“Dust” by Van Hunt (2004)

The great thing about music is that it’s free to be interpreted any way that the listener wants to interpret it. While some songwriters prefer to make the meaning behind a song clear, there are quite a few who are completely okay letting their work be interpreted in a way that makes the most sense to the person consuming the art.

Van Hunt’s “Dust” might be about a guy falling so deep into love that he can’t get out. It might also be about a guy who has fallen so deep into depression that he doesn’t want anyone to even attempt to lend a hand. I haven’t been able to pull anything up that speaks specifically by Van to the meaning of the song’s lyrics, so I’m OK with my interpretation. As you should be with yours.

I think this is the third time I’ve dropped a Van Hunt song onto this list. He is just criminally underrated. I’m torn between wanting to stand on a mountaintop and shout his praises to the world and keeping him as my little secret. Well, me and his multitude of fans. I mean, obscurity is relative.

NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…

“Dry Your Eyes” (Tevin Campbell, 1996) – No frills, bells or whistles here. An officially grown-up Tevin just sings his ass off on this mid-tempo thumper from 1996’s “Back To The World”-an album that essentially murdered his career. I don’t think the music played a part in it (there were some solid songs helmed by Puffy & Babyface, among others), so much as it was Tevin’s imaging, which read as *very* queer at a time when he was crush material for hundreds of thousands of teenage girls. “Dry Your Eyes” was co-written by Rahsaan Patterson, yet another criminally underrated (and very queer) talent.

“Dry Your Eyes” (The Streets, 2005)– The release of Mike Skinner’s debut in 2002 is what really introduced me to what I call the “Pitchfork generation”. While I generally side-eye hipster crit types, I’ll admit to falling in love with Skinner’s oddball Brit take on hip-hop. He wasn’t being an Iggy-esque culture vulture (although we were a decade away from that travesty). He was using hip-hop and infusing it into his own distinct, laddish worldview. So with that in mind, “Dry Your Eyes” (which actually comes from Skinner’s second album as The Streets) comes across as P.M. Dawn meets Damien Rice. It’s simple and plainspoken and really, really fucking sad and so good.

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