Monday, April 30, 2012

Music of Z: ZZ Top, Zac Brown Band

As I stumble my way across the blogging challenge finish line, I happily present to you the final letter Z.

1. ZZ Top
I'm not ashamed to admit that I have this song in my collection via the soundtrack to Armageddon. Yes, it was cheesy. Yes, it was actually quite ridiculous. But yes, it made me cry. I have a soft spot for natural disasters and other imminent threats to mankind in my books and movies, so this one was right up my alley. The accompanying soundtrack was full of great rock n' roll tunes, like this one:

2. Zac Brown Band
I have one ZBB track in my collection, compliments of the Starbuck's "Pick of the Week" cards that they give out. I had heard of this new country group, but that was it. Since then, I've grown fond of their song "Free", which segues nicely into lyrics from Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic." It's kind of neat. And like most country music, it reminds me of summer, which, on a cloudy, rainy day like this, I need. (Wow, over-comma alert!)

 If you've made it this far, then you have a very sincere THANK YOU. Thanks for playing along with the A-Z Challenge, and commenting along even if you were sick of the challenge but felt like you just had to suggest a song or a band. I've been introduced to some great music already.

I'm not sure what comes next. I might take a few days off and regroup, but I'll be back soon. I have some writing posts percolating in my head and some book reviews I can't wait to share.

See you soon!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Music of Y: You'll Never Walk Alone and Yo-Yo- Ma

Final two entries! Are you excited to get back to "normal" in the blogging world, or are you getting a hang of this A-Z thing?

My music of Y will be very simple, only two songs. One holds a very important place in my heart and the other is some of my favorite writing music.

1. "You'll Never Walk Alone"
When you look for a video of this song, you get quite a variety ranging from its original form as a show tune, to modern era football stadiums in Europe. In my mind, however, this song takes me right to my father's funeral. Initially in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, the clip below is the movie's end where the dad comes back to see his daughter's graduation, and then saw his wife. He made sure they were both okay, and then walked off to the afterlife.

Another fun fact! As soon as I find a font I like, I will get a tattoo around my left wrist that reads: "When you walk through a storm / Hold your head up high". There's more to it than song lyrics, but you get the idea.

2. Yo-Yo Ma
On a whim at my local Half Priced Bookstore, I picked up the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon soundtrack. I was looking for some Yo-Yo Ma music and wasn't sure where to look. I saw his name on the case and figured for $4, why not? It was such a wonderful investment. I'm a convert. My next classical music purchase will be Bach's Cello Suites as performed by Yo-Yo Ma. Take a listen.

Two pieces of truly beautiful music for your Y enjoyment. Any classics (classical or show tunes) hold a special place in your heart?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Music of X: Muppets and more Muppets.

I've already talked about Coldplay's new album X&Y, so I thought it was time for something different.

Today, I present the Music of X. AKA: songs that are cracking me up today but don't start with the letter X.

1. The Muppets.
I love the Muppets. The Muppet Show, The Muppet movies, everything. I can't get enough of them. I cried like a little girl when Kermit sang "Rainbow Connection" during last year's movie. It was so perfect and transported me straight back to my living room where a 5 year old me watched the show to see what the grumpy old men would say next. This clip is only 52 seconds. I DARE you to watch without smiling...

2. Neil Diamond
True story time! Raise your hand if your dad let you load bullets when you were little. Anyone? No? I guess that was just us. There was a HUGE machine where my dad would load all the gunpowder and my brother and I were responsible for pushing/pulling this incredibly heavy lever down to seal the bullets shut. I miss my dad's old work room. But I remember seeing my very first 8-track and asking who Neil Diamond was. Fast forward almost 30 years, and at yet another funeral, we picked this song. You know what's hilarious? Hearing "We're coming to America... TODAY!" ring out at a funeral service. She would've loved it. :)

 (Seriously--how many funerals am I going to reference? You must all think I'm incredibly jinxed.)

3. Tiesto
Apparently, I'm becoming quite the fan of electronic/trance music. And I may or may not have a little crush on Tiesto. I have this overwhelming desire to go to a European festival to catch a live Tiesto show. I think standing around for hours and jumping up and down sounds like a BLAST, provided I'm wearing the right shoes. Just a hot, sweaty dance floor where all you can do is move with the beat. Alas, the ONE DAY blocked on my calendar this year is the ONE DAY Tiesto will be in Milwaukee for the party of all parties, SummerFest. Son of a...

Tell me your extra credit songs. What were you hoping to see this month? Do you love The Muppets, Neil Diamond, or Tiesto like I do?

Sorry--two more. I'm LOVING these Muppet videos! "See da moofin..."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Music of W: Romeo+Juliet Smiling at Pirates

1. "Whatever" by the Butthole Surfers
First, the band name always makes me laugh. Second, the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack (1996) is amazing. More than a decade later, I still pull that album out during NaNo. What an obscure collection of music! I'm not sure what it is about the soundtrack, but whatever it is, it works for me.

2. "When You're Smiling" by Louis Armstrong
This is probably my favorite Louis Armstrong song. C'mon--you know you want to dance. You know what Minnesota is missing? A good ol' supper club. Someone should open one and have Friday night fish frys (also missing in MN) and Saturday night jazz/big band nights. I'd be all over that.

3. Wheel of Fortune by Hans Zimmer
This song has a very sweet place in my heart. A few years ago, when one of my awesome nephews was just a little kid (maybe 6?), he was obsessed with this tune and the Main Theme from Star Wars. Except for in that beautiful way that only little kids can do, he seamlessly transitioned from one into the other, like they were one mashup of epic movie proportions. I wish I had taped him doing it. Eating, brushing his teeth, reading, anytime. The same tune. Over and over. Man, I love my nephews.

