Top 100 Songs: 2024 Edition

I really love music and with anything I love that much, I have an innate desire to reflect on through a ranking list. I first started this making favorite music lists around 2012 and completed a somewhat definitive list (for the time) around 2016. You can find that list HERE. In the eight years since my last awards my tastes have both broadened and sharpened and I've been excited to make another list to see where my tastes stand. Moreso than my taste in films, my enjoyment of certain songs can rise up and down with different seasons - how many times have you been passionate about a song one year only to be embarrassed by it the next?

This list is an attempt to identify those songs that have stuck with me past an initial enjoyment; songs that I'd like to keep for the rest of life. The library of Congress inducts songs based on the criteria of being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. Consider this the 100 songs I find culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant to me. In other words, I'm not looking to make a list that has impacted the world's culture, history, or that the world find aesthetically significant; I'm looking to make a list of songs that have culturally, historically, and aesthetically impacted me. 

A couple of notes about the 2024 edition of my list before I jump into it:
  • By my count - there are about 40 or so new songs to this top 100. 
  • The 60's and 70's are clear standout decades with 22 and 23 entries respectively. The 90's comes in third with 16 entries, the 80's fourth with 13 entries, the 00's fifth with 12 entries, the 10's sixth with 8 entries and the fifties seventh with four entries.
  • 1964 is my most prolific year with six entries on the list. 1970 and 2003 each had five entries with 1981 seeing four.
  • I didn't consider any songs past 2020 since they haven't had enough time to settle into my tastes. Besides, I don't keep up well with contemporary music, I find most of it pretty empty and difficult to enjoy. 
  • I've identified a top ten and loosely arranged it thematically. I think it's a bit more meaningful and captures how I feel about those songs better.
  • I've arranged songs 11-100 by their release date instead of ranking them. Three reasons here: there's so much fluidity between the songs it was an impossible task, I think the chronological layout gives more interesting insights, and it saves a lot of time.
  • Finally, I've chosen not to write major descriptions outside of the top ten. I spent so much time compiling and thinking about the list, I just lost steam in posting it. This was a practical decision in order to just get the thing finished!

