Photo by Kenneth Bachor
Top Songs is a feature in which we definitively handpick the very best songs in an artist or band’s catalog. Sounds simple, right? Oh, if only.
Most articles about Mark Mulcahy, Polaris, or Miracle Legion take on a similar tone. They tell a tale tinged with disappointment, one of underappreciated talent, rough breaks, and falling just short of a dream after coming tantalizingly close to it. This isn’t one of those pieces.
This list is about the dozens of people I’ve met who found The Backyard or Surprise Surprise Surprise in their youth and carried it with them into adulthood. It’s about several older friends still able to vividly describe a Miracle Legion show they attended 30 years ago. It’s about a frontman who opened up Thom Yorke to new ideas about songwriting and singing. It’s about a guitarist who helped inspire Ryan Adams to pick up an acoustic guitar. It’s about two friends who reinvented themselves as a duo after losing their rhythm section and came back as a full band with their most experimental album to date after being left for dead in major label purgatory. It’s not a story many bands would script out for themselves, but it’s one worth telling — even if to an audience of thousands rather than millions.
In anticipation of Miracle Legion’s upcoming reunion show at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, we pored over a catalog we love and came up with these 10 songs. They’re songs we wear like comfortable, old clothes, and yet they continue to tug and catch when we put them on, as if to let us know there’s still something else left to be discovered, confronted, or appreciated in them. Really, that’s what this article is about: a batch of damn-good songs far too meaningful to ever leave us feeling disappointed.