My life is a world of music. In the impossible task of roping down 15 songs that would perfectly document my life like the perfect soundtrack, I'm sure I've missed some poignant favorites. Many of these songs are favorites because of the way they drive me when I'm running. Or because they make me want to run... Mmm, running with music! One of my most favorite things ever. Those are the times I really feel like music becomes my soundtrack.
- Shout - Tears for Fears
I seem to remember my brothers listening to this a lot; many of my favorite songs have become favorites out of nostalgia. I always looked up to my older siblings so much that I practically worshiped everything they did--including the music they listened to. But I've favored this song for my own reasons, too. It seemed to yank out my angst as a teenager, in all its pounding 80s grandeur. When I listened to this song, I wanted to stand on a rooftop and shout, even wordlessly, ripping out all of the feelings that were too big for silence.
- Return to Innocence - Enigma
This is maybe a weird song to most people. I love it. In its organic ambiance, I feel meditative and full of spiritual renewal, even if only on a superficial level...more so, I connect this song with my brother Isaac and always have for whatever reason (more apparent reasons now, but he has changed and it might not have been as natural a connection so many years ago). It makes me feel like a raw soul like him, real and in tune with the earth and my spirit. And as a kid, I clung to anything that seemed to bring me closer to him. He left home when I was about six or seven, and I missed him so badly, in so many ways.
- Chariots of Fire - Vangelis
This song is so abused! I understand why...it's so easy (and fun) to make fun of it and stick it with epic, slow motion comedic moments. But beyond the humor of it, this song gets my adrenaline pumping. This song makes me feel on fire, ready to burst from the start line in the race of my life to valiantly leap over the finish line. Gosh, I'm getting teary. ;) If you've seen the movie, you'd understand, too, that it's meant to embody determination and perseverance, etc. I just feel like it takes my willpower and motivation to a new level, makes me "ready" for all my greatest expectations.
- The Luckiest - Ben Folds
Never much of a Ben Folds fan, I had never heard of this song before Michael introduced it to me. And I never actually heard it enough to know it until Michael had it played for our dance at our wedding reception. Listening to the words and looking into Michael's eyes, I really did feel like I was the luckiest...and I knew he felt like he was the luckiest. I still believe that. So I love this song.
- 1981 - Lepo Sumera
(short version here)
I feel so deeply touched by this music; it is a sort of minimalist work, its changes occurring slowly and minutely. It evokes a pensive heart, and it gives me a feeling of...time. The emotions brought up by this loveliness is so very similar to how I feel when I meditate with my feet frozen in a cold ocean, alone and wrapped in my thoughts. I love the ocean, I love what it does to me, and I love a cold ocean the most. This song comes very near to the ocean's effect on me.
- In My Room - The Beach Boys
I've always been rather introverted, introspective, INWARD. I knew it as a kid, too. And I loved the Beach Boys for agreeing with me on the fact that My Room was quite special. That's where I found my peace and clarity all my years of growing up at home. Now that I'm married, my whole house kind of feels like my room, so it's not the same, and I have to find "My Room" in other ways, but this song is still the way I feel about it all.
- Beautiful - Smashing Pumpkins
I discovered this song through Rae when I was about 10 in Heidelberg, Germany. It melted me. I had a crush on this song. I wanted to have a guy think I was beautiful in such a way that he'd be inspired to sing a low, lazy-beat song like this in a kind of rusty voice. At this point, I don't even care if Michael likes this song (I think he tolerates it); it makes me think of him and how I know he thinks I'm beautiful.
- Blackbird - The Beatles
I loved this song before I understood what it meant. It's said (maybe somewhere as legitimate as Wikipedia?) it was written with black women in mind, wishing inward freedom for them. I love that, but I feel like it applies to me just as much. I do imagine a blackbird, and I imagine it flying alone and quiet...a poor thing, broken, but still flying. And while I never tried to map out the symbolism, I never needed to.
- Take a Bow - Madonna
Ah, the 90s. This one might have come around with some nostalgia, but I've genuinely loved it. First for its cool 90s-ness when I was little enough not to notice its words or get its meaning. Once I was old enough for it to mean anything, I definitely felt like it could describe me. As much as I was admired by boys, I was also somehow unapproachable. Not that that surprises me much (then or now). But it left me feeling melancholy sometimes, invisible. Oh unrequited crushes!
- Danses Sacree et Profane - Debussy
Nicanor Zabaleta's performance of this work touches me the most, I think. This is ONE of the many harp pieces that have pulled me toward the belief in my virtuosic potential. I first heard it when my favorite harp teacher, Mrs. Patricia Anderson, performed it. I gushed my love of the piece, and she smiled and said maybe I could learn it in a couple years. I'm sad to say we moved too soon, and without her supervision (and with several gigs to keep me busy), I seemed to grow no closer to my goal of making this piece mine. I still drool over it. I still want it, I still crave the victory of performing it and being its artist. I adore the harp. Passionately. And this is one of the songs I must do someday. It makes me ache with the desire to play it because it seems to come from my soul as much as it did from Debussy's.
- Scheherazade - Rimsky-Korsakov
I cannot find a good version of this on YouTube. This snippet of the gorgeous violin solo will be good enough, though, because that's my favorite part. Like Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, this is part of my earlier musical memories where I felt transported by the music. I felt the music create grace and movement in my body, and even as the child I was, I felt that I had a connection to great music--that my life would be full of great music. I would see to it somehow, either by becoming a ballerina driven by the force, a harpist billowing the music from my fingers, or a composer pouring it into the hearts of the world. MUSIC...
- Storms in Africa - Enya
I know, I know. Enya is pretty much new age. But I've grown up listening to it, and this song has always been a favorite of mine. I love storms. And Africa is pretty fascinating (which is probably the only reason it's in the title, you know, giving the song some sort of exotic feel)...I used to like to lie on my bed while I listened to this. It made me smile. And I would think of nothing in particular, which is quite the accomplishment (and quite relaxing). The song is a kind of simple happiness for me, even an embodiment of how I approach life. This will no doubt sound dorky (but that's okay since we're talking about Enya here)...basically, like dancing in a storm! It's too thrilling to be bad!
- Cantus Arcticus: Concerto for Birds and Orchestra - Rautavaara
Movements 1, 2 and 3 in two parts (The Bog, Melancholy, Swans Migrating).
For my favorite part, go to about 4:00 in the second video--have the patience of at least two minutes if you feel like it isn't beautiful yet. I actually think it is, in an eerie sort of way. And then it becomes incredible...a world of such beautiful sounds and atmosphere. This work of Rautavaara's has made it to my list because I can hardly resist it. When I try to think of some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard, I can't help but think of this. It's enchanting, otherworldly. It's heavenly. The first time I heard it, I felt transformed by the gift of hearing such beauty. I felt so deeply moved. It has changed me somehow. I couldn't even begin to pinpoint just what it has done to me, but it's done something.
- Cold War - Janelle Monae
Ah, now here's a real star. Janelle Monae is an impressive artist. This song especially, though, is art because of her performance. She definitely captured me as an instant fan. This song resonates with me-- "you better know what you're fighting for" is a powerful message, there's no way around that. It's the kind of powerful that I feel when I stand up for my visions, my beliefs, my understanding of life.
- Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace (Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi) - John Rutter
This one...will always calm me. This is so very much how I feel in my heart, my HEART, that I use this song as though it were a prayer of my own.