100. "Father, Son, Spirit" -Jason Upton (2015)
99. "Satisfied" - Cast of Hamilton (2015)
98. "No Longer Slaves" -Bethel Music (2015)
97. "Shut Up and Dance" -Walking the Moon (2014)
96. "Vivir Mi Vida" -Marc Anthony (2013)
95. "Mirrors" -Justin Timberlake (2013)
94. "I Shall Not Want" -Audrey Assad (2012)
93. "Sweet Nothing" -Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch (2012)
92. "Viva la Vida" -Coldplay (2008)
91. "Wake Up" -Arcade Fire (2005)
90. "Ordinary People" -John Legend (2004)
89. "Medley: Give/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus/With or Without You/Your..."-Third Day (2003)
88. "Sunrise" -Norah Jones (2003)
87. "Mr. Brightside" -The Killers (2003)
86. "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" -Jet (2003)
85. "Stay Together for the Kids" -Blink 182 (2001)
84. "King of Glory" -Third Day (2000)
83. "Smooth" -Rob Thomas feat. Santana (1999)
82. "Everlong" -The Foo Fighters (1997)
81. "Killing Me Softly" -The Fugees (1996)
80. "Don't Speak" -No Doubt (1995)
79. "In the Light" -DC Talk (1995)
78. "When You Say Nothing at All" -Alison Krauss (1995)
77. "Wonderwall" -Oasis (1995)
76. "You Don't Even Know Who I Am" -Patty Loveless (1994)
75. "All I Want For Christmas Is You" -Mariah Carey (1994)
74. "Mr. Jones" -Counting Crows (1993)
73. "Passionate Kisses" -Mary Chapin Carpenter (1992)
72. "Black" -Pearl Jam (1991)
71. "His Eyes" -Steven Curtis Chapman (1988)
70. "Deeper Than the Holler" -Randy Travis (1987)
69. "Don't Dream It's Over" -Crowded House (1986)
68. "I Dreamed a Dream" -Cast of Les Miserables (1985)
67. "Beat It" -Michael Jackson (1983)
66. "That's All" -Genesis (1983)
65. "Amarillo by Morning" -George Strait (1982)
64. "Don't You Want Me" -The Human League (1981)
63. "Leader of the Band" -Dan Fogelberg (1981)
62. "In the Air Tonight" -Phil Collins (1981)
61. "Under Pressure" -David Bowie feat. Queen (1981)
60. "Pledge My Head to Heaven" -Keith Green (1980)
59. "Back in Black" -AC/DC (1980)
58. "Rock With You" -Michael Jackson (1979)
57. "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" -Elvis Costello (1979)
56. "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" -The Charlie Daniels Band (1979)
55. "Mr. Blue Sky" -Electric Light Orchestra (1978)
54. "September" - Earth, Wind, and Fire (1978)
53. "Sultans of Swing" -Dire Straits (1978)
52. "Vienna" -Billy Joel (1977)
51. "Dreams" -Fleetwood Mac (1977)
50. "Hotel California" -The Eagles (1976)
49. "More Than a Feeling" -Boston (1976)
48. "Born to Run" -Bruce Springsteen (1975)
47. "Landslide" -Fleetwood Mac (1975)
46. "Piano Man" -Billy Joel (1973)
45. "Let's Stay Together" -Al Green (1972)
44. "Too Late to Turn Back Now" -Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose (1972)
43. "Take Me Home Country Roads" -John Denver (1971)
42. "Tiny Dancer" -Elton John (1971)
41. "What's Going On" -Marvin Gaye (1971)
40. "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" -Stevie Wonder (1971)
39. "ABC" -Jackson 5 (1970)
38. "Layla" -Derek & the Dominoes (1970)
37. "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" -Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)
36. "Father and Son" -Cat Stevens (1970)
35. "Something" -The Beatles (1969)
34. "A Whiter Shade of Pale" -Procol Harum (1968)
33. "Strawberry Fields Forever" -The Beatles (1967)
32. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" -Marvin Gaye (1966)
31. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" -The Rolling Stones (1965)
30. "Unchained Melody" -The Righteous Brothers (1965)
29. "Like a Rolling Stone" -Bob Dylan (1965)
28. "My Girl" -The Temptations (1964)
27. "The Sound of Silence" -Simon & Garfunkel (1964)
26. "Fly Me to the Moon" -Frank Sinatra (1964)
25. "Oh, Pretty Woman" -Roy Orbison (1964)
24. "A Change is Gonna Come" -Sam Cooke (1964)
23. "Don't Worry Baby" -The Beach Boys (1964)
22. "Be My Baby" -The Ronettes (1963)
21. "I Saw Her Standing There" -The Beatles (1963)
20. "One Fine Day" -The Chiffons (1963)
19, "Ya Got Trouble" -Cast of The Music Man (1962)
18. "Palisades Park" -Freddy Cannon (1962)
17. "Runaround Sue" -Dion (1961)
16. "America" -Cast of West Side Story (1960)
15. "At Last" -Etta James (1960)
14. "Johnny B. Goode" -Chucky Berry (1958)
13. "Why Do Falls in Love" -Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers (1956)
12. "Mack the Knife" -The Louis Armstrong (1955)
11. "Be Thou My Vision" -Various Artists (1912/1919)

*Grouped into three categories, then arranged chronologically

(Songs 10-8)
 This trio of incredible songs explore the frustrations, difficulties, and regrets of life.

10. "About Today" -The National (2007)
Commentary: I first discovered "About Today" through the 2010 film Warrior. The song plays over an incredibly powerful final sequence and it moved me deeply. The music made such an impression that I sought out the lyrics and really hoped they would live up to what I was feeling. They tell a simple story of two lovers who are drifting apart and slipping away.

Today you were far away
and I didn't ask you why
What could I say
I was far away
You just walked away
and I just watched you
What could I say
How close am I to losing you
Tonight you just close your eyes
and I just watch you slip away
How close am I to losing you
Hey, are you awake
Yeah I'm right here

Well can I ask you about today
Relationships are tough and like giant ocean liners they can be tough to steer in the right directions. Not sure I've heard many songs focus on such a narrow but pivotal moment in steering a relationship. The narrator is feeling disconnected from his lover and realizes that he missed a key moment earlier in the day. I love that the narrator takes action to awaken his lover and ask her "about today". The slow but building arrangement here captures both the menial triviality of the moment but somehow conveys a kind of eternal significance to this seemingly simple task. The opening guitar riff sounds for a moment as if it will launch off into the direction of a U2 song, but when the acoustic picking comes in, it becomes its own thing. The song is so simple that it can be easy to miss just how well it magnifies the importance and difficulty of the little moments.