What's your favorite movie soundtrack earworm? What "W"s did I miss?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Music of V: Vega 4, Stevie Ray Vaughn

Man, we're really down here in the lesser-used letters of the alphabet, aren't we? Alas, here we are with the music of V. Before anyone points it out in the comments, no, I do not have any Van Halen on this list. Sorry! I just don't have any in my collection!

1. "Life is Beautiful" by Vega4
I really wish I could remember where I first heard this song. I know it was in the movie My Sister's Keeper, but I'm POSITIVE I heard it before then. Maybe a TV show? Hmm... this might drive me crazy. Anyway, in the meantime, it's on my "feel good music" playlist. Take a listen.

2. "Life by the Drop" by Stevie Ray Vaughn
This just screams a lazy Saturday afternoon on the pontoon boat with a cooler of beers and a bag of chips in the middle of July. Apply sunscreen, soak up the rays, jump in the lake to cool off, repeat, repeat, repeat. Until it's time to bbq for dinner. Turn it up...

And, just because I'm in a summertime frame of mind, here's the next song that came on when I was listening to "Life by the Drop." Consider this a bonus track, not at all associated with the letter V. If you're not groovin' by this point, well, I don't know. I guess we shouldn't road trip together, that's all. I'm just sayin'...

Gimme all your V's, please. What'd I miss? What song screams summertime to you?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Music of U: Uninvited, Underappreciated

Short post today. Lucky U! (Ha! See what I did there...)

1. "Uninvited" by Alanis Morissette
An angsty female singer-songwriter from the mid-90s, Alanis burst onto the US music scene with her phenomenal debut album, Jagged Little Pill, though many of us remember her from the Nickelodeon show, "You Can't Do That on Television." Alanis recorded this track for the City of Angels soundtrack and I think the piano and strings really add depth. But holy smokes, her voice. Man, watching this reminds me how powerful she is. Brava, Alanis.

2. "Underappreciated" by Christina Aguilera
I know, I know. This is my second Christina tune. What can I say? Back in her early days (read: pre-Marilyn Monroe wanna be makeover/plastic surgery), she was great! This song will always remind me of driving home from my waitressing job. Talk about feeling under appreciated....

Okay, gotta run. Have a beaUtiful TUesday!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Music of T: Talk, Think, Till, Turn. In that order.

Okay, there are a lot of songs here for the letter T. I'll make it up to you (and to myself) by having a shorter day for U tomorrow. Okay? Okay.

1. "Talk Tonight" by Oasis
When the brothers stop fighting and focus instead on lyrics and music, they make some truly beautiful songs. This is one of them. It takes me back a few years ago (my 10 year HS reunion, to be exact), which was the last time I really remember pulling an all-nighter. Party, then down to the bars, then the ride home and a bon fire until the sun came up, then off to Denny's for some greasy morning food. We walked in smelling like campfire, wearing the same clothes as the night before, sitting right next to people dressed all nice for church. It was an exhausting night, but one I'll never soon forget.

2. "Think" by none other than the amazing Ms. Aretha Franklin
I first really remember this song from the movie Blues Brothers. What a classic! I need to watch that again. ASAP. The clip is from the movie but the dubbing isn't lined up with the audio and it cuts off kind of abruptly. That's okay, it's still a total classic.

Elwood: "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses." 
Jake: "Hit it."

Anyone else want dry white toast? 

3. "Till Kingdom Come" by Coldplay 
I'm not a huge Coldplay fan, but I wouldn't say I'm not a fan, either. I really liked the album X&Y, so it's tough to imagine their latest album could top that. This track is off the X&Y album and along with "Fix You", they're probably two of my all-time favorite Coldplay tunes. Something about waiting for someone else really speaks to my inner romantic. Then again, I try not to listen to her. She's nuts.

4. "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
For me, this is the ultimate road trip song. And there's something about it that reminds me of the country tunes I grew up listening to, compliments of my parents. I know Metallica covered this song and some would say it's better than the original, but I can't. Something about the Seger version sounds like it's sung from the heart.

Okay, did you make it to the end of the T's? I'm sure I missed some biggies. Geesh, you all had to point out that I forgot Queen and Nirvana! Share your thoughts!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Music of S: Samuel Barber, Israel, and Section 9

With only 8 music blogs left, I present the letter S!

If you can make it past the first song, I promise you, the last one is a feel-good song. Scout's honor.

1. Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings"
I'm not sure if I should blame or thank my blogging buddy Caitlin over at Logically for turning me on to this song. Last November during NaNo, we were talking on Twitter about good writing music. I think I asked for sad music, or maybe she just offered it. Either way, I remember Cait telling me it was one of the saddest pieces of music she had ever heard. Ever the skeptic (and one who had listened to some incredibly sad tunes in her day), I took the challenge. She's not too far off, gang. This piece of classical music is painfully beautiful. Set against the poem in the video below makes it all the more powerful.

2. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World"
I'm almost done with funeral songs, I promise. Unfortunately, I've lost too many incredibly important family members in my short life and I have songs tied in my heart to that person's memory. I selected this song for the service of the man who was like a father to me growing up. Seeing as my father died when I was 10, I don't use that phrase lightly. Thinking of you, TWC.

3. "Section 9" by The Polyphonic Spree
Okay, let's lighten it up, shall we? It is Saturday, after all. Thank you, Scrubs, for introducing me to this totally bizarre musical troupe. This is one of those situations where there really are no words. Just turn it up and feel inspired. This song shows up on my half marathon play list somewhere around mile 10 or 11. Not quite the finish line, but close enough to the end to remind me to keep going. "Just follow the day and reach for the sun..."

