Turned Up, 1

15 Oct

So earlier I posted about my top 10 albums (Captain Obvious says you’re welcome). Not long after I posted that, one of my favorite songs came on my iPod: “The Pretender” by Jackson Browne.

And then I felt The Guilt – my fellow music fans, you know The Guilt. It’s like when you make your top 5 (10, 20) list and you leave off that one life-changing album or song, the one that helped shape who you are. You try to tell yourself that that may not have a place on This List, no, not This List, that goes on That List…anyways. You get what I’m saying.

So I decided I’d start a new series here – a series about my favorite songs. Of course, there’s really absolutely no way I can actually list all of my favorite songs. For one, it would take forever; for another, I love songs for different reasons, and I can’t put one reason above another. I can narrow my very favorite songs down to three, but then I listen to, I don’t know, “The Pretender” or some such, and my list gets all mangled again.

The closest thing I have to a list of my favorite songs is a playlist I have called “Sparkling Diamond” (a nod to one of my favorite films, “Moulin Rouge”). I wanted to make a playlist with just my absolute favorite songs ever, thinking it would contain maybe less than 50 songs. Yeah. I’ve got about 277 on it now and it would easily grow even more if I watered it every day.

So. When I feel like waxing poetically about a song (or songs) I really love, then you’ll see a “Turned Up” post (more on that title after the jump). Maybe I’ll write about why I love it so much, or what memory it brings up, or whatever. Feel free to share your own thoughts about the songs.

Here are a few of my favorite songs…

“The Pretender,” Jackson Browne

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – if ever you’re in Northeast Mississippi and you hear this song off in the distance, it’s probably me, blasting it through my car’s speakers.

I. love. this. song.

I was especially attached to this song for about the first year or so out of college. I felt like I, too, was a “pretender,” like I’d gone through high school to get to college, gone through college to get a job, got a job…to do what? Get married, have kids, take them to school and practice, complain about bills and go to bed to Letterman, get up and do it all over again? Was/is that it? Is that what life is about? I still haven’t figured that out yet, but this song definitely makes me feel like I’m not alone.

It’s hard to pick a line or verse out of this song because I love them all.

I love the opening verse: “I’m gonna rent myself a house/in the shade of the freeway/Gonna pack my lunch in the morning/and go to work each day/And when the evening rolls around/I’ll go on home and lay my body down/and when the morning light comes streaming in/I’ll get up and do it again/amen.”

I especially love these lyrics: “I want to know what became of the changes we waited for love to bring/Were they only the fitful dreams of some greater awakening?”

And Browne sums up life itself with these lines: “Caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender.”

The lines that break my heart (and slightly terrify me) – “I’m gonna find myself a girl…and we’ll fill in the missing colors/in each other’s paint-by-number dreams.”

The entire song is perfection, but it’s especially magic when he sings, “Out into the cool of the evening/strolls the pretender/He knows that all his hopes and dreams begin and end there.” Especially at that point, the music and the lyrics meet in a really beautiful place, and it’s almost all too short.

I love that song.

“Lover, You Should’ve Come Over,” Jeff Buckley

I’ve had “Grace” since I was, oh, 15 or so, so I’ve listened to that record – and therefore this song – hundreds upon hundreds of times. But you know, sometimes you have to be a little older, a little wiser, a little more heartbroken to really get a song.

The howling bridge is absolutely amazing:

“It’s never over
My kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
It’s never over
All my riches for her smiles when I slept so soft against her
It’s never over
All my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
It’s never over
She’s a tear that hangs inside my soul forever.”

This is the rare song that will turn you on, break your heart and comfort you, all in about six minutes. Brilliant.

“Wishlist,” Pearl Jam

Back when Pluto was still a planet, you could buy CD singles in stores. My mom used to buy them for me every once in a while, and she knew I was a Pearl Jam fan, so one day she brought home the single for “Wishlist.” I hadn’t heard it yet but I fell in love with it quickly.

The music is gorgeous and simple, as are the lyrics, which are, basically, a big wishlist (shocker I know). I love lines like, “I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good,” and “I wish I was the souvenir you kept your house key on.”

But my favorite? It’s during the song’s fade-out, and you will almost certainly miss it if you’re not looking for it.

The line?

“I wish I was a radio song, the one that you turned up.”


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