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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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One of the best things that has come about because of personal computers is the ability to play around with music. A few years ago I ripped my entire CD collection onto my hard drive, thereby reducing scratching from handling, and making my music easier to access. And it’s fan-freaking-tastic to be able to purchase individual songs once again via digital download.

There was a horrible, gaping void for music lovers for several years in between the death of vinyl as the primary medium–and thus the death of 45 rpm singles–and the rise of digital music. Releasing singles on CD wasn’t as practical, so it wasn’t often done. Anyone who loves music can relate to refusing to pay for a whole album when you know for a fact you only want one song.

But what pleases me most is the ability to infinitely customize how I listen to music. There are few albums that I consider excellent as a whole. CDs introduced the ability to easily skip songs; computers introduced the ability to easily combine them in whatever way makes me happy.

I have over 100 custom playlists on my computer. Some of them are for a single artist with the songs I like best. For my favorite artists I often make several playlists, each with different tempos and moods. Most playlists are mixes, based on theme, style, or whatever other classification I come up with. Some playlists I create specifically for burning to CD for use in my car stereo.

A few months ago I posted a song playlist, inspired by reading a similar one on Stacia Kane’s blog. That list was mood music for moping.

It was fun doing that, so figured I’d do another one. But this time it’s happy tunes. These songs are great for when you need a little perking up, already feel fine and want to express it, or just need sunny summer day type music. The list is arranged in an order that plays with a good flow.

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1. “I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash. For when you need a little uplift, or are already feeling good, having overcome an obstacle. I’ve always loved it, but the lyrics took on a whole new meaning for me, and it became my personal coming out theme song in the mid-80s. Now it’s mostly back to being a general, all around great song.

2. “Ventura Highway by America. This one always makes me think of mellow summer days, lying in the grass, watching the clouds.

3. “Back to Avalon by Heart. A going home (literally or metaphorically) song.

4. “Jazzmanby Carole King. Nice saxophone, and the lyrics say it all about music and moods.

5. “Good Morning Starshine from the Hair soundtrack. An early morning singing song that always makes me smile.

6. “Stoned Soul Picnic by The Fifth Dimension. For groovin’ on a warm summer day.

7. “Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin on Me)” by Joss Stone. A feeling good love song.

8. “I’m Alright by Kenny Loggins. Title of the song kinda says it all. Good beat and a chorus that encourages loud singing.

9. “Bright Side of the Road by Van Morrison. Van the Man singing about sharing the load to a tune that’s irresistibly upbeat.

10. “Sky is Fallingby Beth Hart. Not sure how to describe this one, but it always grabs me and gets my head bobbing*.

11. “I Take My Chances by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Carpenter is one of the greatest lyricists ever, and I love her voice too. This one is about throwing caution to the wind, with no regrets.

12. “Montuno by Gloria Estefan. Not knowing Spanish, I haven’t a clue what Gloria is actually singing about. But listening to this one makes me feel like I’m drinking margaritas and dancing at a fiesta.

13. “Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells. For that positive, optimistic vibe. I can’t resist smiling and singing along.

14. “Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles. Quintessential.
(Link is to the CD. No Beatles music is available for digital download as far as I know.)

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It probably doesn’t escape notice that at least half of the songs listed fall into the “golden oldies” category. I like a lot of newer music too (though at my age, “newer” is defined as anything from the 1990s on). But I think most people have a soft spot for the music we grow up with, and it’s what we return to again and again when wanting to evoke a specific feeling.

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* Beth Hart is a horribly under-appreciated artist. “Sky is Falling” is from Screamin for my Supper, which is a great album. I’ve linked to the CD, since songs are not available digitally. I couldn’t find anything online for “Sky is Falling”, but here’s a link to Hart performing a different song, “Delicious Surprise,” from the same album to get a taste of her style. (Though the sound quality on the video isn’t very good.)

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I’ve been browsing through Stacia Kane’s blog, reading back through old posts. I ran across this one that lists five sad songs. (I now have plans to buy the download of Gloomy Sunday by Billie Holiday because of it.) So of course reading her list made me think of what kind of list I’d make.

I came up with not exactly a sad song list. It’s mood music for when sad, broken-hearted, wallowing in misery, or other things of a similar nature. It’s for when absolutely the last thing you want is to listen to is some perky, happy shit.

Here is my list in no particular order, except the first one, which is hands down the best depression song ever:

1. “Trouble by Cat Stevens. If you ever need a song that feels your pain, this one is it.

“Trouble” has seen me through a lot of hard times. The one I remember most vividly (that I’m willing to share) is from when I was 20 and I had my hopes set on getting a specific summer job. The job which would get me out of Idaho, where I’d been working for five months because I couldn’t find any work in Spokane, and back to Washington State.