(ETA: I'm not sure how to feel about this song being used for The Lorax movie. Really? The Lorax? Sigh. Fine. Whatever. I still think of Scrubs.)

Okay, S is also for Saturday so you tell me--what tunes do you like to listen to on a Saturday to get you up and dancing? And watch out for Monday's "T" post. It looks like there will be more videos than usual!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Music of R: Resistance, Run, and Radiohead

Happy R Day, blog! We're so close to the finish line! Can you feel it?!

On to the Music of R!

1. "Resistance" by Muse
Why, hello again, Muse. Welcome back to the Challenge. Fancy seeing you here for the third (or is it 4th?) time. I must really like your music.

The drums set against the piano? The conspiracy-theory lyrics? The track, "Resistance" comes from the album, The Resistance. The whole album is pretty freaking amazing (go back to "E" for Exogenesis, also from this album) but there's something magical about seeing these live videos. I had the opportunity to sneak down to the floor but I didn't. I'm such a stupid rule-follower and look where it got me? Stuck in my seat when I could've just slipped beneath the railings and been one of the crazy fans jumping up and down by the stage.

Sigh. Muse, come back to Minnesota, please. Heck, come back to the midwest. I'll get there. Your show was SO INCREDIBLY ENTERTAINING that I'll even drive to Chicago!

2. "Run" by Snow Patrol
I knew my A-Z tour through music wouldn't be complete without at least one Snow Patrol song. There are so many great songs to select from, but I chose "Run" from the album, Final Straw. The band reminds me of Damien Rice (look back at "N" for him!), or maybe that's because they're both Irish. I had the tune, "Just Say Yes" on my running playlist for a while, and I'm paying attention to their new album, Fallen Empires. The track, "This Isn't Everything You Are" is really good. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up on my HM playlist in the coming weeks.

But, for the sake of the letter R, here's the video for "Run."

3. Radiohead's "Optimistic"
How do I describe Radiohead? I'm a fan of their music but get defensive of uber Radiohead fans who call Muse's frontman Matthew Bellamy a Thom Yorke rip-off. They might have a similar voice, but stylistically, I think they're totally different.

Anyway. I really like the track "Optimistic" from the Kid A album. These lyrics just about sum it up for me:

You can try the best you can / If you can try the best you can / The best you can is good enough...

Your turn! Tell me your R recommendations! Run! Recommend! Rant! Ruminate!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Music of Q: Question of Honor?

The dreaded letter Q.

When looking through my iTunes catalogue, I only have one Q entry. So then I went to YouTube and the iTunes store to see what I was missing. But how do you look up "Q" and hope to find a whole collection of songs or artists you hadn't yet thought of?

Alas, today is going to be a short post--my lone Q song in my collection.

1. "A Question of Honor" by Sarah Brightman
I learned who Sarah Brightman was in junior high when I was just exploring show tune collections and wanted to know more about Phantom of the Opera. But it wasn't until more than 20 years later that I finally embraced this amazing singer. A family member who was incredibly close to me passed away a few short months after her diagnosis. They played another Sarah Brightman song at her funeral and to this day, I still can't listen to it all the way through. Unless I'm feeling like I need to have a good cry. Then, and maybe only then, will I listen to it.

Here's a video of "A Question of Honor" as sung by Sarah Brightman at one of the DIVAS concerts.

You tell me: What's in your music playlist under the letter "Q"?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Music of P: Pavarotti, Proud Mary, and Pitbull

Oh, man... that title. I can't even type it without laughing. :)

Okay, welcome to the letter P!

1. Luciano Pavarotti
I was sitting at my dining room table, pouring over a map of Ireland in preparation for my very first trip there when I heard Luciano Pavarotti had passed away. I immediately went to iTunes and bought the two-disc set, The Best. I wasn't sure why--I had never been much of an opera fan. But on the other hand, I knew Pavarotti's passing was a big deal. This was someone I should know more about. Someone whose music I should be able to enjoy. So, yes. I was one of those people. You know, that kind who buys albums when someone passes away? Yup, that's me.

Here's my favorite from the album. A track called "Nessun Dorma!"

2. "Proud Mary" by Tina Turner
There's not much to say about this song, other than it's completely feel-good-brilliant in that "I'm-so-sorry-Ike-was-such-a-dick" kind of way. I want to not like it because he was HORRIBLE to Tina, but man, this song really is amazing. So, to appease my guilt, I present the Ike-free version. Sing it, sister. I'll be over here chair dancing, singing into my thumb like it's a microphone... (ETA: Do you know how hard it is to find a version of this song UNDER 5 minutes without Ike? Almost impossible! Skip ahead to minute 1 if you want to skip the chit-chat.) Warning: I think this is the one where Cher makes an appearance... You've been warned.

3. Pitbull
Man, this guy is everywhere in the Top 40 music circuit! Honestly, I wouldn't know Pitbull if I tripped over him on the street, but this guy seems to collaborate with everyone these days. And I promised to share some tunes that I used last week for my ten mile run, so here you go. I bought this one on a whim the night before the run. My potentially flawed logic was that I enjoyed the MiB movies*, so this couldn't be too bad, right? I was pleasantly surprised. And adequately motivated through mile 5. I don't think the "official video" is out yet, so the link is to a YouTube video of a picture.

(*--I have to admit, I have enjoyed the Will Smith tunes from the MiB franchise. I'm not sure Pitbull is an adequate replacement. Where's the Fresh Prince when you need him?!)

What'd I miss? What crazy combination of "P" artists or tracks can you pull together? And most importantly--WHAT'S ON YOUR RUN PLAYLIST?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Music of O: Finally, Oasis.

