|Photo by: Kathleen O'Leary|
In this crazy, mixed up world of ours, we need something to turn to when the going gets tough. Some people turn to yoga or meditation, and some turn to destructive behavior. Here at ACRN, we turn to music.
For all of us, there will always be that one song we can disappear into, the song that makes the world stop. Once we hear that first note, nothing else matters.
Here are a few selections that mean the world to us.
“Blood (Live at KEXP)” by The Middle East
A great artist can create a song that glues itself to a single memory. As you get older and the details of that memory start to fade, the cracks are filled with the rhythm and lyrics of that number. A song that moves me is The Middle East's "Blood." In the KEXP (University of Washington radio station) version, the lead singer tells the listeners, "Thanks for coming, you've been great" before he actually starts to sing. And that's exactly how I felt the morning after prom; finally drifting to sleep with my best friends from high school as the soft morning light began to appear.
--Allie Levin, Contributor
“Believer” by Kill Hannah
"And I'm not running anymore / I'll stand to face it all / I'll fight for every breath until there's nothing left of us," Kill Hannah frontman Mat Devine belts with passionate force. If those lyrics alone aren't enough to inspire one to climb on top of a skyscraper with an "I'm the king of the world" mentality, then I couldn't imagine gazing upon a skyline and thinking of any other song. With the haunting vocals of Mr. Devine and the eerie electronic synth-rock instrumentation drifting in the background, Kill Hannah has developed an emotional thrill ride. Whenever the chorus echoes the line "I need you to believe in me," shivers run down my spine. Don't we all want someone to believe in us?
--Capri Ciulla, Staff Writer
“New Slang” by The Shins
"New Slang" gives me chills every time I listen to it. James Mercer's voice always puts me in a melancholy mood, and the steady guitar strumming calms me down. "New Slang" is what I listen to when I am missing something or someone. The lyrics portray nostalgia and a sense of longing, and I am usually thinking of some memory that I can relate to this song.
--Nadia Kurtz, Contributor
“Auto Rock” by Mogwai
When I listen to this post rock masterpiece, my world abruptly stops for the brief 4:16 that this song runs for. It's a song that I have to listen to when there's complete silence around me, or with my headphones absolutely blaring. It puts me into a trance, in which I just think and reflect upon my life. This reflection is usually a deep one and it brings out positive and negative feelings alike. To me, "Auto Rock" is a very special song and it's one that gets my emotions brewing every time I listen to it.
--Justin Silk, Staff Writer
“Protest Singer” by Kevin Devine
Everyone has that one song. ‘The Song’. You know the one: the one you play after a bad breakup, the one you throw on when you’re stressed, or the one that keeps you company when you feel alone. Kevin Devine is my salvation. When life seems broken, his song “Protest Singer” has been my serenity, my peace of mind. He helps make sense of everything when that feat seems impossible. Devine, alone with his guitar, makes the song incomparably personal--like it’s just for me--with lyrics I’ve related to more than any other artist. When I’ve had one hell of a day, the music’s there--it’s always there. "Protest Singer" is my staple, my security, and a song that never ceases to move me.
-- Rachel Haas, Staff Writer
“Little Wing” by Stevie Ray Vaughan
When I need some alone time to gather my thoughts, there's only one song that tunes out the world: Stevie Ray Vaughan's cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing." The live version of this cover (seen in this YouTube video) gives me goosebumps every time I watch. I don't necessarily believe in ghosts, but I have to believe Jimi's spirit guides Stevie's hands during this live performance. Few musicians were as talented as both the late Vaughan and Hendrix, and it's rare to see any musician play with so much feeling and pain as Stevie shows on this cover. Both guitarists left this earth too soon, but their music, especially this song, will remain some of the greatest blues-rock ever recorded.
--Jacob Betzner, Staff Writer
“Helplessness Blues” by Fleet Foxes
Crossing the Mackinac Bridge, the sky was a cacophony of violent color. Azure blue ice flows bobbed in the infinite water hundreds of feet below. With the stereo blasting as loud as possible, I listened to "Helplessness Blues" by Fleet Foxes. When the song picked up, with Robin Pecknold singing, “I’ll get back to you someday soon, you will see," I literally had to fight back tears.
It was awesome.
--Ross Lockhart, Staff Writer
“Tonight, Tonight” by Smashing Pumpkins
A ‘90s song was an obvious choice for me, but this is more than just a nostalgia trip. “Tonight, Tonight” opens with a string arrangement gorgeous enough to melt anyone’s heart and ends with Billy Corgan delicately singing, “Believe in me as I believe in you, tonight.” Everything about this track is perfect, but what really gets me is the music video. I can listen to the song by itself and still have an emotional experience, but the video adds so much. Based on Georges Melies’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon, the visuals add a sense of whimsy and magic to a song that feels out of this world.
--Sam Boyer, Staff Writer
“Your Only Doll (Dora)” by Laura Marling
Normally, I hate hidden tracks at the end of albums, but I make an exception for “Your Only Doll (Dora)” by Laura Marling. The final track on the folk heroine’s debut album is an emotionally wrenching ballad at the beginning, an upbeat acoustic ditty at the end, and almost two minutes of uninterrupted birdsong in the middle. Funnily enough, I actually enjoy listening to the lull between the songs as much as the songs themselves. It’s something about the combination of sincerity, attitude, playfulness and innocence that unites the seven-minute track into a consistently pleasant, ruminative experience that never fails to transport my mind and my mood to an idyllic land where the anxiety and frustration of having to fast-forward through a bonus track does not exist.
--Haylee Pearl, Contributor
"Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division
I used to hate punk music because I thought it was all rebellion and ugliness and three-chord guitar riffs. This song opened my mind to how beautiful that aesthetic can be. The unfortunately short-lived group Joy Division recorded this just before disbanding. It combines the aggressive drum pounding of post-punk with absolutely gorgeous, transcendent waves of synthesizers. In front of this, vocalist Ian Curtis delivers his emotionally devastating lyrics as if he were reading poetry rather than singing a punk song. A soulful outbreak from a tormented loner, this genius songwriting would soon come to an end as Ian Curtis committed suicide soon after this song was released. But I thank him for opening my mind to an unconventional approach to rock music artistry.
--Colin Roose, Staff Writer
“The Kids From Yesterday” by My Chemical Romance
On July 9, 2011, almost exactly a month before the day that I lost my grandmother, My Chemical Romance saved my life...again. That summer, with my grandmother's declining health and my own internal struggles, I was feeling hopeless, to say the very least. My depression had driven me to the point of forgetting that some things have always been there and will always be there for me: Things like My Chemical Romance.
Introducing “The Kids From Yesterday” at their iTunes Festival performance that night, vocalist Gerard Way had said, “This is for every kid out there who dyed their hair a fucked up color and can’t get a job; this is for every kid out there who got a tattoo on their neck like [guitarist Frank Iero] and can’t get a job; that does this because they fucking love this.”
“The Kids From Yesterday” sums up the past nearly eight years of my life dedicated to that band perfectly. I grew up with them, and they have helped me through everything from which I thought I could never make it.
--Cassie Whitt, Blogs Editor
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
This, to me, is the perfect emotional song. It's a tune that can be played in retrospect after a memorable family vacation. A song that can accompany a photo montage of smiling friends. A work that complements the memory of a lost loved one. When a song can elicit such emotions, happy or sad or anything in between, it is truly an exemplary work of art. Listen on a mellow winter day when you're dreaming of those lazy summer memories or reminiscing about the times that were with a loved one.
--Kevin Rutherford, Editorial Director
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