Song Challenge Week 23 — A Song You Want Played At Your Wedding


The latest entry in my 30 Day Song Challenge weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 23 — A Song You Want Played At Your Wedding

“Witness to Your Life,” Lori McKenna

Have you ever noticed that I really like hedging on these things? I mean, like, almost every single one I start by saying how there’s not really a real answer, but I’ll provide some sort of context in order to give some sort of response. How many times have I just said, “It’s this”?

So, anyway, a song to play at my wedding.

I had a wedding, once. The music was pretty traditional wedding-y music. I remember more the song that wasn’t played. Nicole really wanted to play Shania Twain’s “You’re Still The One” (we got married all of 13 months after our first date. But it was a long 13 months, I guess) but I was deadset that there would be no country music played at my wedding. Oh, sure, she wanted the pop version of the song, but, dang it, Shania Twain’s a country singer, and it’s not going to happen.

In the last few years, I’ve been to concerts by Lady Antebellum a couple of times, Sugarland a couple of times, Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Trace Adkins, Sara Evans, etc. etc. etc. But it was something then I wasn’t willing to budge on.

If I had it to do over again, I might handle it differently.

If I had it to do over again, I would handle a lot of things differently.

I’ve thought a few times since then I was going to have another wedding. There was the time we were going to have a Braveheart wedding at an outdoor mall. Or the time I was going to perform the service.

My favorite idea is still the one where I send out invitations asking people what they want to do in the wedding so that nobody was offended. The problem with that one is that it requires someone else who also wants that wedding.

So, getting back to hedging, the song kind of depends on the wedding, you know? I don’t know that the same music would fit all those weddings.

But to pick something to honor the request: Lori McKenna’s “Witness To Your Life”

It starts with a wedding — “Someone was crying and the bells ring” — and is still one of the most beautiful promises of partnership I’ve ever heard — “YOu should never have to be alone, someone will always call you home…

“… and I will be that witness to your life.”

Song Challenge Week 22 — A Song You Listen To When You’re Sad


The latest entry in my 30 Day Song Challenge weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 22 — A Song You Listen To When You’re Sad

“Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” Will Hoge

A song I listen to when I’m sad? Well, what am I sad about?

Historically, this one is a very situational thing for me. If I’m sad, changes are I’m sad about something. And that something is frequently loss. And often in those moments, I can gravitate towards songs that speak to what it is I’m sad about losing.

In college and thereafter, I couldn’t listen to 10,000 Maniacs’ “How You’ve Grown” without crying. I had a baby brother growing up that I rarely got to see living a state away, and that song drove home what I was missing — “Every time we say goodbye, you’re frozen in my mind as the child that you never will be again.” I came home each time to a different person than I left.

As my marriage fell apart, another 10,000 Maniacs song got played a lot (my music library was less diverse back in those days), “Jezebel” — “I’m not saying love’s a plaything; no, it’s a powerful word, inspired by a strong desire to bind myself to you.”

In the wake of the divorce, there was Lori McKenna’s “If You Ask” reminding me of all my shortcomings. And in the years since, in other situations, there’s been Rascal Flatts and Sugarland and more Lori McKenna.

And then, there are the songs that lift up instead of pulling down.

In younger days, it was as simple as singing to myself. “It is well with me soul.”

The first songs I listen to that came to mind, I actually just used a few entries back, “All Will Be Well,” by the Gabe Dixon Band.

So to avoid repeating it, I’ll go with another one that occupies a similar emotional landscape for me, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” by Will Hoge. (There’s an Eli Young Band cover that’s had more success, but I still prefer the way I first heard it.)

Hope isn’t always the road out of heartache. Sometimes it’s the road into heartache. But it’s still worth hoping.

Song Challenge Week 21 — A Song You Listen To When You’re Happy


The latest entry in my 30 Day Song Challenge weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 21 — A Song You Listen To When You’re Happy

“The Obvious Child,” Paul Simon

OK, so didn’t we talk about this last week? If I’m happy, I want upbeat.

I would use “Song Of Hope” as my answer, but I’ve already used it for another week, so I’ll try to find something I haven’t used yet to avoid repeating.

I think “Obvious Child” might work. I love the music and tempo, and while I could ramble about the lyrics for a while, at the end of the day, I think it’s going to be OK.

(And, yeah, I know I just posted a Paul Simon song just two weeks ago, but, one, it’s a different Paul Simon song, and, two, I like Paul Simon.)

