A terrific writer on Medium, Jon Scott, asked if I’d care to share some of my favorite songs/music. I immediately thought, “Yes! Another blog I can do without breaking too much of a sweat (because that’s my reason for getting up every morning — to try to do as little as possible — and see if I can get any different results … Spoiler alert — the answer is NO.)
Although my taste in music seems basic to me, especially compared to my husband’s eclectic, ginormous, and still-growing taste in music, I am going to go ahead and make a listicle of the music and/or singers I simply love, do not grow tired of, and that I can put on repeat over and over. This likely tells you more about my character than about my musical tastes — if I love something, I do not outgrow it.
Here is my list, noting that only the number one spot is there by design. All the others are randomly listed, in no particular order.
1) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Anything by Mozart, any time, under any circumstances. Born today, he would have been a rock star — his life was way too short. However, because he started composing as early as 3 years of age, his body of work is still impressive. I grew up listening to classical music, and I love Beethoven, Liszt, Vivaldi, Bach, Tchaikovsky. But there is a lightness to Mozart, an effervescence: he heard the music complete and whole, floating in the air, and wrote it down, first time, every time, perfectly. This planet doesn’t have a lot of perfection, especially not when it comes to people, but Mozart’s music is the exception that only reinforces that observation.
2) The Beatles. Sure, I prefer their early stuff, but I’m not too picky. From the moment I heard them, when I was a wee lass in Soviet Union (back in the USSR), my musical soul belonged to them. They were, and still are, the only band that would have made me lose my mind, scream, faint, and cry if I had ever had the chance to see them live. Honestly, I have no idea why — The Beatles were the Rolls Royce — the absolute top — of the British invasion (meaning no disrespect to The Stones, The Who, both excellent bands that came from across the pond, as well. But, when I listen to them, they simply don’t give me heart palpitations. No one else does.) Pathetically generic, like one of a million other girls shown on the footage of their early concerts, but I would not have cared.
3) U2 — War. At first, I hesitated about putting U2 on this list at all — they sold their musical souls a long time ago and I haven’t heard their latest stuff over the last few years (nor do I want to hear it). But, and it’s a very big “but,” their album War belongs on my all-time favorite list. I love each and every song on that album, which I still own. I wore out several cassette tapes listening to them over and over and over ….
4) Leonard Cohen. I was watching an outdoor ice skating competition on TV, many, many years ago, where one of the figure skaters did his routine to Cohen’s “I’m Your Man.” Fast forward a decade or two, and my love had become my obsession, and one of the biggest regrets of my life is not seeing Mr. Cohen in concert when he was in Denver. He past away shortly thereafter. This may seem like a First World problem, but it feels like a dull toothache that still torments me.
5) The Police. Um… ’cause I like them a lot. Like, a whole lot. Every Breath You Take, Stand Don’t So Close to Me, and Message In a Bottle. So good.
6) Linkin Park. I love that achingly great scream that Chester Bennington could wallop out and sustain — beautiful rage. Mr. Bennington’s suicide still rankles, the pain like rocks getting crushed within my rib cage. Specifically, two songs: “Bleed it Out” and “Road Untraveled” — I claim them as my spirit songs.
6a) The Scorpions, and
6b) Whitesnake. I had a lot of anger issues when I was a teenager, most of them were held in check thanks to Tae Kwon Do, but listening to hard rock was a pleasure and, like a valve, a release. Also, my love for hard rock ballads sustained me through heartbreaks, loneliness and absurdness that is adolescence.
7) The Crooners: Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin/Elvis Presley/Sammy Davis Jr./Mel Torme. These people knew how to belt out a song. It was both the songs they sang and how they sang them. They are timeless and classic to me for good reasons.
8) k.d. lang. I was living in Wyoming at the time, and when I heard k.d. lang’s voice, my world came together like it does when I hear rain. I never cared for country music, but when I listened to Ms. lang’s album, Absolute Torch and Twang, I believed in something supernatural, a god, if you will, because her voice didn’t seem of this earth. It seemed like a gift she received, and then she worked on it until it was perfect. When, years later, she came out with another album of torch songs, again I felt that all was right with the world because her voice is ideal for them.
9) Tina Turner. She is energy and beauty and truth. Ms. Turner’s songs always seemed “earned” to me, like she worked damn hard and still managed to make it seem fun.
9a) Aretha Franklin. Queen of Soul. ‘Nuff said.
10) Johnny Cash/Willie Nelson. Once, in high school, I heard a girl say, “Willie’s my man,” when talking about the singer/songwriter. I completely dug her. I would only add that Johnny and Willie are my men. I meant what I said about not caring for country music — but these men didn’t sing country, they sang American songs.
As I finish writing this, I thought up of many, many more, but honestly, if I don’t leave something off, there will be nothing to upset that “What about X?! person” Most depressingly, I wrote this fast and not so furious, using the word “perfection” instead of picking out adjectives that are far more descriptive and precise. To be fair, I’m not a music writer, but I am a writer, and I am ashamed of my laziness. In part, I don’t think I love any unusual or different artists — my top collection seems mundane to me — my path through the musical woods is well-paved and much traveled.
However, if you’re up to some wonderful articles about music, please check out Bonnie Barton’s writings. From time to time I like to take a break, go to her posts and just breathe through some of the songs. Thank you, Bonnie and thank you, Jon.