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Television is widely regarded as one of the most influential and innovative bands to emerge from the punk and post-punk scenes of the 1970s. Led by the iconic frontman and guitarist Tom Verlaine, the band’s unique blend of intricate guitar work, propulsive rhythms, and poetic lyrics helped redefine the possibilities of rock music and paved the way for countless artists in the decades that followed. With a career spanning four decades and a discography that includes several classic albums, Television has left an indelible mark on the history of music.
In this article, we will take a look at the 10 best Television songs of all time, celebrating the band’s groundbreaking contributions to the world of rock music. From the anthemic “Glory” to the haunting “Days” and the iconic “Marquee Moon,” these songs represent the very best of Television’s singular sound and artistic vision. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the band’s music, this list is sure to provide a thrilling journey through the band’s storied career and enduring legacy.
“Venus” is a classic pop rock song by the band Television, released in 1977 as part of their debut album “Marquee Moon”. The track is characterized by its driving, upbeat tempo, and catchy guitar riffs, which blend together to create a memorable and infectious sound.
The lyrics of “Venus” are simple yet effective, focusing on the theme of unrequited love and the yearning for a distant, unattainable object of desire. The song’s chorus, in particular, is memorable for its repetition of the phrase “I’m your Venus,” which serves as a kind of mantra for the narrator’s infatuation with the titular figure.
Throughout the track, the guitars of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd take center stage, weaving intricate melodies and harmonies together to create a sound that is both hypnotic and energizing. The rhythm section, consisting of bassist Fred Smith and drummer Billy Ficca, provide a steady pulse that drives the song forward.
Overall, “Venus” is a standout track on “Marquee Moon” and a classic example of Television’s signature sound. With its catchy hooks, memorable lyrics, and impressive musicianship, it remains a beloved and enduring part of the band’s legacy.
2. “Marquee Moon”
“Marquee Moon” is the title track of Television’s debut album, released in 1977. The song is widely considered a classic of the post-punk and art-rock genres, known for its intricate guitar work and experimental song structure.
Clocking in at just over ten minutes, “Marquee Moon” is a tour de force of musical innovation, with extended guitar solos and complex time signatures that showcase the virtuosity of guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. The song’s lyrics are impressionistic and poetic, with abstract imagery and a sense of yearning and existential questioning.
The track is divided into several distinct sections, each building on the previous one to create a sense of narrative momentum. The chorus, with its repeated refrain of “I remember how the darkness doubled,” is a standout moment, as is the extended instrumental break that takes up much of the song’s middle section.
Despite its experimental tendencies, “Marquee Moon” remains an accessible and engaging track, with a driving rhythm section and catchy melodies that keep the listener engaged throughout. It is widely regarded as one of the defining tracks of the post-punk era, and a landmark moment in the history of alternative rock.
3. “See No Evil”
“See No Evil” is a classic punk rock song by the band Television, released in 1977 as part of their debut album “Marquee Moon”. The track is characterized by its raw energy, driving beat, and urgent vocals, which combine to create a powerful and compelling sound.
The lyrics of “See No Evil” are confrontational and political, with singer Tom Verlaine railing against the corruption and hypocrisy of those in power. The song’s chorus, with its repeated refrain of “I don’t want to know, I don’t want to see,” encapsulates a sense of disillusionment and frustration with the state of the world.
Musically, “See No Evil” is anchored by the powerful interplay between Verlaine’s guitar and Richard Lloyd’s, with both players contributing memorable riffs and solos throughout the track. The rhythm section, consisting of bassist Fred Smith and drummer Billy Ficca, provides a driving backbone that propels the song forward with relentless force.
Overall, “See No Evil” is a standout track on “Marquee Moon” and a classic example of punk rock at its most vital and urgent. With its catchy hooks, incisive lyrics, and explosive musical energy, it remains a timeless and enduring part of Television’s legacy.
“Elevation” by Television is a classic post-punk track that showcases the band’s distinctive sound and style. With a driving bassline, intricate guitar work, and sharp, angular vocals, the song is a masterclass in controlled chaos. The lyrics touch on themes of urban decay and disillusionment, painting a bleak picture of a city in decline. However, despite the bleakness of the subject matter, the song is infused with a sense of energy and urgency that is infectious. The chorus, with its soaring vocals and insistent repetition of the title phrase, is particularly memorable and uplifting. Overall, “Elevation” is a powerful and influential track that remains a cornerstone of the post-punk canon.