Remember a few days ago when I shared my love affair with Amos Lee? No? Okay, maybe it's better that you missed it (Hint: Look at "M"). Or maybe you do remember it? Sweet, then you shouldn't be surprised when I admit I have another love affair, this time with the band Oasis. And when I say "love affair" what I really mean is "I love the music they make when they can stop fighting long enough to write."

Make any sense?

Here's what you need to know:

1. Oasis is no longer together.
2. The two (in)famous frontmen brothers, Noel and Liam Gallagher, are basically massive enemies.
3. It's just a matter of time until they reconcile for a reunion tour. Likely because Beady Eye and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (both brothers' spin off bands) aren't nearly as magic as the brothers are when they work together.
4. (What's the Story) Morning Glory is maybe one of the best albums ever made. There, I said it. Tracks like "Wonderwall", "Champagne Supernova", and "Morning Glory" are examples of Oasis' wide ability, but "Don't Look Back In Anger" will always be vintage Oasis to me. Here, have a listen:

Other albums and favorite tracks include:

Be Here Now: "Stand By Me" and "All Around the World"
Dig Out Your Soul: "Bag It Up", "Soldier On", "High Horse Lady", and "I'm Outta Time"
Don't Believe the Truth: "Lyla" and "Let There Be Love"
Familiar to Millions (live 2-disc album): "Supersonic", "Gas Panic!", "Cigarettes & Alcohol"
Heathen Chemistry: "The Hindu Times", "Force of Nature", "Stop Crying Your Heart out", and "Born on a Different Cloud"
The Masterplan: "Talk Tonight", "Half the World Away", and "The Masterplan"

Le gasp! How do I not yet have Definitely, Maybe in my collection? This is a sacrilege! "Rock 'n' Roll Star"? "Live Forever"? "Supersonic"? (Question mark inside or outside of the quotations? These are the questions keeping me up at night, folks!) Why isn't this in my iTunes? Okay, I'd write more, but clearly, I have an album to buy. Toute suite.

A demain, mes amies.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Music of N: 9 and REM

Hello, Monday. We meet again.

A big "Thank you!" to all of you for the good luck wishes on my run this past weekend. I felt great for most of the run, but hit a wall somewhere around mile 7. The last three miles were U-G-L-Y (and they don't have no alibi!) but I  pushed through and even smiled crossing the finish line. I shaved about 5 minutes off from last year, so that made me feel good. All things considered, I'm right on track for my half marathon in 4 weeks! I'll try to share some tunes that powered me through the low parts. (Here's a hint: letters P and T.)

On to the letter N!

1. 9, Damien Rice
Yes, the name of the album is actually the number nine, which makes it a pretty easy "N" entry. I had a similar experience with this album like I did with Enya (see "E"). During my 2007 trip to Ireland, I wanted to spend the afternoon driving around with no real plan in sight. So I grabbed my map, CDs, and my keys, and hit the road. I took the N59 south out of Westport and hung a right on R335, looping my way back to Westport. The whole trip only took about two hours (stopped for lots of pictures!), but I enjoyed this album while on the road. Now, when any track from this album comes on, I am instantly teleported back to the far west coast of Ireland. Here's the video for "9 Crimes", the first track on the album.

2. "Nightswimming" by REM
This song always takes me back to high school. For no logical reason, it always makes me think of that guy who I had a big crush on for years. And it makes me want to get a used piano and buy the sheet music so I can play it at home. No idea why. But whenever I need some music to match my melancholy mood, "Nightswimming" makes the short list.

Honorable mentions with N: "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra, "New York State of Mind" by Billy Joel, and "Night Train" by Amos Lee (like it's any surprise to see him here. Again.).

You tell me: What N's did I overlook? What do you think of Damien Rice--too much angst for you, or just right when you need music to match your mood?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Music of M: Van the Man and Mission Bell

"Happy 10 mile race day!" she said with a false enthusiasm. Instead of working, she spent the day before scouring the  online record store in search of the perfect collection of songs to help power her through all ten miles. Unfortunately, she came up blank. Looks like it's going to be an iHeart radio kind of a run, she thought.

If you're reading this on Saturday morning, chances are I'm running. Send good vibes into the universe and read on. Today, I bring you M.

1. Van Morrison (MaineC--this one's for you!)
True story #1: During my senior year of high school, the Homecoming Committee was working on planning the Homecoming Dance. We were working very hard to find the "perfect" song to have as the song and serve as the overall dance theme. One of the guys on Student Council suggested Van Morrison's "Moondance." I had never heard of the singer or the song and admitted as much to the committee. Yeah, I got some weird looks. I learned a lesson in there somewhere, I'm just not sure what it is... And a special shout out to the song "Take it Where You Can Find it", which I was just recently introduced to. Van has quite an extensive catalogue. One I need to further explore!

2. Mission Bell by Amos Lee
True story #2--I know I mentioned earlier (I think it was "A") that the U2 concert was one of the best shows I had ever seen. And I'm pretty sure I said the same about Muse. But in terms of multi-day shows, that's different. Last year, for the low, low price of ONLY $45, my best friend and I got two-day passes to The Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis. The line up included G.Love, Fitz and the Tantrums, Michael Franti, and David-freakin'-Gray.

And that was just Friday.

Saturday night, my musical dreams came true. Amos Lee and Ray LaMontagne!

Folks, this girl D.I.E.D and went straight to musical heaven. Since we were there early enough (no seats, just standing room), bestie and I had a great spot for the show. But what I thought was extra cool, was seeing Amos Lee off in the wings after his set, drinking a beer, and watching as Ray LaMontagne performed his beautiful hippy heart out dressed in a flannel shirt and hat. Did I mention it was in July in Minneapolis?

