Category Archives: Music

Rinse and Repeat

I often listen to the same song on repeat. Enough times in a row that I’m glad I usually drive in my car alone and that I own a pair of headphones. One of my little quirks, I guess.

I mentioned this in an off-hand comment to a guy I was getting to know a while back. He asked me, “Why? Why do you listen the same song on repeat many times?” No one had ever asked me before. I only partially knew the answer then. I probably only slightly know the answer more now.

My dad is a musician, as was his mother before him, and music was an integral part of my life since before I can even remember. My family sang together, played music together, listened together. It’s part of my heritage.

Much more than that though, I find that music has the ability to work its inside my soul and become a part of me. Sometimes that process takes time. Meeting a new song is like meeting a new friend or the beginning of a relationship. I need time spent in its company to get to know it intimately, to understand why we are connected and what we have to offer each other.

Sometimes a melody or some lyrics will speak to me so deeply that I just have to keep listening, to soak it in until I feel replete (or complete?). It becomes a part of me. Or maybe it was a part of me that I just discovered, a piece I didn’t even know was missing.

I listen to songs over and over, because it’s someone else singing the words inside my heart. It’s lyrics weaving mysteries to capture my imagination. It’s melodies expressing emotions that make words superfluous.

It could also be my OCD tendencies coming out.

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Peace of Mind: my life in lyrics

This is me.
This is my life right now.
This is where I’m at.

Peace of Mind by Mindy Smith

I need peace of mind and a hopeful heart
To lose this rage and move out of the dark
I ain’t looking for rainbows or shooting stars
Just some peace of mind and a hopeful heart

I need peace of mind and a lullaby
‘Cause there’s an angry voice in my head tonight
Tellin’ me to do things that can’t be right
I need peace of mind and a lullaby

And a miracle for this broken soul
A little miracle for this broken soul

I need peace of mind and a gentle hand
As I try to change the way I am
And hope God forgives me when I can’t
I need peace of mind and a gentle hand

Or a miracle for this broken soul
A little miracle for this broken soul

I need peace of mind and a hopeful heart

“Open Road”

There are a few musicians I would genuinely give credit to for getting me through various stages of graduate school. My last semester, one of the main ones was a Birmingham, Alabama singer/songwriter/rocker by the name of Matthew Mayfield. While working on job applications today, I had his music playing in the background. One of his songs hit me in a new way, and I looked up the lyrics. I often do this; somehow reading the words while someone is singing them helps me to experience the lyrics differently.

I was captured by the lyrics for “Open Road.” Check it out:

Matthew Mayfield “Open Road”

Here are the lyrics (emphasis mine):

Lay me down on
shores of the whitest sand
soft like that woman
with the fight of a thousand men

and if you hold the key
would you set me free?
if you hold the key
would you set me free?

I’m screaming to God
‘would you come and save
what you’ve either forgot
or you’re strengthening
I’ve finally paid the toll
and it’s all open road
just trying to find a home
take me home’

Violet iris
and lilies in bloom for spring
enticing—the silence
a song that we all can sing

and if find hold the key
would you set me free?
if you find the key
would you set me free?

I’m screaming to God
‘would you come and save
what you’ve either forgot
or you’re strengthening
I’ve finally paid the toll
and it’s all open road
just trying to find a home
take me home’

We’re tired and changing
heartbeats are fading
our days are numbered
the clocks, they keep ticking
I’ve been deserted,
my feelings perverted
by a pissed off and ripped off machine cycle circus
when we look in the mirror
it shatters with shame
our faces are bloody
and sour with disdain
I have seen what you are
and I have seen who I am
and we are desperate, we’re desperate, we’re desperate
for home…
home….

lay me down on
shores of the whitest sand
soft like that woman
with the fight of a thousand men

Daaang. Sometimes it amazes me how I could have listened to a song at least 20 times before (according to my iTunes counter), but not really have absorbed the lyrics. I’m actually kind of ashamed of this fact. That doesn’t say great things about my capacity for paying attention to the important things in life. I know I’ve grown by leaps and bounds as an active listener, but clearly I have a lot of room for growth. Because that is powerful stuff right there, ladies and gentlemen.

The chorus reminds of me of the Psalms. I love the honesty of the Psalms, the sheer audacity they contain. This songs feels similar. I’m screaming to God ‘would you come and save what you’ve either forgot or you’re strengthening. I’ve been there.

The words in the bridge just kind of destroy me. I keep replaying that part over and over. I recognize myself in the words. They could have been written by me, had I the talent and courage to pull them out and wrestle them into submission as Matthew Mayfield has. I have seen what you are and I have seen who I am, and we are desperate, we’re desperate, we’re desperate for home… 

Because we are.

“David”

Noah Gundersen released a new music video today. Man, this guy is talented! I can’t get enough these past few days (as evidenced through my second post about his music in the past week). And the fact that he sings and plays with his sister Abby just makes me even more of a fan. Gotta love family. Oh wait! That just happens to be the title of his latest EP, Family.

