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Monday, April 7, 2008

Top Songs

Posting Frequency - lately, everyday I've been posting in my regular journal during lunch. I am going to make an effort to do the same in here as well. I have plenty of thought-provoking thoughts that I can discuss with myself, or whomever has the time to join me when they do come. Therefore, one reading this should expect more posts...I hope.

Top Songs - today, drifting off from my previous couple of subjects (which I plan on re-examining at a later day), I will present to you my 'top songs' list and hopefully (time willing), the reasons why they rank the way they do. Now, the way this list is compiled is quite simple - it can fit on an 80 minute CD (it clocks in at 1:18:17, so I could actually fit a ninety second song on there somewhere, but I choose not to because it would cheapen the concept by suggesting that qualifiers need only to fit the time requirements versus actually quality of music). The reason I choose the CD qualifier is mostly for it's objective guarantees that the substance is of the highest standard because it needs to fit within the time limit, constricting myself to rules (which I often break in these instances - but never with this particular list). The other reason is that I like the idea of handing someone over a solid object (in this case, a CD) and saying 'this is me, this music will show you a glimpse of my world.' So, without further ado, the list (I has previously constructed such a list, so I may reference this from time to time, although I don't have the exact list on me so I cannot do a contrast and compare for you today...maybe tomorrow or something).

