Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Favorite Songs

Cross-posted from the family blog:

There is no contention for my favorite song. It has been the same for awhile now, and it will take a mighty song indeed to knock it from its perch. After that it gets hazy, but I've picked two others that I often cite as numbers two and three. So, counting down...

3. Hero of the Day - Metallica. They have two versions of this song. One is the studio recording from the Load album. I enjoy this version, but if this is the only one I had ever heard, this song would only rank as "very good" instead of one of my favorites. It is the live version from the S&M album which launches this song into the stratosphere. The orchestral backing is a perfectly somber accompaniment and James' voice has become better with age as it captures the emotion of the lyrics perfectly. I have always been fascinated by heroes from fiction to real life and this song is about them. The exact meaning of the song is hard to pin down but it does deal with themes of looking for heroes in the wrong places, not seeing the real heroes that are around us, those same heroes getting beat down by life and society. Best part: Right after "So can't you hear your babies crying now?" before the last chorus as the orchestra is playing slow and somber James hollers out to the crowd, "I can't hear you!" and launches into the last verses with equal parts sadness and anger.

2. Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley. I nearly cry every time I hear this song. Jeff really did have the voice of an angel. It's unfortunate he died so young. Leonard Cohen originally wrote and performed this song, and, though there have been many covers, nothing has come close to Jeff's version on his Grace album. The song is about love and relationships and emotion and ultimately sadness. Cohen made extensive use of religious imagery for this song and it just makes it all the more poignant. Best part: The final time Jeff sings, "It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah," and you feel his heart breaking.

1. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen. You knew this one was coming. Without a doubt BoRhap is my favorite song; there is no competition. Queen is my favorite band and this is the pinnacle of their career. Freddie Mercury has the one voice I like better than Jeff Buckley's. Both have great range (although, Buckley's is greater), but more than that, both inject such emotion into their singing. They are not just singing the songs, they are living them, feeling them. The over-the-top operatic bombast of this song is perfect for Freddie's voice. I love the fact that it has multiple styles and seems to be all over the place musically. It has a cappela singing, a head-banging guitar solo, the sound of a choir (even it if was just Queen overdubbed many times), heartbreaking piano playing, grandiose lyrics, and Freddie's magical vocals over all else. Whatever this song is about, and there are many interpretations, it seems that something is ending for the singer. Whether it is his life or a great romance, who knows? He is in a lot of pain and doesn't care about anything anymore. So sad. Like "Hallelujah," you don't just hear the emotion in the words, you feel it in the performance. Ah, Freddie, you will be missed. Best part: the piano softly playing at the end as Freddie sings, "Nothing really matters. Nothing really matters to me."

I suppose it says something about me that the three songs I listed are not happy, upbeat songs. I am a happy person and there are some great, feel good songs out there (The Cars, Flogging Molly), but I connect more to somber songs.

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