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.

Skydiving Playlist

OK, while I’m getting ready to jump out an airplane this morning, what songs should I be listening to?

For example, I’ll start with the obvious:

Tom Petty — Free Fallin’

Whatcha got?


The Lady And The Panda

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived with her cruel stepmother and her wicked stepsisters, who made her live like a servant in her own home.

The End.

Not much of a story, is it?

Take away the fairy godmother and the prince and the glass slippers, and Cinderella’s just not that compelling if it never makes it past the beginning.

One of the lost blog posts from earlier this year was a comparison of the philosophies of Lady Gaga and Kung Fu Panda. Which one more closely reflects who you are and who you want to be?

Earlier this year, I went to a Sugarland concert, and one of the opening acts, Little Big Town, did a cover of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. Other than finding it more agreeable than the original, which, to be fair, I had limited experience with, I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought until a few days later, when I was watching Kung Fu Panda 2, which is awesome.

And the thought occurred to me that a phenomenal amount of how you take life is rooted in whether you believe Lady Gaga or Po.

I’m all for the idea that all men are created equal, so, to that extent, I’ll agree with Lady Gaga. Where she loses me, though, is the idea that “I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.”

And, you know, she seems to be doing well enough for herself. If she was raised believing she was a superstar and stayed on that track, then it seems to have paid off for her, and good for her.

But we’re not all raised superstars. We’re not all born that way. And, sometimes in life, we find ourselves at points of wishing we could be someone else.

And we reach those points, if all we have is the way we were born, if all we have is who we are and who we’ve been, we don’t have much.

As the soothsayer in Kung Fu Panda 2 tells Po, “Your story may not have such a happy beginning but that doesn’t make you who you are — it is the rest of your story, who you choose to be.”

Our stories are important. But every day that goes by becomes only the prologue of the story yet to be told.

Po reaches inner peace when he finally realizes. By the end, he tells his foe, “You’ve got to let go of that stuff from the past, because it just doesn’t matter . The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now.”

It’s a story that’s told constantly through the Bible. “But I’m just a ….” No, you’re not.

Someone I knew used to have on her blog a tagline about aspiring to be who you were born to be.

I have no desire to be who I was born to be. I don’t want to stop at the beginning. I want to be better.

When you reach the point where you wish you could be someone else, do it. Be someone better. Be yourself, better than you’ve ever been.

“Nothing’s unstoppable except for me when I’m stopping you from telling me something’s unstoppable!” — Po

The Shallow End

So, back in January, I went up to Nashville to see my favorite musician, Lori McKenna, perform at the Bluebird Café’s singer-songwriter showcase, along with some other artists, and wrote a blog post about how great it was.

My good friend Joe Gurner read my post and sent me an e-mail, challenging me to stop talking about songwriting and lyrics and actually try to write some.

Joe, you see, is one of those people with actual musical talent. He can write lyrics and melodies, arrange and perform the instruments, and produce the tracks, all from the comfort of his own home. He’s been in bands, and lately records a bunch of his own stuff and posts it on MacJams.

I, on the other hand, am one of the complete opposite type of person, those with no musical talent whatsoever. I’ve put my singing voice to use to good effect at improv shows — if I try to sing, people will laugh. The idea of trying to read or write music confuses me, and my efforts to learn to play an instrument have been horrible failures. I love music, I love lyrics, I love the idea of songwriting, but musicality utterly evades me.

Joe assured me this doesn’t matter. “Just write some lyrics,” he said.

So I did. I have no idea why, but I decided, with nothing else to go on, that I was going to write a song called “The Shallow End,” and, from that title, wrote some lyrics. I’ve transcribed a lot of lyrics over the last few years, so I tried to write something that looked a little like that, if less good.

(I comforted myself by telling myself that the quality didn’t matter this time, that this was just a proof-of-concept to see if I could write something that could be a song. If you listen to it, tell yourself that, too. I would appreciate it.)

So I sent the lyrics to Joe. “Is this a song,” I asked. “It could be,” Joe said.

Joe took my words, and cut them up, and moved them around, and added music, and sang them, and recorded the finished product.

He moved a lot of the lines around from when I wrote it, and so when I heard it, it sounded a little strange.

But …

He also turned something I wrote into, you know, an actual song. And that’s even more strange.