9. "Hurt" -Johnny Cash (2003)
Commentary: I think this is one of the greatest songs and music videos of all time. I will spare you the background on the song's origin and how Cash came to cover it, I feel it has been told a million times by now. If you are unfamiliar then give the song's Wikipedia entry a quick read over. Ever since I was a young boy I have been drawn to cynical views of life. When people would toss out simple proverbs like, "The early bird gets the worm!" all I could ever think about were the counter examples of those who showed up early and never got an advantage. It's only later in life that I realized the Scriptures understood the tension in their wisdom literature as well. The entire book of Proverbs is stacked with basic "rule of thumb" proverbs that are often true about life, but are also not true. The book of Ecclesiastes is like a counter-punch to anyone who puts their entire trust into simple A+B+C proverbs. It comforted me to read that God was acknowledging, through the writer of Ecclesiastes, some of my most cynical thoughts about life: we are all going to let each other down, life's pleasures are often very unfulfilling, storing up treasure on earth is worthless, and we are all going to die. These are powerful and sobering truths about our broken hearts in a broken world.

In "Hurt" the "three chords and the truth" aspect of country music moves from individual moments of life (falling in love, teaching your daughter to drive, driving country roads) to regretful reflection on a life full of brokenness. Every insight I found powerful in the book of Ecclesiastes is represented here filtered form the pen of Trent Reznor and through the haunting and vulnerable vocals of Johnny Cash.
What have I become?
Everyone I know goes away in the end
My empire of dirt
I will let you down, I will make you hurt
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts, I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time, the feelings disappear

You are someone else, I am still right hereIt's heart-breaking stuff. It's wisdom coming to us from a life lived. Guys, all of the stuff country music most often is about - gaining love, losing love, working hard, having fun, family, pickup trucks, dogs, beer, etc - mean nothing in the end unless we keep who we were made to be. The final line of the song hopefully talks about redemption, "If I could start again, a million miles away, I would keep myself, I would find a way." In other words, all of those things in life are not the reason for living - they are an empire of dirt. If he could do it all over, he'd find a way to keep himself. One cannot help but here the phrase from Christ echoing here, "What profit a man if he gain the world and lose his soul?" This is why I think this is the ultimate country song - the ultimate "three chords and the truth" - because it is ultimately a gospel song about our brokenness and our need for redemption. I think that's why so many find such power in the song as well. What is the final word from Ecclesiastes then? In light of our brokenness and our inability to control our lives, we must humble ourselves, fear and love the Lord, obey his commands, and enjoy the life we have. 

8. "One" -U2 (1991)
Commentary: Like "Hurt", my love for this song has considerably grown over the last 10 years: the soaring and reflective vocals, the considerate and complex take on love/diversity/unity, and the incredible guitar backing. It's so good at capturing the nuances of relationship struggles with a desire to keep unified.

(Songs 7-4)
 This quartet of incredible songs capture the great beauties and enjoyments of life.

7. "Just Breathe" -Pearl Jam (2009)
Commentary: I think that if I could wish God to give me the singing voice of anyone, it just might be Eddie Vedder. I like a lot of Pearl Jam's catalog, but I don't think Vedder gets any better than when it's just him and a stripped down sound (see the MTV unplugged performance of "Black" for an example). The simple acoustic guitar and piano arrangement along with his incredible voice will almost never feel dated to me and it appeals directly to my musical sensibilities. Seriously, this song feels like it could have been recorded in almost any decade from the 1950's on. Lyrically, this is a perfect song to follow the last trio of "Songs About Life's Difficulties" because it's the perfect answer to them all. It begins with an acknowledgement of death and suffering, "Yes I understand, that every life must end, as we sit alone, I know someday we must go". It then quickly pivots to what we should do in spite of impending difficulties and death - gratitude and accepting the moment. It's a beautifully humanistic song but I think it also leaves open a more spiritual interpretation. For me, the following lyrics...

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't, I'm a fool, you see
No one knows this more than me...
As I come clean
I wonder every day
As I look upon your face
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take...
Everything you gave
Hold me 'til I die
Meet you on the other side

Can just as well be read as spoken to God as much as they could be spoken to a lover. It clearly leans more toward a lover, but I think the truth and power of the song works both ways.

6. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World" -Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (1990)
Commentary: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's cover of Garland and Louis Armstrong's classic tune manages to transcend both. I find the song's opening evokes the melancholy longing of Garland's tune without having to deal with the cultural trappings of that 1940's film ballad. This is one of those songs that's entirely about the optimistic and hopeful vibe. Israel's beautiful voice accompanied by the simple ukulele creates the same sublime feeling you get from a beautiful sunrise. That sublime feels comes from a strange contradiction of a melancholy tone but a mirthful lyrics - Is mirthful melancholy possible? Is that a thing? If so, I think it's the kind of thing I gravitate to in art quite often. This is a joy that makes you just close your eyes and feel at peace.

5. "Stand By Me" -Ben E. King (1961)
Commentary: The greatness of this song doesn't really need a lot of explanation. A beautifully simple song about how we can go through the toughest of times as long as we stand by each other. The song is accompanied by a very simple but effective arrangement that features an infectiously memorable bass line that once it enters your head, won't leave for a couple of days. I can't hear this song without thinking of two things, 1) The film Stand by Me and 2) The music video set to this song that was on the Lion King VHS I had growing up. Here is a great alternative version of "Stand By Me" featuring different street performers from all over the globe. Alternative Version: "Stand By Me" from Playing for Change

4. "Shout (Parts 1 & 2)" -The Isley Brothers (1959)
Commentary: I don't think there's a better "fun" song in the world. Sure, there are a lot of "fun" songs in my top 100 that capture the energy and excitement of being alive; often using complex musical arrangements or intricate and poetic lyrics. That's all great. However, "Shout" bypasses all of that fancy stuff and just simply and directly invites the listener to a fun time. There's no complicated dance moves, no sexualization you have to worry about, no vulgarities, no complicated or polarizing musical choices - just musical candy. This perennial wedding dance floor classic is unrivaled in its genre as one of the most pure and wholesome musical adrenaline shots you can get.

(Songs 3-1)
 This trio of incredible songs captured for me the great purpose and meaning in life - Christ.

3. "Son of Man" -Phil Collins (1999)
Commentary: Have you ever received a message from someone in the most unlikely of ways or from a source that surprised you? Perhaps it was a Facebook message from your grandparent, or a letter in the mail from your old boss, or maybe even a phone call out of the blue from someone you knew in High School? The song “Son of Man” by Phil Collins became one of those unlikely messages in the summer of 2001. Even crazier, I immediately felt as though the messenger was none other than God himself! I’m going to give you a second to let that sink in…I know…you are now starting to rethink everything I’ve ever written right? Perhaps you are hoping that I had told you this on the front page of my site in hopes that you could spot the crazy before you devoted your time right? Allow me to fill in some of the details for you in hopes that you haven’t already written me off as one step away from shaving my head and joining a monastery. 

In the summer of 2001 I had just graduated high school and was awaiting my big move to Tallahassee in order to begin attending Florida State University. Along with all the external changes going on, I was also going through a lot of inner turmoil as well. For several years prior I was apathetic toward God, Christ, and spiritual things in general. Although I might have called myself an atheist, I essentially believed that spirituality was unimportant, irrelevant, and confused. I say “confused” because I had many questions about God that I felt no one was able to answer. Those feelings began to change in my senior year of high school as I began to ponder two important questions, “What was the purpose of life?” and “What is a good life?” I tried answering those questions as best as I could, but I found it an impossible task unless I turned to the existence of God. Admittedly, I was not intellectually mature enough to properly explore every reasonable response; yet, in my intellectual and spiritual struggle to answer these questions I kept coming back to the necessity of God. I didn’t know God, I’d never experienced him or heard from him, and I still had a lot of confusing questions that needed answering. Still, I slowly began to open up to the possibility of God and began to offer up prayers to test and see if he really existed.

It was in this context that I felt God answer me through the song “Son of Man”. I remember the moment so vividly; I was mowing our lawn on a hot summer day listening to the Tarzan soundtrack on my CD Walkman. I had heard the song many times before, but when it came on this time, I was immediately stopped in my tracks for some reason. I didn’t hear an audible voice speak to me, but I immediately sensed something that seemed to say, “Listen to these words, they are for you.” This came completely out of the blue (I might've been thinking about roller coasters or something) and was the first time I had ever experienced anything like it. Here are the lyrics of the song, with my thoughts in the parenthesis…

Verse 1 :
Oh, the power to be strong
And the wisdom to be wise
All these things will come to you in time
On this journey that you're making
There'll be answers that you'll seek
And it's you who'll climb the mountain
It's you who'll reach the peak
(I was so impatient for answers, this was comforting and felt like God telling me I was on the right path)

Son of man, look to the sky
Lift your spirit, set it free
Some day you'll walk tall with pride
Son of man, a man in time you'll be
(Although the lyrics are somewhat generic, I felt strongly this was confirmation that my pivot towards God was a correct ‘look to the sky’)

Verse 2:
Though there's no one there to guide you
No one to take your hand, but with faith and understanding
You will journey from boy to man
(WOW, I felt like there was no one who could answer my questions and this seemed like acknowledgment of that. The answer the song suggests is faith and understanding. It couldn’t have been more spot on!)

