or if I hadn’t given them a concentrated listen at this point in my life, or both.

And on a final note, there were a few rare cases – such as with Kanye West – where I had to wrestle with some classic “art versus artist” questions to try to figure out where I’m at with them and, most importantly, their music.  

Some stats & info about Sonic Youth – Dirty

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Indie Music, Alternative Rock, Noise Rock, Experimental Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
  • When was Dirty released? 1992
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #385 out of 1,000

Sonic Youth’s Dirty on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Sonic Youth’s Dirty that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

You’re perfect in the way, a perfect end today.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.