Sticky. Hot. Humid. And brilliant.

I hadn't yet bought Amos Lee's new album, Mission Bell, but I took care of that soon after. A song like "Windows are Rolled Down" will always take me back to last summer, both the good and the bad times, while the track "Behind me Now" makes me want to cry because it's THAT beautiful. But really, the last track duet with Willie Nelson titled "El Camino" takes this country-girl-in-the-city clear back to the days of fresh sweet corn, sunshine, farmland as far as the eye can see, and Farm-Aid concerts. I like to think if my country-music-lovin' dad were still around, we would bond over Amos Lee.

True story #3--It's no secret that I have a love affair with Amos Lee. My very first concert of his was at the MN Zoo about 5 or 6 years ago. The perfect night was capped off by a large storm brewing in the distance and rolling closer. The skies grew dark, the lightning flashed, and the thunder rumbled, but Amos Lee and his band kept playing. When the winds picked up and conditions started to really get bad, they wrapped it up, but I'm pretty sure us Minnesotans would've sat through a thunderstorm over our heads to hear him keep singing. (And why not? We did for U2.)

Amos, if you're reading this (Ha! Right!), please come back to Minnesota soon. I promise my bestie and I will be there, like we have been for the past five+ years, singing along, grateful for your music. In the meantime, keep writing. PLEASE, keep writing.

You tell me, gang--What "M" music did I miss? Surely ("Don't call me Shirley!") there are plenty. "M" is too popular of a letter!

(Honorable "M"ention goes to this nugget of movie song brilliance. Best. Movie. Ever.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Music of L: Lord of the Rings

TGIF, blogosphere. Today, I'm dedicating an entire letter to one album instead of three artists or songs. This album is my go-to writing music even though it's a bit too familiar and has sometimes pulled me out of the writing flow when certain songs come on. Overall, though, it's the perfect music to get me lost in my WIP world.

L is for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King--The Complete Recordings. Yup, the entire soundtrack, both discs. All 53 tracks. No worries, I'm not posting all the videos here. Promise.

From the opening track, "Roots and Beginnings" to the creepy mega-spider track, "Shelob's Lair", Howard Shore truly put together an amazing album of music. Here are some of my favorite, though I'm not sure sometimes if it's the music that I like, or the part of the move it represents.

  1. "The Sacrifice of Faramir" (This might really be my favorite sub-plot in the movie. Faramir did everything for his father's love and it still wasn't enough.)
  2. "The Houses of Healing"
  3. "The Fellowship Reunited"
  4. "The Tomb of the Stewards"
Those are all very good selections, but there is one track that makes me stop writing and restart the track so I can hear the entire thing again. I think "The Lighting of the Beacons" is one of the more inspiring and stirring pieces of music in a movie. And yes, that even goes up against the Theme from Field of Dreams and some other truly amazing pieces of music.

So, here's that track. On the album, it's just over 9 minutes but here, this video is less than 3. I remember watching this in the theater and being BLOWN AWAY with the cinematography. Just how far apart were the two lands that it took through the night and until the next morning to get the message over to Gondor? Or does no one else think about things like this? 

How about you? What's your all-time favorite movie soundtrack? Do you own any of the LOTR movie soundtracks?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Music of K: Keeping, Kissing, and Keeping again

Is "K" halfway through the alphabet? Are we close? Can anyone see the light at the end of this abc-tunnel? Crazy busy week over here in my part of the blogosphere. I have a big 10-mile race this weekend and friends coming in from out of town, which means I have to keep my head in the game AND mop my floors. I need more hours!

1. "Keep me in Your Heart" by Warren Zevon
This song is so sweet. The story goes that Warren Zevon wrote this for his daughter soon after he was diagnosed with cancer, which soon took his life. When I had to help coordinate the music for a funeral of someone in my family, I suggested this song. It still makes me think of them and smile.

2. "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" by Louis Armstrong
I love the sound of Louis Armstrong's voice. There's something about that 1930s/40s Parisian cafe jazz sound that makes me so happy. Add to that his crystal clear trumpet sound and this sound is magic to my ears. I'm not sure how I feel about this song being used for the Fallout movies, but it does a great job of capturing the feel of that time.

3. "Keep on Singing my Song" by Christina Aguilera
You ever have one of those days where you feel like you're questioning everything and second guessing all the choices you made that brought you to that very point? When I find myself here, I pull up this song. Old Christina is better than this weird new one on The Voice. When she needed to clear out her soul, she held nothing back.

Talk to me, Goose (name that movie!). What K tunes did I miss?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Music of J: Showtunes, Janis, and a Jonny Jump Up

1. "Javert's Suicide", Les Miserables
I've talked about Les Miserables before, but I wanted to pay special attention to one of the more powerful numbers in the show. Leading up to this scene, our hero Valjean has rescued Marius and carries him through the sewers. He runs into our brilliant antagonist, Inspector Javert. Each man has shown mercy toward the other throughout the show in crucial scenes, and now the Inspector believes he has finally caught his foe. But one more time, Valjean begs for a little more time to make sure Marius is safe and then he will turn himself in. Inspector Javert owes him his life and grants a bit more time for the felon 24601. Overcome with a variety of emotions, this crucial scene is enhanced by the stage work and the lighting. But, the best Javert is Philip Quast and this is a pretty dang good version even though you don't get the staging.

(PS--If you want some fun for your Wednesday morning, check out the LOTR/"Javert's Suicide" mash up on YouTube between Aragorn and the Witch King. BRILLIANT!)

