≡ Menu

Poll: Songs That Have Affected You

music noteIt occurred to me today that I haven’t talked about music much on this blog, despite that fact that I’ve set out to talk about everything that the library offers, at the very least. Our music collection is freaking ginormous and it circulates at least as much as the books. Probably more, if I had to guess, although books will win out because we have more of them overall. But music, and certain songs and singers in particular, have had a huge affect on me. There are great songs that I have loved that immediately transport me back to the town, house, room, or the car where I listened to them the most. About as close to time travel as I can get.

So here are five songs that have meant a lot to me, for better or worse. I won’t list all of the reasons, because some of the experiences I have had with music come about as close to sacred as it gets for me. And then I’d like to hear from you music nuts as well. I know you’re there, I still laugh about the What’s your song? poll where we all chose our own soundtracks.

1. Eulogy by Tool

I had no idea that songs could be non-linear. I was playing a lot of guitar at the time, and 99% of what was on the radio was verse, chorus, verse, and then a guitar solo at the end. Eulogy goes everywhere and arrives somewhere completely unexpected. This song expanded my perceptions of how creative music could be, and how limitless. I spent one entire summer listening to Aenima as I drove to and from a gold mine where I was working.

2. No Surprises by Radiohead

I have always been fascinated by artists who can create a mood unlike anyone else. Radiohead has their share of detractors, and even I don’t love everything they do, but I believe they can create a mood that most sad-sack wannabe angst bands would love to be able to pull off. No Surprises was the soundtrack for the second miscarriage we went through. Not good memories, but memorable.

3. I Love N.Y.E. by Badly Drawn Boy

This is from the soundtrack to the film version of Nick Hornby’s About A Boy. The book is great, the movie is not bad, and the soundtrack is better than all of them combined. I Love N.Y.E. is a gorgeous instrumental that sounds like winter to me. It raises the hair on my neck every single time I hear it, and I’ve been hearing it for years now. I put this on loop after we brought Max home from the hospital, wondering if it would soothe him the way it soothes me.

4. Into My Arms by Nick Cave

Only someone like Nick Cave could make a non-rhythmic line like “I don’t believe in an interventionist God” work. And not only that, it is part of one of the loveliest ballads I know. Love him or hate him, Nick Cave takes his music seriously and he thinks things through. While I’m here, I’ve got to throw my other Cave favorite out: People Ain’t No Good. It’s just perfect. And Red Right Hand. And watch the movie The Proposition, which he wrote!

5. Claire De Lune by Debussy

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you guys that I’m a pretty decent pianist. I started piano lessons when I was five. I loved it, but it wasn’t until I heard Claire De Lune as a teenager that I became obsessed with piano music. I think it is the most beautiful song out there. I truly do.

All right, your turn. Music that has moved you, changed you, and/or shaped you, for better or worse.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Doug Shaw October 14, 2010, 10:45 am

    Here’s a furious five – from me to you. Detail remains personal but trust me, I think these stand tall.

    The Clash – Complete Control. Angry
    Joy Division – Atmosphere. Sad
    Manic Street Preachers covering Camper van Beethoven’s – Take The Skinheads Bowling. Fun
    Blue Pearl – Naked in the Rain. Sexy
    The Clash – White Man in Hammersmith Palais. Fantasticness unsurpassed.

    Look forward to checking out what others listen to.

  • Ted Hessing October 14, 2010, 11:37 am

    I am first and foremost a fan of lyrics. Some songs are so well crafted, poignant and concise that you can’t help not be affected by it.

    But sometimes it’s not the music, it’s the manner delivered. Sometimes it’s when you receive it.

    For me that time was autumn in 2007 when Soulstice – an all-female accapella group from my alma mater Virginia Tech did a tour in memory of the slaughter that occurred earlier that spring. As best as I remember soulstice performed covers of songs. Some were sweet, some elegant, others amusing. They ran the gamut of human emotions. The massacre was such a combination of lost promise and senslessness that each song evoked vivid imagery of the lives that were lost.

    Josh, I’m including a link to a YouTube video of that group performing at a different venue here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URC4hTVfNWM Not sure if this will come across through the filter. I’ve also linked to that vid in my name link in case you don’t see a url.

    I *think* this is one of those songs performed 3 years ago.

  • Colin Wright October 14, 2010, 12:07 pm

    I’ll toss a handful into the ring:

    Jesus, Etc. by Wilco
    Napoleon by Ani DiFranco
    Ghost of Corporate Future by Regina Spektor
    Academia by Sia
    The General by Dispatch

    Kind of random, but like you, they each evoke a certain feeling or place/time in my mind. Plus, they’re just rad songs.

  • Jeroen October 14, 2010, 2:18 pm

    Most of the songs I love combine melancholy with tension: Jungleland – Bruce Springsteen.
    I see a darkness – as covered by Johnny Cash
    Distant shore – Willard Grant Conspiracy
    What jail is like – Afghan whigs (more rage than melancholy)

    • Josh Hanagarne October 14, 2010, 8:38 pm

      I don’t think there is any music I like better than the melancholy. There are just too many whiners who can’t pull it off.

  • Kim October 14, 2010, 2:31 pm

    My tastes in music change daily but these are the songs that I never grow tired of listening to for various reasons…

    Even Deeper – Nine Inch Nails – the music itself just blows me away every time I hear it…but then when I really focus on the lyrics they’re so painfully real…and convey many different emotions. Love, self-hate, frustration, pain, etc.
    “it seems everything i’ve heard
    just might be true
    and you know me
    (well you think you do)
    sometimes, i have everything-
    yet i wish i felt something”

    Light – KMFDM – I’d heard of KMFDM when I was in high school…one of the really cool guys in my German class would always wear a KMFDM tshirt on Friday and I would muse at what I would later learn is Brute’s signature illustrations. Fast forward a few years when I met my now-husband, who listened to them a lot. Most of the songs I heard were good – catchy, dancey numbers that got your head banging, then I heard Light. Shut my mouth and call me Ethel. This song is one of my favorites – the way Jules masters the guitar is amazing to me, and even better live (coincidentally this was the first “real” concert I’d ever been to, and it was over our 1st anniversary).

    Canon in D – Pachelbel – This song moves me to tears every time I hear it. The strings, how they just seem to circle around every inch of you and carry you off to a far-away land…it’s my ultimate love song, but it’s so much more than just love…it’s LOVE…if that makes sense.

    Natural One – Folk Implosion – maybe it’s because I miss all the cool music that was made during my high school years…but the bass line in this song always makes me groove.

    And I’m going to cheat on the last one and list a band instead of a single song…VAST. Jon Crosby’s vocals give me chills…”Turquoise” is a great album, as is “April.”

    That was exhausting…

    • Josh Hanagarne October 14, 2010, 8:37 pm

      Kim, Trent Reznor did the music for the movie The Social Network. Awesome stuf.

      Love Canon!

  • Heather October 14, 2010, 2:52 pm

    CRAP! FIVE?!?! ONLY FIVE?!?!? OK, OK, here goes:

    The Cure, A Few Hours After This–it reminds me of being on a merry-go-round, or my last night home before leaving for college.

    Buddy Holly/The Polecats, Down the Line–Good song to drive to.

    Stevie Ray Vaughan, Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix cover)–The closest I can get now to getting high.

    Moonlight Sonata–I don’t know what it is about this song, but it’s sweet and creepy, and wonderfully “goth” before Goth was what all The Cool Kidz were doing.

    Black Flag, Rise Above–Well, anything Henry Rollins does is pretty much awesome, but this one, along with “Shine (Hero Time)” is probably one of the all-time most positive songs I’ve ever heard, without it being so “happy” that it makes me want to puke and then go slap somebody.

    addendum—R. E. M., Drive–This is another college one, but this one was the “soundtrack” to anything dark, creepy, or remotely dangerous I could have ever been involved with. . . and I fkcuking loooooooooooooooove it!

    Josh, this was awesome! I thinkI might actually have something to blog about now! Thanks, man!

    • Josh Hanagarne October 14, 2010, 2:56 pm

      who said anyone could only do five? I only did five, you can do five million.

  • Andrew Frenette October 14, 2010, 8:42 pm

    Not an easy request, I can give you thousands, I’ll try not to, but here goes:

    – Nine Inch Nails (every song affects me somehow, couldn’t choose just one)
    – Toto “Africa”
    – The Knife “Silent Shout”
    – The Knife “Pass this On”
    – The Killers “All these Things That I’ve Done”
    – The Bravery “An Honest Mistake”
    – The Faint “The Conductor”
    – Silversun Pickups “Lazy Eye”
    – Shakespeare’s Sister “Stay With Me”
    – TV on the Radio “Wolf Like Me”
    – She Wants Revenge “Tear You Apart”
    – Vangelis Blade Runner soundtrack
    – Jan Hammer “Crockett’s Theme”
    – Android Lust “Stained”

    Okay. I think that’s more than enough. It’s like sampling a small part for a larger song.

  • cinderkeys October 14, 2010, 10:38 pm

    Ralph Covert, “Out of My Element”

    Contains one of the greatest refrains of all time: “And I believe I’ve been out of my element / so long it feels like home.” I was in grad school the first time I heard this, and it was just right.

    David Gray, “The Other Side”

    So beautiful, so sad, and yet with a tiny kernel of hope. I challenge anyone to listen to this and not be moved.

  • Boris October 14, 2010, 11:03 pm

    Very sappy but “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel helped me get through a rough patch.

    “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” will always be one of my favorites.

