13 March 2009

We'll, uh, listen to beautiful music together

I've been meaning to write this post for a while but I knew I wouldn't be able to do it at work because it'll take some doing. I've mentioned before that I really like making mix CDs. I treat each one like an awesome assignment. Like I'm going to make a mix CD and some record company/pretentious rock magazine will stumble across it and begin paying me to put together awesome albums. Like that. Anyhow I've been working on this one mix for a long time. It's my "Beautiful Songs" mix. It's been long in development because I had to define for myself what exactly I think a beautiful song is. I eventually came to an admittedly weak definition: a song that forces you to stop and listen. I know it's a weak definition, but it worked for me. There are hundreds of really pretty songs that I love that don't quite make the 'beautiful' cut. For instance right now I'm listening to Bon Iver, a chap who makes pretty, good music. I just wouldn't call his songs beautiful. So, without further ado, here's my latest "Beautiful Songs" revision, with some descriptions. These are not in any particular order.

  • Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah -- Hands down without a doubt the most beautiful song I've ever heard. I could probably write an entire essay about the way this song makes me feel.
  • Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water -- The original and best version.
  • Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You -- Background choir, 'nuff said.
  • Stevie Wonder - Ave Maria -- First time I heard this I had to pull my car over and listen to it again.
  • Jolie Holland - Grey Funnel Line -- I absolutely love her voice and this old shanty is as good as it gets. The lilting accordion in the background really does it for me.
  • Elvis Presley - There Will Be Peace in the Valley -- Ain't nothing prettier in this world than some old church music, especially when sung by one of the most prolific voices ever.
  • Alison Krauss - Down to the River to Pray -- See above. Plus, acappella!
  • Don McLean - Vincent -- I'm really a sucker for McLean's song-writing (his alliteration kills me!) and this song is such a beautiful tribute to another artist.
  • Willie Nelson and Ray Charles - Seven Spanish Angels -- Two of the greatest ever. Together, man!
  • Sarah MacLachlan - Arms of an Angel -- Yeah. I know. It's cliche as hell. But damn she's got a beautiful voice. I can't deny this song.
  • Everly Bros- Unchained Melody -- Probably one of the first songs I ever fell in love with.
  • Sigur Ros - All Alright -- It's all the beauty of Sigur Ros but in english!
  • Denali - Time Away -- Why this band was overlooked I'll never understand.
  • Chuck Ragan - Geraldine -- Every time I hear it I have to call my mother and tell her I love her.
  • Fleet Foxes - Meadowlark -- Picking one Fleet Foxes song that characterized the beauty of their music was hard. This is probably the best of 'em, though.
  • Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees -- When they played this live in Atlanta in 2002 I honestly had to sit down like a tween at a Jonas Brothers concert. That's how much this song affects me.
  • Radiohead - Nude -- Picking one song that characterized the beauty of Radiohead's music was impossible.
The whole time I was writing those notes I was thinking, "Man, you could've put this song on there!" Mind you that this is a list of songs meant to fit onto one CD, otherwise I'd go on for miles. So there's that. It'll likely be different in a month. What do you think are the most beautiful songs?

Here's one that'll probably be on the list at some point. Damn Willie and his smooth layered vocals.


LadyGlutter said...

"Beauty" is extremely subjective, especially when it comes to music. I can see how you had a hard time with the list. I enjoyed pulling up youtube and listening to all of these I didn't have myself. My husband came in suddenly and asked, "Why are you listening to so much sad music? You're crying."

That's about right, too -- when I think of a beautiful song, I usually am crying and/or have goosebumps and can't move.

Heather Rose said...

All this talk of gorgeous music wounds me, and leaves me breathless. Good thing I don't need to breath to type.

The only thing as beautiful as Buckley's Hallelujah is Cohen's. Sigh.

Vincent is my absolute favorite McLean song. It hurts my heart.

I think everything Sigur Ross does is amazing, Icelandic or not. They're from Iceland aren't they?

Fake Plastic Trees. Thom Yorke wrote that song for ME.

A few on my list:
-Love by John Lennon
-Boxer and the Fighter by Simon & Garfunkle
-How Deep Is The Ocean by Peggy Lee
-Waiting on an Angel by Ben Harper
-Mad World by Gary Jules
-Such Great Heights by Iron & Wine
-Take Me Home by Tom Waits
-The Engine Driver & Eli The Barrow Boy by The Decemberists

I'll stop now.

Apollo said...

LadyGlutter - I was hesitant to post this because of the subjectivity of 'beauty'. I figured I might get some trollish "OMG THOSE SONGZ SUXORS" type responses. I guess a lot of those songs are sad now that I think about it. Hmm, we'll skip the Freudian analysis.

Heather - I like Cohen's version of Hallelujah but to me it doesn't approach the raw emotion of Buckley's. Yes, Sigur Ros is Icelandic. As for Fake Plastic Trees, do you live with a cracked polystyrene man? Also, your list is a good one.