Music is the essence of life. The rhythm is like a heartbeat, the melody a fresh breath of air. Music changes everything. I’ve found myself in more than one sticky situation, where I relied on music to transport me to a completely different world, and it always works. Somehow music has this incredible power of rescuing you when you most need it, with just a simple note. It’s quite unbelievable really. We’ve created and listened to music since the beginning of time and yet, after so many years, we are still not sick of it.
So, as I am lying awake, restless and cannot sleep, I reach for my iPod generation-don’t-ask-because-it’s-been-with-me-all-over-the-world-therefore-almost-an-antique, I scroll down to my top 5 favorite songs. It’s not just the melody, that rhythm, the lyrics (which by the way, given how often I’ve heard the songs, you’d think I would be able to sing these songs by heart, but for the life of me I cannot remember lyrics), it’s the story these songs tell. I encourage you, to give them all a listening if you haven’t done so already and I’m pretty sure I’ve said it more than once already, these songs are (subjectively), the best ones ever. So here are my top five and my musical stories.
1. One time thing – The Toxic Airborne Event
This song is by far my absolute favorite song in the history of ever. It’s my number one go to in literally all situations, regardless of if I am happy, sad, excited, depressed, tired or going for a run. To me this song embodies my teenage years in so many ways, it’s uncanny. You told me it was just a one time thing. A spark on gasoline. Why don’t tell me what you mean? Why won’t you tell me I was just your mistake? How long can this take? How many sleepless night can I go over every second while I’m lying awake. I don’t know how The Toxic Airborne Event was able to capture the essence of what it means to be constantly confused by someone’s actions. It’s amazing really, how one song can make me feel like 17 again and then like 21 and then like 29 and every number between 3 and now.
2. The book of love – Peter Gabriel
Where do I begin with this song? It was the only decision about A’s and my wedding, that I was making on my own: picking the wedding song. Of course, A had to agree with it, but truth to be told, we would have probably still played that song, regardless of if he agreed or not. This song means EVERYTHING. It’s really all in the lyrics, I love it when you read to me. And you. You can read me anything. The book of love has music in it. In fact that’s where music comes from. See, I love books and I love things that are practical painfully detailed written down into hard-cover books. I know, it’s crazy and severely outdated but I still believe that the written words can cure many aches. Not everything, of course, they are just words, after all, but the sheer idea that everything that one person has experienced, someone else has experienced too and has taken the time to write it down and to share it, that just connects us all on a different level, right? We are all human and we all use books, we all can see the usefulness. We all like to draw and think of silly things we love that we put in diaries and what not… so the book of love, is really that. A collection of the silliest things in the history of ever, dedicated to the ones that stole our hearts and read over and over and over again by the ones that cannot get enough of it. How can you not love this song and how can this song not be everyone’s wedding song, always?!
3. I’m yours – Jason Mraz
Oh, this is an easy one. I remember riding in my sweet red Toyota Sienna mini van in the middle of a tiny suburbs of Washington D.C. nearly a decade ago. Opening all windows, turning up the music as loud as physically possible and singing on the top of my lungs at 10 am on a Wednesday morning. I was just on my way home from having dropped off the kids that I was watching at that time and I felt happiness. The sun was shining, it must have been May or June and I was living and loving life. I remember thinking, that this is what life should always feel like. Well open up your mind and see like me. Open up your plans and damn you’re free. Look into your heart and you’ll find love love love love. Listen to the music of the moment people dance and sing. We are just one big family. And it’s our God-forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved loved. I have not let go of this feeling, or at least I tried to not let go of it. Because, if we don’t love and don’t feel love, how can we spread love, compassion, happiness? It’s as simple as that, you get out what you put in and that’s certainly true for this gem of a song.
4. Never had – Oscar Isaar
By comparison this is the newest addition to my top fives. The first time I heard it was in January of 2017. I was on my way from Reykjavik to Washington D.C. about to start my data collection for my masters. I was so thrilled and excited to be traveling to the US, not just for fun but for actual business. I remember sitting in the plane and being incredibly happy. I picked a movie I haven’t seen yet, or actually ever heard of (10 years, check it out!) and I heard this song and everything stopped for a brief moment. I’ve been gone for, so long now. Chasing everything that’s new. I’ve forgotten how I got here. I’ve not forgotten you. We were just children, with our eyes opened, and. You were all that I could see. You came close enough to know my heart-beat, but. Still not close enough for me. Ever since then I’ve been listening to this song at least once a day, but usually many (MANY) more times than that. Although the song is about regret, about not having taken chances, about having missed an opportunity that they wish they would have taken, I just feel immense relief when I hear this song. You know, how you sometimes see something that has happened to you in the past through new eyes many years after it’s happened, and you realize that having experienced that one thing led you to where you are now? That’s what the song means to me. Having taken all the right and wrong turns and still ending up where I am now, and it’s just absolutely amazing. The truth, which we tend to forget, is after all, that sometimes not getting everything we want in a particular moment, makes us stronger in the long run.
5. All of me – Billie Holiday
Oooolive me. Why don’t you ooooolive me. Is what I hear when Billie Holiday comes on. But what she actually sings is All of me. Why not take all of me. Can’t you see. I’m no good without you. Take my lips. I want to lose them. Take my arms. I’ll never use them. A and I have made up a million and one songs between the two of us. But when I first heard him sing his rendition of all of me, I thought it was the most beautiful thing he ever made up for me. That is, until I realized that he didn’t actually make it up but that it was a Billie Holiday song. From that point on forward, it was an absolute must have in my playlist. See, sometimes we take ourselves too serious. We don’t want to look beyond whatever is right in front of us and thereby miss the wonderful world that there is. That’s what the song means to me, looking beyond all the shortcomings and realizing that together we can do anything. Realizing that we enable each other to be the best versions of ourselves.
So, this was my run-down of my top fives. I could have probably gone much (much, much, MUCH) longer, but see, not every song has a story. Some musicians just create really good music, but some songs touch you in a way, that are just surprising and unexpected. We all need more of that, the unexpected, thrilling and unbelievable. Isn’t it great that songs can exactly do that? Transport you in these amazing unexpected, thrilling and unbelievable situations and make you feel like you’re on top of the world? As you may head into exam time, or are facing difficult decisions, or are forced to do all your Christmas shopping on one busy Saturday in an over-crowded mall, don’t forget to put some music on and dance on.