Back in 2012 I counted down my favorite 90s albums and Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Dulcinea landed in the tenth spot.
That feels low to me as I sit here and contemplate the album and its impact on me back in 1994, but when I check out the titles that rounded out the top ten it’s hard to justify moving it up against such stiff competition.
Best Albums of the 90s – #10
Dulcinea – Toad the Wet Sprocket (1994)
I recently named Toad the Wet Sprocket as my favorite 90s band so it should come as no surprise that their best album shows up on this list.
Dulcinea, released in 1994, is so good that today’s SOTD marks the sixth song I’ve featured from it, and I featured one of those twice.
Best 90s Artists – #1
Toad the Wet Sprocket
I’ll admit, it was a bit of a struggle to come up with ten bands for a 90s countdown. The decade pales in comparison to its predecessors, whether it’s the British explosion of the 60s, the singer-songwriter movement of the 70s or the New Wave cool of the 80s.
The defining sound of the 90s — grunge — is almost by definition unpleasant to the ear. It’s often more about attitude than sound.
It’s funny how you can know, and even love, a song for years and never really grasp what it’s about.
Maybe you just never take the time to really pay attention to the lyrics. Maybe the music works so well that the singer may as well be singing Chinese for all you care. Maybe the words seem too cryptic to bother deciphering.
But one day you pay a little more attention than usual or read something that makes you see the song in a new light, and suddenly its meaning is glaringly obvious. That’s what happened to me recently with Toad the Wet Sprocket’s ‘Fly From Heaven.’
My wife’s car comes with an electronic woman who talks to us. She is the voice of the SYNC technology that runs the radio. We tell her “Play track ‘In My Life'” or “Play artist Justin Bieber” and she replies “Playing track ‘In My Life'” or “Playing artist Justin Bieber.”
We used to think she was a lesbian because when we set her to random, she always played songs by Sarah McLachlan and Indigo Girls. We’ve since changed up the list of songs fed into the system and now she doesn’t seem like a lesbian anymore.
Many songs are written about the most important and profound issues we face… love, loss, the search for meaning, that sort of stuff. A song that touches people on that level is a special thing indeed.
But far less ambitious songs can be special, too.
Toad the Wet Sprocket has released its share of both kinds of songs. In particular, Dulcinea (their best album) is a wonderful mix of depth and frivolity. On the one hand, the album is named after Don Quixote’s lover and features a song called ‘Windmills’ that explores that novel’s most famous metaphor.