Posted by: John Adams | February 4, 2009

25 Songs to Remember the 90’s By: Part 5

5. “Adia” – Sarah McLachlan

“We are born innocent / Believe me, Adia, we are still innocent.”

Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan’s name entered the national news in 1998 when letters written by Monica Lewinsky to Bill Clinton were published in the daily news. (Apparently, Monica really liked McLachlan’s song “Do What You Have To Do” and recommended it to the president.) McLachlan’s voice, however, is what has made her an international star. There are few vocalists, past or present, who can match the sweetness of Sarah’s croon. On this apologetic-sounding ballad, the emotion in her voice makes me shiver. Since “Adia,” Sarah has continued to pen hit songs, started her own girl-power music festival (Lilith Fair), and is known these days for being that girl in those annoying won’t-you-rescue-an-animal commercials.

4. “Two Sets of Jones'” – Big Tent Revival

“Is your life built on the rock of Christ Jesus / Or a sandy foundation you’ve managed to lay?”

As their name would suggest, Big Tent Revival’s music was always a platform for their evangelistic message. This song follows the story of “two sets of Joneses,” one Christian and one not, and traces the different outcomes of their stories as life’s storms hit them. Big Tent Revival’s other hit, “Choose Life,” would be used as the invitational at the Harvest Crusades. Eventually, the band called it quits and front man Steve Wiggins went on staff with a church in southern California, fulfilling the calling he’d wanted all along.

3. “Dreaming of You” – Selena

“Late at night when all the world is sleeping / I stay up and think of you.”

This was Selena’s first and only hit, due to the fact that she was murdered by the manager of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, in Corpus Christi, Texas, on March 31, 1995. Upon discovering that Saldivar had been embezzling funds, Selena went to a motel to discuss it with her, which is where Saldivar shot her. Tom Brokaw would eulogize her on the nightly news, calling her “the Mexican Madonna,” and Texas Governor George W. Bush would declare her birthday, April 16, “Selena Day.” In 1997, a biopic starring Jennifer Lopez as Selena was released to critical acclaim and popular success.

2. “Bittersweet Symphony” – The Verve

“It’s a bittersweet symphony, this life / Try to make ends meet / You’re a slave to the money, then you die.”

Richard Ashcroft’s 1998 masterpiece doesn’t even bear his name on the song credit–but not because he didn’t write it. Soon after its release, the song was embroiled in a legal dispute with the Rolling Stones due to the fact that the song is built upon a sample from an orchestral performance of the Stones’ 1965 track “The Last Time.” While the majority of the song is clearly Ashcroft’s creation, the legal agreement stipulated that songwriting credits and royalties from the song go to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, prompting Ashcroft to wryly comment that it was “the best song the Rolling Stones had written in 20 years.”

The song has gone on to become an international phenomenon, being covered by other artists like Ben Harper, Moby, Coldplay, and Oasis. It has featured prominently in several advertisements and is even the theme song for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Ashcroft said he doesn’t feel bitter about the fact that he hasn’t made any money off of its success: “As long as I can play this song I’m happy to pay a few of those guys’ bills.”

1. “Kiss Me” – Sixpence None The Richer

“Lift your open hand / Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance /
Silver moon’s sparkling.”

What better song to enter puberty with than this Texas band’s poetic ode to lip-locking? Sixpence’s breakthrough single hit the airwaves in 1999, when I was on vacation in the mountains of western North Carolina, and on the cusp of entering high school. I liked it then, enough to buy the album. Ten years later, it still feels comfortable, like an old pair of shoes that you really like. It’s the song that reminds me most of the 90’s, even though at the time I first heard it, I didn’t realize I was leaving that decade–and the childhood that went with it–behind.

So I’m curious to know what would have made your list. What songs take you back to a different part of your life? Please let me know in the comments box below.



  1. The list was great! Big Tent Revival was unexpected, but very good. Sixpence was expected, and appropriately placed at number one.
    Although these don’t mean anything to me, “Fly” by Sugar Ray and “I get knocked down” by Chumbawumba seem very 90’s to me.

  2. Oh yeah, Chumbawamba could’ve made my list. That was a good song.

  3. “Two Sets of Joneses” is indeed a classic. So is “Kiss Me”, especially since it was filmed in Paris!

  4. “Take me to your Leader” by the Newsboys.

    “Smooth” by Santana. (Although this is more teen years.)

    I think you covered everything else.

  5. Okay, so I thought about some songs I would add to this list… here they are in no particular order:
    “Semi-Charmed Life” Third Eye Blind
    “Wonderwall” Oasis
    “Ironic” Alanis Morisette
    “Iris” Goo Goo Dolls
    “Meet Virginia” Train
    “Stay (I missed you)” Lisa Loeb
    “You Were Meant for Me” Jewel
    “The Freshmen” Verve Pipe
    “Just a Girl” No Doubt
    “MMM Bop” Hanson (Annoying, meaningless song, nevertheless, I LOVED it…lol)
    “Breakfast” and “Shine” Newsboys
    I also love Jars of Clay’s first album, but I think the songs I listened to the most were “Flood” and “Love Song for a Savior”

    These are just a few of the songs I remember listening to over and over again, besides almost all the one’s on your list… Brings back memories… :):):)

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