The Shallow End — Joe Gurner & David Hitt








Song Challenge Day 2 — My Least Favorite Song

To make the Post A Day 2011 challenge a bit more bearable, I’ve set up a couple of regular features. Saturdays are for reviews (yesterday being an exception) and Sundays are for song lyrics. But I’m out of song lyric ideas, so I wanted a new regular Sunday feature. Keeping the music theme I’ve been using, I’m undertaking the 30 Day Song Challenge as a weekly project.

Week 2 — Your Least Favorite Song

“Through Glass,” Stone Sour

“Three hours is as big as an ear.”

I have no clue what that means.

We were driving back through Mississippi last week, and Finn asked how long it was going to take us to get somewhere, or how long we’d been driving, or something. And the answer was three hours.

To which the seven-year-old replies, “Three hours is as big as an ear.”

Your guess is as good as mine.

Which brings us to Stone Sour’s “Through Glass.”

I dislike this song.

A lot.

I turns out, doing a quick search, this is actually the third time I’ve mocked this song on my blog.

This first time was in a post about Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”:

That scarlet letter bit, for whatever reason, reminds me of one of my other least favorite song lyrics of the last decade, from Stone Sour’s “Through Glass”: “But no one ever tells you that forever feels like home.” You know, there may be a good reason for that; perhaps the same reason that no one ever tells you “solace tastes like distance” or “the past smells like family.”

The second time was in a post about the movie “Up in the Air”:

There was a song a few years ago that used to really bug me, “Through Glass,” by Stone Sour, that contained the line “no one ever tells you that forever feels like home.” Huh? You know, there’s probably a good reason nobody ever tells you that. They also never tell you that tomorrow smells like love or that possibility looks like neighbors. Home is a concept.

Really, that covers my problem with the song. I have nothing new to say.

Other than that, if they ever want another hit, maybe they should call Finn for help.

No one’d ever told me that three hours was as big as an ear before, either.

“Mixed Fruits” Playlist

So Heather was looking on my iTunes for Strawberry Wine, which, at the time, I didn’t have, but came across other strawberry songs, and somehow or another that ended up with my making her a Mix CD of fruit-related songs, including but not limited to:

  • Strawberry Wine — Matraca Berg
  • Peaches — The Presidents Of The United States of America
  • Watermelon Man — Albert King
  • Raspberry Swirl — Tori Amos
  • Black Horse And The Cherry Tree — KT Tunstall
  • Another Bite of the Apple — Neil Diamond

And so, in honor of Mrs. Tutor, for whom I’ve not done one of these in way too long, I thought I’d do an old-school playlist post:

Since I’ve already listed some fruit songs, I’ll open it up a bit — What songs belong in a proper “Fruits And Vegetables” mix playlist? Bonus point for each fruit or vegetable that hasn’t already been named.

Song Challenge Day 1 — Your Favorite Song

To make the Post A Day 2011 challenge a bit more bearable, I’ve set up a couple of regular features. Saturdays are for reviews (yesterday being an exception) and Sundays are for song lyrics. But I’m out of song lyric ideas, so I wanted a new regular Sunday feature. Keeping the music theme I’ve been using, I’m undertaking the 30 Day Song Challenge as a weekly project.

Week 1 — Your Favorite Song

“Witness To Your Life,” Lori McKenna

It’s no shock to readers of this blog that I like the Lori McKenna, so it’s probably no surprise that my favorite song is one of hers.

I heard this song because I like Lori’s music, but I love Lori’s music because I heard this song.

It speaks to a desire of my heart — To be known. To have someone care.

All you really need is someone to be here
Someone who never lets you disappear
And I will be that witness to your life
This may just be a softer place to fall
But somebody will answer when you call
And I will be that witness to your life

As a writer, the idea of “story” is important to me, and that carries over into relationships. I want someone to share my story with, I want someone to share their story with me, I want to be able to share a common story with someone.

(One of the blessings of being in a relationship with your best friend — Heather knew my story before we ever started dating.)

I love the sound of the song, the music, and Lori’s incredible ability to use her voice to make the song real; the way she sings it like she means it.

I love the writing; in addition to the idea of the songs, there’s another little nugget that really speaks to me — “Stopped listening to all your friends / They think this is where life begins and ends / No one reaches, no one trandscends — they just learn to live with it.” I want to lead the sort of life that no one would ever say that about me. It’s a nice challenge.

And that’s my favorite song.

Next week — My Least Favorite Song