Verse 3:
In learning you will teach
And in teaching you will learn
You'll find your place beside the ones you love
Oh, and all the things you dreamed of
The visions that you saw
Well, the time is drawing near now
It's yours to claim it all
(Even then, I had the feeling I wanted to be a teacher of some kind. Looking back at the first two lines here are incredibly accurate of how I have come to understanding in my faith.)

Does this mean that I believe with 100% certainty that God spoke to me through this song? No, I don’t think that. It is possible that is was just a perfect storm of coincidences, a coincidence, just a false pattern from a pattern recognizing animal.. I'm fine if someone wants to believe that and at times I still do. What I find more interesting, more important however, is that in the middle of mowing the lawn, with about as distracted a mind as one could have, I sensed that this song was a message from God to me. I didn’t immediately fall to the ground and accept God. No, it was like some kind of immediately personal moment that held me for the few minutes the song lasted. After the song ended, I continued on mowing the lawn and just pondered what the song might mean, and if I was crazy for what I was feeling. 

It wasn’t until several months later and after several other incidents of answered prayer (which I will get to explain in my #1 song) and experiences that I would eventually become a believer in God and a follower of Christ. Over the years since that incidence, I find that what I felt in that specific moment and the song's lyrics themselves have only been confirmed and that’s why this will forever be a meaningful song to me. I would encourage anyone reading this blog to open themselves up to hear from God. My journey began with feeble prayers to a God that I wasn't even convinced existed, yours can start there as well.

“We are all of us more mystics than we believe or choose to believe…We have seen more than we let on, even to ourselves. Through some moment of beauty or pain, some subtle turning of our lives, we catch glimmers at least of what the Saints are blinded by; only then, unlike the Saints, we go on as though nothing has happened. To go on as though something has happened, even though we are not sure what it was or just where we are supposed to go with it, is to enter the dimension of life that religion is a word for.” –Frederick Buechner

2. "I Am Found in You" -Steven Curtis Chapman (1997)
Commentary: Steven Curtis Chapman (or as his best fans call him, S-C-Squared) in the Top 10? I've got to be kidding right? Sure, he's written some cheesy songs and he doesn't have the most updated sound, but he has also written some of the best contemporary Christian music of the last thirty years, and this is not just a favorite of that bunch, but a deeply meaningful one. It's my favorite because it has meant a lot to me personally, in a way that only a song can express exactly what your soul is feeling during a difficult time. To understand that, you are going to need to know a little more about me.

I entered into a very difficult period of my Christian faith beginning in the fall of 2003 that lasted nearly two years The initial excitement and momentum of my commitment to Christ in the fall of 2001 had begun to wear thin and I began to ask serious questions that I had taken for granted in the early stages of my faith. I was in need of seriously rethinking how I understood many of the fundamentals of my beliefs; faith, prayer, and salvation being the big ones. I know now that a life of commitment to Christ will always have seasons of rethinking and questioning (faith is strengthened by a furnace not by a couch), but in 2003 this was my first serious crisis in faith. Despite entering into a time of crisis, I knew that it wasn't going to be a fatal to my faith. Why? Despite feeling and knowing that my faith was lacking vital understanding, I knew I had already gained more in two years with Christ than 16 years without Him. Where else could I go?

You might be asking, "Ummm, congrats overcoming that season and all, but I've been reading for several paragraphs and I don't see where the song figures into this story?" First, thanks for the compliment! Second, the song figures into the story right here. "I Am Found In You" popped onto my radar during this difficult season and put into words the feelings and attitude that I've been trying to describe to you above.
Verse 1:The sun sinks low and here I go
Wrestling with the questions that refuse an answer
This path of faith can be a place
So barren of what I understand
I can hear the voice of fear
Saying let me show you another way
So I cry out my Lord, Jesus
It's in Your love for me
I find all that I need
So where else could I turn
And where else could I go
You have given me life
You have made me whole
You have rescued my soul
So where else could I go
For I am found in you 

