my favourite songs

there are a few questions i really like asking people. one is what is the favourite car they ever owned. i find almost everyone has a strong sense of attachment or nostalgia for a particular car so when they talk about it, they can’t help but feel the rush of their youth as they recall road trips, boyfriends/girlfriends, parties, etc that they experienced with those cars. it’s kind of a vicarious thrill for me to see people remember something so fondly. i really just love hearing anyone talk about anything that they love with a burning intensity. for example, i normally don’t give a shit about the history of human civilization, but i love it when dana talks about it, because HE loves it. it’s the same thing with asking people about their favourite cars.

anyway, another question i like asking people is what their favourite songs are. i like it for the same reason, but also because it feels like an insight into someone’s past, their feelings, their inner workings. it can say something abstract yet very telling about a person.

i also like to think about my own favourite songs, but not for any of those reasons. i just like to think about things i like a lot. it’s self-indulgent. and that’s why i’m making a list of my fave songs now.

  • song of the troubled one by amorphis. this one has been #1 on my list since i heard it when i was 16, and it still hits me in the guts almost every time i hear it. the lyrics are very vague, talking about the simple lives of finnish farmers hundreds of years ago and blowing wind, and something else in the first verse but i have no idea what. i don’t know why but the lyrics have always communicated to me the poetry and transient nature of our existence — they capture all that is beautiful about life. it’s so inexplicably tragic and wonderful. the music gives me the same feeling too. it’s dreamy in parts, rocking in others, but always stirring. they combine for one of the most powerful artistic expressions i’ve ever felt.
  • the death of art by renaissance. i blogged about this one a while back because i think it is criminally overlooked. it’s 40 minutes long and covers a vast array of styles and feelings. my fave is the end section that begins around 37:45. to me, the harmonized guitar parts and heavily reverbed guitar solo over top sound like drowning, like what i imagine one would feel in their final moments when they accept death underwater. it’s so beautiful, so sad.
  • human nature by michael jackson. i’ve loved this one since i was a kid. it always stood out to me from the rest of the thriller album as odd, what with its airy synth and guitar and complete lack of disco/dance pop, but there was also something much more subtle and emotionally complex about it. the line about ‘electric eyes are everywhere’ always unsettled and intrigued me, it’s really blade runner and sci fi-ish. i didn’t grasp it as a kid, but i loved it. i have a much better sense of what the song is driving at now (at least for me), and i still love it. very touching. here’s a fucking amazing live performance of it from 1988. wow, MJ was a phenom. his multiple talents were of inhuman caliber.
  • black sun by dead can dance. to me, this song both feels like the most modern urban landscape, headlights streaming by in the dark, and the oldest sun-bleached stone creations of man. i guess what i mean is that it feels timeless, like it captures something about the struggles people have always faced since our beginning, and always will for as long as we exist. it’s truly epic and powerful.
  • every little thing she does is magic by the police. this is another one i’ve loved since i was a kid. i’ve always found it haunting despite its happy and upbeat chorus. that synth swell at 2:00 is so sci fi and thus inherently dark, and the steel drum in the chorus is such a strange sound, like ghostly voices. but every time stewart copeland picks up the beat in the chorus, all i want to do is dance. reminds me of some of my favourite moments at retronight at evolution. i love it.
  • paranoid, black no. 1, green man, drunk in paris, ode to locksmiths by type o negative. it’s impossible to pick one particular type o song that stands out as my fave because so many of them elicit strong emotional reactions from me. i think that, generally speaking, they consistently did a great job of wearing their hearts on their sleeves, writing songs that were open and honest to a fault, but never without the ability to laugh at their morose nature. they were so fucking relatable. so i can’t pick one but those are some of my faves.
  • when the levee breaks by led zeppelin. it’s hard for me to put my finger on why i love this one so much — i mean, beyond how fucking heavy and epic it is. there’s also something sad about it. i’ve never really paid attention to the lyrics, even though i know them all by heart. i just read them now and they’re really just classic blues lyrics, but again, there’s something timeless about them. i feel like most blues falls flat because it tries too hard to be the blues in the first place, but this is the blues executed perfectly. this is bone simple, sad, heavy shit. that’s part of what makes zeppelin so interesting and mysterious to me: how did 4 pale british kids get so fucking good at playing the blues? man oh man.

i’m sure i’ll think of other songs i should add to this list — maybe madman across the water by elton john — but these are the first ones that come to mind. maybe i’ll make an addendum one day if i find there’s a handful i should have mentioned.


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