My Top 1000 Songs #188: Opus 40

Mercury Rev's 1998 epic Deserter's Songs is hard to break up into chunks; it's best heard in a single sitting. (Or as part of a merger with the Flaming Lips' contemporaneous Soft Bulletin--have you checked up my amazing mash-up of the two?) Still, "Opus 40" stands out as a stellar track on its own. While cloaked in the moody, psychedelic indie rock ambience of the rest of the record, it's also wonderfully catchy and emotionally powerful. The Band's Levon Helm sits in on drums, and it's fitting, as the album opens up into a sort of grandiose Americana that recalls The Band's early work, that circus organ solo ripped straight out of Garth Hudson playbook. The closing gospel strains are majestic, celebratory, and anguished, giving the song the wide cinematic scope it plainly earns. 

Also, great video.

Live, with a killer closing jam: