I've found that as I get older I am surprised in what things interest me. I think it is that as I get older I realize that the things of the past that I was so enamored and passionate for are not going to give me a place in the pantheon of humanity. I get frustrated that I do not have the drive to discover new music or new things. This recipe for frustration drives me back to the arms of the comfortable music I grew up with as a child, a teen and a young man trying to define what made me.
This is a list of five songs that I listen to in order to remind me what I am made of and what made me have feelings. I'd call this the list of what makes me serious but still drain the frustration out of my mind and heart during the thickest times of anxiety. Most of them are sad. Some are new discoveries that slammed their way into the list due to an immediate recognition of feeling of something that should have been with me sooner.
1. Last Flowers to the Hospital/Radiohead: I know what this song is about and that is not what it means to me. Inside of this song are a set of words that bring me solace every time I hear them. Still. After five years of listening to this song over and over again I still get chills and relief for hours after one play. The emotion it defines is a ache after a heavy day of interpersonal torture. The exhaustion just sets in and you know you can rest.
2. Stratford-on-Guy/Liz Phair: This is the second to last song on an album I still to this day think is Phair's best work. She was still experimenting with what her voice and a brash guitar could bring to the listener. It was exciting and fearless with no pretense. Her honest vocalizing in a non-diva way was what really sold this song for me. She was singing for no one but herself and we were all just lucky to be around to hear it. It's the epitome of youthful concern and I miss that emotion sometimes. This song reminds me.
3. Indifference/Pearl Jam: Apathy. There is nothing else so infuriating and freeing as just not giving a shit. I listened to this song 500 times over the last 19 years. It really only made sense to me 18 months ago after a horrible day of self doubt and self loathing. Vedder's voice scratched over the speakers as I ground my way up the 405 to home. All of sudden like a light going off I just gave up giving a shit. I realized that whatever had plagued me that day and the 6 months previous was the worthless sniveling of a man who thought someone should care. The freedom of letting things go is refreshing and not one I often find most days. When I do, this song usually accompanies it.
4. Possession/Sarah McLachlan: The version of the song I am referencing is the vocal and piano version following Fumbling Toward Ecstasy. I found this in high school when I fancied myself a lover of female artists. This is strictly nostalgia. It's one of the few songs that I hear by her these days that don't make me want to go adopt a battered pet.
5. Maggie May/ Rod Stewart: The song just makes me happy. It reminds me of the days when I first met Katie. I'm a broody asshole but when I am happy it is because of her. This song reminds me that all musicians are not tortured artists and pure honest emotion can come from happiness not just tragedy.