Monday, October 8, 2007

iNsiprational iTunes pLaylist . . .

Based on my open love letter to all things iTunes in a previous post, I got a question from a loyal reader (yes, there arepeople who check my blog "routinely" - Hi Aunt Gertie and Uncle Mort) asking me what songs I have on my iPod that I find to be encouraging or helpful. Well, get ready to roll your eyes, muscial cynics, because I am going to share a playlist with you here AND tell you why I like each song.

Enjoy . . .

iNspirational pLaylist . . .

1 - Why Georgia, John Mayer. I love John Mayer. I can't help it. I know, I know, I know. I said I can't help it. This song, having never lived in Georgia, feels like it was written for me. Why do you make certain decisions? Why can't you make other decisions? "Am I living it right?" The moral of the story is that you might never know for sure but - while you are there, eat a peach (or what ever people in Georgia do). I used to feel like I was in Georgia (or in the song) a lot before I met Joy and I still sometimes feel that way when I have a down day (work, weight, food, excercise, my friends, my family, etc.). "So what, so I've got a smile on. It's hiding the quiet superstitions in my head. Don't believe me. Don't believe me when I say I've got it down." Sometimes, I don't have it ALL "down" (shhhhh).

2 - I Live With It Every Day, Barenaked Ladies. I used to LOVE BNL. LOVE THEM. I've seen them in concert three times and I have only been to about seven or eight concerts (not held in concert halls) in my entire life. This song is one of my favorites off my favorite of their albums (Born on a Pirate Ship - say it while pulling the corners of your mouth out with your fingers and you sound like you are saying "Born on a pile of sh . . " (HILARIOUS))! This is another of those "That's right, I said/did/felt/implied/wrote/begged/urget that, and I understand now why it was wrong - but I'll worry about that later!" songs that embraces my general demeanor.

3 - Drinking in LA, Bran Van 3000. When I was in college, I would frequently go visit my friends Jess and Tim (who lived in Providence at the time). Tim was, to me, the ultimate cool cat - he bartended, he knew every one in Providence and he had an easy going sensibility about him (something I'm not exactly known for) and - perhaps most relevant here - he had a killer music collection. One of the groups he introduced me to (I was also with Tim the first time I heard Macy Gray sing on CD, among other greats over the years) was Bran Van 3000. The week between college finals and "Senior Week" - I stayed with Jess and Tim and I would listen to this song over and over again while they were at work. To this day, I can remember feeling like a total slacker and a cool kid all at the same time - with all the ease that comes with finishing school and the fear of having to then go on from school. Good song. Good times.

4 - Through the Wire, Kayne West. I'm not going to try to pretend this song somehow relates to my life or in some way speaks directly to my experiences (I've never been in a car accident or recorded my first platinum album) but - it's fun. I just love it. As Kayne explains - after his accident "Not to worry - Mr. Wizard is back to wiz-ork." After my surgery, when I was still home full time, I would walk two or three times a day and would listen to this song at least once per walk. At LEAST once. Mr. Wizard was back to wiz-ork!

5 - Humpty Dancy, the Digital Underground. There is nothing technically "uplifting" or "reaffirming" in this song. It's actually sort of crass and very insincere in direction but - I love it. Always have. Since the 8th grade or whatever. And, if I'm alone (or with people I trust) - you might just see me limp to the left like my leg was broken. Those who know the magic of the song will get the reference. For the rest of you - education is power!

6 - Not Ready to Make Nice, Dixie Chicks. Here is that moment where I lose some of you - I'm willing to take that risk. Many people walked away from the Chicks as fast as they did President Bush but, for my two cents, this song is exactly why I love the Dixie Chicks. A year and a half or so ago, there was a fairly serious toss up in my family and I got very upset and, in the process, I alienated my family and started to lose a good friend over taking a stand on something that my family did not understand. We've all made up in the meantime (for the most part (awkward smile)) - I apologized for all I said and did from my defensive stance - but this song still reminds me that my life is my life - and I'll do it my way. As long as I'm not hurting anyone (again, I apologize, sincerely, for what I have said and done that does hurt people) or asking anyone to take part if my decisions in that pursuit - I don't feel like I have to make apologies or bow to others for the right to be me.

7 - Storm Coming, Gnarls Barkley. Most people go for "Crazy" on this album (probably the biggest radio hit of 2006 - in their defense) but, for me, Storm Coming is the best way to go. This little diddy warns all listening that "I" am coming an you better watch out. "There is truth in the thunder, love in the lightning." Yes. Yes there is! And you'd better watch out accordingly. Or something like that.

8 - The Story, Brandi Carlisle. This song is one of those "whoa, where did that come from" type songs. It starts off all mellow and chill and then just starts kicking and screaming. "All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am, So many stories of where I've been and how I got to where I am." Give it a listen. You'll love it. And you might just kick and scream when the chorus comes in too . . .

9 - In My Place, Coldplay. This song just makes me happy. I don't really know why. Coldplay is, admittedly, one of those bands that people love or hate (I'm in the "love" camp) but In My Place and Yellow are my absolute favorites. In My Place is another song that, for me, reaffirms that there is a time and a place for all of us and that we can try to stretch out of that spot but - we'll fall back in eventually - and be welcomed back. Like a nice, warm blanket just out of the dryer on a rainy day.

10 - When I Find Time, Cody Chesnutt. When we lived in Baltimore, I was still working in DC. I was gone from the house from about 6:00 AM until about 8:30 PM most days so Joy and I only really had the weekends to be together and my diet and my physical health were suffering, terribly. I would always tell Joy that I would get healthier when I had more time. That I would be less anxious when I had more time. That I would be better as a friend and husband when I had more time. I'm not really sure if life has really slowed down or if I really have more time (ah, parenthood) BUT I've made some changes that have helped guarantee that, eventually, we will have more time. In the meantime, this song always reminds me of how miserable I was when I had "no time" and how much happier I am these days.

11 - Knocks Me Off My Feet, Stevie Wonder. I love me some Stevie Wonder. "I celebrate his entire catalogue," - and all that jazz. This is one of my favorites though. It's a good song if you're just going for a walk or just trying to focus on life and how good it can be. AND - It's not a bore, Stevie, to tell people that you love them - or to hear it!

12 - Gonna' Make You Sweat, C+C Music Factory. I'm going old school on ya'. HIGH school - to be more percise. "It's your world and I'm just a squirrel trying to get a nut, so move your butt . . ." Need more be said? I didn't think so - now get out there and perspire! And wear SPANDEX while you do it, gentlemen.

13 - Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J. I'm never been a boxer or a serious athelete and I've never been dismissed by my peers in the rap community either (I'm straight street, son, fo-real) but if I ever did want to start serious physical training OR if I felt like I had to fight my colleagues for respect . . . this song would be blaring in the background when it happened.

14 - Do It Anyway, Martina McBride - This song is just plain good. One of a long line of songs from Ms. McBride that I like - it's about the fact that all your effort COULD lead to nothing . . . but you won't know until you try. Sort of like a diet or excercise or a lifestyle change, right?

15 - Crazy, Seal - If you are not pumped up by the end of this song . . . play it again. This song makes me think of high school and how hard AND easy it was to just be yourself and to find out that the "right" people would accept you for that. No, we're never gonna' survive unless . . .

16 - Thank You, Alanis Morissette - Just a great song for knowing that you can't take it all on at once and that not everything in the world is "manageable" but if you just relax and let things happen - it will all be okay - EVENTUALLY. I find myself tapping my foot by the middle of the first verse. "How 'bout that ever elusive kudo?!"

17 - The Luckiest, Ben Folds - My wife and I danced to this song at our wedding. It's about knowing that you have your soulmate and that it is meant to be and that you might not deserve that love and support BUT you're not going to let it go.

18 - If Only, KT Tunstall. I have a musical crush on KT Tunstall. She makes me feel like my life is a teen high school drama or a young-20-something "coming of age" tale because all of her songs (except Black Horse and the Cherry Tree (?)) remind me of part of my experience here on Planet Earth (oh, the stories I'll tell when I return to the mother planet). If Only, off KT's new CD, reminds me of all five or six people who were ever silly enough to have told me I would never do x or would never realize y or would never become z. Well, look at me now. Or don't.

19 - Life is Beautiful, Vega4. I'm sure this song has been on or will some day BE on Gray's Anatomy or in some movie and I'll have to distance myself from it when I realize that (smile) but, in the meantime, I feel like Life is Beautiful is my little secret. Great song. Builds up the song as it helps you build up yourself. On my worst day, even in sarcasm or disdain, I like to remind myself aloud that life IS beautiful (or "grand" or "swell" or some other adjective that pops in to my brain in my moment of weakness). Of course, later that same day I see Joy and Ava or talk with my family or a friend and realize that life IS beautiful.

20 - Somerwhere Only We Know, Keane. Joy and I lost a pregnancy before we adopted Ava. It was a terrible, terrible experience to go through - as one could imagine and anyone who has gone through it can sympathize - but it was especially hard for me because I am an emotional idiot and I was ill prepared for the emotional process of being pregnant and becoming a parent to begin with and, just as I was starting to get my feet under me - I was tossed in the air again. We didn't just lose our pregnancy though - I almost lost Joy in the process. Joy, you see, was slowly internally bleeding to death, under my constant "watch" and "care" for four straight days. If we hadn't gone to see her doctor on day four, she would have died. No question about it. I live with that responsibility and that guilt every single day.

Of all that I have done right and all that I've done wrong in my life, that was my defining moment. That I held all that I loved in my arms but could not bring myself to really open my eyes enough to realize what terrible thing had happened inside her and what was happening to her.

My "big moment" was not my surgery. Not getting married. Not becoming a father. Not gradutating from high school or college or graduate school. It was not the first time I kissed a girl. It was not the first time I realized how small I was in this earth and in the universe. It was then. That moment. When they took Joy to emergency surgery and I was left truly alone . . . not knowing if she would come back.

I went home to get some things for Joy's stay in the hospital and to call our parents and explain what had happened and I turned on the radio. This song was playing. It was the first time I ever heard the song. I cried and cried and cried. I still do cry.
I have not been as selfish since that moment as I was my entire life up until that moment. I learned the lesson of my "big moment" and I am a better person for it. Keane helped me get through the moment - in some weird way.


Carrie said...

You have always made such great mix CD's - your playlists are famous and this is no exception. I am groovin' right along with ya on John Mayer, KT Tunstall, and Seal. Galactic is obviously missing from the list and I KNOW you went to THAT concert! Ha ha ha! I just might hijack this meme and do one of my own on my blog!

Sean C. Amore said...

Concerts on Pennsyvlania Avenue don't count as going TO a concert. That's just sweaty time well spent with friends. Feel free to steal the "format" for your blog - it is not exactly original!