Helpless – k.d. lang

Song: Helpless
Album: Hymns of the 49th Parallel
Performer: k.d. lang
Writer: Neil Young
Year: 2004

k.d. lang is a great Canadian singer-songwriter. She gained commercial success in the 80’s but remained connected to her roots in Canada. This album is evidence of that connection. She covers songs by Canadian writers like Bruce Cockburn, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and this song by Neil Young.

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Our Purpose Here – Ferron

Song: Our Purpose Here
Album: Testimony
Performer: Ferron
Writer: Ferron
Year: 1980

I was in a gifted and talented class in middle school. It’s really one of the only classes I remember well from middle school. My closest friends were in the class and I really liked the teacher. He made us write journal entries, sometimes with prompts. He’d check that we wrote the entries and would sometimes write notes in the margins. I’ve always been pretty bad at writing journals because I think too much about it and don’t just write in a stream of consciousness manner.

There was one entry that I remember from that class. I talked a lot about how much I loved Bob Dylan and wanted to be him. I think I said something about me never being able to roam the country like he did because I was a girl. My teacher made a comment on the entry that I should look for female musicians that I wanted to emulate. I took it to heart but didn’t have as many resources at that point to find those female artists. But I have since tried to find women who make music that I love.

So, I’m going to write about a bunch of women who are creative, poetic, and represent aspects of who I aspire to be musically.

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She’s Leaving Home – The Beatles

Song: She’s Leaving Home
Album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Performer: The Beatles
Writer: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Year: 1967

I remember listening to the Sgt. Pepper’s album a lot throughout middle school. This was my favorite song. I remember wishing I could run away. I remember imagining the day I finally left my hometown. I remember really wanting to be on my own. Now, I listen to the song and I still enjoy it, but it makes me wish I didn’t want to leave so badly. It makes me wish I would have been more focused on what I had in the moment instead of constantly running away in my mind.

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Life Mask – Portico Quartet

Song: Life Mask
Album: Isla
Performer: Portico Quartet
Writer: Portico Quartet
Year: 2009

This vibe-y and repetitive, vaguely jazzy tune from a band out of London is the musical embodiment of how I felt for the first 6 months after graduating college. The song features piano, vibraphone and steel drums in the melody. It’s an instrumental ballad characterized by melancholy. It’s slow but maintains a pulse with the steel drums and piano. I enjoy the improvisation and arrangement of the melody. There is a really nice bass solo which fits the feel of the tune really well. Overall, my experience of the song is so tied up in a really mentally disjointed period in my life that I can’t disconnect the two.

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Save Me – Queen

Song: Save Me
Album: The Game
Performer: Queen
Writer: Brian May
Year: 1980

 

 

 

“I hang my head and I advertise
A soul for sale or rent
I have no heart, I’m cold inside
I have no real intent”

That’s how my senior year of college felt and the feeling bled into the first 6 months or so of post-grad life. Honestly, I’m still climbing out of that hole but I’m glad that I feel somewhat disconnected to the version of myself who was listening to this song in July of 2016. I think I really latched onto the lyric at the end of the chorus in this song

“I’m naked and I’m far from home”

That’s how living in a city 431 miles from your hometown can feel. Especially when You’re not content with your job, not good at making friends and have damagingly low levels of self-esteem. I still feel this way, probably more frequently than I should, but I’m glad that it’s not a constant state of being anymore. That shadow is getting smaller.

Seven Years – Norah Jones

Song: Seven Years
Album: Come Away With Me
Performer: Norah Jones
Writer: Lee Alexander
Year: 2002

When I was home over the 4th of July weekend this past year I picked up Norah Jones’ first album, Come Away With Me. The day before I left town was pretty lonely. My parents were back at work and my friends were all busy and I was just visiting town. It was drizzly and a little bit miserable that day and I got restless and stir crazy. I decided to drive around town and listen to this album. I ended my drive by going up to Lover’s Leap, a cliff in my hometown that has a good view of our downtown. I listened to this song on repeat and cried as the rain hit my windshield. I remember the distinct feeling that home wasn’t really home anymore.

 

Bleed to Love Her – Fleetwood Mac

**Note** I have been wildly inconsistent with this blog. BUT I’ve decided here at the beginning of April with roughly a month to finish something like 300 posts that I AM going to get 365 posts in. With that in mind, I actually wrote this post a long time ago and never posted it.

I’ve thought a lot about leaving lately. I’ve done a lot of leaving lately. I’ve wanted to do a lot of leaving lately. I’ve made a couple trips home this month, one around the 4th of July and one to get my wisdom teeth removed (I’m actually on that trip right now). So I’ve had the experience of leaving Nashville and the experience of leaving my hometown in Missouri.

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December 25th – (It Must’ve Been Ol’) Santa Claus

Song: (It Must’ve Been Ol’) Santa Claus
Album: When My Heart Finds Christmas
Performer: Harry Connick Jr.
Writer: Harry Connick Jr.
Year: 1993

I’m going to end out this Christmas playlist with a song that is a Christmas favorite of mine, right under “The Christmas Waltz.” Harry Connick Jr.’s “It Must’ve Been Ol’) Santa Claus appeals to the child inside everyone. We get a joyful second line feel and the perspective of a child waking up in the middle of the night who justifies every sound he hears as being Santa Claus. It’s adorably innocent and is a great big band Christmas song.

December 24th – Christmas Eve

Song: Christmas Eve
Album: A Dotted Line
Performer: Nickel Creek
Writer: Chris Thile / Sara Watkins / Sean Watkins
Year: 2014

This song isn’t exactly Christmas-y but it is set during Christmas time and I think it’s a really good song. The song is really about a relationship that’s about to end. The story begins on Christmas Eve when our narrator receives a call, “I really need to talk to you today…” you can guess where that went. We meet him again on New Year’s Eve. He’s not over it and he still has hope. The anthem of the song is a desperate plea “darlin’ wait, it’s not over yet.” The climax of the song focuses on the end of that phrase. It’s definitely an interesting song to add to a Christmas playlist as it has the setting of the winter season without really being about it.

December 23rd – Mans dailais linu lauks (My Lovely Flax Field)

Song: Mans dailais linu lauks (My Lovely Flax Field)
Album: Christmas Joy in Latvia: Latvian Christmas Cantatas
Performer: New York Latvian Concert Choir
Writer: Traditional
Year: 2008

This collection of Latvian Christmas music and pagan folk songs performed by the New York Latvian Concert Choir was my favorite new (to me) Christmas album of 2015. This was my favorite song on the album. The arrangement of the choir includes dissonance and suspense and creates a feeling of expectancy. The most accurate description I have of the song is to say that it shimmers. One of my favorite things this past winter was to play this song late at night and have it lull me into a dreamy sleep.