Music Is A Religion - Part 2

So, a friend of mine recently asked me to get a list together for her of about 6-12 songs that I really love - favourites, if you will - for a project she's working on. I'm not even quite sure what the said project is, I'm just glad to be involved, to be honest. Plus, it also gave me an excuse to get lost on the YouTube machine for a while and be able to justify my impending sleep deprivation tomorrow.

So, I picked twelves songs with only minor difficulty. For me, when it comes to favourite songs, I invariably go to songs that illicit some sort of emotional response, or they're part of special memories that I have. Now, I could simply just list the twelve songs on here and be done with it, but really ... where would be the fun in that? In order to have a little fun with it, I thought I'd break it down in to several different blog posts instead of one GIANT one which no one would probably ever read anyway. And then, what I think I'll do, is make ANOTHER list of twelve songs that I still really really like, but didn't make the list simply because I could only have twelve.

So, here's the first cut of songs that made the list and are in no particular order of favoritism:

1. Johnny Cash - Hurt

Now, when it comes to Johnny Cash, the Man in Black can do no wrong in my eyes. The man's a legend. I could listen to him all day long. When I decided that he needed to be on the list, my first thought was Ring Of Fire, or Walk The Line, Folsum Prison Blues, and A Boy Named Sue. But I chose this one because the first time I heard it, I must have listened to it fifty bazillion times.

I couldn't get enough of it.

I was dating a guy named Mike in University at the time, and we both just fell instantly in love with this. He was also in to WWE wrestling as well, and when WWE Superstar Eddie Guerrera died, this was the song they played as a tribute to him one night - one of the new nights when Mike was actually able to get me to watch wrestling with him. And we both sat there, on the couch watching countless wrestling fans and superstars talk about Eddie, and the kind of man he was, the kind of wrestler he was, and the kind of father he was. They talked about his highs, and his lows. And I remember, when they played this song over a montage of Eddie's highlights and photos, I cried.

Johnny did this song so simply, yet it's beyond powerful and it just guts me every time I hear it. When I first heard that Johnny Cash had died, this was the song I went to. And this was the song I cried to. This was the song that I had to go to in order to process that this amazing country legend wasn't around any more. This was the song, years later, when battling with my own self worth, that I would play very loudly, and on repeat, to get out the angst and the soul rendering feelings of inadequacy and doubt and shame and anger. This was the song, that when I was at my worst trying to be an adult, that was my anthem.

This song eventually taught me that I'd be okay.

2. The Tea Party - Sun Goin' Down

The Tea Party will always and forever have a special place in my heart. Probably because it was one of the first bands that big brother Ernie introduced me to that we both really, really liked. This was also the song that brought out a bit of a rebel in me, or at the very least made me realize that I had a bit of a rebel in me.

Ernie and I would almost always go for a drive on Sunday afternoons. I secretly think Ernie was a trucker in a past life. This song, and probably because of various Biblical references and the fact that he says "Jesus" really made me feel like a badass. The irony of singing this out loud, air drumming, on a Sunday afternoon was not loss on my young preteen self.

A decent degree of me thinking I was a badass was because that my parents are a conservative pair and we went to church every.single.Sunday. So, here I am ... a young preteen girl in between visits to church on any given Sunday, cruising with my big brother saying bad words like "Jesus" out loud ... Man, I musta thought I was badder than James Dean - and I only had a vague notion of who he was, but still. To my young self ... there was no badder girl on a Sunday afternoon.

This song is a secret to be kept, something special only to be shared between a brother and sister. I immediately took a liking to this song, and it became a standard request when Ernie and I would go driving. If it wasn't playing, I'd open the glove box and shuffle through the dozen or so mixed tapes he had in there until I found it. To this day, I'd never play this song in front of my parents. Mostly because a) they'd hear the word "Jesus" and want to turn it off immediately and b) it really isn't a part of their musical repertoire and c) I'd have to play it so loud, they'd loose they're hearing.

3. Ace of Base - The Sign 

This is another song that will always have a special place in my heart. I was in grade school when I remember Ace of Base first sitting the music scene. If I recall correctly, this album was really the only big success they had, and The Sign was by far they're biggest success. I think they released another album a few years later, but I think it flopped.

Anyway ... I think I was in Grade 5 or 6 when this album came out. A bunch of the cool kids had somehow gotten the bright idea, and the permission (!!), to bring a boom box to school. Another one of the cool kids (or at least, I thought they were cool ... which essentially put me in the decidedly not cool kid group) had bought this on CD and brought it to school and for like a month they would play this at lunch time. I remember hearing this so much, just from being at school, that I started to learn the words.

And, I will never forget the day during lunch, when I was sitting on my desk humming and singing along to the parts of the song I knew, my feet swinging happily in the air, that one of the cool kids saw me there sitting by myself kind of singing and dancing by myself shouting out, his voice all full of mockery: "HEY GUYS!! ALANNA'S SINGING ALONG AND SHE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW THE WORDS!!!! BAAHAHAHAHA!"

At which point I did two things.

One. I immediately shut up.

Two. I was gonna show that kid that I did too know the words!! I was gonna go buy that CD.

So, if it wasn't directly after school, then it was a couple of days later that I looked at my Mom and said, in my most serious voice ever, that she had to take me to the mall, I needed to go buy some music. Here I am, a lanky little ten or eleven year old kid, firmly asserting that I was launching out on my own musical adventure and needed to buy music.

She was instantly dubious. I knew that if I didn't explain this music that kids my age were listening to these days, then I was never going to get that CD and I was going to be the only kid in school who had no idea what was going on. "Don't worry," I said, trying to sound as grown up as I could "We listen to it at school every day. There's no swearing in it or anything, and the teachers let us listen to it." Having assigned my elementary school's seal of approval to it, I thought it was a sure bet I was going to get this CD. I don't know if that's what sealed the deal, or if my mom saw the sheer desperation in my eyes, or if she knew how disappointed I'd be if I didn't get this CD or what, but I did get it.

A few days later, during lunch time Ace of Base is blaring out of our 6th Grade classroom. I'm sitting on my desk, singing and swinging my feet and feeling pretty good about myself.

Along comes one of the cool kids again. "Alanna, you don't even know the words."

"Uh, yeah I do! I have this CD at home - I bought it!"

Take that, cool kids everywhere!!


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