Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Soundtrack Of My Life

I've written a bit on here about music. Personally, music is extremely inspiring and even something that I hope to write myself someday.

I have very eclectic tastes in music. My collection ranges from country (though it definitely is the thinnest of the genres in my CD case) to jazz, alternative, rock, blues and acoustic folk. Listening to the blues and jazz makes me want to play guitar. Listening to alternative and most definitely rock makes me want to write.

But of all my albums, there are a very few that have indefinite play appeal. I'm talking about music that is the soundtrack to my life, albums that have such a perfect selection of songs that I don't skip over a single one. These are the CDs that have stuck with me since the first time I heard them, some of them during my senior year of high school in 2002.

The first of these is Misguided Roses by Edwin McCain. The album was an epiphany in my writing career and was the first glimpse I had of the full potential of what lay in the written word. Every single song on the album tells a story, some plainly and some hidden among the lyrics for you to find. If you've heard of Edwin McCain, chances are it's because of "I'll Be" and you'll find it on this album of acoustic folk rock tunes. That song is why I went looking for the album way back in 2002. Coincidentally, Patrick had just purchased it and gave me a copy. We both love the CD for many of the same reasons and a lot of different ones. I've never heard music that moved me as much as what's on Misguided Roses, before or since.

The second album to resonate with me was Maroon 5's Songs About Jane. It was filled with stories of love and loss set against a groove-rock blend of music that I've never tired of hearing. The music itself is filled with enough emotion and attitude that you can almost tell what the band is trying to say without the lyrics. Maroon 5 has definitely, in my humble opinion, went downhill as they put out much more pop friendly music, but their debut album will always remain one of my favorites. Even Bethany has a favorite cut from this one, "Sunday Morning" and she and I rarely agree on music.

The next album on this list is Phobia by Breaking Benjamin. It's a hard rock album and though some people label it metal I don't think it's hard enough to qualify. Phobia became the soundtrack for The Sixth Sword and I believe the entire novel was written to it. The tone of the music paired with amazing lyrics was inspiring from beginning to end. If The Sixth Sword is ever made into a movie (hey, stranger things have happened. A writer can dream, can't he?) then I hope Phobia is the soundtrack.

The same summer that I first heard and was inspired by Phobia was the same summer that I purchased Sister Hazel's Absolutely. Sister Hazel is famous for the tune "All For You" and it's not even the best of their stuff. Absolutely became the soundtrack to my summer. Every time I mowed grass, be it here at the house or for the late Harvey Albert up on the heights, I listened to Absolutely. I wrote my best man's toast for Devan's wedding while listening to it. This was the album that introduced me to the song "This Kind of Love" which became the song that Bethany and I danced to for the first time as husband and wife.

I'm always up for new music, but these albums are the soundtrack to my life. I can listen to them just about any time. In fact, a few weeks back when I made a surprise visit to Mom and Dad's to lend a hand with the shoveling of many feet of snow, these albums where what I loaded on my iPod.

I bring all this up because tonight, on the way home from Bethany's chorale practice, we stopped at Wal-Mart in Lewisburg. It's been on my mind for some time now to purchase Shinedown's latest album, The Sound of Madness, so I picked it up tonight. They've had some radio hits off this one that I've thoroughly enjoyed, but what I found out about the album later intrigued me. The official iTunes description of the album goes into detail about how the band wrote in the ballpark of 44 songs for this, recorded them, and then cut them down into the 11 songs they thought best fit the album.

Now, I don't know about you, but any band that writes 44 songs and then cuts them down to 11 just to make one album has my attention. The Sound of Madness may become the newest addition to my soundtrack. I'm making a trip tomorrow (well, today since it's actually 12:30 a.m. We writers keep odd hours and tend to write when the Muse descends and orders us to take up the pen (or keyboard, as the case may be)) to visit my family in West Virginia and the 60 minute drive will be perfect for taking the new album for a spin.

I'll let you know how it sounds.

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