1. XTC - Dear God
This song is more atheist than myself, I think it quantifies my doubts in the Bible perfectly. It opens the CD, not because it is my favorite song of all time, it's more of an aesthetic approach, opening the list with a true, crystal clear statement of a major facet of my personality.
2. The Elected - Greetings in Braille
This song is my true favorite song of all time for various reasons. The first is it's main theme, which is give or take, nostalgia (which comes up often on this list, you'll notice). From the chorus ('If my senses fail, stay with me till they go, 'cause I don't want to be alone, greetings in braille, they'll describe everything') to the final bridge ('I miss Tara and Mellisa, Ellen and Jordan, you'll never have friends like you did when you were young, but our bodies were pulled away, swept out to the sea') it just captures me perfectly. This song comes highly recommended.
3. The Beatles - Here Comes the Sun
Ahh, yes, my hidden optimism. The beauty of this song (and actually, most Beatles' songs) is in it's simplicity. Trying to review a Beatles' song is always a mute point, so that's really all I have to say about it.
4. Bright Eyes - Nothing Gets Crossed Out
For a long, long time this was my favorite song because, again, it captured me in a moment. It's all about worrying about growing up, and all those doubts that crop up when you're out on your own and alone and you have no idea what you are doing, and while time solves all problems, I still feel that way more often than I would like to think and this song always speaks to me in those darker moments and it makes me feel less alone, less afraid. It's like a good friend, it's always there when I need it.
5. Cursive - Driftwood: A Fairy Tale
See online alias, AKA screen name. Yes, this song is the inspiration behind the name 'DriftwoodProse'. Basically, if you've never heard this song before, it's a re-writing of Pinocchio. It all revolves around the phrase 'liar! liar!' and it speaks of 'wooden boys' and 'empty love' and then, he leaves her because 'he has grown tired of her' and walks into the sea, and then the song concludes with a resounding 'and now I wonder how I was name is Driftwood'. It's a beautiful song (that gorgeous album when Cursive used a cello) and the twist at the end is nearly priceless and sometimes, that's always how I feel.
6. Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
This song has so many features that I love. That soulful bass line, the crescendo in the strings and then that longing for that love. It truly is dark and empty when it's missing, if you've never felt it you don't notice it, but once it's there and you lose it, this song hits that mark perfectly. If I ever get around to getting Otis Redding's 'Dock of the Bay' this song will have some stiff competition to remain on this list, but it might win on reputation alone.
7. Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
Ever feel alone in a crowded room? I know it's probably cliche to pick a song off of 'The Wall', but honestly no song captures that social anxiety I occasionally feel better than this one.
8. The Smiths - There is a Light That Never Goes Out
On the previous list, 'Girlfriend in a Coma' got the nod for my Smiths selection (I don't purposely attempt to get my favorite bands in here - see White Stripes - but odds are they became my favorite band by ranking a song on this list first)...but this song gets it this time because it's a beautiful love song ('and if a double decker bus, crashes into us, to die by your side, oh what a wonderful way to die') and it fits my situation now (married, versus yearning) that is finds itself in such honored company.
9. Rilo Kiley - Pictures of Success
It starts with a simple line, 'I'm a modern girl, but I fold in half so easily when I put myself in the picture of success' and ends so sweetly, 'they say California is a recipe for a black hole and I say I've got my shoes on and I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go...' This (like Nothing Gets Crossed Out) perfectly describe that anxiety about growing up...'it must be nice to finish, when you're dead' - who's never felt that way? Knowing what lies ahead (California, black hole, my future), we know it'll get here but waiting truly is the hardest part - I'm ready to be there already, I'm ready to be done with it all. Another highly recommended song.
10. The Fiery Furnaces - Benton Harbor Blues
It's named for the town it was recorded in, which speaking generally isn't that too far off from old Kalamazoo and let me tell you, if you had to list to a song about Kalamazoo (not Glenn Miller, sorry), it'd probably sound like this. From the haunting train tracks beat, to the sparse use of various noisemakers throughout the song (sparse for the Fiery Furnaces, if you are unfamiliar) and the occasional echoing voices. This song should be retitled 'The Midwest Blues' because it literally defines the whole region. No, the Furnaces aren't for everyone and I accept that, but I love 'em so and this song will likely be on the list in every form unless they record something even more beautiful.
11. Belle & Sebastian - Your Cover's Blown
When selecting a song to represent Belle & Sebastian on the list, it was a tough choice (again, I don't purposely select songs based on artist, but from the start they were on the list). I could have gone with 'The State I Am In' 'If You're Feeling Sinister' 'Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying', 'Get Loose' or ' Piazza, New York Catcher' but then I had to go with this B-side from the 'I'm a Cuckoo' single for a few reasons. 1) again with the lonely in a crowded room theme. 2) it's a funky dance song which was AMAZING live. 3) it's all about trying to find that special someone and then all the stupid sleeping around people tend to do so they can move from one to the next and it makes no sense, and why do people do that and then you meet them and it's like...well, just listen to the song and it'll take a couple of listens to capture what I'm talking about, but it's there.
12. Division of Laura Lee - There's a Last Time For Everything
I had this song for a couple of years before I actually listened to it. I remember the moment it captured me - I was living at the RIT Inn and I was doing laundry, I had my Ipod on and I was doing homework in the little laundry room they had there. It was like two in the morning, a warm autumn night so I had the door open and this song came on and I stopped my homework and just listened while the breeze kissed my face and it hit me - this song is brilliant. I think it's about a break up, but there's so many other ways to take it. Now, technically, this is two songs separated by about a minute or so of what songs like waves crashing on a beach, which then intros into this synth driven optimistic song about how we have to do things on our own and whatnot. Basically, this song is entirely responsible for me taking a look at what I was doing at RIT and realizing, I wasn't doing anything and it was time to take a step back and focus on something else. This song changed my life and not many can say that - another highly recommended.
13. Cursive - The Recluse
Congrats to Cursive for being the only band to appear twice on the list, not to mention both songs are from the same album. I think the opening line capture this song and why it's on my list entirely - 'I wake, alone, in a woman's room I hardly know' - again, this touches on the loneliness theme and the things we do, but later regret, to try to defeat that empty feeling we get sometimes. Again, great use of the cello on this one as it carries the sparse guitar arrangement, which is understated beautifully, and it all comes to this conclusion of being unwanted and you'll always be lonely and yeah - it's depressing, but sometimes when you feel that way, it's best to just have someone (or a song) agree with you and then you realize it's not so bad.
14. Harvey Danger - Old Hat
This is probably the most recent addition to the list (not based on year recorded but rather since being added to the overall music list, it then found it's way to this particular list). Again, nostalgia is the theme and it's generally optimistic and I think that's why I like it. 'I forget what my friends look like, and they forget why they like me, but that's old hat - I'm so happy, how do you write about that' Enough said - highly recommended.
15. Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman
From what I've learned from these 22 years on Earth is that women are crazy, vindictive, deceitful, manipulative and generally bad news. No, I don't think I'd want to live without them but this song nails that 'evil woman' mentality. It kind of goes along the lines of one of my favorite math problems - girls=time*money, time=money, girls=money*money, girls=money^2, money=root of all evil, girls=(root of all evil)^2, girls=evil. Seriously though, chicks are insane.
16. Led Zeppelin - Going to California (Live from the How the West Was Won album)
To conclude the list, I wanted something timeless, something that had the essence to fully encompass everything else that came before and be a prelude to the next potential list. Led Zeppelin was formerly represented by 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' which never really fit in with the rest of the list, and it doesn't truly describe me anymore, but this song is timeless and qualifies as something that is 100% me. It's a song in motion, but sad and regretful at the same time. It recalls that nostalgia that comes up on the songs above, but it's still moving forward, anxiously, into the unknown. I choose the live version for a few reasons - 1) I like live music and I've never really fully captured that on this list, and 2) it's a lot more emotional, more honest than the studio version. This song is a lot more subtle than most other Led Zeppelin songs, which I think it another reason it fits so well on this list...this is the true me.

So that concludes my list - if anyone would like a physical copy, or to just download the list or any of the songs, just let me know and I'd be happy to share these wonderful songs with you. If anyone of you would like, post your own top songs list and I'd be happy to read through them and share those experiences with you. That concludes this post - ta.

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