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Listen to This: “Praying” by Kesha

First of all – Happy Friday everyone! Second of all – I apologize for the lack of frequent posts recently. Things have been a little crazy over here, but I have a few things in mind I’d like to share with you. One of them being Kesha’s “Praying.” The whole Rainbow album is hands down – fantastic. But there is something extremely special about this song in particular. “Praying” was released in July, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a bit. The first time I heard it, I got chills and started crying. I’ve yet to listen to it, without tears coming to my eyes.My top adjective to describe this song? Powerful. Kesha is a powerful force, as a human, with her art, with her strength. I keep thinking about the metaphor of a Phoenix rising from the ashes. But really…Here we have this woman who has been through the ringer, and a lot of it in the public eye. I read an interview the other day where she talked about her time in in-patient rehab for her eating disorder, and how her time with the piano when she worked on Rainbow, she kept singing it to herself to get her through. I know music has an entertainment value, but it’s also an extremely influential tool in spreading your message. It’s amazing that someone who could’ve let her first single in years be fueled with rage and hate – yet…I think this is a song of grace. This woman has found peace. Can you hear the honesty in her voice? Do you hear the vulnerability? Because I think it’s all there. But I also think this is someone who has been through hell (as the lyrics referenced,) and has come out on the other side…though all of our experiences shape us as people, she seems to have evolved and come out on top despite the ultimate attempts to drag her to to the bottom. “We both know all the truth I could tell” Kesha sings. Light has been shed on parts of her battle, but I’m sure there are countless details we will never know. I just really believe in the raw authenticity of this song. It’s like an anthem – an anthem for those who have struggled with all kinds of traumatic experiences. Abusive relationships, mental illness, assault, the crappy cards we get dealt in life sometimes. I just think the message here can really resonate with listeners, and I have so much respect for Kesha for using her voice, her unmistakable talent to create this. In a time when others create “revenge” songs. Here we have this woman speaking her truth, and she’s doing it with poise. This song in itself shows such an evolution from the artist who brought us “Tik Tok.” When I think of Kesha, and I think of her art, her strength, her courage, her ability to be so real I just feel so proud of her. That probably sounds weird coming from someone who doesn’t personally know her, but she’s shared enough of her story with us to know that she’s come out on the other side of a very dark time, and she is glowing.

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listen to this, meg says listen to this

Listen to This: “From the Dining Table”

Harry Styles long awaited self-titled solo album was released last week. I waited to listen until Saturday morning (after loving the new radio hit “Sign of the Times”) and I CANNOT STOP LISTENING. The whole album is so dang good. Don’t brush it off as a teeny bopper album, or you’ll be missing out. One of my favorite tracks on the album (too hard to choose – addicted to “Meet Me In the Hallway” “Sweet Creature” “Ever Since New York” “Two Ghosts” – okay all of them, I guess) is “From the Dining Table.” I think one of the endearing things about this album is that the lyrics are so relatable. Don’t hate me for this comparison, but the fist thing that came to mind was AM by the Arctic Monkeys. The songs are so emotional and heartfelt, but there are also songs you can move to, and they’re perfect for jamming out in the car. OK, honestly, they’re perfect for everything because I also listened while I was running this morning. “From the Dining Table” is the last track on the album, the imagery is so vivid, but also the longing is palpable. His vocals are smooth, and the music is original. This guy is talented, and hopefully his true artistry is recognized.

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Meg Says Listen to This: “Feb. 20, 2000”

I don’t normally post “Listen to This” back to back, but if there’s anything I’ve been reminded of lately you can never have too much music in your life. (I guess or books for that matter, but if they’re on your floor that can be a problem. Plus, I can listen to more songs than books I can read in a week, so there will always be a little bit more to share.) Music is such a powerful force. It has healing powers, can be a source of inspiration or motivation, the only tie to some buried memory, the foundation for new memories…it’s all there. Lady Gaga’s Superbowl halftime performance, and last night’s Grammy Awards were just a larger reminder of all the emotional connections we can have through music, and the messages it’s artists carry. I try and space out repeats from artists in my postsĀ  generally too, but even though I shared an Avett Brothers song last weekend, I’m going to share one again today. I was about to type that this doesn’t relate to the Grammy’s in any way, but they actually were nominated for two. Anyway, this past weekend there was an event in Mexico, a little tropical getaway of concerts for days (including other artists like Band of Horses and Brandi Carlile, but I digress. Someone posted a video from the show in Mexico last night, and it was Seth Avett alone on stage with just his guitar and a microphone. He played “Feb. 20, 2000” which is a song off their self-titled debut album. As far as I know, it’s been several years since he played this song. Someone mentioned in the Facebook group that it could’ve been prompted by someone mentioning it in a Q&A session over the weekend. Whatever the reason, it happened and my word…it was something else. Of course I say this living vicariously through a Youtube video, but it felt like someone was squeezing my heart as I listened. It’s just a beautiful song, and I was already crying after watching John Legend perform “God Only Knows” (one of my favorite songs of all time.) But even if you aren’t as emotional as me, I still think there’s something special to see here. I can’t believe the silence of the crowd. What a beautiful, raw moment.

