How do you choose a favourite song from an artist who’s been recording for over 20 years?
I own every studio release that Tori Amos has produced. I can’t say I love all her albums equally, but as she is my “life soundtrack musician” – the artist whose music has played in the background of most of my life, scoring every major turning point and encoding my memories such – I’ve been able to find something to love about all of them.
Which doesn’t make picking a favourite song any easier.
(Neither does the fact that she’s also recorded at least 100 B-sides/non-album tracks, both original tunes and some amazing covers. And that her sound is constantly evolving, covering everything from pop piano ballads, rock, electronica, gospel, cutesy piano ditties, classical, and even musical theatre.)
Anyone who considers him-/herself a music lover probably has what I like to call a “life musician”.
I have two:
The nu metal, rap-rock group Linkin Park
Alt-rock singer-songwriter and pianist Tori Amos.
At first glance, there probably doesn’t seem to be much these two musical acts have in common, and I supposed they don’t save for what they both mean to me.
As my life musicians, my fondness for them runs far deeper than for an artist whose music I happen to fancy. Or the singer of that current earworm I can’t get out of my head.
Rather, my life musicians are the singers whose music has played in the background of most of my life, scoring every major phase to the point that my memories of those times have become encoded in tunes themselves.
I admit to having been a total kill-joy last Monday, writing about Lent on St. Patrick’s Day.
This week’s post will make up for that.
Even though St. Paddy’s Day isn’t a significant event in my life (likely because usually I’m in the throes of Lent at the time), the mystique of Ireland was a powerful inspiration for me in the early days of my novel-in-progress.
Not because the story itself has anything to do with Ireland (it’s set in medieval England), but instead due to some of the books I was reading and music I was listening to at the time: two fabulous works whose recommendation is a far more pleasant St. Patrick’s Day greeting (however overdue) than my blathering on about giving up indulgences and society falling apart.
From the recent Imagine Dragons concert in Vancouver. I thought this was the moment I’d been waiting for, but the best was yet to come.
I never paid much attention to the Imagine Dragons before the Grammy Awards on January 26.
I was well familiar with their radio-friendly first single, Radioactive, but also knew they were very popular with the kids in the youth programs I work in.
Which right there put me off of them, for surely my musical tastes were more discerning than those of a 12-year-old.
Then the Grammys happened. I don’t own a TV, but followed the progress on Twitter and the official Grammys website. When Radioactive won Best Rock Performance, it made me curious in spite of myself about what the rest of their debut album, Night Visions, sounded like.
In a word: great.
In a few more words, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular, and likewise why their fan base is of such diverse ages.
One of the iconic ads for the first generation of Apple iPods.
I am of the opinion that music makes the world go ‘round.
Whether you like to belt out radio hits in the shower, hum to yourself while concentrating, assemble the coolest party playlists, or sing along at church, I believe that everyone is a music lover in one way or another.
And music truly does seem to motivate the world, right up there with coffee. Every day – particularly on public transit, when I take it – I see people sporting the ubiquitous white (or red or black or what have you) headphones, piping sweet songs and strains into their grey matter.
My own days are no less musical, although, in tending to disfavour headphones, my method of delivery tends to differ.
I was quite surprised, however, by the set list the band selected to play. Not because they played songs I didn’t know or like (I know and like almost all of Linkin Park’s songs, so that’s never a concern). Rather, it was because their set all at once caused me to perceive the band in a different way than I’d previously done all the years I’ve been a fan, since 2000.
Which, in turn, recalled me to the fact that what a music-lover/reader/viewer takes away from a song/novel/movie/TV show/etc. might be wildly different from the intended message of the artist that produced it.
At times, I was quite stridently reminded of this fact.
As I mentioned for one of the seven things about me when I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, music is both the filing cabin and the encyclopedia of my mind. It helps me make sense of my life through my tendency to categorize and understand my various experiences according to specific lyrics or sounds.
Music is also intrinsically tied into my writing life, for I can’t write well without it, and it likewise inspires my daydreams, my imagination, my stories.
My love of music was one of my largest motivators for finally giving up on shared living last year and getting a place on my own, for I couldn’t play my stereo at 6:30am since my roommates didn’t get up that early.
My love of music also resulted in a 30km-journey to the suburbs by public transit to buy a pair of high-end second-hand Harman/Kardon speakers. I hate public transit. I’m not wild about the suburbs either. But I believe that true enjoyment of music is obtained, not through earbuds, but when it’s played aloud and you can feel it in your solar plexus and the soles of your feet.