We're, the vast vast majority of us, musical beings. We may not play instruments or sing or even have a basic understanding of what is good and bad music, which is highly subjective. But we know what we love, know what moves us. I've never met anyone who doesn't love some sort of music, though I'm told such people exist. I can't imagine living like that, but I'm always, at some level, involved in music. I listen to it all the time in my car, singing along 97% of the time. Random words like "ice cream" or "medicine" make me spontaneously burst into song. I live my life as though I were in a musical (also, points if you know what 2 songs those words will make me sing. Happy guessing!). If I'm not singing, ask me what song's running through my head. I'll have an answer, I promise.
Like everyone, I have songs I like, songs I detest, guilty pleasures, etc., etc. But I'm talking about a different kind of song, one that's, yes, different for everyone. I call them songs I live in. By that I mean, the song sweeps me out of time, in a sense; it appeals to me on a deeper, soulful level. It's highly evocative-- I feel desperately these songs. It's as if I've left and sat down in the midst of the song, cuddled there in the melody, assured by the meter, living the dissonance and harmony. I hold my breath at that dissonance; it's relief to have resolution. It's a deeper level of involvement; obviously, we interact with music all the time--kind of how we know whether we like it or not. But this type of song? It's captured in music some feeling you've endured, are enduring, maybe just will endure. It's a part of your life that someone else composed. And it's the music and the lyrics together that evokes your response.
For me, there are songs that I will always have that interaction with. Here, in list form (with some explanation), are some of mine.
1. Nightswimming, R.E.M.-- I'm betting those of you who actually know me are shocked by this. You know, or not. For me, this is the quintessential growing up and away nostalgia song. When I was in the midst of that whole time after high school when the people who used to know you don't anymore, I found it hard. Hard to let go. Hard to know that this was okay and that I was okay. I was, and this song helped me breathe more easily. I put in on, heard those opening notes by the piano, strong and beautifully though slightly melancholy, and was fine. Better than fine.
2. Don't Panic, Coldplay. Shut up. I loved it before Garden State. It's not exactly a happy song, but it's not depressing. It still manages to have hope. The guitars are, for lack of a better word, transcendent (to me at least). "Homes, places we've grown; all of us are done for" juxtaposed right beside "We live in a beautiful world?" Just, yes. I think a lot of why I identify myself in this song is because of my Christianity. Look around--things aren't so great. But there is still beauty. There is still truth--there is still God, and He is evident in this world. (Note: I'm aware that my feelings on this song are more informed by, well, my feelings than lyrics. I know. I just don't really care.)
3. Honey and the Moon, Joesph Arthur. This is one of those songs that I haven't exactly experienced, but I don't have to. The music, the tone, the lyrics, the atmosphere are all perfectly working together. "But right now, everything you want is wrong. Right now, all your dreams are waking up. Right now, I wish I could follow you to the shores of freedom, where no one lives." I've been the one who's wanting everything wrong before, I think. But this is my favorite: "We're made out of blood and rust, looking for someone to trust without a fight." That's not all I'm looking for, but I've been burned enough to know that finding someone to trust implicitly and naturally isn't as easy as I thought it was and wanted it to be.
4. Hallelujah. Originally by Leonard Cohen. Because of Shrek, a lot of people only know the Rufus Wainwright version. The Jeff Buckley version is my favorite, and pretty well known on its own, because he is literally singing that song out of experience, heart, pathos, what have you. He knows that song or is really good at pretending. "It goes like this-- the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift." Music as metaphor? Goes along quite nicely with what I'm trying to say.
5. Walk On, U2. The only baggage that you can bring is all that you can't leave behind. All that you fashion, all that you make, all that you build, all that you break, all that you measure, all that you feel-- all this you can leave behind. Walk on. Also, I love U2.
So, there you go. Anybody got one he or she wants to share?