2. Janis Joplin
"Me and Bobby McGee" is in my arsenal of kareoke tunes. And by "arsenal" I mean two or three songs that I like to try and sing after having a few adult beverages. Overall, Janis Joplin makes me think of summertime, campfires, bottles of Summer Shandy, friends, laughter, and just spending time outdoors. Turn it up, sit back, and think of summer. It's just around the corner. Promise.

2. "Jonny Jump Up" by Gaelic Storm
If you're a cider fan, take a listen. I can hold my ciders better than Jonny, but I get where he's coming from. And a special shout out to Gaelic Storm, who will be headlining the FREE Irish Fair festivities in MN this summer. My bestie and I go every year and run the 5K in the morning, then go home, shower, eat, and head back to the fair grounds. The festival is free, the entertainment is free, and the whiskey, well, it's NOT free. But there's a Jameson tent, which makes us quite happy. Man, is it summer yet?

Like usual, you tell me: What "J" tunes, artists, or albums did I miss? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Music of I: Muse, U2, and Eddie Vedder (yes, all again)

Mea culpa, gang. Here's the part where I am totes honest with you:
The letter "H" was the end of the queued blogs. I need to hurry up and get my bum in gear if I hope to finish this challenge. So, here's I. Short and sweet. And yes, I've mentioned all 3 of these artists already. I hope you weren't expecting me to come up with new artists for each letter! :)

1. "Invincible" by Muse
Love Muse.
Love this song (esp right around the 4:35 mark with the AMAZING guitar solo)
Love the lyrics. Check them out here. Read them and be inspired.

2. "If God Will Send His Angels" by U2
This song is the first track on the City of Angels soundtrack. This was the first movie I went to by myself, many moons ago when I was still in college. I really wanted to see it and my roommates weren't interested, so I packed a little lunch and took myself to the movies. This song just really moves me. I'd use a stronger verb, but I'm not sure which one to use.

3. Into the Wild soundtrack, Eddie Vedder
I'm a big fan of soundtracks because they usually provide a wide variety of songs from a selection of artists and bands. This usually introduces me to new singers and music, thus expanding my musical horizons. But then I come across a soundtrack like Into the Wild, and I love it for the exact opposite reasons. See, I knew of Pearl Jam. I knew who Eddie Vedder was, but I wasn't really a big fan of the music. But this album sounded different. It's calming, it's good, and it's also on my writing playlist. No one song really stands out as "the best," rather, they all have the same feel. I haven't seen the movie and really, I don't know if I want to. I like not knowing the context to some of these songs.

Thanks for all the suggestions of songs and/or artists you enjoy for each of these letters. I hope to spend some time in May making a list and checking out your suggestions. Keep them coming!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Music of H: Buckley, McKennitt, and some ELO

Hello, H. Nice to see you. What have we in store for today?

1. Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah
Yes, I know. This isn't a Buckley original. Yes, I know the original is from Leonard Cohen. But this is one of those unique situations where the cover is better than the original. Yes, that's my opinion. :) Any fans of the show West Wing out there? Do you remember the episode where they used this song? Or the Yo-Y Ma holiday episode? Man, that show was fracking brilliant. If you haven't ever watched it, do yourself a favor. 

2. "The Highway Man" by Loreena McKennitt
A beautiful and tragic love story set to an amazing score. But the real gem in this piece is Lorenna McKennitt's voice. She's often confused with Enya (whom you already met back in E), but this Canadian songstress is different. She's the musical equivalent of walking into an ethnic foods store where everything smells so strange and wonderful and the colors and vibe are unique and inspiring. At least, that's what she is to me. Hence, she's solidly queued in my writing playlist. The song is just over 10 minutes long, FYI.

3. "Hold on Tight" by Electric Light Orchestra
I saved the best for last today!
The chorus says it all: Hold on tight to your dreams. Listen. And dream.

Okay, bloggers. What say you? What H's did I miss?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"G" Whiz: GirlTalk, Gloria, and the Dropkick Murphys

1. A GirlTalk fanatic
The group GirlTalk is actually one guy named Gregg Gillis (lol at the letter g alliteration). And he's incredibly talented in the genre of "mash up" music. What's even better is that his music is all free. And legal. Trust me. I have all his albums, but I think the most recent one, All Day, is the best. It feels more complete, like he's finally really caught on to his craft and now excels. I dare you to listen and NOT chair dance while at work.

Again, free to download. I swear. I wouldn't lie or send you to some skeevie site. You can find it here.

2. Gloria Gaynor, "I Will Survive"
C'mon. Admit it. How many times have you belted out this song, trying like hell to pretend that you'll be okay even though your heart is just a little broken inside? This song is classic. Anthemic. In the pantheon of Kick Ass Female Empowerment songs. Go ahead, turn up your speakers and sing it, sister. It's Sunday. It's okay. And besides, there's a girl dancing on rollerskates. Man, I miss the good old days.

3. "Going Out In Style" by the Dropkick Murphys
Should I pass away in the foreseeable future, will someone please make sure this is played at my funeral? My mom will likely protest, but if you get my cousin Michael to help convince her, you should be set. Also, please do not mistake this for the song with the same title by Kellie Pickler. It's a totally different tune and not at all me. And don't you dare take my ashes to Fenway. This Yankee fan will haunt you if you do. Truth.

Check your music and let me know, who'd I miss? Green Day? The Georgia Satellites? G Love? Tell me!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Music of F: Coldplay, Metallica, and Flo all walked into a bar...

Welcome to the Music of F!

1. "Fix You" by Coldplay
True story: this recently became the most played song on my iTunes list. It used to be a different song, but somehow, that one was wiped out and now it says I've listened to it 3 times, which is a boldfaced lie. But for now, this beautiful piece of music is the number one most played track on Ye Old Music Playing Machine. As I'm typing and listening, I already regret not getting tickets for their show here in MN this summer. I think they look pretty amazing live, based on the videos I've seen. Next time.