5. “Torn Curtain”
“Torn Curtain” by Television is a haunting and atmospheric track that showcases the band’s ability to create complex and layered compositions. With its intricate guitar work, pulsing bassline, and dreamlike vocals, the song has a hypnotic quality that draws the listener in. The lyrics are enigmatic and poetic, exploring themes of alienation and disconnection in a fragmented and impressionistic style. The overall effect is one of disorientation and unease, as if the listener is peering through a “torn curtain” into a strange and unfamiliar world. Despite its challenging nature, the song is also deeply compelling, rewarding repeated listens with new insights and discoveries. Overall, “Torn Curtain” is a powerful and enigmatic track that showcases Television at the height of their creative powers.
6. “Little Johnny Jewel (Parts 1 & 2)”
“Little Johnny Jewel (Parts 1 & 2)” by Television is a landmark post-punk track that helped define the genre and inspire countless artists in its wake. With its propulsive bassline, jagged guitar riffs, and haunting vocals, the song is a masterclass in tension and release. The lyrics tell the story of a troubled youth named Johnny Jewel, weaving a complex narrative that touches on themes of alienation, violence, and redemption. The song is divided into two parts, each building on the other to create a hypnotic and immersive listening experience. Part 1 is more subdued, with a mournful tone that reflects Johnny’s troubled state of mind. Part 2, on the other hand, is explosive and cathartic, with a searing guitar solo that builds to a frenzied climax. Overall, “Little Johnny Jewel (Parts 1 & 2)” is a landmark achievement in the post-punk canon, showcasing Television’s formidable talent and groundbreaking approach to music-making.
“Friction” by Television is a frenetic and exhilarating post-punk track that showcases the band’s signature blend of intricate guitar work and propulsive rhythms. The song opens with a hypnotic guitar riff that gradually builds in intensity, creating a sense of anticipation and excitement. The vocals are urgent and impassioned, conveying a sense of frustration and restlessness. The lyrics touch on themes of personal turmoil and societal pressure, exploring the friction that arises from trying to navigate a world that can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. The song’s climax is a breathtaking guitar solo that seems to take flight, soaring above the chaos and confusion below. Overall, “Friction” is a powerful and invigorating track that showcases Television’s singular approach to post-punk music.
8. “Guiding Light”
“Guiding Light” by Television is a beautiful and introspective track that showcases the band’s more contemplative side. With its gentle acoustic guitar, delicate piano, and emotive vocals, the song is a poignant meditation on love, loss, and hope. The lyrics speak of a “guiding light” that helps the singer navigate the darkness of life, offering comfort and support in times of trouble. The song’s understated arrangement creates a sense of intimacy and vulnerability, drawing the listener in and allowing them to connect with the emotion at the heart of the song. Overall, “Guiding Light” is a moving and heartfelt track that demonstrates Television’s ability to craft powerful, emotionally resonant music.
“Glory” by Television is an anthemic and uplifting track that showcases the band’s ability to craft powerful and inspiring music. With its driving drums, soaring guitar riffs, and triumphant vocals, the song is a celebration of the human spirit and the power of perseverance. The lyrics speak of overcoming adversity and rising above the challenges of life, urging the listener to hold on to hope and keep moving forward. The song’s rousing chorus is particularly memorable, with its repeated refrain of “give me glory, give me hope” inspiring a sense of determination and purpose. Overall, “Glory” is a powerful and inspiring track that speaks to the universal human experience and reminds us of the importance of holding on to hope and persevering in the face of adversity.
“Days” by Television is a haunting and atmospheric track that showcases the band’s ability to create immersive and evocative music. With its dreamlike guitar riffs, ethereal vocals, and hypnotic bassline, the song creates a sense of melancholy and introspection. The lyrics speak of the passing of time and the transience of life, exploring the bittersweet emotions that arise from looking back on memories and lost opportunities. The song’s sparse and atmospheric arrangement adds to its emotional impact, creating a sense of intimacy and vulnerability. Overall, “Days” is a powerful and evocative track that demonstrates Television’s ability to create deeply affecting music that resonates with the listener on a visceral level.