In Christ I was found and now in Christ I am bound. One of my favorite quotes of all-time comes from C.S. Lewis, "I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun. Not because I see it, but by it I can see everything else." It was through Christ and Christianity that I understood the world truly, that I understood myself truly. I had serious questions when it came to faith, prayer and salvation (with a host of other minor questions), but who in their right mind would leave behind all that truth because they couldn't currently make sense of a few doctrines? Why cut off the nose to spite the face? "I Am Found in You" reminds me that there is no alternative for me other than Christ, no matter the storms and the questions that remain. "I've been found in You (Christ), now I'm bound to you. By the love that You've shown, It will not let me go".

1. "Amazing Grace" -Various Artists (1779)
Commentary: "God, if you are real, then please reach out and grab me. Show me that you are real," was the simple prayer I whispered into the empty air my first night at Florida State University. I offered the prayer, despite being a declared atheist, while on the verge of slipping into the same depression that destroyed my nominal Christian faith in high school. Alone in my room, I voiced my desperate cry to God.

The next day, while walking through the college student union, a hand reached out and grabbed my shoulder. It was a member of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship inviting me to their big barbecue event that night. I smiled, always a shy person, signed their email list and made my way back home. Hours later, I began to suspect that this invitation might be an answer to my prayer the night before; could God "reach out and grab me" through this member of Chi Alpha? In one of my first real acts of faith, I trusted that this was an invitation from God, visited the barbecue, and experienced the presence of God for the first time in my life. Within a week of my whispered prayer, I decided to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, to aspire to know God more fully, and to serve him in any way He desired.

As I sit here typing the story of how God "reached out and grabbed me" I remain amazed that the whole thing ever happened. One might be able to get a meeting with a local mayor, a congressman might be even harder. A state governor is nearly impossible to meet and one doesn't even consider meeting a President or a King. I wasn't just requesting a meeting with God (the creator of all things, alpha and omega, one and only...yeah...that guy), I was also asking him to do something for me. If HE truly existed and HE truly was the transcendent, omniscient, omnipresent, and sovereign Lord, then who was I to make a request of God? I was an immature 18 year-old who had in the year previous declared himself an atheist. I was a teenager who willingly indulged in activities and thoughts I knew to be contrary to what God wanted (or in Christian parlance, I was a sinner). I was a teenager who had been given nearly every advantage (all my physical needs met, all my wants met, great parents, plenty of friends, and a wealth of life experience), yet squandered it. Here I was, wrecked and reaching out to a God I didn't even know if he existed. Sure, I'd had moments in the months prior that seemed to point towards God (one of them I detailed earlier), but that was months ago, and it was still uncertain if that was just a coincidence. Why would God answer a feeble and desperate cry from a young and immature sinner that wasn't even sure if he existed? Because God is love, that's why (1 John 4:8). It was by the grace of God that he answered my prayer that night.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

We all of us have gone astray from God. We all of us have turned and lost our way (Isaiah 53:6). No other song than "Amazing Grace" better embodies the one thing that transformed my life and the lives of billions all over the world; the grace of God. Grace opens its ear to desperate and feeble cries, it turns its eye upon the sick and the hurting, and it welcomes and embraces the prodigal. Grace warns us through God's prophets and through his commands. Grace sent the Son of God in humanly form to heal and to teach. Grace willingly crawled upon a wooden cross to be crucified and buried in order to make a way for us to return to God. Grace now offers Christ's Spirit to those willing to confess and believe. How amazing is the grace of God!

T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.

As I've updated my top songs list, I still cannot think of one song I'd prefer over this one. It seems that the right song has a way of bypassing our natural defenses and striking us right to our cores, our very souls. This is a song that does that for me. If I was only allowed to have one song for the rest of my life, or for another million lifetimes, then I can think of no better song to have.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

p.s. If forced to pick a version of the song, I would have to say that I most enjoy Angela McCluskey's. It's a slow and powerfully emotional rendition. I especially like the very simple (most renditions get too flowery) piano accompaniment. One of the great surprises of the song is that it can be given a very a soulful treatment like McCluskey's or it can be played fast and joyous like THIS version by Mumford and Sons and still retain it's power. For the grace of God seems to invoke gratitude that sends one to their knees, but also gratitude that impels one to dance! Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the instrumental version on the bagpipes is also extremely powerful.

The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.

When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.

You can enjoy the Top 100 in a Youtube playlist below: