There was a time in my life when I just wanted to rock the party all night long like it was my last resort. In other words, I really liked nu-metal…yuck. While that musical phase is somewhat regrettable now, it did lead me to some bands (Stavesacre, Project 86, etc.) that I still very much enjoy to this day.
Blindside may be the band from that time in my life that I still get the most enjoyment from (probably because of the strong post-hardcore influence). Similarly, “Sleepwalking” may be the song from that era that I love the most. The verses are heavy and chaotic, the chorus is catchy, and that bridge…wow! When Christian Lindskog shrieks “Goodbye” before launching into an even larger sounding version of the chorus, I can’t help but get caught up in the passion and emotion on display in this song.
It’s hard for me to not view this song as the soundtrack to a broken heart. I was experiencing heartbreak of different kinds in 1998 when Jars of Clay released Much Afraid. Aside from dealing with typical teenage drama, my parents were getting divorced. I found a little solace in a song that pleaded for someone to not throw away the special thing that they had together. It’s a bit perplexing that I’m still able to gain such enjoyment from a song that accompanied such a difficult time in my life. I guess that just speaks to what an incredible track “Tea and Sympathy” is.
You could remove the subject matter of this song and make it about something trivial, and the music and melody of this song would still make it great. The fact that this song is about something of utmost importance, grace, makes it even more beautiful. It is by God’s grace that we’re saved, after all (Ephesians 2:8-9).
I used to listen to this song when I was dealing with some sort of spiritual warfare, and it would put things in perspective. I sin, but God forgives me. I run and hide, but God finds me. I’m unsure of the reasons things are happening around me, but I’m secure and sanctuaried by God. The fact that I deserve absolutely none of that makes it even more incredible, and this is a great song to help me meditate on the beauty of grace.
"I’m sorry time has hurt you" is a line in this song. Thankfully, that’s not a statement I can make about "This Letter" ten years after it was released.
This is a song about missing a person (possibly more than one person). It’s about being far away from where you really want to be. I’m not gonna try to piece together the lyrics to try to guess a particular situation the writter is referencing. It could be a soldier stationed away from his family. It could be a musician on tour. Whatever the situation, you can feel the pain and longing in both the lyrics and the music.
The song is perfectly beautiful from beginning to end. The guitar parts throughout the song are particularly spectacular. At the 3:30 mark “This Letter” moves from a great song to an amazing display or post-hardcore melancholy.
Take a listen and see that “This Letter” is worth being written about.
I was raised on Southern Gospel and Country music, as many children who grew up in Baptist churches in Kentucky probably were. Rock music didn’t really catch my attention until I was 13 years old, and classic rock was pretty foreign to me until years later. But before I get to that, let me tell you about Super Bowl XXIV in 1995. It was the Chargers and the 49ers. I have no recollection of anything that happened in the game, nor did I even know that this was the specific Super Bowl that would feature one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard, until the extensive internet search I just did.
For years the vision of a commercial with horses running through the snow would come to mind, and the sound of an ethereal voice singing a beautiful melody with the line “couldn’t drag me away”. Over time I forgot how the song sounded, and I apparently never thought to try to find it on the internet once I had it easily available a few years later. I did happen to remember that the commercial was played during a football game, which it turns out was Super Bowl XXIX.
Fast forward to 2009. I’m listening to a Rolling Stones compilation when I hear a very familiar lyric, “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away”. ‘That’s It!’, I thought. Finally a mystery that I had forgotten existed was nearly solved. Now, I just had to find out who had covered this song. I clicked on a version recorded by a band called The Sundays. I heard the beautiful voice singing the first verse and it sounded promising, then that chorus hit and I knew I had found the song that eluded me for over a decade! There was that incredible voice singing “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away”. It was like I was instantly taken back in time to when I recorded football games on VHS and watched them many times over.
Don’t let the story distract you from the song, though. I like this version by The Sundays a million times more than I like the 1971 Rolling Stones version. Harriet Wheeler’s voice is one of my favorites in all of music, and possibly my very favorite female vocalist. Wheeler’s voice paired with this atmospheric recording feels like the soundtrack to diving in a warm ocean in the sunset, or…Clydesdale horses running through the snow in the mid-90’s. Turns out that was a Budweiser commercial, yuck. Good thing this song is more than good enough to make a straight-edge guy like a beer commercial.
If I’m not mistaken, I purchased the album Anybody Out There? by Burlap To Cashmere while I was in Washington D.C. on a 10th grade class trip. That would place the first time I heard “Eileen’s Song” in early 1999-ish. I don’t specifically remember what I thought about this song the first time I heard it. All I know that at some point this song began to impact me in a big way.
I used to write quite a bit when I was a young man, and I remember being particularly inspired by “Eileen’s Song”. I remember using the “roses in your eyes” line from this song in one of my own writings. Yes, I was lacking in originality, but the point is that I was so impacted by the lyrics of this song that I literally wished I had written them.
This is more than just a song with inspiring lyrics about two people trying to make it in this crazy world, though. The atmosphere that the keyboard sets at the very beginning of this song is breathtaking. The guitar solo two and a half minutes in is one of my favorite guitar parts in all of music. Honestly, everything about this song is perfect to me.
For more of Eric’s Retired Numbers and a description of what this series is about, click on the Eric’sRetiredNumbers tag at the top of this page.
This is the first post in a series that I will be doing about the songs that mean the most to me. To put it in sports terms, this is not the “ring of honor”, this is the “retired numbers” of songs. Most sports franchises retire the numbers worn by players that have played an extremely important part in their organizations, so that no one else can ever wear that jersey with that number again. This is a way to honor that player and to express the importance and impact that the player had. While most teams have had hundreds and thousands of players over the course of the teams history, you can usually count on one or two hands the amount of retired numbers that each team has. Similarly, I have heard more songs than I can ever count, but these are the ones that have mattered most, and deserve the most special recognition that I can give. Although, I will not actually be retiring these songs from my listening, they are songs that are so important to me that I only listen to them when I can give them my full attention. Keep in mind that this is a very subjective thing, and these are not songs that I claim to be the “greatest of all-time”, but the songs are most dear to me, personally.
Five O’clock People - “Sorry”
It was sometime in 1999 and my cousin had just witnessed this band called Five O’clock People perform live at a local bookstore, while I attended a church lock-in with my girlfriend. Had I known that I would’ve been able to witness this incredible song live, and that my relationship with this girl would have lasted a measly three months, I wouldn’t hold any regret for the fact that I never witnessed this song being performed. My cousin probably had no idea what would be sparked in me when he brought me an autographed copy of their CD sampler that he picked up at the show. It featured three songs from their album called The Nothing Venture. Track 2 on that CD was “Sorry”. From the first time I heard this song, I was blown away. The beautful sound of the instruments, the deep melancholy feel, the poetic, yet relatable lyrics. These are all things that excite me in new tunes to this day. I think much of the reason I look for those things in music almost 15 years later is because of this song.
I would like to break down this song, piece by piece, lyric by lyric, but that sort of analyzation just wouldn’t do justice to what is so incredible about it. I recommend going to a quiet place and putting your headphones on. Now, close your eyes and let the beauty of this song wash over you. Will it change the way you see music like it did me? Probably not, because you are not me, and I am not you. However, if you can’t find anything about this song that moves you, well, I’m sorry.
Waves is an album that gives an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. This comes about, in part, because of the strong influence of the great emo and post-hardcore bands of the past, but also because of it’s reflective lyrics and the dream-like haze that accompanies much of the album. Nostalgia is not the only feeling that this album evokes, though. I can not help but be overcome with happiness with all of the beautiful music on this album. “Always Only For Me” gives me the chills, the good kind of chills that only great songs cause. Every song on this album is great though, and this is an album that I will always cherish.