The Music of My Life

I’ve been thinking about beauty as well recently, particularly on lovely days like this one. Music, at least the best songs, can be part of the beautiful. Plus it’s almost a rite of Internet passage to write about one’s favorite songs, and far be it from me to neglect the rites. Here are ten of my iTunes five star songs, ordered (roughly) chronologically.

  • Enter Sandman, Metallica. I grew up with very little music, as neither of my parents listened to much, even during car trips. My father played violin as a child, up to the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony. He could have played with the Johnstown Symphony, back when the town was bigger and even small cities had public orchestras, but he put it away when he started teaching. Things were quiet in my house. Thus, the little music I heard came from my buddies, the 80s big hair metal bands. Of those songs, this is my favorite, though it’s still very hard not to sing along to November Rain.
  • Shiny Happy People, REM. Perhaps the first band I personally liked, very innovative to a rural Pennsylvanian. This was the theme song for the scholastic quiz team one year. Describing the malaise of 1970s and 80s western Pennsylvania back then is difficult, and I won’t try; I’ll just say this was a completely ironic-bitter and never hopeful song for us nerds.
  • Crucify, Tori Amos. I had heard Silent All these Years on the radio one night my senior year of high school, and was intrigued enough to get the CD eventually, a big step given I only bought four or five CDs per year. I was not disappointed. As someone who still does a good job of punishing himself, it’s a question I haven’t yet answered.
  • Mamma Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J. As an undergrad, I prepared for exams by listening to very aggressive speed metal type songs, assuming that getting the pulse racing and enraged would help me think and write faster. I’m not sure if it helped, but it did amuse my roommates. Anyway, this was one of the songs in the playlist, as I’d imagine myself getting into the ring with my pencils. As a tune, it’s put together really well.
  • One of Us, Joan Osborne. I used this as part of a retreat meditation in college, as it’s an interesting question. The sensory part of my brain likes the emphasis on God (Jesus) as human, against the philosopher’s divine. This is a good representative of whiny chick-folk; I might also put Paula Cole’s Where Have all the Cowboys Gone as another question-song.
  • Salvation, Cranberries. Sort of an impulse purchase right after college, when I had money for the first time, I really liked this song, with the upbeat music. I might instead put Switchblade 327 by the Brian Setzer Orchestra here as also representative of my taste for positive songs with limited angst.
  • An Apple a Day, Aqua. Many people listen to music for relaxation, but I am not one of them; I listen for energy. I first heard Aqua’s Barbie Girl through NPR, as they did a piece about Mattel’s displeasure. Are they brilliant experimentalists? Likely not. They make cheery, slightly catchy tunes to keep my energy high, and I need pep sometimes.
  • Opening Theme, Chrono Cross. A lot of people like the music from Chrono Trigger more, but I disagree; the sounds and string quality of the sequel are much better. I often use a mix of songs from the game at dinner parties, which gets a lot of positive comments. I’ve often called this my theme song; you have to see the video sequence to know exactly why, but a hint is that I use Lucca as an online avatar. I wonder if I ever get a stage entrance if the woodwinds would work?
  • Hurt, Johnny Cash. This version trounces the original of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. Reznor was in his late twenties, enough to speak of despair (aided by the fact that he grew up in Western Pennsylvania), but not life longing. This was Cash’s last single; the longing is obvious; it is the voice of a man going to die. Technically, Reznor pollutes the words with industrial electronica; Cash’s acoustic recording does not distract. To quote from of all places a Pakistani fashion magazine, “Maybe this is what art is really supposed to be like, pure, unrestrained and distinctly moral.” And the video, oh, the video! Honestly, I’m too young to fully appreciate the images, but it took me seven or eight tries to watch the four minutes without crying. One of the travesties of modernity was Hurt losing MTV Best Video to Missy Elliott and “Work It”. It did win Country Music Video of the Year, and I guess I should just be amazed about the MTV nomination.
  • Broken, Seether with Amy Lee. I could have chosen Tourniquet or My Immortal from Evanescence just as easily, but this song captures last year better than the others. The video puts this to the top, with angel wings on a desert wasteland. Like Hurt, it’s a song of wishful longing, and I can’t sing this song yet; it’s a tune for the end of Happily Ever After, which I have yet to begin.

About Adam

My quest is a world where calling someone "virtuous like a fairy tale hero" is routine, not fantastic or ironic. My vocation is the teaching and learning of statistics. My dream is a long happy life with a wonderful wife and kids. Who knows if any will become true? More information is at my homepage on the twelvefruits network: http://adam.twelvefruits.com
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