Day 27-a song from a movie

Anyone who read my long-running, slow-burning treatise on Life Lessons I learned from The Empire Strikes Back won’t be a bit surprised at this selection.

“The Asteroid Field” by John Williams

A rare bit of scene scoring that functions equally well as a concert piece, this is some of John Williams’ greatest writing.

Incidentally, there is a concert version of the song. It’s not nearly as good.


Day 26-a song that makes you feel invincible

I resisted this one, because it seemed a bit too obvious. But it came up on my random playlist not two nights ago, and yes…it’s fitting.

“Love Invincible” by Michael Franti and Spearhead

“Touch me in the morning sun / When I feel impossible / Show me what is possible / Teach me love invincible…!”

Though I highly doubt it’s intended as such, this hook — the whole song, really — can be a powerful prayer. After all, Jesus is THE Love Invincible, and He’s the only thing that makes me ever feel invincible.

These kids in the video have inspired me. This song will be played at my wedding, too, if I have any say in the matter.

Day 25-a song that cheers you up when you are feeling blue

From its first few whistled notes, this song can’t help but make me smile.
Shanice – I Love Your Smile by Hakunamatata67

“I Love Your Smile” by Shanice

However, this song also long represented — for me — something sick about race in America. Note that in the video, the singer is a medium-toned, unmistakably black woman. But in this album cover:

…she appears to be a shade lighter. Her hair is straighter. Even her nose seems smaller. Less African.


Looking back now, I’d like to say that this was more my own perception than reality. She really isn’t a full shade lighter on the album cover. This hairstyle is just more flattering than the one she’s rocking in the video. And her nose is just the same.

Sure, there was probably some early-version Photoshop airbrushing going on there, but that wasn’t new even then.

Unfortunately, my conspiracy theory gains credence in 1999.

Lighter still. Sigh.

I still love her “I Love Your Smile.” No matter how the marketing and image people try to airbrush away certain things.

Day 24-a song that makes you cry every time you hear it

Time for the first repeat of the list. And despite the fact that I occasionally get teary when listening to my brother’s favorite, IT’S NOT THE ONE.

No, it’s this.

“Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin.

These lines, in particular, touch my heart deeply:

“Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light? / Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night? / None can fathom…”

Night is something we often associate with darkness, danger, fear, evil. But this song helps to reframe nighttime in a completely different…well…light.

It reminds me that even this fallen world is still created by a loving God, and that even its broken aspects are used by Him for the good of us, His most beloved creations.

Some people shout when they worship God. Others are quiet and holy-hushed.

Me, I shed tears when I’m cognizant of His awesome might and great glory and loving kindness. This song poetically reminds me of all those qualities.

Day 22-a song all about love

“Anything For You” Gloria Estefan.

I love torch songs. This is the torchiest.

Even (or, perhaps, especially) en español:

What sets this song above others is that its very structure reflects the singer’s longing.

The traditional pop song structure is something like this:

  • intro
  • verse
  • chorus/hook
  • verse
  • chorus/hook
  • bridge
  • chorus/hook
  • vamp or fadeout on repeated chorus/hook.

But this song doesn’t follow this structure at all. It dosen’t even have a real chorus or hook.

Instead, it consists of one basic 4-line verse, each starting quietly with a line containing the song’s title, then shifting to a higher key and the lyrics to a faster tempo and meter for a few lines before resetting to another “Anything for you.”

Again, there’s nothing like a chorus or hook in the whole song. Instead, various lines are repeated in diverse places in the song (for example, Estefan sings “you’ll never see me cryin'” twice) even though no verse is actually ever repeated, as the woman alternates between declarations of independence and longing cries for her lost love.

Each verse’s quiet “anything for you” line represents her attempts to re-center herself emotionally, but the mere statement of the phrase causes those emotions to build and then boil over in the verses’ increasingly lengthy and impassioned second halves.

By the time the vocals give way to a lengthy instrumental vamp and the horns come in, you’re either mad with the dude for leaving this lady out in the cold like this or mad with her for not just moving on already.

Great, great song.


Day 11-a song from your favorite music video

I love this song, and I never would’ve heard it if not for the video.

In fact, I like the video better than the album version because the vamp is twice as long. That’s what I liked best about the song in the first place. I also like the subtle story being told, and the feather rain at the end.

