Thursday, December 20, 2012

Then I Heard the Chords that Broke the Chains I Had Up On Me

Like probably the majority of the people on this planet, I think about music a lot. I talk about it a lot, I listen to it all the time, and there are some days I don’t actually think I’d be able to get through without it. It confuses me when people don’t have favorite bands or songs and just listen to whatever comes on the radio. I don’t mean I expect everyone to have some kind of Beatle-mania level obsession with a band, but I can’t even begin to understand people who don’t passionately love a particular song for whatever reason. (I know they exist. I’ve met one.)

I was talking to Elizabeth the other day about the Americana music trend that’s kind of in right now. The kind of folk-y not quite country type of music, like The Civil Wars (RIP), Angus & Julia Stone, The Lumineers, etc. We both agreed that it is great and that we want it to continue for a while, at least a couple of years. Later on, I was driving and listening to Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and thinking about how sad I was going to be when this kind of music isn’t the cool new thing anymore. At that point I fully expect to become one of those people that talks about how music used to be good, back in my day, and whatever this new stuff kids these days listen to is total garbage.

But then I realized that just because someday the type of music I like to listen to now won’t be hugely popular anymore doesn’t mean the songs I love now will get taken away from me. It’s not like I won’t get to listen to them ever again. They’re real and they exist and I can listen to them whenever I want. The greatest thing about music is that nobody can take it away from you. Musicians make music and then they give it to you. Once you have it, it’s yours. You get to keep it.

Music just has this extraordinary ability to get you to feel things. Music is cathartic. I listened to “High” by Jamar Rogers and cried in the shower after I found out about the Newtown shooting. The song is about someone who used to need to do drugs to feel alive and the pain in his voice when he sings is just ridiculously palpable. It has nothing to do with violence or death, but it was the only song I could think to listen to in a moment like that. It has this hopeless aspect to it, but in the end he comes through it. Like I hope we all will, with this.

Music is just so amazing, guys. I made a whole Spotify playlist the other day of these songs that have been gifts in my life, and they still feel like I’m opening the present again every time I listen to them. Some of them have stories behind them and some of them don’t. Some of them I remember exactly where I was when I first heard them and some of them I couldn’t begin to guess how I found out about them. The only thing they all really have in common is the strength of the feeling I felt when I heard it the first time. You know. When a song comes on and you’re like, “Oh I like this.” And then you’re like, “Oh. I REALLY like this.” And then by the time the song is over your life has changed. That one.

These are my gift songs. They aren’t my all time favorite songs, necessarily, and they aren’t always even my favorite song by these particular bands. But I love all of them because of how they make me feel.

You have songs like this. I know you do. You should tell me what they are because I would love to know. You know, or not. But who doesn't like talking about music?


  1. So many songs like this:

    I'm Not Okay - MCR
    Apartment Story - The National
    Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons
    What The Water Gave Me - Florence & The Machine

    I could go on for ages...

  2. Forever Young by Youthgroup
    Here Comes Your Man by The Pixies
    We Can Work It Out by The Beatles
    Daydream Believer by The Monkees
    Secret Love by Doris Day
    Macy's Day Parade by Green Day