2. Florence + the Machine.
Confession: I don't own any of these albums yet. I'm not sure why I hesitated on buying the first one, Lungs. And I'm pretty sure I'm in love with all the new songs I've heard from the sophomore release, Ceremonials, so I should just go and buy it already. I'm not sure which track I like better right now, "No Light, No Light" or "Shake it Out", but here's the video for the latter.

3. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica
I wasn't much of a Metallica fan growing up, but the Black album (was that the official name?) with "Enter Sandman" was pretty sweet, as was the S&M album with the San Francisco Orchestra. But for this post, I'm going old school. I needed some rock and roll for my half marathon run list last year and AC/DC is sadly not on iTunes. But Metallica is and Boom! a happy music and running relationship was made. Somewhere around mile five I got into my groove and never looked back. This was a nice change to the pop tunes on my list. Listening to it while at my office desk doesn't have the same panache as it does when I'm running. Huh. I never noticed that until now. 

How about you? What "F" music did I miss? 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Music of E: Enya, Eminem, and Exogenesis

Happy "E" day in the A to Z Challenge!

How has the first week been going for everyone? Making new friends? Checking out new blogs? Excellent--that's the point of this, right? Right. It is, trust me. Don't argue. We have music to discuss.

I'm trying to get into the "E" frame of mind, but I have to tell you, I'm still in the clouds from yesterday's Dvorak by Dudamel video. Seriously, if anyone reading this happens to have access to tickets to the LA Phil, please let me know. I need to see this live, just once. Now, on to E!

1. Enya
I'm not sure if this is meta or stalkerish, but when I was driving along the far northwest coast of Ireland in County Donegal, I had to listen to Enya's A Day Without Rain album. Why? Because I was driving through her hometown. At least, that's what my book said. I wouldn't know--the signs were in Gaelic. But I'm pretty sure I was in Gweedore. Enya's music has a home in my NaNoWriMo playlist. It's classified as "new age" in iTunes, which I think gives it a weird connotation, but I don't have any better suggestions so for now, here's a video of a "new age" Enya.

2. Eminem
Love him? Hate him? A little of both? Yeah, that's cool. I get it. As a woman, I feel I should say something like, "His music is disrespectful!" but really, I like him. He's the villain we love to hate, right? We love to find his flaws and then in the safety of our own home, we can sing along. Go ahead and watch the video for "Not Afraid." It's okay. Marshall Mathers has grown up, even if people don't want to believe it. And my oh my, he's come a long way from the days of peroxide-bleached hair. Stick to the brown, Em.

3. "Exogenesis Parts 1-3" by Muse
And here it is. I waited until E to unveil my fascination with Muse. Yes, I first heard of the British group because of Stephanie Meyers. I'm not afraid to admit it. But she was right--this group is amazing. Matthew Bellamy (aka Mr. Kate Hudson) has the singing chops AND the musical talent to pull off some more creative pieces, like Exogenesis Parts I, II, and III as found on the album The Resistance. Each part tells a musical story of sorts, Overture (part 1), Cross-Pollination (part 2), and Redemption (part 3 and my personal favorite).

How about you? Would you classify Enya as "new age"? Do you like Eminem better as an angry blond kid or an angry brown-haired adult? What "E" music did I miss?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Music of D: Soundtracks and my crush on Dudamel

If you're just now joining the blogging world, you're probably wondering why half of the blog population is doing this alphabet thing. It's the A to Z Challenge and it goes the entire month. Join us!

Today's music is brought to you by the letter D!

1. "Do You Hear The People Sing?" Les Miserables cast
I'm a fan of big Broadway show-stopper tunes and "Do You Hear The People Sing" from Les Miserables easily fits the bill. The clip below is the finale of the entire show, including a mother, a father, a happy couple, a feisty kid, and  about 200+ back up singers. The initial number appears at the end of the first act, placing the cast on stage in a marching triangle, complete with huge red flags signaling the revolution. When it's done right, it's down right brilliant.

2. "Done All Wrong" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Say what you will about the books, the movies, the strength (or lack thereof) of the main character, or anything else about Twilight. But don't knock the soundtracks. Tip of the cap to the creative team who put together great soundtracks for the first three movies. When I saw that Bruno Mars was on the latest soundtrack, it kind of jumped the shark for me. I liked my Twilight soundtracks when they had a more alternative flavor. And Thom Yorke. This tune is from the 2nd movie. If you want another good one from the soundtrack, I also recommend The Editors song, "No Sound but the Wind".

3. Gustavo Dudamel and Antonin Dvorak
Classical music gets me through the dog days of NaNoWriMo. I usually listen to the local classical music station while typing but two things can pull me out of the writer's flow: a piece by Dvorak or a piece conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic. I often wonder if John Williams was influenced by the 4th movement from Dvorak's 9th Symphony, "From the New World" when creating the music for Star Wars, but that's just my opinion. Take a listen and tell me if you hear The Emperor's Theme. As an added treat, I'm linking to the LA Phil's video because I can and because Gustavo Dudamel is a musical genius.

How about you? Do you have a musical crush on Gustavo Dudamel or is this just me?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Music of C: Christina Perri, Civil Wars, and my favorite.

The letter "C" was tricky for me because I want to introduce two new(ish) artists. However, since they haven't been around THAT long, I don't have many memories associated with their songs and the ones that I do are from last fall when I was super sad. Who wants to go there again? Not this cookie.

