This week’s theme over at My Skewed View are songs that cheer me up. For me, I usually need cheering up when I’ve suffered a blow to my confidence or my self-esteem. As a result, I’m inclined, when I’m in “one of those moods” to listen to songs that, for one reason or another, make me feel happy, peaceful, or empowered. That’s my story. These are my songs.
Cowboy Take Me Away (Dixie Chicks)
I’m not the biggest country music fan, but there’s just something about this song, something about Natalie Main’s voice when she sings it — if I had to name that quality, I’d call it “freedom”. And, as always, there’s something about those strings that manage to transport me and open up a space inside my head the size of Wyoming — a place where I can roam free and think happy thoughts. (I think I’m a frustrated violinist, truth be told!)
It’s a great song to listen to when life feels complicated (and, really, when doesn’t life feel complicated?). Sure, it romanticizes sleeping on the ground, but the idea of being the only ones “for miles and miles” — just me and my cowboy sounds kind of nice, doesn’t it? I imagine he’ll bring his fiddle and build me a fire. Yeah. And that whole idea of growing something “wild and unruly”? That sounds pretty uncomplicated, too, doesn’t it?
Hard Candy (Counting Crows)
I should probably tell you that I find Adam Duritz sexy — not necessarily to look at, but definitely to listen to. There’s something about the tone of his voice that immediately relaxes me. As for this song, well, it just has the best beat — one of those beats that just dares you to dance.
It’s story arc isn’t all that uplifting — most Counting Crows songs can count that as a common theme — and yet, it’s just so damn much fun to listen to. In this song, like in many of their other songs, the listener is being invited on a journey down memory lane.
Lyrically, Duritz, has a poet’s ear — for meter, for imagery. The opening lines are my favorite part of this song. Like any successful poet, Duritz taps into his ability to draw the listener into his private world.
On certain Sundays in November
When the weather bothers me
I empty drawers of other summers
Where my shadows used to be
With an opening like that, who wouldn’t be interested in the rest of the song?
I’m the Cat (Jackson Browne)
I think I love this one because it’s just so out of character for Jackson — also, it takes me down my own memory lane. When my daughter was younger, she and I, on lazy afternoons, used to dance (with the cat, of course) to this song. She used to giggle. Her dance partner would try to wriggle free. It was a hoot. Yeah, those were the days!
Also, Jackson just gets it — you know, cats are cool.
I Don’t Want To Go Home (Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes)
Songs which lament the end of a relationship don’t usually do so in such an upbeat way as this one does. The reason for that is the music, not the lyrics. Lyrically he’s telling her that he doesn’t want to “be alone”, that he doesn’t “want to go home”, to which, one supposes her answer is something like, “Yeah, well, too bad. We’re done!”. Still, it’s one of those sing-a-long songs. It doesn’t hurt that it has a beat like updated doo-wop, which induces some hard-core toe-tapping and hip-shaking (well, at least it does for me). Give it a listen, it’s ever so much fun!
Look for an appearance by another Jersey guy (one that’s enjoyed a little more success in the music industry than poor Johnny) in this video!
Defying Gravity (Wicked, the musical)
As far as the Screw You! song goes, this is one of my favorites. Yes, it’s from a musical. Yes, it’s sung, oddly enough, by The Wicked Witch of the West, but when that witch comes in the form of Idina Menzel, she’s certainly worth a listen.
This is the song that stops the show — a show that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing twice — and it brings down the house every time. Because it’s amazing.
It’s bittersweet in that it marks the end of a friendship while setting up the beginning of a legend. It’s where Elphaba becomes The Wicked Witch of the West. We get to be there, at the very place, at the very moment — where and when she makes her choice. And “nobody, no Wizard that there is or was, is ever gonna bring [her] down!” Yeah. She’s a witch, but she’s a happy one — she’s a witch on her own terms. Gotta love that!
NOTES ON THE MUSIC:
Cowboy Take Me Away, performed by Dixie Chicks from the album Fly (1999). Written by Martie Seidel and Marcus Hummon.
Hard Candy, performed by Counting Crows from the album Hard Candy (2002). Written by Adam F. Duritz, Daniel J. Vickrey, and Charles Gillingham.
I’m the Cat, performed by Jackson Browne from the album Looking East (1996). Written by Jackson Browne, Mark Goldenberg, Mauricio-Fritz Lewak, Kevin McCormick, Scott Thurston, and Jeff Young.
I Don’t Want To Go Home, performed by Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes from the album I Don’t Want To Go Home (1976). Written by Steven Van Zandt.
Defying Gravity, performed by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth from the Broadway cast recording of Wicked, The Musical (2003). Written by Stephen Schwartz.
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