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.


3 comments:

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.