Ten Bedrock Songs
My first love was Music. I grew up on the likes of Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, and Elvis. Between fights with my brothers, my family would sing away the frequent 30 minute car rides to and from my Nana’s house, often with t.v. jingles. I mean, this one doesn’t make my Top 10 list but you have to admit, it’s a catchy tune with plenty of room for harmonizing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aWzuQ1ufGs (Budweiser Beer, in case you’re curious but don’t want to check the link.) When I began to form independent musical tastes, I bought my first two records: The Rolling Stones “Tattoo You” and “Foreigner 4,” a natural rebellion against my eldest brother’s incessant playing of Disco. I like Disco now. Indeed, I like most styles and genres of Music; anything that’s good. Although there’s still plenty of Music I have yet to learn! And that in and of itself supplies a potentially never-ending reason to live.
I listen to music most of the time. I compiled a mix of instrumentals and French and Spanish songs, “Meloncholy Music for Writing,” to not have lyrics interrupt my words. That includes a lot of blues, jazz, Spanish guitar, Polish cafe music — it’s a fun, moody mix. But most of the time, I listen to songs with lyrics and sing.
I remember looking out the second story window of my childhood home (me always with the window-staring), maybe seven years-old, crying about girls not being allowed in the school Choir. That changed by the time I was in fourth grade and I gladly got on the public bus before seven a.m. to get to school for early practice two days a week.
Sometimes these days I think to quit singing. When singing out, opening oneself up to anyone’s critique, it can become less fun. My daughter acted in musicals for years and relates. She actually does seem to have given up singing. Oh goodness, does she have a beautiful voice! — strong, evocative, dynamic. I hope this is a short-lived phase. I miss her songs. But I get it. Some joy is lost when creative expression becomes more about output than experience and, speaking as a poet, songwriter, singer, and painter, there are stages in finding one's stride that are poorly served by criticism. But I can no more quit singing than I can breathing.
Before I acknowledge to myself that I’m stressed, before I consciously plan to hum a tune, there I am — singing through the hallways, between classes, between my Son’s 2nd and 3rd wake-ups, or through dinner prep. My voice knows when I need the comfort of music sometimes before I realize I need to be comforted at all.
I can’t exercise without Music, even if only to a tune in my head. I constantly sing when bike riding. With the wind, like singing out the car window, no one’s even likely to hear, but it matches my feeling of soaring to ride with “Don’t Stop Me Now,” by Queen, “Ella’s Song,” by Sweet Honey and the Rock, “Into the Future,” by the Vibrators, or some such. I have put in more than my share of time driving and, oh! that lulling tune of wheels on the road; I doubt I’d make it anywhere awake without singing along to music. Sometimes, after driving for hours, nearing my destination, I won’t want to stop. I’ll be in a groove with Peter Murphy or Aimee Mann or some other great artist and just want the duet to go on and on.
Not a complete list but here are ten of my bedrock songs; songs that feed my soul, none of which I’d change the station on.
“Take It to the Limit,” performed by Etta James Take It To the Limit
“Come on Back and See Me When You Can,” by Nina Simone Nina Simone Do What You Gotta Do
“Houses on the Hill,” by Whiskeytown Houses On The Hill
“Letter to Elise,” by The Cure The Cure - A Letter To Elise (Official Music Video)
“Who Are You,” by Tom Waits Tom Waits - Who are you (with lyrics)
“It Won’t Be Long,” by Alison Moyet It Won't Be Long
“Move to Work,” by Fine Young Cannibals Fine Young Cannibals - Move To Work
“Holiday in Spain,” by Counting Crows Holiday In Spain
“Louisiana 1927,” performed by Aaron Neville Louisiana 1927
“Jealous,” by Sinead O’Connor Sinead O'Connor - Jealous
An aside: I’m over a week late in posting, if my self-imposed schedule matters. I think it matters less than appreciating that my personal creative life does not need be beholden to the clock. Anyway, I did post, but deleted it the next day. Coley says that counts as keeping on schedule. Ha! I don’t really agree but love her for saying so. I thought the post I deleted uninteresting. So let me say this — I’ll try to post weekly but will skip it if I think the reading may be a waste of your time. I’m sure sharing my Music is not. And I’d love to know your faves, so feel free to comment and I’ll check them out! There’s little I enjoy more than learning new Music.