Do you ever get so entangled with an idea that you can’t wrap your brain around it enough to convey it as something coherent? And then, as you’re pondering it, it grows, sprouting new, related ideas, like a Hydra that even Hercules (or Percy Jackson) couldn’t tame.
It happens to me with the regulariuty of Old Faithful – ideas simmering beneath the crust of my skull to eventually spout upwards, a huge mess for the world to see. Except, you know, not nearly as impressive as a geyser.
I’ve been pondering, for years now, I’d say, the interconnectedness of language, music, and movement – how they are all forms of communication that weave our human souls together. And one day, hopefully soon, I am going to bring together all these thoughts, all the scribblings scattered through different notebooks, and the bookmarked articles on the internet, and the literary quotes and song lyrics, and put them all together into something coherent and meaningful. I swear, I will.
But not today.
This post is a bit of a tangent, born from my larger ideas about music. This post is pure fun.
In a separate, but slightly related, part of my brain from all these thoughts about language, and connection, and blah, blah, blah, I have been doing another sort of pondering. For several years now, I have been trying to come up with a list of my Top Ten Favorite Songs of All Time.
In an effort to impress Jack Black in High Fidelity, I have really tried to be exclusive with my list. I have tried only to include songs which have stood the test of time, ones that make me pause in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store when I hear them, smile, and go, “ahhh.” Songs that tug at my heart strings.
Still, the list isn’t perfect. I’m sure there are songs I’ve forgotten. It’s a work in progress, as is life. But I thought I'd go ahead and share it with you. To this point, here’s what I’ve got, (in order, yes):
1. Bad – U2 I don’t even know what to say about this song. Haunting. Passionate. To me, it speaks of trying to let go of an obsession. It’s the battle of the human soul with itself. It makes me crumple inside – but in kind of a good way. It’s the very best from a band which could easily fill out this entire top ten list.
2. Into the Mystic – Van Morrison Sometimes this one actually ranks as number one (when I feel a little less haunted). I want my gypsy soul to be rocked. Don’t you?
3. Clare de Lune – Claude Debussy Heart wrenchingly beautiful. I’ll discuss this one at greater length if ever I get around to the topic of motion/movement and expression. With no lyrics, it may not actually qualify as a song, but who cares. It’s my list.
4. Imagine – John Lennon I won’t bother analyzing this one for you. Just listen to the lyrics. I love and adore every word. Cliché and idealistic? Maybe. But in my view – perfect.
5. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town – Pearl Jam The haunting beauty of Eddie Vedder’s voice is part of what makes so many Pearl Jam songs find their way into your soul. This one does it exceptionally well, and touches on the beauty (pain?) of perspective – “I change by not changing at all.”
6. Running to Stand Still – U2 It kind of freaks me out that I connect so well with songs about heroin addiction, but maybe it’s just a U2 thing. They used to sing about that a lot. And after all this time, I still love them. A lot.
7. Ramble On – Led Zeppelin I like a lot of songs in the “rambling” genre, and I like a lot of Led Zeppelin tunes. The combination puts this one on the list, for sure. It rocks, and “My freedom I hold dear.”
8. Cocoon – Jack Johnson For all the many, many Jack Johnson songs that I adore, it kind of surprises me that this is the one that stands out. I’m not totally sure why. I just know that if it pops up on a playlist, or on Pandora, I always reach out to turn up the volume and sing a passionate, off-key accompaniment.
9. Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down – ALO This is the most recent song on the list, and so I hesitate to say it’s really “stood the test of time” yet. Still, it makes me melt. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with an ALO show I went to several years ago. Have you ever been front row center when Zach Gill sang this song? I have, and I swear to you, he was looking directly at me while he sang. True story! I relive that experience every time I hear this one. So, … yeah.
10. This slot I really just have to leave open. Did you know I’m not great with commitment or closure? I feel like I need to keep this last spot flexible in case the best song ever comes along. Right now it’s a battle between Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams (high school and college memories), Across the Universe – The Beatles (part of the whole language/connection thing – “Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup”), and Say Goodbye – Dave Matthews (just indescribably sexy). At the moment, Say Goodbye is in the lead, big time.
So, there you have it. A bit of my heart in music. And now it’s your turn, friends. Please tell me some (or all!) of the songs that would be on your all time top ten list! I'm sure it will make me want to change my list. What makes you turn up the volume, or cry, or dance around the living room like a maniac?