Song Challenge Week 20 — A Song You Listen To When You’re Angry


The latest entry in my 30 Day Song Challenge weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 20 — A Song You Listen To When You’re Angry

“Magick,” Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

A song I listen to when I’m angry? Hmmm. That’s a hard one.

I’m not a big fan of angry music. Every once and a while, there’s appeal to an angry break-up song or something, but it generally fades pretty quickly. My good friend Joe Gurner once recorded for me an angry break-up song I wrote, and I got some decent mileage out of that for a season, but I’m not posting that here, I’m afraid.

Generally speaking, I’m actually going to dip into the same well I would on an upbeat, sunny day. It’s all about energy. If I’m happy, I want to build it up and celebrate it. If I’m angry, I want to vent it. Get in the car, turn something like “Magick” up loud, and sing like an idiot until I feel better.

Repeat until calm.

Song Challenge Week 19 — A Song From Your Favorite Album


The latest entry in my 30 Day Song Challenge weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 19 — A Song From Your Favorite Album

“You Can Call Me Al,” Paul Simon

I’m sure I’ve written about it here before, but I don’t do favorites.

What’s my favorite color? Well, am I wanting to color grass or the sky? What’s my favorite ice cream? What do you have I haven’t tried yet?

But my favorite album? If I were answering that from scratch today, I’d probably take that same sort of attitude. But I’m not, because I locked this one in before I became so hipster.

Back in high school, Paul Simon’s Graceland became my favorite album, and it’s remained such ever since. The impressive part, for me, is that it’s remained so not purely because it was locked in, but because I’ve enjoyed it more and differently as I’ve aged. My love for different songs has ebbed and flowed as the years have passed.

Some of that’s been for literal reasons — I’d never been to the Mississippi Delta the first time I heard about it shining like a National guitar, but went on to spend years there, nor had I stood on a corner in Lafayette, state of Louisiana the first time I heard the song, years before I was engaged to a girl from there.

Some of it’s been a little more general; the themes of aging and relationships and the world we live in speak to me differently as I get further into my life.

Almost twenty years later, these are still days of miracle and wonder.

Song Challenge Week 18 — A Song That You Wish You Heard On The Radio


The latest entry in my 30 Day Song Challenge weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 18 — A Song That You Wish You Heard On The Radio

“All Will Be Well,” Gabe Dixon Band

Maybe it’s on the radio all the time somewhere, and I look uncultured for posting it, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on the radio more.

Normally I write posts explaining these, but I have nothing to say about this one that it doesn’t say better for itself.

Song Challenge Week 16 — A Song You Used To Love But Now Hate


OK, I started this quite a while back and then dropped the ball, but I’m going to try picking up the 30 Day Song Challenge again as a weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 16 — A Song You Used To Love But Now Hate

“Sway,” The Perishers

Hate’s an awfully strong word.

To be honest, while I’m sure there are songs I used to love but now hate, I really can’t think of any.

But can think of a group of songs that fairly quickly fell from “can’t listen to them enough” to “don’t listen to them.”

I encountered The Perishers a few years ago; if I recall, through a free iTunes download and through an excellent duet with Sarah McLachlan on their song “Pills.” From those introductions, I downloaded a couple more of their albums, and liked them OK.

And then came my divorce, and their mopey collection largely of failed/failing relationship songs provided a handy sonic and emotional landscape for where I was at the time. The Perishers started popping up on Facebook and elsewhere when I listed my favorite musical acts.

Time passed, as it does. And healing gradually came, as it does. And the mopeyness subsided, as it does.  And The Perishers started disappearing from my usual playlists.

Eventually, I came across one of their songs, and realized it had been forever since I’d heard it. And, to be honest, I probably skipped it.

Which is nothing against the band. Their music is great stuff, and really resonated with me for a time. It’s just that today, they still really resonate with that time. And it’s not that I don’t want to think about that time, or something.

It just amuses me to remember being that mopey. I mean, a divorce is a hard thing to go through, and depressed emotions are part of the game.

But, wow, that’s some saccharine mopeyness there.

Song Challenge Week 17 — A Song That You Hear Often On The Radio


OK, I started this quite a while back and then dropped the ball, but I’m going to try picking up the 30 Day Song Challenge again as a weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 17 — A Song That You Hear Often On The Radio

“How Far We’ve Come,” Matchbox 20

It’s sad, really, how long it took me to figure it out.

