Could you write down your favorite songs with ease?
My mother sent me Rufus Wainwright singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” tonight and I thought, Yep, that’d be in my top ten. Then I realized I don’t know what else is in my top ten and can I really say Hallelujah is there if no such list exists. List or not, I choose Hallelujah, regardless, because the song haunts me and I never feel sick of it, never don’t want to hear it, whoever is singing it. Jeff Buckley – beautiful. Even Cohen’s versions are interesting. I googled British Idols singing it in harmony – still loved it.
But what other songs would make it? Thinking out loud – no commitments – I’d be lost without Running on Faith by Eric Clapton. I could play Jolene by Ray Lamontagne a hundred times in a row. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong – cliche, yes – but really, truly, don’t you just want to stop and hug a parent when it plays overhead in an airport or a grocery store? And Iron and Wine’s Flightless Bird, American Mouth – plays like a 50’s prom song and you just want to be wearing a poodle skirt and dancing with Johnny in his t-shirt and jeans. Hey Jude, would undoubtedly make the list for me. I’ll rewind Paul screaming “Judey, jude, jude!” as many times as it takes for that to get boring. Crash by Dave Matthews? Tiny Dancer by Elton John? Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer? I know, it’s dumb John Mayer, but I work at a shelter and the song always comes on the radio and I feel like it’s playing for me whenever it plays. Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti? Oh and for sure, Black Sheep by Martin Sexton. You have to listen to the live version. If you’re in the right mood it could make you weep. Truly, I’ve seen it happen. Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone. Colin Hay – I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you. Oh those opening verses – “I drink good cofee every morning/ comes from a place that’s far away/ and when I’m done I feel like talking/ but without you here there is less to say/ I don’t want you thinking I’m unhappy/ what is closer to the truth/ is if I lived ’til I was a hundred and two/ I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you. ” Perfect. Just, gosh darn, perfect. A million ouches and rejections combined and poured into lyrics. Kills me. Speaking of killing me – The Promise by Tracy Chapman. Boy, have I cried listening to that song. Maybe more than any song out there? I have memories of sitting with my mother, bawling, holding hands while it played in the background – And we’ve done that more than once! Ha.
There’s this scene in Across the Universe where a man playing the guitar says to Jude, the tortured artists, “Music is the only thing that makes sense anymore, Man. Play it loud enough and it keeps the demons away.” And I wish I had coined that phrase. Wish it was said by a character I created in a story I was telling. Music keeps my demons away. Honest. Dependable. Consistent. Never lets me down.
I’ll leave Black Sheep on here, a rough cut version and wish I could take you to hear it live. It’s so much better when he’s playing it right before your stinging eyes. Not up to listening to the whole thing? I understand- fast forward to 3:o0 and play it for a bit. Sexton is always honest and good for the soul. And if you want something possibly, equally achy, listen to Ray Lamontagne singing Shelter. Ouch. And if you’d like- I’d love, love, love to hear your favorites.
Say you’ll hold a place for me in your heart,