Here are the lyrics (from AZ) if you’re curious:

The whipping of the flag above
It sung me to sleep
And I awoke to feel her hair
Dancing on my cheek

I awoke with the crazy feeling
That I was where I belong
And the sun warmed a remembered love
In my head I heard this song

Don’t leave, you’ve finally made it home
Ain’t this the girl that you wanted all along
I know it hurts to think about everything that went wrong
But I think its over now

And I cant believe how her hands
Still fit perfectly in mine
If I don’t take my chances now
I’ll be searching all my life

Trying to find the feelings that I knew
With this lovely country girl
If those plans are just a young man’s mistake
Then why am I still so set on her

Don’t leave, you’ve finally made it home
Ain’t this the girl that you wanted all along
I know it hurts to think about everything that went wrong
But I think its over now

And more than ever, now I hear
That sweet old voice inside my ear
It says

Don’t leave, you’ve finally made it home
Ain’t this the girl that you wanted all along
I know it hurts to think about everything that went wrong
But I think its over now

Her hair is still soft and sweet
Her eyes still green, her heart still beats
For you and for the lord above
Be done with the pain
And get on with the love

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Meg Says Read This: All the Light We Cannot See

18143977 There’s a reason All the Light We Cannot See won a Pulitzer Prize. It took me a few weeks to work my way through this one. In early January, one afternoon it was a surprise waiting for me in the mailbox from one of my favorite teachers. Over the weekend I was bound and determined to find out how this story wrapped up. Sometimes while reading, I had to take breaks because my stomach was in knots and my thoughts would wander (not out of boredom, quite the opposite – this book gave me so much to think about.) The story alternates view points, and points in time throughout the novel, later adding on to the character’s perspectives you’re seeing through, and eventually (as may have been expected), intertwining these character’s lives. There is so much to digest here, so much to take away. We have Marie-Laure a young blind girl living in occupied France during WWII. Marie-Laure’s father Daniel LeBlanc is a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. You have orphan Werner Pfennig living in a children’s home in Germany with his sister Jutta, with their kind care taker Frau Elena. As you can imagine in war-time, all of these character’s locations change and their stories expand and they encounter more people who become essential to their stories. I’m intentionally being vague because I would hate to ruin the beautiful way this story unravels. I think some of the key points I was reminded of is the way art, music, books, and imagination can be threads of hope in the darkest of times. I was reminded that although we know what’s right and wrong, people who do bad things, are still capable of doing good things. Recently, I saw a tweet that said “Historically, ‘I was only following orders’ has not been a solid defense.” How true this is, and some people only come to the realization after so much damage is done. Friendship can sprout from curious places. Fear makes people do evil things. It’s never wrong to do the right thing, even if it means you’re going against the current. Doing the right thing takes a tremendous amount of courage sometimes. People can be very impressionable, it’s important to remember to think for yourself and not be a follower. We have a responsibility to maintain a knowledge of the past, so we don’t repeat history’s mistakes. This story tugged on my heart strings, and these characters will stay with me for years to come. If you haven’t read this novel yet, I highly recommend you do so immediately.

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Meg Says Watch This: “Hold You Back”

This song is wonderful, but the video is devastatingly beautiful. It’s all in the details. From the “We Will Miss You” balloon, that’s floated up to the corner of the room, to the stray bobby pins that were left on the night stand. The glaring emptiness of absence. How difficult it is to erase the trail someone leaves on our heart and in our lives. The essence of their presence heavy in a room, even when their body isn’t there. I mean yeah, essentially it’s a breakĀ  up song, but don’t all songs mean something different to their listeners? No matter what the subject matter, this one still strikes a chord.

And it’s right now that I start to see it
All of the weight of the way that it is
Caught between what it means to start over
And what happens over and over again

I know I mentioned Ryan Hurd in my post about my favorite musical discoveries of 2016. “Hold You Back” was the last song he released on Spotify last year, but he just debuted the video this week. I just love the way he has show cased such diversity in his songwriting with each track – some sting you with how emotional they are, some are fun the kind you turn up loud and blast, but there’s so much heart in each of them. I can’t wait for more music from him this year!