    “Annie’s Song” and “Danny’s Song” were two ballads I never paid much attention to when I was younger (and single, and not a father), but they work for me now.

  • roxthefoxthebabygoldilox October 14, 2010, 11:45 pm

    Summertime by Will Smith
    Any song by Radiohead
    I love the entire soundtrack for “Where the Wild Things Are,”
    “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” and “Dan In Real Life”
    Candy by Paulo Nutini
    Close to Me by The Cure
    You Put Your Arms Around Me by Jens Lekman
    Vampire Weekend
    Slave to Love by Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music)
    You Spin Me Round by Dead or Alive
    The Pixies

  • Doug Shaw October 15, 2010, 1:04 am

    cool there are so many tunes on here I’ve never heard of I’m going to make a WSL playlist. Thanks all 🙂

    • Kim October 15, 2010, 6:05 am

      That’s a fantabulous idea!

      • Josh Hanagarne October 16, 2010, 10:10 am

        I like it too. I’ll come back with an official list in a few weeks.

  • delta waters October 15, 2010, 5:25 am

    love this post! music is so important to my soul…when i die it will be the second thing i miss the most…
    ***Dvorak…Serenade in E, opus 22 (college working on the public radio station)
    ***Tool…Rosetta Stoned (summer 2008 moving into our new home)
    ***Joni Mitchell…entire album Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (my dear friend Anna -RIP)
    ***Journey…City of the Angels (from one of my first albums I checked out of the library in elementary school )
    ***Clash…Should I Stay or Should I go (h.s. dances)

    • roxthefoxthebabygoldilox October 15, 2010, 6:47 am

      Love Dvorak too!

    • Josh Hanagarne October 16, 2010, 10:11 am

      Rosetta Stoned sounds like fantastic moving music:) And while we’re talking about chores, if you’re doing dishes, you need some Beck.

  • Julianne Fuchs-Musgrave October 15, 2010, 5:36 am

    When I went back to school to finish degrees I was asked to write a paper (Art Theory) on the synchronicity that occurs when music is introduced into the artist’s studio experience. The following semester I wrote a paper (Art Therapy) on the therapeutic benefit of music working with returning military PTSD patients.
    For each I pulled the first piece from various playlists I’ve made over the years to teach/work with in the studio. It’s fascinating to see people’s (of all ages, ability, condition) artwork shift when the music shifts.
    It’s also interesting to note which various visual artists through the modern ages who deliberately worked with or without music. Georgia O’Keeffe never, ever worked with music. I love her anyway.
    Bach´s Cello Suite No. 1
    Bruce Springsteen’s Pink Cadillac
    Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy
    Miles Davis’ So What
    Judy Collins’ Since You Asked
    Michael Hedges’ Ritual Dance
    Joni Mitchell’s Dawntreader
    Marin Marais’ The Bells of St. Genevieve
    Jesse Cook’s Rattle and Burn
    Bonnie Raitt’s Kokomo

  • Katherine October 15, 2010, 8:47 am

    One song that I could listen to every day and hear something different among all the percussive beats and stringed instruments is Peter Gabriel’s “Signal to Noise”.

  • Michelle McGee October 15, 2010, 8:55 am

    I have to agree with you on Claire De Lune. That song transports me in a very big way. There’s just something about piano music that relaxes my soul. George Winston’s album, December, is another piano favorite of mine.

    • Josh Hanagarne October 16, 2010, 10:03 am

      I’ll check that out, thanks. I’m a piano nut.

  • Hessiess October 15, 2010, 1:28 pm

    I love the song “Melodies of life” and its various interpretations. Its extremely relaxing, almost hypnotic and never gets boring. Been listening to this for years now, not something that can be said about most music.

  • Vic Nunez October 19, 2010, 9:43 am

    40 ounce To Freedom – Sublime, great breakup song that was released right around the time my marriage started falling apart (about 1990)

    • Josh Hanagarne October 19, 2010, 10:23 am

      Awesome song, Vic. I’ve been on a big Sublime kick lately. Always makes me smile.

  • Cathy N. November 4, 2010, 9:22 am

    Very late to the party, but I hope you’ll indulge me anyway.

    My all-time most favorite song is “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” by Samuel Barber. Not only is it a sublime marriage of exquisite text and music, it speaks to something in my own past.

    My other favorite song is “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding.” Yes, my favorite song by one of my favorite artists is the one he didn’t actually write.

    “A Day in the Life” is my favorite song by my other favorite artists. The perfect synthesis of Lennon’s and McCartney’s genius.

    Also, the entire second side of “Abbey Road” is a towering masterpiece.

    Finally, “This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads reminds me of a time in my life that didn’t turn out so hot, but it’s still a great song.

  • aaas November 21, 2010, 4:36 pm

    candy-paolo nutini
    song makes you ‘feel’ perfection…song is so close to perfection, closer than many awesome things….lyrics, feeling described in best possible way…incredible