Saturday, November 9, 2013

Songs for the Wandering Soul

Music speaks to some people.  I am one of those people.  Great songs lift my darkest mood and bring my most distracted, anxious mind wholly into the immediate present, even if just for the space of a few brief minutes.  Some songs send me reeling back into sad or painful memories with such force that roiling emotions immediately bubble to the surface, and others have the effect of making an entire day bright and happy, despite uncooperative weather or bosses or other external circumstances.  I'd say there are three types of great songs.

The first are those whose greatness lies in the notes, rhythms, and instrumentation that compose the musicality of the song.  Songs with a bass or drumbeat powerful enough to retune your own heartbeat, or a melody that makes your soul soar.  You don't even pay attention to the words of the song, because it's the music that does all the speaking.

The second are songs whose greatness lies in the lyrics above all else.  Lyrics that speak directly to you, and help you make sense of your life and the world around you.  Lyrics that define an experience or a person and allow you to replay memories as if you were watching them on film.  It may be the lyrics of the entire song, or just the refrain, or even a single line that leaps out and glues into your memory.  Sometimes, you tune out a melody that is not pleasing because the lyrics are so precisely perfect.

The third and best kind of great songs are the ones that are the overwhelming combination of music and lyrics.  When these songs play on the radio, you roll your windows down and turn the volume all the way up so the music fills the small space of the vehicle and permeates your very core.  Electricity crackles all the way through your fingertips, and you are suddenly tangibly aware of the possibilities and potential that your future holds.  It's that thunderstorm feeling of anticipation packaged up in a bundle of words and musical notes.

Sometimes these songs are cliche, and sometimes they are unexpected discoveries tucked away from the pop charts and Top Ten lists.  These are the songs that make me want to leap off my couch and GO.  These are the songs that speak to me of adventures past and adventures to come.

This was my discovery for tonight: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons.  It's a lyrics and music combo that makes me smile.  Next time I climb a mountain or a monument or a tower or a tree, this will be playing in the back of my mind.  There may even be a little dance involved.

I took this photo.  It involved some serious hiking.  Please go earn your own photo instead of snatching mine!

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