1. Christina Perri
I first heard of Christina Perri on "So You Think You Can Dance" almost two years ago. My best friend and I watched the dance and instantly asked each other, "Who sings that?" It was such a hit that the producers brought Christina Perri in the next week to perform "Jar of Hearts" live. She was amazing. Her album "Lovestrong" is filled with some powerful songs, including The Lonely, which I've linked to below.

"Two am, where do I begin / Crying off my face again..." Yup, that about sums up last Aug/September for me. No worries. I'm better now. :)

2. The Civil Wars
About the same time I bought Christina Perri's album, I also heard this song. I couldn't figure out who sang it or where I could find it. I remember waiting for the song to end on the radio one morning when I was already late for work in hopes they would say the name of the song, or better yet, the artist. I scribbled down a note that said "Look up Poison and Wine" and the rest is history. The two artists who make up The Civil Wars have such amazing harmony with a dose of bluegrass that it makes me feel like maybe I could someday sing. Don't worry, I can't. But I like to think that if I someday was graced with the talent, I'd sound like them.

3. "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis
Listen, here's the deal. I heart Oasis. Big time. Straight up fangirl over here. I've seen them in concert at least four times and when Liam and Noel get over their current pissing contest (read: when they run out of money and need to make some ASAP) and get the band back together, I will gladly put the money down for floor seats. Until then, listen to the song that takes me back to my senior year in high school. And don't worry, there will be more Oasis throughout the month.

How about you? Any "C" artists or songs I need to know? To the comments!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Music of B: Beastie Boys and The Verve

Welcome to Day 2 of the A-Z Blogfest, brought to you by the letter B. As mentioned yesterday, here are some "b" songs and artists that I love and some reasons why.

1. "Better Days" by both Eddie Vedder and Amos Lee.
No, they didn't collaborate--but wouldn't that be amazing if they did?!--but both Amos Lee and Eddie Vedder have songs titled "Better Days" and both of them have seen some serious playtime, according to my iTunes count. I've linked to the Eddie Vedder version below. The first time I heard this song, I was in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin at a ranch house with some girlfriends. One girl popped in the Eat, Pray, Love soundtrack and I'm pretty sure the album was on repeat for the remainder of the weekend. This song makes me feel fiercely lonely and hopeful at the same time. And, true story, one line in this song inspired a story idea that is still percolating in the back of my head.

"Our future's paved with better days." This line resonates with my inner optimist.

2. "Bittersweet Symphony", The Verve
I've been a fan of this song for a number of years (holy crap--I've been out of high school how long?), but it carried an extra special meaning after my high school boyfriend suddenly passed away three years ago. He had been married four months; they hadn't even gone on their honeymoon. Knowing a young, vibrant life like his ended as a result of a "routine procedure" makes me incredibly sad. This song was played at his visitation. This one's for you, KVH.

3. The Beastie Boys
Really, I can't pick just one. My love for these guys goes back to Lollapalooza, 1994. Beastie Boys AND Smashing Pumpkins? Um, yes, please! A guy asked if I wanted to go--it wasn't until later that I realized he liked me. Here, I thought he was just offering me a ticket because he knew how much I loved the Beastie Boys. Yeah, I wasn't savvy when it came to boys. Anyway, if I had to pick only one Beasties album for a roadtrip, I'd stick to the oldie but goodie, Licensed to Ill. Brass Monkey, She's Crafty, or my fave, No Sleep Till Brooklyn. Intergalactic on the Hello Nasty album gets a very close honorable mention as well.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Music of A: U2, Martina, and Amos

Welcome, boys and girls, to this year's A to Z Challenge!

I was still working on my theme late into March, but in the end I decided to stick with my original plan of MUSIC. It's been a trying few weeks for me and I've found myself going back to some good standby albums to get me through some of the ups and downs. I hope to share this with you and maybe get some great recommendations in the comments of new artists to check out.

This month, you'll get a series of blogs highlighting some of my favorite tunes, tracks from favorite albums, special memories tied to tunes, or my favorite artists. My plan is to link to YouTube videos of a song whenever possible, and if I'm really good, I'll even link to the artist's home page. No promises though. I'm not exactly on the ball with this year's A-Z...

Without further ado, I bring you the letter A.

1. "All I Want Is You" and "Angel of Harlem", U2
The first one is easily one of my all-time favorite heart breaking tunes. As I look over the list of songs I plan to share this month, I think you should prepare for a lot of heartache tunes. My apologies in advance.

"Angel of Harlem" from the Rattle and Hum album has been an instant mood-lifter since I was a little girl. I don't know if it's the horn section or the enthusiasm in Bono's voice, but I just love it. I try to strategically place this toward the end of my running play list, usually when I need the extra pick me up for the last few miles.

If you ever get a chance to see U2 live, do yourself a favor and get a ticket. Best. Show. Ever.

2. "Anyway", Martina McBride
If asked, I'd say I'm not much of a country music fan. But then I hear someone like Martina McBride and I have to admit--I'm a fan. Guys, this lady can sing. I remember hearing once that Martina participated in the VH1 "Divas" special but had to have her mic turned down compared to the other singers because her voice is just that powerful. I believe it. She can sing AND has mastered the smokey eye make up look. Ergo, she's a superhero. And she makes me feel like it's okay to chase this crazy writer dream.

"I sing, I dream, I love anyway."

3. Amos Lee
Everything this man has done (with the exception of "Flower", just not doing it for me, Amos!) is amazing. And lucky for Minnesotans, he likes to play here. Consider this an Amos teaser; I'll have some Amos tunes come up this month. But if you're really interested in checking him out, I recommend his latest album, Mission Bell. An extra ten bonus points if you can wait patiently to the final track for a duet with Willie Nelson.

You tell me:  Any favorite artists, albums, or track with the letter A?
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