There’s no real reason I’m sharing this song with you all today, other than the fact that sometimes you just need to listen to music that makes you feel good. Etta James does that for me every time. Her voice is a beautiful combination of somehow feeling the warmth of a hug, but also the distance created by being in awe of someone you admire. Her voice, the lyrics, the power – she’s the total package. If I ever get married, (and have a wedding) – believe me, “At Last” will get played at some point because it’s one of my favorite songs of all time. But “Sunday Kind of Love” needs the spotlight sometimes, too. Even though it’s Friday, here you go:
This morning, Dishwalla’s “Counting Blue Cars” came on the radio as I was driving to work, and I just came unglued. I’m a nineties kid. Of course I know the words by heart, and I knew what was coming, but when they got to
“Must have been late after noon
On our way, the sun broke free of the clouds
We count only blue cars skip the cracks in the street
And ask many questions like children often do”
I feel like it broke me a little bit. First of all, this song is a classic, secondly it lends itself to multiple interpretations (existentialism, philosophy, religious connotation, mental health, the whole shebang,) thirdly I think it’s a great jam. Also, sense of “community” has been heavy on my mind and heart and I feel like this song opened the flood gates somehow. I was thinking about our underground networks of communication. I was thinking how sometimes, distance doesn’t matter – kind words from someone near or far, can really touch our soul.. While in some situations, a tight bear hug would be much preferred, it’s no reason to shrug the extension of kindness through communication, or support in the form of an open ear, or someone that just attempts to understand, or those quiet “me toos.” There are so many ways we can reach out and hold someone’s hand in pain, metaphorically and literally. I was thinking about how pain, grief, and uncertainty are like sitting in a dark room.When we let someone in, when we open up, when we ease the weight of some of the load we carry by not hiding all these difficult emotions – it’s like a light coming on in that room. Maybe not the big overhead light flooding the room in a warm glow, but even a little dim nightlight in the corner that helps light the path. Sometimes, you sit in the dark room for so long it’s hard to remember that the light can seep back through the sliver of space under the door. My point is, we all need each other sometimes. Be kind, be open, be compassionate. This song also makes me think about child-like innocence, and that sting in a wound when we’re vulnerable, and also about how easily our perceptions are shaped when we’re young. Be the light in the dark room for each other, okay? And if you don’t know what song I’m rambling on about, or you just want to jam out to it today, listen to this:
Driving home from work on Monday, I heard this song on the radio, and I was immediately intrigued. The lyrics are so vulnerable, and raw. Musically it’s beautiful, and of course I’m a sucker for an accent (no shame in admitting that.) I sent the song to a friend that night, and they sent me a YouTube video from the X-Factor in which James Arthur won in 2012. I can’t believe I’m just hearing him now, and I’ve missed out on a few years of getting to hear such a great voice. Upon a Google search you can see that there was much controversy surrounding his lyrics and musical choices in the years following the X-Factor win, but hopefully this fabulous single from his album Back From the Edge shows a different direction he’s taking with his music. I mean, I’m well aware I’m a sap and I’m all for a beautiful declaration of love, but how can you not melt at these words?
You made me feel as though I was enough
We danced the night away, we drank too much
I held your hair back when
You were throwing up
For a minute, I was stone-cold sober
I pulled you closer to my chest
And you asked me to stay over
I said, I already told ya
I think that you should get some rest
It’s no secret I love to make mix CD’s. I love to write snail mail. There’s something different about meticulously choosing the songs you’re going to add, the order they’ll play in, the mood progression it creates, when you burn them to a CD, draw up a little “cover,” and stick them in the mail. It’s a world away from handing somebody a flash drive, or sending them a link to something on YouTube and telling them to check it out. (Though I do that on the blog posts here so there’s a convenience factor to it, I know.) There’s something special about a handwritten note, addressed, licking the envelope, putting a stamp on it. I think it takes more thought to write a letter, than it does to send a text message. Of course, you can’t share something urgent in the mail seeing as how sometimes it takes about a week for a note to make it to someone, but there’s still an art to splashing your heart on a page with ink. There’s something exhilarating (or nerve wracking,) about the anticipation of exciting news, or a delicate apology, a reminder of love, or revealing the longing’s of your heart being discovered in the mailbox. “I’m gonna write a letter to my true love, I’m gonna sign my name.” Every once in a while I like to put “We Used to Wait” by Arcade Fire off their album, The Suburbs on my mixes. I think it encapsulates the beauty of the lost art of letter writing. I guess on a deeper level, the art of a permanent communication, or at least a more intentional version of it. It reminds me how much better is it to know someone took a pen to paper, thoughtfully wrote down their words, maybe you can see the parts where they hesitated and the heights of the letters change, or they got excited and started writing fast and sloppy – it feels so much more intimate to hold that piece of paper in your hand, than to stare at empty words on a screen. The world is constantly changing, but there are some tired and true things that are worth keeping around “Now our lives are changing fast, hope that something pure can last.” I love singing along to this song, but when I let the words sink in it always wrecks me a bit. All that anticipation, and excitement, or sometimes disappointment… “We used to wait, sometimes it never came.” I guess it covers it all.
I have been listening to the Better than Ezra Greatest Hits album non-stop for the past two weeks. My obsession with them is nothing new, but when I was in Macon a few weekends back they came on in this craft beer bar, and I’d been wanting to listen to them ever since. I remember the first time I heard “Misunderstood” playing faintly over the speakers during lunch at Applebees in Inverness. The lyrics caught my attention immediately, as is the case most of the time when I hear a new song, and it’s been one of my personal anthems ever since. Obviously, fourteen year old me wasn’t working as a waitress and auditioning for Hollywood movies on the side, but I was walking around my neighborhood at all hours. Plus, what teenager ever feels understood? Heck at this rate, what human feels understood? It’s a rare thing. I’m writing this with an intense twitch in my left eye, and a stress level dangerously close to Randall from this week’s episode of This is Us (if you didn’t watch it let’s just say um, high.) In light of all that, music mellows me out. Especially music I can belt out along with. So, it might not be Throwback Thursday but it’s a good a day as any to share this song with you. Happy listening!