This song “David” is so powerful. According to his bandcamp site, Noah says, “The song is about who I want to be, while realizing who I am. I want to be less like my Father and more like my Dad.” Daaang, son.

Check it out:

i keep kicking at the curb with my worn out shoes 
i keep running into strangers that say i know you 
i don’t want to be a proud man, i just want to be a man 
a little less like my father and more like my dad 

i want to hunt like david 
i want to kill me a giant man 
i want to slay my demons 
but i’ve got lots of them, i’ve got lots of them 

i try to keep my conscience clean 
i try to keep myself out of your bad dreams 
i try to wash my hands for you every night 
lest you find my strangling fingers wrapped around tight 

i want to hunt like david 
i want to kill me a giant man 
i want to slay my demons 
but i’ve got lots of them, i’ve got lots of them

“Jesus, Jesus”

I’ve probably listened to this song a dozen times today. And a bunch more the past few days. Do you ever listen to a song and feel like it could have be written by you?

This song just destroys me. Every time I listen to it. It’s as if Noah Gundersen got inside my head and my heart and set my thoughts and feelings down as lyrics to his melody. The line that just breaks me every time is when he asks, “Does it even matter in the end if we’re unhappy?” I have been asking this question for the past several weeks, partially in tandem with a conversation with a friend of mine. He told me that if there is one thing he knows for certain in this world, it’s that life is fundamentally unfair and then we die.

That sounds dark, depressing. But it was honest, and it’s what I’m asking some questions about right now. This song bring it all home to me. This song is honest. (And I’m tired of pretending I have anything figured out).

(*I will warn that there are a couple of explicit lyrics in this song. Just so you know.)

Jesus, Jesus, could you tell me what the problem is
With the world and all the people in it?
Because I’ve been hearing stories about the end of the world
But I’m in love with a girl and I don’t wanna leave her
And the television screams such hideous things
They’re talking about the war on the radio
They say the whole thing’s gonna blow
And we will all be left alone
No we’ll be dead and we won’t know what hit us

Jesus, Jesus, if you’re up there won’t you hear me
‘Cause I’ve been wondering if you’re listening for quite a while
And Jesus, Jesus, it’s such a pretty place we live in
And I know we fucked it up, please be kind
Don’t let us go out like the dinosaurs
Or blown to bits in a third world war
There are a hundred different things I’d still like to do
I’d like to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower
Look up from the ground at a meteor shower
And maybe even raise a family

Jesus, Jesus, there are those that say they love you
But they have treated me so damn mean
And I know you said ‘forgive them for they know not what they do’
But sometimes I think they do
And I think about you
If all the heathens burn in hell, do all their children burn as well?
What about the Muslims and the gays and the unwed mothers?
What about me and all my friends?
Are we all sinners if we sin?
Does it even matter in the end if we’re unhappy?

Jesus, Jesus, I’m still looking for answers
Though I know that I won’t find them here tonight
But Jesus, Jesus, could you call me if you have the time?
And maybe we could meet for coffee and work it out
And maybe then I’ll understand what it’s all about

The Stable Song

About a week ago, Kate-Lynne told me check out a musician named Gregory Alan Isakov. I don’t take Kate-Lynne’s music recommendations lightly (she has great taste and a knack for finding talented up and coming artists). So I listened to a few of his songs on Reverbnation…and then I was hooked. I downloaded two of his albums from iTunes, and I’ve been listening to him pretty much daily since. If you like lyrically-driven folk music, then I’m willing to bet you’ll fall in love with his music. If you don’t love lyrically-driven folk music, I will first ask WHY NOT?!? And then tell you to listen to Gregory Alan Isakov and see if he can’t change your mind.

The Stable Song is my favorite right now. It moves me. It makes me feel sad, but in a good way. The kind of sad that makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger. The kind of sad where you ache in a place you didn’t know was there. The kind of sad that is strangely hopeful.

Listen to it. Read the lyrics. Let it move you too.

remember when our songs were just like prayers.
like gospel hymns that you called in the air.
come down come down sweet reverence,
unto my simple house and ring…
and ring.

ring like silver, ring like gold
ring out those ghosts on the ohio
ring like clear day wedding bells
were we the belly of the beast or the sword that fell…we’ll never tell.

come to me clear and cold on some sea
watch the world spinning waves…like some machine

now i’ve been crazy couldn’t you tell
i threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell
now i’m covered up in straw, belly up on the table
well and sang and drank, and passed in the stable.

that tall grass grows high and brown,
well i dragged you straight in the muddy ground
and you sent me back to where i roam
well i cursed and i cried, but now i know…now i know

and i ran back to that hollow again
the moon was just a sliver back then
and i ached for my heart like some tin man
when it came oh it beat and it boiled and it rang…its ringing

ring like crazy, ring like hell
turn me back into that wild haired gale
ring like silver, ring like gold
turn these diamonds straight back into coal.