In six songs, tell us about your life.
By now most of you know the drill, but if you are a new visitor, welcome! We challenged our guests to tell us their life stories: “The project is simple, though maybe not easy: Tell us a story–your story–in six songs. And then for fun, wrap up your life in a bonus seventh song.” The series runs every Monday through September. We are currently booked to capacity–thank you!–but before the series wraps-up, we will plan a special event where everyone will be welcome to join in. Until then feel free to check out our past volumes and enjoy this week’s stories.
Our special guests this week are:
Matticus from The Matticus Kingdom and Archita from A Journey Called Life. I’m a long-time follower of both Matticus and Archita; I love them both and am thrilled to have them join us. Please be sure to leave them some love in the comments, and stop by their blogs to say hello (hit “follow” while you’re there!).
Enjoy this week’s “Life in 6 Songs” everyone!
“Music Energy” by 1Mudkip88 via DeviantArt (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)
Song #1 (and tell us why briefly):
“The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel (1964/original version)
We were a traveling band, er, um, clan… um, family. Yes, that’s it. We were a traveling family. I grew up in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and it was a 90 minute car ride to the nearest big town (an actual shopping mall), a 2 hour drive to our nearest family, and a 3 hour drive to the family we visited most. So, we spent a lot of time cruising the deserted highways listening to music. My dad, my main inspiration for music, had created a mix tape (yes an actual tape) of good songs for the family to sing along to on those long rides. The Kingston Trio, The Mamas and The Papas, The Beach Boys, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Simon and Garfunkel. I loved that tape. I can remember singing along to every single track, but the one that always resonated with me most was “The Sound of Silence.”
“And the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains, within the sound of silence.”
There was something about the harmonies of the two voices that I loved and still find myself drawn to all these years later. The song is a bridge across my entire musical experience, from my earliest memories of singing along in the car, to my discovery of other songs with harmonies, to seeing the world for how it truly is and finally understanding the message in the song in its optimism and cynicism.
“Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen
From that original mix tape, we graduated to rock and roll: guitar riffs and pounding beats. I can still vividly remember my dad drumming on the steering wheel and when the song demanded more emphasis on the center console, as we drove to scouting events in the nearby mountains. With just the boys in the car, the tunes were cracked up, our voices were raised, and the songs fueled our adventures. The most poignant of these was “Born in the USA.”
“I’m a cool rocking daddy in the USA.”
I latched on to it probably mostly because I thought it was a song about national pride and at that age (the tail end of elementary school) I’d had six years of saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning and six years of being taught that the US was the greatest country in the world. I was in love with our country. And, even though the song may not actually be preaching that, it still does remind me of how great a country it is.
“Black Gold” by Soul Asylum
The Grave Dancers Union album was the first one I picked out on my own, without influence from either my dad’s or my brother’s choice of music. I had selected it for the song “Runaway Train” which was getting a lot of play on MTV as I entered Junior HIgh, but it was the song “Black Gold” that I ended up loving the most.
“Two boys on a playground, Tryin’ to push each other down. See the crowd gather ’round. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.”
Junior High was a very tough time for me, I was bullied nearly every day. I never felt like I belonged. I didn’t enjoy any of my classes. I didn’t want to be there. The angst in the song, while not a direct correlation to my own, the feeling of it, the passion and despair matched my own.
“Best of You” by Foo Fighters
In college I was in a turbulent relationship. We courted each other, the idea of being a couple, pretty much our entire Freshman year. She was unlike anyone I had met before. She was something (someone) new to reflect the new person I wanted to be after having a rough go of it in Junior High and High School. The summer before our sophomore year we official became boyfriend/girlfriend and for the next three years we were inseparable. Our senior year, I proposed and she said yes. And then we graduated, entered the real world, and things fell apart.
“Are you gone and onto someone new? I needed somewhere to hang my head without your noose.”
Our relationship lacked the key ingredient of trust and when we transitioned from spending nearly every waking moment together to working opposite shifts, it tore us apart. While I original identified with Blink-182’s “I Miss You,” over time my sadness morphed to anger. “Best of You” allowed me to scream along in my pain and passion to the unresolved feelings of sadness and rage.
“Seven Cities (V-one’s Living Cities Remix)” by Solarstone
The years following my broken engagement were spent lost in a jumble. I was trying to find myself again, trying to find what I needed in my life to be happy, and trying to come to terms with being in the real world. I spent a lot of hours every day with headphones on, beat matching, mixing tracks on my turntables. (Hello…DJ!) This wordless song was one of the first electronica songs that I fell in love with. It was one of the reasons I started dj’ing in the first place, and its quiet buildup, its progression, to a frenzy of fat beats amidst a beautiful melody are a wonderful mimic of my journey to self discovery. The joy in the song is the joy in finding those couple of things I need to be happy: my family and time in the mountains. That’s it. It’s that simple.
“Everything” by Michael Buble
A college roommate’s sister’s friend (did you follow that) walked through my front door one night and changed everything. My first thought on seeing her and being introduced was, “Who is this girl?” We’d only been dating for 2 months when I told my parents, “There is something about this one.”
We dated long distance for 18 months, with one or the other doing the 180 mile drive (door to door) nearly every weekend. I think we only missed two. Then when there was an opportunity for me to move (my job was displaced) I moved to be with her. Another 18 months of living together and I proposed.
“And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times, it’s you, it’s you, you make me sing.”
