In 1997 I had a bout of clinical depression. While not hugely serious as these things go, it was unpleasant enough that I didn't want to get into that state again. So two years later, when I thought I might be, I went to the doctor and was given an appointment with a counsellor. I saw this person six times - while I never felt that they were saying anything particularly useful or insightful I also never ended up being depressed enough to go back on medication, and in fact haven't at any time since. So it probably worked. The one genuinely useful thing the counsellor told me was to get some kind of hobby that required a daily and public comittment - something that would get me out of bed and make me feel like I'd achieved something each day.
(I think for more serious depression this might be a high-risk strategy, as the likely failure would induce more self-loathing. But to stave it off it worked well.)
At the time I'd been running Freaky Trigger for a few months. The site was getting around 20 visits a day and looked very primitive: my HTML skillz are nothing to shout about. I'd been thinking about how to mark the end of the decade and the idea of a singles countdown came naturally from the counsellor's suggestion.
I chose singles because I cared more about them than albums, and also because I guessed (rightly) that albums countdowns would be a lot more common. Shortly after I started the singles list Ned Raggett got in touch offering to write about his own favourite albums, and the two lists ran concurrently.
To make the list I sat down with a big bit of paper and wrote down all the singles I could think of that I liked. I had a look through my collection too, and at a couple of sites like Rocklist. I divided the singles into 'piles' depending on how much I liked them, and then those into smaller piles, and then ordered the piles to come up with a draft list. As the project went on I added some tracks and dropped others. I can't remember what was my initial #1.
My hopes for the list were to conquer my typical procrastination, finish the thing, get a few hits, and maybe even come to some conclusions about the decade which was just ending.
The original entries began in August 1999 and ended in December 1999.
I've written all that in italics because for the actual entries I'm going to print the main text in normal font and my 2005 comments in italics.