Top 10 Songs

Okay, so I’ve done books and albums, but now I’m challenging myself to come up with the top ten songs that have stayed with me. I didn’t come up with this challenge by myself, it’s something else that’s been going around the Facebook.

This is going to be hard because I can barely pick a favourite song by any one band and I’m going to force myself to not repeat bands (I hate myself already). Some of these aren’t “favourite” songs, but are songs that have influenced/inspired me in some way.

In no particular order:

1) Take Off Your Colours – You Me At Six

Take off your colours, who are you wearing them for?

I originally put “Reckless” on this list, for obvious reasons (mainly the tattoo on my wrist). But then I remembered that I probably wouldn’t have even heard “Reckless” if it hadn’t been for “Take Off Your Colours”.  Finding this song (before seeing YMAS for the first time when they opened for The Academy Is… in November 2009) was the reason I gave those five boys from Surrey a chance. And I’ve never looked back.

2) There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of it Yet – Panic! at the Disco

When you’re in black slacks with accentuating off-white pinstripes, whoa-oh; everything goes according to plan.

My love affair with Panic! at the Disco is an ongoing saga. It’s not an exaggeration to say they changed my life, or at the very least, they changed the way I listen to music. This was the first P!ATD song I heard, and it immediately opened my brain to a whole new branch of music that I had previously never explored.

3) All the Small Things – blink-182

Say it ain’t so, I will not go…

When this song came out, I was about 9, and all the other girls in my class made fun of it, while I sat quietly thinking, “I don’t know what he’s singing about, but I flippin’ love it”. If Panic! at the Disco was the band that really cultivated my love for pop-punk, then blink-182 was the band that first planted that particular seed in my heart.

4) Bruised – Jack’s Mannequin

So read your books, but stay out late some nights…

This was the first Andrew McMahon song I ever heard. I owe it so much for introducing me to such an incredible, inspirational singer-songwriter-human. I may not have been a fan since the early days of Something Corporate, but I have faithfully followed Andrew on his musical journey over the past seven years and, as long as he keeps making music, I’ll keep on following him.

5) Color – The Maine

I’m just trying to find some colour in this black and white world…

This isn’t my favourite The Maine song (I have a hard time picking my top 5 TM songs, so I can’t choose just one), but I love the lyrics and the overall sentiment.

6) Slow Down – The Academy Is…

Then we’ll turn it up and we’ll play a little faster…

The first TAI… song I ever heard, it sticks with me because I have such strong memories of hearing it for the first time and learning about this amazing band.

7) Sanctuary – Paradise Fears

Even broken wings can fly away…

The first time I saw Paradise Fears – November 2011 – I remember them playing a great cover of “Stacey’s Mom”, and then, a few songs later, diving into “Sanctuary”. I didn’t know what it was called but it struck a chord with me. By the time I saw them a second time, four months later, I knew that I had stumbled on a very special band. I will never not feel emotional while shouting the words to the “speech”.

8) Bed of Roses – Bon Jovi

I’ve got nothing to prove for it’s you that I’d die to defend…

I spent a lot of time trying to decide which Bon Jovi song would end up on this list. At first I thought “Blood on Blood” because I love how relateable the lyrics are; then I thought “Born to Be My Baby” which is one of my favourites, or “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night”, which is one of my other favourites. But I ended up with “Bed of Roses” because I have these vague memories of listening to it a lot with my oldest sister, Vanessa, when I was little (it came out when I was about 3).

9) Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty

I wanna free fall, out into nothing, gonna live this world for a while…

I remember loving this song as a kid. I still really like it (sidenote: the cover by The Almost is also excellent). I don’t have any fun stories surrounding this song, but I can definitely remember singing along to it.

10) Take it to the Limit – The Eagles

So put me on a highway, show me a sign…

For most of my life, this song ended every other mixed tape (and later, mixed CD), we listened to on family road-trips. Once, I tried throwing it into the middle of a track list to mix things up, and it just didn’t work. It’s an end-of-the-night sing-along song, and is, essentially, my family’s anthem.

