I can’t imagine working without music playing in the background. Music so deeply inspires and enhances my life experience. Songs fill me with a myriad of emotions, speaking both broadly and specifically, to the human experience and directly to me. Here are a few songs that have influenced some of the works I’ve created.
Only – RY X
Only is about love. The song speaks poetically of falling in love, the passion, how the world opens up and seemingly begins to turn again. The ringer is “I was only falling in love”. So it’s hard to tell if love is a burden or blessing in this song, perhaps it’s an even mixture of both. Ry’s raspy vocals and smoky instrumentals gave me the ambience to create ‘Salt’, as the ocean is both gentle and powerful, and tears can come from both pleasure and pain.
Falling Short – Låpsley
I remember getting inspired to make ‘M42’ when I heard this song; a view of the night sky slowly being encroached upon. Falling Short is a song about working diligently but to no avail, feeling like nothing is enough. Even though the lyrics talk about coming up short, it reminds us to “keep on holding on”. It’s jazzy notes make it a relaxing tune, but it’s also an encouraging and relatable listen.
Nature Boy – OJ Trio
This song has been remade many times, but this is my favorite rendition. It was originally written by Eden Ahbez and recorded by Nat King Cole in the ‘40s. The meandering lyrics and upright bass creates a jazzy, haunting tune, like a chilly flight through the universe. I listened to this one a lot during the time I was making ‘Nebula 2.0’. Looking up at the night sky reminds me of the vast mystery of the cosmos. The last line, as if from divine inspiration, is a penetrating lesson I’ve yet to master: “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”.
Wash. – Bon Iver
Green, rolling mountains, misty mornings by the lake or marmalade sunsets in the Fall. All whispers in this airy melody by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. According to Vernon, the song is about “March rains in Eau Claire, which wash the snow away.” My piece ‘Appalachia’ was influenced both by this song and the Great Smoky Mountains. Bon Iver’s music reads like poetry and typically requires a dictionary and examination to fully understand. But I think that the melody itself intuitively gets the point across.
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – Ryuichi Sakamoto
This is one of my favorite songs by my favorite composer. I can’t put a finger on any one piece that this one has influenced, as it’s a regular play (sometimes on repeat). This is from the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence a drama based on a British Army officer’s (David Bowie) record during WWII as a Japanese prisoner of war. This song definitely has a crisp feel to it, like the start of a winter snow storm. Starting with a few gentle flurries, some icy rain, then heavy snow and strong, bleak winds as the storm finally arrives.
Go ahead and give these songs a listen and tell me what you think about them.
What are some of your favorite songs to hear while you work?Sharing is caring!