I am the music man! I come from far away! And I can play! What can I play? I can play….

(A lot of people end up at this post looking for the lyrics to ‘I Am The Music Man’. They’re not in this post, but here’s a link to one variation on the words…)

Following on from my friend Andy’s note thingy on Facebook, I thought I’d steal the idea and put it here. In it’s original form, the idea is to post your top ten albums and explain what they mean to you, which is cool. However, I’m not an album person. I think it’s because, frankly, my attention span is limited. I zone out, stop listening, and start hitting ‘repeat’ instead. I do, however, have favourite songs, so while this may display the musical integrity of Simon Cowell on Pop Idol, I’m going to do my top ten favourite songs, most of which are in no particular order…

1. Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen
This is at number one, even though I’m not American and I’m not planning on heading down to the interstate to break out of a stifling smalltown existance. It’s a song about optimism and hope and I love it.  See also Badly Drawn Boy’s cover version, which somehow makes a song rooted in American dreams sound ever so slightly British.

2. The Impression That I Get, Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Probably my ultimate feel-good song, one of the very few pieces of music that could possibly see me dancing. Carries with it memories of hanging out with friends and the sound of two Daves clapping.

3. Hurt, Johnny Cash
Probably my ultimate feel-bad song, but I mean that in a good way. If you’re going to sing a sad song, then it helps if you’ve seen everything the world can throw at you, and that goes double for Johnny Cash. The video makes it even more devastating; strange how that’s a selling point.

4. Dare / The Touch, Stan Bush (Transformers: The Movie OST)

From the sublime to the ridiculous, and I always lump these two together. Proper eighties hair metal which would have disappeared into obscurity had they not been on the soundtrack to a fantastic animated cult movie.  The Touch in particular is connected to Optimus Prime’s crowning moment of awesome, and while they might be cheesy to the nth degree, they’re still getting played at my hypothetical wedding.

5. Big Bang Theory, Barenaked Ladies

6. Beautiful Day, U2
My brain tends to jumble things up, making odd connections; it’s why I can be a bit of a conspiracy theorist at times. Anyway, while I love this song on its own merits, part of its appeal is that I always associate it with Superman for some reason. Another positive, upbeat, optimistic song – I’m attracted to that sort of thing, possibly because I’m naturally a pessimist…

7. Nightswimming, REM
There had to be an REM song in here, and this one slightly edges out ‘Everybody Hurts’ simply because it’s not played as often. My chief memory of this song is sitting in church and hearing my friend Rich playing the piano. The tune suddenly registered with me, and of course, it was Nightswimming. One of those small but awesome moments that cement a piece of music in your memory.

8. Be Thou My Vision
Easily my favourite hymn; something about the tune and the lyrics together resonates with me. Maybe it’s a spiritual thing. Maybe it’s because I want to be celtic, no matter how unlikely that may be. I especially love the Van Morrison version, but nothing beats singing it corporately, as hymns should be sung.

9. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
1! 2! 3! 4!

10. Doctor Who Theme, Ron Grainer
My favourite TV show has my favourite theme tune, which is convenient. Ground-breaking in its time, now it’s just iconic; the moment at the recent Doctor Who Proms, when the opening ‘dum-de-dums’ got a rapturous applause gave me goosebumps.

11. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, U2
A song about losing your father and the mixed up emotions that inspires. I can relate.

12. Stop Talking About Comic Books Or I’ll Kill You, Ookla the Mok
A bit of a nerd anthem. I get all the references within it, which demonstrates either my grasp of a vibrant pop subculture, or a wasted life. Possibly both, and you know what? I don’t care!

Polaris, Ash
I think this is another great song that gets a massive boost from its video. Strangely epic.

14. Big Casino, Jimmy Eat World
Don’t get me wrong, I like the song, but this will forever be the theme tune for a writing project I really need to sit down and turn into reality. One of those moments when a story in my head ran headlong into a song on the radio, and now the two are linked. I can even see the title sequence.

15. It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), REM


16. You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Meat Loaf
This isn’t just here on its own merits (although it is), but it’s also representing the whole Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman axis of lunacy. The undisputed masters of taking a song, sending it over the top, and then hitting the booster rockets so that it leaves orbit. And then it explodes, not once, not twice, but three times, as a dude in a spacesuit stands playing a 10-minute guitar solo on the roof of the International Space Station. I’m only putting the one song here, but really it could have been anything from the first two Bat Out Of Hell albums.

Until The End Of The World, U2
You know how you hear a song a few times, and something niggles you about it but you can’t quite put your finger on it? This is one of those songs. I fully admit it was me being dumb, but it was only when I sat and actually LISTENED to this that I realised something – it’s about Judas and the Last Supper – isn’t it?

18. My Glorious, Delirious
I can’t say I listen to a vast amount of music, and I’m probably letting my team down by listening to even less CCM. I claim an excuse – it peaked with this song, and for me, nothing’s beaten it since.

Jerualem, Billy Bragg
Jerusalem is England’s unofficial anthem, and while it’s theologically all over the place, it’s still a great song. Put aside the Last Night of the Proms flag-waving and the faint whiff of jingoism, at its heart is a song of national pride and yet an accompanying realisation that the job isn’t finished and there’s still work to do to make the country – and by extension the world – a better place. Leave it to Billy Bragg to try and reclaim William Blake…

20. Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits
Again, while the song is great, this song will forever be associated with a moment – in this case, one of the best scenes in TV history. If you haven’t seen The West Wing, I suggest you get caught up, just so you can see the episodes from which this scene is taken.

And you know, while I said earlier I wasn’t THAT into music, I could still probably extend this list by another ten or more. Even if we don’t always realise it, music is a pervasive thing, and even when we’re not listening to it in its own right, its accompanying us, soundtracking our culture and our lives.

*Looks at his MP3 Player’s track listing again*

This post needs a sequel…


One thought on “I am the music man! I come from far away! And I can play! What can I play? I can play….

  1. Pingback: Search Engine Disoptimisation for Beginners « Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

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