(I don’t recall it being quite so sexy back then, though. I guess I didn’t play much attention. More likely, I wasn’t mature enough to appreciate sensuality that didn’t involve exposed nipples.)

But my favorite music video (that I can recall (and that’s not titled “Thriller” or “Smooth Criminal” (because those would be too easy))) is this fun summer tune:

Again, I loved videos that told a story.

Day 10-a song from your favorite concert
Back in June ’09, my parents bought me a ticket to see the incomparable Stevie Wonder in concert, and the first song he performed was this.

This was a special request of Leo, a terminally-ill 18-year-old and Wonder’s special guest onstage all evening long. Wonder said he’d never performed the song live before, and it showed a bit early on. But the 33+ years of rust fell right off. This being one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE SONGS, I wondered how the show could get any better.

And it did. 2/3 the way through the show, I texted my folks “BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER.”

Tomorrow: I have to try to recall when MTV actually played videos.

Day 08-a song from your prom or your senior year of high school

Funny how this subject follows on the heels of the story of my non-first-kiss. It’s a wonder that I even got a date for my senior prom at all!

Interestingly, I wasn’t at all shy about asking girls to prom. It’s probably because I asked my best friend first, so I wasn’t intimidated about it.

  • But…she already had a date.
  • Then I asked the cute sister I sat next to in that class I can’t recall. Some elective of some sort. She was taken, too.
  • Then my favorite blonde. But she was going to another school’s prom that week.
  • Then I asked my crush from art club. I think she was so shocked that she didn’t think I was serious. (Plus there was the whole black guy/white girl thing that was still a little bitty bit taboo back then. *I* didn’t care, but other people *did*.)

That pretty well exhausted my candidates. I had determined to go stag — ’cause I was GOIN’, dagnabit! — when someone suggested a gal I hadn’t seen in years because she’d moved to another school.

Ever had one of those moments that’s part lightbulb, part facepalm? This was one of those. Of COURSE I should’ve asked her! Should’ve asked her first!

I called her up and she was only too glad to go.

Anyhow, at the actual prom there was a moment when I was walking to get drinks when this song came on:

For some reason I felt like the coolest dude in the world at that moment. (It wouldn’t last.)


I thought I’d hit “publish” on this yesterday. Sheesh.

Day 06: a song that reminds you of your BFF.

For my older readers, “BFF” is youthspeak for “Best Friend Forever.” While I have a few long-term friends, only one person on Earth truly qualifies for the BFF title — my only brother.

He’s just a couple of years younger, so we essentially grew up together. Even though I teased him mercilessly (because he was so easy to provoke), we remained close friends and almost never fought the way some siblings do. During our frequent moves during our boyhood years, we sort of had to hold to each other as a steady constant. We even attended the same college.

Adulthood has been an adjustment since, unlike me, he has never really returned home. He’s always had a healthy dose of wanderlust; I’ve resigned myself to the fact that he’ll probably always be an average of 1,000 miles away. Indeed, I know he’s happiest and most fulfilled that way and wouldn’t have it otherwise.

But when he’s home, I love the familiar sight of him from behind plugging away at some project on his computer in his old bedroom. And, unlike myself, who likes to put an iTunes playlist completely on random, my brother prefers to play a select few songs daily.

During one of his more recent visits, he’d listen to “1,000 Oceans” by Tori Amos ALL THE TIME. So of course, I can’t hear it without thinking of him.

To echo some of the song’s lyrics: I could never, would never keep him from flying. And most of the time, I don’t cry a bit, much less a thousand oceans. But once in a while …like today(:))…I just want to sail him home.

Day 05: a song that reminds you of an activity from your youth

Most of my boyhood activities centered around cartoons, so it’s really a matter of picking a theme song.

In the end, though, there was only one cartoon that actually literally had me running home to see it — and, later, religiously programming the VCR to tape it.

This trio of completely separate Japanese cartoons rewritten into a single transgenerational epic absolutely riveted my younger brother and me. It was unlike anything we’d seen on American TV before since the much-more straightforward Starblazers from years earlier. I’m still a bit astounded at how well it all works despite the heavy editing.

I’m also still saddened that Carl Macek, the man behind it, passed away last year at the far too young age of 49.

I’ve owned the soundtrack for years, but the opening theme has never felt completely nostalgic without the sound effects. Thank you, YouTube.