“Everything” was the song we danced to at our wedding, and it was that line that really sealed it for us as the perfect choice. Our life together has been one adventure after another, and there is no end to that in sight. We are crazy about each other. We are crazy together. Calling her The Queen fits nicely in with the theme I have in The Matticus Kingdom, but she truly is my Queen. It feels wrong to have this song in my 6, it isn’t a rocker, but the dj in me knows that there is a song for every mood, moment and audience. And you have to play the right song even if it seems wrong to you.
Bonus Song #7 (If you could wrap up your life story in ONE SONG, or if you have a personal theme song, or even a song you want played at your funeral, what would that song be and why?):
“Just Be” by Tiesto featuring Kirsty Hawkshaw
“Just Be” is a perfect little wrap up for my life story. A trance song as homage to my dj days, and Tiesto is one of my favorite music producers still. The sound of the song seems depressing but the lyrics are uplifting. It has moments of calm and moments of frenzied, driving, beats.
“I was lost and I’m still lost, but I feel so much better.”
This world is all kinds of mixed up; there is something beautiful about accepting that as a truth and moving forward anyway. There are so many ideals on how we should be living in this world that it can be easy to lose ourselves in the struggle to live up to the myriad of competing pressures. I know I struggled with it for a long time, and sometimes I still do, but . . . for the most part I have acknowledged that it is okay to be lost in that regard — I can still find moments of beauty and happiness. Sometimes those moments last a few seconds, and sometimes they last for months on end.
* Matticus blogs at The Matticus Kingdom. He is from California.
“Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones
I was a teenager when the song came out. I saved money to purchase the cassette because audio CD was very expensive and we did not have a CD player. My best friend told me that the CD version sounded better and clearer. I said, “Things that we cannot reach always sound better.”
I remember, my mom loved the song and asked me to start playing guitar. “You have music and lyrics in your blood,” she said.
More than a decade passed. I did not get time to go back to music class. Life is not a bed of roses still. But “Come away with me” is one of my most favorite songs, even now; it reminds me of my unfulfilled musical aspiration and my mom’s words.
I love this version more now:
“You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain
Sometimes your favorite person’s favorite song can become your most favorite. It happens. It happened to me. A decade ago someone dedicated this song “You’re still the one” to us, because most probably that person liked our love story, because most probably it was my husband’s favorite song. We listen to this song during special occasions. We hold our hands when we listen to this being played in an unknown restaurant or shop, and march on to future, happily.
“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
Really, who doesn’t love “What a wonderful world”! This is my most favorite song. I smile every time I listen to this part:
I see friends shaking hands.
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying,
“I love you”.
There’s so much hope in little things, we forget to see them on foggy days.
I hear babies cry,
I watch them grow,
They’ll learn much more,
Than I’ll ever know.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.
Whenever I feel pretty low I replay this and remember to list down my gratitude for all the wonders of this wonderful world. That line “They’ll learn much more / Than I’ll ever know“ restores my faith in humanity and civilization.
“Ho Hey” by The Lumineers
Whenever I listen to this, my finger touches the volume button. I don’t know why “Ho Hey” reminds me of my days in a small town for some time, a few dilemmas there, my lonely long walks in the suburbs and weekend trips to DC. I love that memory and this song a lot.
Memory is weird. It stores moments and match with a set of lyrics without giving you any logical explanations.
“Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars
Judging people by how they look, or asking people’s opinions on how I look – I detest both. I want everyone to love this song, send some love to Bruno Mars for the lyrics. One item on my bucket list is attending a Bruno Mars concert. Whenever I’m not doing anything, not even thinking, you’ll find me listening to Bruno Mars. Especially this song:
“Home” by Philip Philips
I lived a part of life crossing connecting airports. Just like every frequent flyer I kept dreaming about going home. I don’t fly that much anymore after two surgeries on my knee. I stay on road, most of the times, to photograph this beautiful world, and to connect some dots. “Home” is my regular road-trip song. It reminds me of my very special first road trip, the joy, anxiety, fear. I relive that moment every time I hear it.
Bonus song #7:
“Where Do I Begin” (Theme from Love Story instrumental) by Francis Lai
All six songs that I mentioned here are close to my heart because of their lyrics.
Song 7 is the instrumental that I play in the evening when I cook happily after a busy day, or when I feel homesick or really sick. I feel content with what I have each time I hear it.
* Archita blogs at A Journey Called Life. She is an Asian Indian who lives in the USA, listens to songs in six different languages and tries to learn Spanish, “just because of the lovely melancholy of some Spanish songs.” Archita said. “Here though I am talking about English songs only. But if you want, I can talk about others too, including “Ghazal,”** “Baul“** and even eastern classical music.”
(** Editor note: I hope I selected good examples of “Ghazal” and “Baul,” Archita. I found the music very relaxing and meditative, and hope others do as well. -christy)
Archita was generous enough to provide some follow-up information on Ghazal and Baul for us:
About Baul: “Baul” songs are very interesting. Baul singers are mostly spiritually liberated people, they use contemporary words about rural lives of a part of India. Today I found this UNESCO link about Baul songs and those singers. I think everyone will come to know about them more from this link
About Ghazals: I love Ghazals written by Mirza Ghalib
a lot. (The link you posted is a collection of songs of my favorite Ghazal singer, I love all of them.) Here’s another link
which you and other readers will perhaps love. This song is written by Ghalib and the translation is here (via allpoetry
Thank you so much, Archita!
Thanks again for being our guests, Matticus and Archita!