W101 – Some Very Important Songs
Day 3: Commit to a writing practice
Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.
It’s hard for me to really nail down the three most important songs in my life. Every year new songs become important to me, and every year old songs take on new meanings. Sometimes I stop listening to songs all together because I don’t like the memories or thoughts they call up. To nail a song down as being so important they’re the top three is a bit impossible in my case. Nonetheless there are songs that hold a very special place in my life and will always cause me to pause at the sound of them. Songs that quite literally strike a chord.
The first to come to mind is Fur Elise by Beethoven. When I was a young girl my parents signed me up for piano classes with the mother of our babysitter, the best of all time. I loved my piano lessons; I loved graduating to and getting new books – moving up a level – and getting stickers on the pages of songs I played well, or even stickers to remind me to practice more or pay attention to tempo. At the end of I think the Level 3 books was a very simple version of the classic Fur Elise. It wasn’t that I was a big classical music fan but nothing could or can beat the sound of raw music coming through instruments like the flute, clarinet, strings and wind instruments alike, or the irreplaceable sound of a piano. I can’t tell you when I first heard Fur Elise but I can tell you that I believe I heard it more clearly than ever – that it connected with me and I with it – when I played that version for myself. It was a sort of transforming moment for me; it moved me. I can still play the chorus of it, well not that it’s hard, but if I heard it today I’d have to stop you from talking for a minute. I’d have to go within myself and allow the music to saturate me like water soaking in my hair as I sink into a bath. That day when the notes played through me out onto the keys of my teacher’s piano I forged a bond with that song that is immortal. Somewhere in my genetic code the tempo and notes necessary for that language of song is imprinted. Someone in my bloodline who comes after me will wonder why they are so drawn to it. While the beauty of Beethoven’s music managed to survive, so to the beauty of technology enables me to share my experience with that curious soul so many years into the future.
And you know, when I think about it I do believe I loved this song (the main theme to be honest ;)) for its emotion long before I even truly comprehended just how emotional I was/am. Years after I first learned how to play it on the piano I would download it on my mp3 to listen to while studying in college. Classical music was excellent for studying. It carries its own focus even as it’s powerful and emotional, there’s no human contamination in it. 😉 I never did keep up with piano lessons after we moved – I wish I had – but I also never forgot completely and I’ve never stopped loving the piano. Several years ago I picked up a simple keyboard and every day since I swear that one day, one day we will begin again. But I swear to you, I plunk those keys starting E, E flat, E, E flat, E, E flat, every chance I get…
(No I never did play the whole song, and not like this, but God willing, I still have time. :))
Songs two and three are let’s say…transient, sort of. I told you it’s hard! There’s Madonna “Like a Prayer”, The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” (this one’s up there), “Change” & “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, “Landslide”, “Dreams”, “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac, “Stir it Up” & “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley, “Hands” & “Who Will Save Your Soul” by Jewel, “You Gotta Be” Des’ree, many songs by Pink… so many for so many different reasons and for so many different days, I really hate having to pin down any as the most important. I am an ever-changing garden; flowers bloom, fruits give way to seeds from Spring to Fall, every thing always changing and remaining the same. I am this.
Another song I love but wouldn’t so much call it very important but very special to me b/c it never ever fails to move me or stop me in my tracks not only due to her beautiful vocal talent but also the piano and strings is “Kissing You” by Des’ree. Now the video I found of her singing it on Aussie TV has really bad audio so I’m going to have to find another but it’s posted first below…(btw this song was from the soundtrack of Romeo & Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio & Claire Danes). Pardon Leo screaming in the middle of the song. 🙂 So this song, similar to Fur Elise, is important to me for the impact of the music and vocals. It never fails to strike me right where it counts.
My third song is one that is certainly important to my life, and I do believe to so many others. I was actually fortunate enough to see Black Eyed Peas in concert while I was living in Milwaukee. To make it even better both my little sister and little brother were there with me. At the end of the concert the whole group ran to the back and sat on the bar. They were very nice and humble. It was surreal really to see them up close like that, like real people. I know we were all-star struck. “Where is the Love” came out at a pivotal time in my life: my early college years. I fancied myself a bit of an activist back then and at times this was like an anthem. What so much of the music in the 60s & 70s meant to the activists of those eras this song meant to me. It was a sort of ushering in of a new time. But this song is also important because well quite simply, it has a real message.
As I chase these thoughts through my mind, wondering and watching minutes, hours, and days go by, years even I see memories of songs play by like pop up videos. Some tell me they’re meant for this assignment. And I think of this whole bunch “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry is truly the most important. It speaks sharply and softly to me. It is yet another emotional fact in my life, a sad but true reality played and comforted by the beauty of the following song:
This song will forever be in my heart for the place it took in my life when my little brother died several years ago. I remember singing it with my boyfriend as we left the funeral home. I remember singing this in my head and out loud all those days that followed. I remember laying on the floor in a room in my boyfriend’s house waiting for him to get home. The bed I’d made up on the floor with blankets was not close to an outlet and I didn’t want to find a new place so I just laid next to my laptop playing this song over and over until my battery finally died. Not long after it did I fell asleep. This song is forever his, as far as I’m concerned he owns it. I cry as I write this, but so would you and maybe you will as you read this and listen to the song because every piece of it is true. Ironically this band is made up of siblings, a sister and two brothers, and they wrote this song. The following is a quote I found on SongFacts (http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=20040)
- “Kimberly Perry told The Boot about this cut: ‘That song works on so many levels and means different things to different people. It was just one of those songs that you felt like was meant to be on planet earth. We were just real humble to have the pen and paper in hand when it was ready to come, and for us it is a statement of contentment. We finished that song and just looked at each other and said, ‘How cool is this that we were able to put feet to our dreams?’ So many people work so hard for so long and for whatever reason are not able, or don’t have the opportunity to access their dreams. So for us it was a statement of you know what, if it all ends at this moment for whatever reason even at our young ages, we’ve gotten to live and love so well and so completely. And that’s what it means to us.”
This is all relevant to my brother (well except for the loving a man part), in life and in death, though it’s not all-encompassing as he was one crazy wild cat. I think it’s clear why this song is important to my life, although I wish it hadn’t come to be so I will savor it. It will never go away, it will never have a new definition for me though it will develop and grow I’m sure. This song tells a story that’s more than a story, it is an imprint of a memory of a life. He’d approve.
You know, ever since I began this journey into important songs in my life I keep coming back to my little bro, I keep feeling the need to involve him in every song. So I’m going to add a couple more songs. First I wanted to add “Not Over You” by Gavin Degraw as – minus the romantic message – that song is another one I dedicate to my brother. But then I felt it was most appropriate to share a song from his playlist: “Walking On A Dream” by Empire of the Sun. I like to ride my bike to this and think of him. My brother knew how to have fun, he knew how to laugh, and he did love dancing. And you know, I think he’d approve of this too. Love ya bro!