Thoughts of a geek

10 May 2009

Music and me

I often find that I associate things in my life — events, feelings, and so on — quite strongly with music. Some songs remind me of particular times, places, emotions, happenings.
Here are some songs that have been significant over the past year or so.

Bottom of Yourself by The Anywheres was a song that I listened to quite a bit at times last year. There were times last year when I felt completely exhausted, drained, unable to go any further, and this song seemed to fit.

So when you get there
Let me know you’re well
I’ll be waiting for your call
And when you get there
Tell me how it feels
To reach the bottom of yourself

Oh, and it quotes Amazing Grace, which makes it even better. Definitely something to listen to during long walks in the middle of the night.

Lights of Sunday by Emerald Park is another fairly acoustic, indie song, which I have been listening to a bit earlier this year. Again, something to listen to while walking slowly, at night, to no particular destination. And again, I identify with it as reflecting how I have felt at times.

He’s tired of himself
I don’t think sleep will help
You’re weary and you sleep
‘Cause you’re tired of yourself
When you’re sorry for yourself
You push your friends away
And when you push your friends away
You feel sorry for yourself

Real Synthetic Audio is not a song but a podcast, playing 40 minutes of industrial, EBM and futurepop each week. Driving beats and angry Germans. I got into RSA this last year through my Ukrainian friend Cat, who would often play it while we were working in the lab late at night, night after night. I found it to be good music for keeping oneself awake through the months of 14–16-hour days that is honours.
It is also good for walking fast, or running. It tends to be pretty hard stuff, and there are some songs or entire episodes that I dislike, but I currently have 23 episodes that I listen to on and off. I probably do not listen to it quite as much as I used to, though just a few days ago I was listening to quite a bit.

‘Leaves That Are Green’ by Simon and Garfunkel is a song that I identify with a bit at the moment, feeling that I am getting older without really getting anywhere. Missing people, feeling opportunities slip away.

I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song.
I’m twenty-two now but I won’t be for long,
Time hurries on.
And the leaves that are green turn to brown,
And they wither with the wind,
And they crumble in your hand.

Hello, hello, hello, good-bye,
Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye,
That’s all there is.
And the leaves that are green turned to brown,
And they wither with the wind,
And they crumble in your hand.

My only gripe, though, are the lines “I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song. / I’m twenty-two now but I won’t be for long”. This does not make sense: how old was Paul Simon when he wrote those lines? 21 or 22?
More Simon and Garfunkel songs that I have lately listened to and thought about are ‘Patterns’, ‘Bye Bye Love’ and ‘The Sound Of Silence’.

‘In Christ Alone’, by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, reminds me of TSCF conferences.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

The triumphant final verse is particularly good too:

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

I bought Stuart Townend’s album ‘There is a Hope’ at the the TSCF mid-year conference last year, I think it was, and there are quite a few really good songs on there, I guess best described as modern hymns.
Some more great songs on the same album, which I think I also remember from TSCF conferences, are ‘There Is A Hope’ and ‘Salvation Song’.

‘Lead Me To The Cross’ by Graham Kendrick (not to be confused with the Hillsong song of the same name) is another excellent hymn, which I remember from the 2006 TSCF midyear conference:

How can I be free from sin?
Lead me to the cross of Jesus
From the guilt, the power, the pain?
Lead me to the cross of Jesus

There’s no other way
No price that I could pay
Simply to the cross I cling
This is all I need
This is all I plead
That his blood was shed for me

The Flaming Lips (or at least, their album ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’) remind me of working at Innaworks the summer before last, as I first heard them there (thanks to Darren I think). At first I was not too keen on their music, but it definitely grew on me and and I listened to it a fair bit in Memphis last year.

Another song that reminds me a lot of last year is ‘I Am A Rock’ by Simon and Garfunkel. I felt that I could relate to it:

I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
Its laughter and its loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And the end, sad, defiant, but still not quite honest:

Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

It was something that I listened to late at night, alone in Memphis, anyway.

There are of course many more songs: stuff by Breaking Benjamin, Live, Lagoona, Apocalyptica, Nightwish, Switchfoot, Adiemus and others, and I am really liking The Cranberries at the moment, especially ‘I Just Shot John Lennon’ and ‘I’m Still Remembering’. But I think that will do for now.

Oh, one more: ‘Videotape’ by Radiohead. Another melancholic one, bringing memories of walking home in the dark, tired but not sleepy, dissatisfied. Perhaps it is raining a little.
It is hard to pick just one part to quote here, so do listen to the whole thing, but here is the beginning and the end:

When I’m at the pearly gates
This’ll be on my videotape
My videotape
My videotape

No matter what happens now
I won’t be afraid
Because I know
Today has been the most perfect day I have ever seen.

As usual, Thom Yorke’s voice is amazing in his unique way, and this sparse song demonstrates it well.

What songs are particularly significant to you?

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2 Comments »

  1. Dammit, people need to learn to slow down. First we have Andrew complaining about his “lack of achievement” (what lack?) then replies from someone who is clearly depressed, religiously disillusioned and in trouble.

    Please people, relax! Sit back, listen to some Jazz and make the decision to be happy.

    Listening to: I’m Just a Lucky So and So – Diana Krall

    Comment by Tim — 11 May 2009 @ 10:27 am

    • I have deleted the comments that Tim was referring to, in case anyone reading this is confused. They were not very nice.

      Comment by qwandor — 16 May 2009 @ 8:36 pm


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