June 13, 2011

Music Defines the Person: 10 Most Influencial Songs in My Life

Music has been so many things for me in life, a source of guidance, an outlet for emotions and aggressions, a warning signal or mood enhancer. In history, music has been described as a collective heartbeat. Music has carried humans through the worst moments in humanity and helped celebrate the best. I believe each of us has a list of music describing different stages of our lives. Maybe they are songs worth listening to repeatedly or the lyrics describe moments each of us experience at one point or another. The following is a list of song I have been deeply affected by and the reasons why.

Rocket Man by Elton John (1972) 
Rocket Man was composed by Elton John and Bernie Taubin in 1972 and describes an astronaut considering leaving his family to do his job. For me, this song describes the way we all have to leave our families to go out in the World and make it. The workplace always felt surreal to me, as if I were navigating outer space, vast scary and unreal at times.  The lyric "And all the science, I don't understand." represents how much I feel I do not know about my own environment. I think it's going to be a long long time until touch down brings me around to find I'm not the man they think I am at home, too.
For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield (1966)
Stephen Stills wrote this song in November of 1966 after witnessing police brutality at a protest on Sunset Strip in Hollywood. For me this song still represents large acts of violence against peaceable people demonstrating against oppression and globally destructive situations. This is the ultimate protest song, though I know more powerful music has been produced in moments of horror. This song represents the protestor in me.

Jane Says by Jane's Addiction (1987) 
Besides being lyrically brilliant, Jane Says contains only 2 chords and a lot of steel drums. I absolutely love the melody and beat. The song was written about Jane Bainter, an ex room mate and heroin addict. Though I am not nor ever been addicted to heroin, Jane has qualities I see in myself. I have hidden my TV and given up on folks like Sergio. Someday, I am going away to Spain....

Thank You? by The Dining Rooms (2009)
The Dining Rooms blend ambient, electronic and jazz creating a unique sound new to electronic music. Based in Milan Italy, The Dining Rooms tackle deep human issues with thought provoking lyrics and imagery. Often I feel we are all pawns in a game in which we didn't ask to participate. This song represents the untruthful factions in reality we are taught to appreciate. 

At the Stars by Better Than Ezra (1999) 
I discovered Better Than Ezra working for an alternative radio station in the South Eastern United States. Based out of New Orleans, Better Than Ezra was very popular in the late 90's and toured often. This song represents the little kid in me who never wants to go home, never wants to stop screaming at the stars while driving through the night, never wants the party to end.

It's a Fire by Portishead (1995)
My favorite genre of music is Trip Hop. Portishead, a pioneer in this genre, has produced many albums of influential songs over the years. Dummy remains my favorite album by them. This song has haunting melodies, dramatic changes and reminds us to keep breathing no matter how bad it gets. 

History Repeats Itself By AOS (1994)
Very little information can be found on these musicians, but I found the track itself on The Natural Born Killer Soundtrack. I can always listen to this song over and over. It has been a part of my life since I heard it, having a permanent space in my vast collection of music. I even think I hear this song in my dreams and know I live the words every second.  This song represents cycles we weren't meant to get away from and a comfortable acceptance that whatever comes will come in life, whatever will be..will be. 

Everybody's Talking By Fred Neil - Performed by Harry Nilsson (1969) 
Fred Neil was a folk singer and songwriter from the 60's and 70's who didn't want to tour. He produced music and worked to preserve habitats for dolphins in Florida where he grew up. Harry Nilsson performed this song for the movie Midnight Cowboy. I love the lyrics in this song the most because it represents the part of me dealing with conflict in my life. I am posting the original version of the song because it reminds me of Florida where I also grew up. 

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (1975)
David Gilmour and  Roger Waters collaborated on this song written about former member Syd Barrett and a sense of disconnection from ones self. The song was recorded to sound as if it were coming out of the radio into real life starting with the recording of a car stereo and overdubbing the guitar and other instruments. To me this song is a conversation I have in my own head. It's the sane side of my brain communicating with the not so sane side and will remain with me always. 

Comin Through By The War on Drugs (2010) 
Last but not least, though very new to the collection, The War on Drugs is an indie rock band out of Philadelphia, PA. I found this song researching a bit about the war on drugs itself and found the irony funny. Since then, I have felt the song's lyrics are internal voices I wouldn't listen to if I didn't hear them spoken in this song. Right now in my life, I am having to go back to the root of my beliefs and for some reason, I am happy to have this song for this particular part of my journey. 

I hope this post inspires you to create your own Top 10 Most Influential Songs. Creating my own, I discovered some new information about the songs I love and myself. Music is a part of everyone's life. Exploring it allows for people to come to a place of understanding which ultimately leads to compassion. Happy Listening!