The job fell through and I was devastated, feeling stuck in my Idaho exile with no options for escape. After I got the news on the phone I went to my room and put the cassette tape in my player and played “Trouble” over and over again as I curled up and cried copious tears on my bed. (It’s a little funny to look back on that now, because as devastated as I was at that time, it turned out that I ended up having a good summer there and I have very fond memories of my year and a half spent in Idaho. Just goes to show, I guess.)

Choice lyric: “I’m beat, I’m torn, shattered and tossed and worn, too shocking to see, too shocking to see.

2. “The Prison by Melissa Etheridge. This is technically a lost love song, but it also works very well for those times you’re feeling trapped.

Choice lyric: “I tried to leave it all behind me. I drove all night, I drove all day. But the walls of this prison still surround me, and I can’t break away.

3. “Cry to Me by Heart. If you’re feeling miserable and alone, what better way to find comfort than Ann Wilson inviting you to cry on her shoulder? I mean seriously. This song is incredibly beautiful and highlights just one of the reasons why Ann is my Rock ‘n Roll idol.

Choice lyric: “The glass is empty and the wine is bitter on your tongue.

4. “Falling Star by Karla Bonoff. This one has an aching loneliness to it that appeals to me.

Choice lyric: “I can’t sleep, I hear my heart beat, oh I can’t stand the monotone.

5. “I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt. This has to be one of the best unrequited love songs ever. But it also works for a variety of other love-gone-wrong situations.

When I was in the middle of trying to survive the agonizing heartbreak of my partner of six years leaving me I went to Bumbershoot (annual outdoor music festival in Seattle) with a friend, who was also enduring a break-up. Bonnie Raitt was one of the acts playing at the outdoor stadium that year and of course we went. As usual, Bonnie put on a great show. But when she played this song I thought it was going to kill me right then and there.

Choice lyric: “I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see, the love you don’t feel when you’re holding me.

6. “Rhythm of the Blues by Mary Chapin Carpenter. A good relationship ending song, could work for troubled friendships too. It’s also a good song for quiet and gray rainy days.

Choice lyric: “I can’t seem to fix what’s broken, like this record, baby, in my head.

7. “Red, Red Wine by Neil Diamond. A break-up song, of course. But good for any night when wine, or your booze of choice, is your best companion. The cover by UB40 is more famous, but reggae style is much too upbeat for this song. Go with Neil.

Choice lyric: “Red, red wine, stay close to me, don’t let me be alone.

8. “Something to Believe In by Clannad. This is good for those times you’re a little beat down, doing some soul searching, or feeling like you’re missing something important in life.

Choice lyric: “All the things they promised, they’re always lies.

9. “Dust in the Wind by Kansas. Okay, so this one is rather cliché. But it’s pretty good for those moments of adolescent nihilistic angst. Should I admit it was one of my favorite songs as a teen in the 70s?

Choice lyric: “Don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.

10. “Breathe No More by Evanescence. This is kind of an obvious choice. But then that’s why it made my list. A perfect song for those times of intense pain.

Choice lyric: “Shards of me too sharp to put back together, too small to matter, but big enough to cut me into so many little pieces.

11. “Hurting Time” by Annie Lennox. A general, all purpose hurting song. I really love this one. Lennox sings it beautifully and the music has a great kinda slow groove thing going on. [No Mp3 available.]

Choice lyric: “Tears that you’ve been living with running down your face, running down your face.

12. “Me by Paula Cole. For when you’re your own worst enemy. (Though this one is a cheat because it also includes an upbeat, I can do it message. Pfft!)

Choice lyric: “I am walking on the bridge, I am over the water, and I’m scared as hell.

13. “It Hurt So Bad by Susan Tedeschi. This list would not be complete without a true blues song, and this is my pick. Tedeschi wails convincingly about missing a lost lover.

Choice lyric: “Oh what a fool I was, darlin’,yes. And oh you were a fool to let, let me go. Why did you let me go?

14. “I’m About to Come Alive by Train. For when life isn’t what you expected, you’ve messed things up, and you’re pleading for another chance to get it together.

Choice lyric: “No one thought I was good enough for you, except for you. Don’t let them be right after all that we’ve been through.

15. “Bobby by Reba McEntire. This song is an oddball on the list. First of all, I’m not really into country music. But for no reason I can explain I’ve always loved listening to Reba talk. So on a lark one day I bought one of her CDs. Second of all, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the list because it’s not a woe-is-me, wallowing song.

I first heard this song shortly after I’d bought the CD and was playing it in my car. I was driving across the 520 bridge to the Eastside and ended up having a hard time seeing the road because of tears. This is a song that tells a sad story. I dare you to listen to it and not blubber, at least a little bit.

Choice lyric: Nope, not for this one since it’s a story.

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