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.

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