The Song is You – Arthur Phillips // Dust City – Robert Paul Weston

It took me nearly two weeks, but I finally finished The Song is You.

“Each song on Julian’s iPod, “that greatest of all human inventions,” is a touchstone. There are songs for the girls from when he was single, there’s the one for the day he met his wife-to-be, there’s one for the day his son was born. But when Julian’s family falls apart, even music loses its hold on him.

Until one snowy night in Brooklyn, when his life’s soundtrack—and life itself—start to play again. Julian stumbles into a bar and sees Cait O’Dwyer, a flame-haired Irish rock singer, performing with her band, and a strange and unlikely love affair is ignited. Over the next few months, Julian and Cait’s passion plays out, though they never meet. What follows is a heartbreaking dark comedy, the tenderest of love stories, and a perfectly observed tale of the way we live now.”

I don’t know how I felt about it.

There were a lot of emotions and experiences I could relate to: the pure joy of finding a new musician/band; that period of absolute obsession (with said musician/band) that probably lasts longer than what most people call “normal”; the delight at finding a song that seems to be speaking directly to your current state of mind; deciding you love the singer responsible for your favourite song…that’s basically a summary of my life. Those experiences were described in such a way that I occasionally nodded along like “I know exactly what you mean, jelly bean”.

I liked the idea of the connection between Cait and Julian. Using coasters, he sketches a series of pictures of what Cait was and what she could become – and when she gets the coasters, she finds a sort-of invisible mentor. At one point, Julian describes himself as being a phantom or angel of music or something…I don’t remember the exact words, but it was definitely a Phantom of the Opera reference (who doesn’t love Phantom?).

Apart from that, it felt dense. It’s not a long book (under 300 pages), but there were times when it felt closer to 600 pages. It was hard to get into, though, like a lot of books, once you hit your stride, it goes by a little easier. I read a couple of reviews where people raved about the prose and yes, it was good, but, because it was taking so long to really read and understand, I got impatient and just wanted to reach the end.

I can’t decide how I felt about the ending. On the one hand, it was very disappointing considering the amount of set-up (i.e. the entire book up until that point), but it was probably the most realistic outcome. I get the feeling this author isn’t one to give his readers a happy ending because that’s what they want (I respect that).

In other news, I’ve slowly been sinking back into my YA-reading habits…this week’s book was Dust City.

“With his dad doing time for the double murder of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, Henry Whelp tries to keep a low profile in Dust City—a gritty metropolis known for its black-market, mind-altering fairydust. But when he begins to suspect that his father may have been framed, Henry ventures deep into the City’s underworld. There he comes face to snout with the legendary mobster Skinner and discovers what really happened to his father… as well as the horrifying truth about fairydust.”

First of all, look at that cover. Superb. The back had this tagline: “When your dad is the wolf who killed Little Red Riding Hood, life is no fairy tale” which, as far as taglines go, was a fantastic decision on the designer’s part.

As I have mentioned (and will probably continue to mention), I love mixed-up fairy tales. In addition to Red Riding Hood, this book included references to Cinderella (Cindy, the administrative assistant with the glass stilettos), Snow White (the tough-as-nails detective), Jack and the Beanstalk (Henry’s best friend Jack), and a few others. It was a very interesting take on these characters, completely different from what you might expect.

Obviously, I loved the fairy tale allusions, and the plot itself was great. I liked the concept of fairydust and the whole industry that was built around it. It was also very well written – you could really imagine these wolves and foxes and other animals walking around in an almost-but-not-quite-human way. And the pacing moved quickly, but not so quickly that you lost track of where you were.

I thought it was more middle-grade, but I suppose it’s young adult: there were some plot points that were a little dark for it to be aimed at 8 year olds (the suspected suicide, and the temporary resurrection – hella creepy, but so good!). I highly recommend it.