When discussing music with a friend of mine the other night, I discovered there has been some profound, life changing moments when it comes to music. I’m sure you know what I mean when I say a song gives you goose bumps and these top 10 songs have definitely changed my life forever. It was super hard to go through each band that I absolutely adore and pick out these songs but each holds a different place in my heart. I’ll explain with each one and keep in mind that there are a lot more songs but in narrowing it down, I went with more recent music selections. There were several bands as a young child, teen and adult that changed my life in different situations. However, in my writing career, these bands led me in the right direction.
I will never forget the first time I heard this song. I remember how the lyrics spoke to me in a way that I can’t even explain in words. I do remember the feeling was of one that nearly took my breath away and it felt like something sat on me, crushing my very soul. It was such a somber yet sweet song about companionship and loved ones that you lost and found again. To this day it is one of my favorite songs to hear live from Widespread Panic.
The year was 1996 and I was a preteen full of angst, confusion, lost and not knowing exactly where I would go or end up. Granted, “Siamese Dream” was out for three years, it took me a while to find the Smashing Pumpkins and the first moment I hear “Mayonnaise” with the soft intro then a moment of pure angst driven melodic heart-fail with Corgan’s guitar riffs, my teen years were forever changed. With lyrics like
“No more promise no more sorrow
No longer will I follow
Can anybody hear me
I just want to be me
When I can, I will
Try to understand
That when I can, I will”
I was forever changed by a song that seemed to understand exactly what I felt. To this day, when I want a song that I know relates to me, I’ll put on Siamese Dream and sing to the top of my lungs. You’ll normally hear me singing this album in the shower, of course.
Jack Johnson has a way of making you wish you had your toes in the sand, a Corona in your hand and the sound of the ocean echoing in your ears. The first time I heard this song, I literally was led to tears by it. As a child I was fortunate to be able to see the stars so clearly from my house. I grew up on a farm that held so many acres I never ran out of places to play. This song translates those wonderful nights staring up at the sky, counting stars and figuring out exactly where the constellatinos lay in the universe.
The light was leaving
In the west it was blue
The children’s laughter sang
And skipping just like the stones they threw
Their voices echoed across the way
It’s getting late
It was just another night
With a sunset
And a moonrise not so far behind
To give us just enough light
To lay down underneath the stars
Listen to papa’s translations
Of the stories across the sky
We drew our own constellations
Constellations – Jack Johnson
What can be said about a three part song that takes you on literally an existential journey in your own mind? From start to finish, this song leads you through so many wavelengths of sound, melodies, musical interludes and lyrics that just push the very limits of anything I’ve ever heard before. The first time I actually sat down and listened to it, I had to listen to it over and over again. Matthew Bellamy, lead singer for Muse, creates a harmony with the music that is so chilling and the guitar riffs during the first part of Exogenises really just adds more of a chilling tone to it. Such a very underrated song for sure.
I wish I could have added the entire Yoshimi Battles Pink Robots album to be honest with you but Do You Realize, a very truthful, somber song about death, dying and realizing that we are all in fact going to die one day and this song has a habit of pointing this out. The lyrics of Do You Realize are so very haunting.
Do You Realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize – we’re floating in space –
Do You Realize – that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round
Anything Iron & Wine writes likes to hit my soul. There is just something about the way the combination of lyrics with the haunting sound of Samuel Beam’s voice and the simplistic sound of his guitar sound together that makes my ears perk up and listen. The one thing about this song that really hit me wasn’t just the lyrics, but the entire sound of the song. It is such a romantic and sweet song. I absolutely adore writing to this album but mostly this song.
Early on in my writing career, I found it most difficult to write sex scenes in my books or stories. I would squirm and giggle like a 13 year old kid. One night after nearly freaking out and frustrated by the inability to put words to paper, a dear friend of mine sends me this song and says, “This should cure your writer’s block on that subject.” Five minutes later, I’m writing one of the steamiest scenes of my entire writing career. Since that moment in time, Closer by Kings of Leon is my go-to song when I’m having a rough time writing the steamiest of scenes in my books.
This part is going to be hard to write about. Also to let you know that I’m writing this, I’m listening to each song as I get to the list. However, this song is still hard to listen to but hopefully I’ll get through writing this without breaking down too much.
In November of 2009 I lost my grandmother. She was one of the most important people in my life and as my best friend drove me to the hospital after I’d been summoned by my family to get there in a hurry, Katie allowed me to take control of the radio. She told me later on that she had a feeling that she knew what was really going and why I’d been summoned as fast as I had.
This song was playing on the radio and to this day I cannot listen to it without thinking about that day.
Every time I hear this song, I cry. It’s involuntary… it just happens. I can hear the first riff of the guitar and that’s it. I cry.
I want to swim away but don’t know how
Sometimes it feels just like I’m falling in the ocean
Let the waves up take me down
Let the hurricane set in motion… yeah
Let the rain of what I feel right now…come down
Let the rain come down
Have you ever heard a song? Then listened to it again… and again… and again? Oh … and again?
Leslie Ann Levine was that song for me. I love songs that have a haunting effect and this song takes the cake. It is a song about a ghost that doesn’t leave and doesn’t cross over to the other side. The first time I heard it was after perusing through Youtube for songs by The Decemberists. I fell in love with another song of theirs, Summersong and when I came across Leslie Ann Levine everything I’d ever listened to musically came into a whole new light. I became aware of more indie music and acoustically done songs.
To this day, 95% of my stories are written to some sort of Decemberists song with future plans to write a short story based on Leslie Ann Levine.
There was a very, very frustrating time in my life where I didn’t know which way was up, which way was down and where the hell I was going. I had so many thigns just go completely wrong and there was a point where I almost shut down completely. Then one day as I was near tears at work, Float On came on the radio.
I sat in my office chair, smiling as big as I could and I realized really quickly that things in my life could have been way worse than what they were and the moment I realized this, I fell in love with Modest Mouse. I never thought any band could replace my most favorite band of all time (Widespread Panic) but Modest Mouse (and The Decemberists) have come very close to doing just that. If I ever get sad or think that my life is just so horrible I can’t stand it, I’ll put on Float On and I instantly go back to being in a good mood. It is truly a song that changed my life, so much so that I even have the words “Float On” tattooed on my wrist as a reminder that no matter how hard life gets, we’ll all eventually Float On.