With our top ten Social Distortion songs list we look at ten of the best from one of the longest running bands in American punk rock. Formed in 1978, they are considered to be one of the pioneering bands of the California punk scene. Over the course of their career, they have experimented with different styles of music such as country and traditional rock and roll. The band themselves have stated that they found themselves struggling to find a definitive sound during the early part of their career. However, by the time of the late 1980’s they became firmly established as what is generally considered to be a Rockabilly Punk band.
Many of the biggest bands to have come out of punk since the late eighties have stated that Social Distortion were a massive influence on them. Among these bands are Pennywise, Green Day, Blink 182, Rancid and The Offspring.
Despite existing consistently for over four decades, Social Distortion’s recording career has been rather sporadic nature, having only produced seven albums of original material which have all been released rather far apart from each other. However, despite this lack of consistency, the band have always produced good albums with a lot of solid material. So, without further ado let us look at the best cuts from their career…
# 10 – Mommy’s Little Monster
Kicking of our top Ten Social Distortion songs list is the title track of the band’s first album released in 1983. The album was recorded on Christmas Eve in 1982 in a single session in order to save on studio costs. It has been reissued several times over the years. For its time, the record sounds rather polished and the general sound is much more melodic than that of many of their noisier contemporaries.
# 9 – I Want What I Want
When Social Distortion’s rather long awaited second studio album came out five years after the first in 1988 (a sure indicator of how long awaited many of their successive albums would be), many fans of the first did not quite know what the make of its sound. Although it was still punk, this record was the first to introduce the country influence into the mix that would become synonymous with their sound. With that said, this is a great track that has a defiant attitude, suggesting that the band were doing what they wanted with their music.
# 8 – Far Behind
Continuing with our Top 10 Social Distortion songs list we have a track that does not appear on any of Social Distortion’s original studio albums. Instead, it is a previously unreleased track that appears on their 2007 Greatest Hits compilation. When released as a single, it reached number nineteen on the Billboard Modern Rock Charts. This is one of the first recordings to feature Brent Harding on bass and one of the last to feature Charlie Quintana on drums.
# 7 – Drug Train
Here is a track from Social Distortion’s third self-titled album released in 1990. This song which is the record’s closing number, has more of a rock n roll vibe to it. Lyrically, the track is about drug abuse and the effects it causes, not just to the individual but also to the people around them. This album helped to get the band out to a wider audience with it being their first to make a mark on the Billboard album charts where it reached 128.
# 6 – Bad Luck
This song is taken from Social Distortion’ fourth album Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell released in 1992. It was the album’s first single and to date is their highest charter, reaching number two on the Modern Rock Charts. In addition to appearing on the fourth record, it also appeared on the Greatest Hits Compilation.
# 5 – I Was Wrong
Up next we have a song from the band’s fifth album White Heat, White Light, White Trash released in 1996. It was a successful single, charting in several different places with its highest being number four on the Modern Rock Charts. The album was the last to feature guitarist Dennis Dannell before his death in 2000. At the time of its release, it was Social Distortion’s highest charting album, reaching number twenty-seven on the Billboard 200.
# 4 – Ring of Fire
Here we have a song that it is a cover of the Johnny Cash classic originally released in 1963. This version is taken from the band’s self-titled third album from 1990. It was released as a single where it reached number twenty-five on the Modern Rock Charts. The song perfectly combines the band’s mix of punk and country mark and is very much their own unique take on a very classic song.
# 3 – Ball and Chain
Here is another hit song also taken from the band’s third album. The song is slower in pace than a lot of the band’s other work and lyrically is a story about alcoholism and being down on your luck. Released as a single, it was also successful, reaching number thirteen on the Modern Rock Charts. Lead singer Mike Ness was very much wearing his heart on his sleeve here, and truly showed his true skills as a songwriter.
# 2 – Another State of Mind
Just off the top spot we go back to Social Distortion’s first album with this track that was released off it as a single, making it their debut single. It was re-released in 1989 when the album was reissued. It is a live favorite with fans and was the opening track of their 2007 Greatest Hits compilation. Green Day recorded a cover of it which was included as a bonus track on their 2009 album 21st Century Breakdown.
# 1 – Story Of My Life
At number one we have what is Social Distortion’s most well known track and another that is taken from their self-titled third album. The song’s lyrics are very reflective, with Mike Ness talking about growing up in Orange County and trying to find his place in life. Despite being a popular song and having its own promo video, it was not actually released as a single.
Top 10 Social Distortion Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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