They went high-tech this year at Santa’s Village. To have the same Christmas music playing throughout the Village, they hooked an mp3 player up to a small radio transmitter. Boomboxes were then placed in various spots where people would be spending time. The mp3 player was, of course, filled with Christmas music. Thus, the same songs were playing everywhere, and it was a long enough mix of music that visitors weren’t going to keep hearing the same song. Ingenious.

Save that on the first or second day, I’m walking through the Village with one of the EarlyWorks managers, and we notice that the song that’s playing is definitely not Christmas music. It’s easy for a transmitter/radio combo to get out of sync, so we adjusted the dial in tiny increments until it finally went back to playing Christmas music.

The next day, same thing. Walking through, one of the radios, instead of playing Christmas music, was playing a pop song instead. This radio has a digital tuner, so it’s clearly set to the right frequency. The manager’s there again, and suggests adjusting the antenna. Apparently there’s a radio station on that frequency that the radio is picking up over our broadcast. I play with the frequency, and, sure enough, get it back on Christmas music.

The same thing happens fairly often, and it makes no sense why. Then I noticed something — it was always the same song. You’re walking along, Christmas music is going, and then all of a sudden, one of the radios is playing Matchbox 20′s “How Far We’ve Come.”

I’m just glad that I didn’t get a chance to share my theory that, for some reason, the signal of that song was particularly suited for overpowering our radio transmitter before someone told me that the song had accidentally been left on the mp3 player when the Christmas music was loaded.

On the flip side, after days of non-stop Christmas music, “How Far We’ve Come” is now the favorite song of several Santa’s Village workers for the brief break it provided.

Addendum: I hadn’t actually seen the video for this song until I was embedding it in this post just prior to posting it, and it turns out it’s all space-riffic, winning bonus points.

Song Challenge Week 15 — A Song That Describes You


OK, I started this quite a while back and then dropped the ball, but I’m going to try picking up the 30 Day Song Challenge again as a weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 15 — A Song That Describes You

“Alan Bean,” Hefner

So of course I read this prompt and my ego points out that no one song can define me. And, you know, my ego is totally right about that one.

I could pick a handful of songs that seem very “me” to me, but one in particular stands out as being sort of integral to my personal mission.

Hefner’s “Alan Bean” resonates for a few reasons. First, I like the fact that it’s about Alan Bean, the moonwalker with whom I have the most personal connection, and an all-around neat guy.

The bit about not giving up is encouraging, and the part about being changed by someone else’s prayer strikes a personal chord also.

But the thing about the song that I feel most describes me:

“And what you didn’t see
I’ll let you see through me.
I’m going to paint the moon for you.”

I’ve never been to the moon. Or to Skylab.

And I can’t paint.

But I’ve been blessed, very blessed, to get to see those things in a way most people don’t. And if I can’t paint, I can still tell a story. And because of that, I feel an obligation to share those things I’ve seen, to tell stories to let people see them in a way they otherwise couldn’t. And not just the moon, but Mississippi tornado recovery and Civil War invasions and falling out of airplanes and more.

And that’s a two-fold mandate. I feel the need to share the things I see so other people can see them, and also to see as much as I can so I can share it.

At the end of the day, I want to have lived a good story.

Song Challenge Week 14 — A Song That No One Would Expect You To Love


OK, I started this quite a while back and then dropped the ball, but I’m going to try picking up the 30 Day Song Challenge again as a weekly project.


Song Challenge Week 14 — A Song That No One Would Expect You To Love

“Alla Luce Del Sole,” Josh Groban

Somebody asked me recently what kind of music I listen to. I had no idea.

At this point, I really couldn’t say. If I have a norm, I’m not sure what it is. I could tell you things I don’t like, but not really any unifying guides for what I do. (Save that, in general, the artists I like, regardless of genre, tend to be songwriters.)

Without a grasp of the rules, I don’t know the exceptions. I asked Rebecca, and none of her surprising songs seemed surprising at all — Shawn Colvin’s cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” any Indigo Girls, “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile. “Crazy” (the original at least) and “Lose Yourself” were big hits, and everybody in college when I was knew Indigo Girls.

So for the sake of argument, I’m going with Josh Groban. To some, it might be seem less surprising — I wouldn’t be shocked to discover people would be less surprised by the high-brow stuff than all the low-brow stuff I like, but there you. But, to me, Josh Groban is a women’s singer, and so liking one of his non-English songs seems kind of outlying to me.

And, after all, the only Tenacious D song I would actually post on my blog is too mainstream to qualify.

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