Dear music, dear songs, dear sounds, dear simple strands of lyrics, thank you. Thank you for being there for me and providing a therapy that neither anything nor anybody could provide in quite the same way. Thank you for sound-tracking so many moments and seasons in my life and leaving a forever print on those times, bringing me back to certain emotions more accurately than looking at old photos would.
You get me to sing in my car every time—and I don’t stop at traffic lights. You assure me that I can dance (I can’t, but you convince me that I can, so I do). You serenade me in my kitchen while I am cooking. You energize me through the killer leg lifts in Pilates class. You inject my soul with happiness and make me feel more alive. How do you do that? You weave your way through my mind and stay there for as long as I need you. You never fail to offer a variety of sound solutions—one for every mood, every problem, every side of me that needs to be covered with soothing notes or encouraging words.
You offer me a way to worship God. You are the bond I create with countless people. You bridge the gap between my spirit and its expression, between soul and circumstance, between body and movement. You make me want to express myself and make me confident to do so. You provide any and every type of vibe I need in any and every scenario. You lull me to sleep, you bring me to dreams and you wake me with the hope of a new day. You make me want to write, to sing, to think, to dance, to feel, to love, to be.
Music is my steadfast companion. Sometimes our relationship gets complicated, when I long to hear a song that I know will make me feel sad, but I can’t help going back to it anyway—it’s good to feel strongly about something sometimes, even if it means feeling sad. Sometimes, just as I feel our relationship couldn’t get any better, a line in a song comes along and I am carried helplessly through the tunnel to the light, up higher, down deeper, and I am in a complete state of bliss. Sometimes I didn’t realize that I needed to hear a song until I hear it for the first time, and I experience this sort of reverse-desire-fulfilled kind of phenomenon. Whatever state our relationship is in, it is intimate, for I can attach my deepest thoughts, most tender memories and also the most vulnerable, the happiest, the most uplifting and reassuring moments to music.
I will be forever grateful to those who created the flow of sound that promises to fill any listener’s ears, then brain, then heart, with therapy, with life, with a reminder of our own passions.
The Grammys are airing tomorrow, so I thought I would share a list here of my top songs of 2015, which are my favourite songs from records that were released in 2015. (The whole albums that these songs were released on were all really fantastic, though—in some cases, it was hard for me to pick only one song.) My criteria: these were the songs I kept going back to and had on repeat from the moment I heard them:
· Half Moon Run: “Everybody Wants” - this song's lyrics are so incredibly relevant and true to me, and they are nestled in a very beautiful and raw song structure. I sense that the musical interlude of the voices rising up partway through the song are like a plea--a "please, God"--that is making its way up to heaven. I am also a sucker for "the build," and this song has an awesome build, complemented perfectly by the desperation in the lead vocals.
· My Morning Jacket: “In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)” - Jim James' lyrics are just so amazing. He is so philosophical and interesting and just extremely cool. I love this song and how it evolves, both lyrically in the description of the waterfall, and also how the song keeps changing (there are three parts to it).
· Gary Clark Jr.: “Star” - This song came on one day when Joel and I were in the kitchen, and halfway through it, we were like, "Who is this?" This song will make you move from the moment you hear the bass. It's funky and jazzy and bluesy and chill, and it's also really fun to sing along to and pretend you have an amazing voice like Gary Clark Jr. does.
· Mumford and Sons: “Wolf” - A very popular song, I know. "Wolf" is one of those songs that is so positive and uplifting, and it always makes me feel like everything is going to be OK. It makes me love life and feel so happy.
· The Maccabees: “Spit It Out” - I first heard the Maccabees when we saw Mumford and Sons last summer in Niagara-on-the-Lake. After Marcus Mumford told the audience that the Maccabees was one of his top two favourite bands ever, I was like, OK, I think I like them, too! This song is ridiculously awesome. That piano riff throughout the song is beautiful.
· Muse: “Defector” - As a loyal Muse fan, I was very excited for Drones to be released last year. This was my favourite track, hands down. I love it so much, and it quickly became one of my top Muse songs of all time. It's rocky, with lots of guitar distortion, and the chorus has an unexpected rhythm to it, with the standard Muse/Queen sort of sound. The bridge is gorgeous.
· Foo Fighters: “Iron Rooster” - Joel showed me this song. It is on the Foo Fighters' EP, Saint Cecelia, which was released last year as a free download on November 23. This song is catchy and almost reserved in a way, and the lyrics are great - a bunch of questions that leave you thinking about them after the song is over.
· Arcade Fire: “Get Right” - This track was part of the deluxe edition of Reflektor, which was released last year (Reflektor was originally released in 2013). It's a really gritty, bluesy song that develops and builds into something more, something that sounds more like an Arcade Fire song. Being one of my favourite bands, of course I loved the songs on this deluxe edition. This song especially was one that I had on repeat.
· Nothing But Thieves: “If I Get High” - I just discovered this band like a week ago. They sound a bit like Muse and a bit like Royal Blood. The singer has a very powerful and beautiful voice, and the songs are sometimes really rocky and sometimes really quiet. Warning: The video for "If I Get High" is really sad and emotional. I could hardly choose between my other two favourites on the album: "Graveyard Whistling" and "Lover, Please Stay," another ballad that showcases the lead singer's beautiful voice and reminds me of an Adele song without the hype.