Melancholic Tunes - A Playlist
Who Wants to Be Melancholic?
I cannot explain why occasion stirs desire for melancholic retrospect -- but it does. The slow droned guitar chords, perfect harmony of singer's voice with instrument -- create a powerful platform for lyrics reflective of societal challenges crossing all demographics.
What is melancholic, exactly? The word at first sound seems like it should be associated with music and the croup... But, an official dictionary definition is: (adjective) disposed to or affected with melancholy; gloomy. However, melancholy is not restricted to despair, rather, "sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness." (Definition source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/melancholy.)
Moments where I dared to blink and my kids grew three inches, when I notice lines growing more definitive on my face, when my husband's goatee boasts more salt than pepper, my parents look more like I remember my grandparents -- or headlines stir a longing for yesteryears -- these moments, I suppose, give pause for inventory of life and its busyness. What stays, what goes? And the lyrics to these songs serve as fodder for creative fire to burn the superfluous stubble from the treasures of life.
Puff the Magic Dragon - Peter Paul & Mary
Puff the Magic Dragon
Peter Paul & Mary's Puff the Magic Dragon finds itself first on my melancholic playlist because it is the first song I remember anethesizing me as a young child. How could a young heart not grieve for Puff when "little Jackie paper came to play no more?" I imagined poor Puff, head and shoulders dropped while his big ol dragon feet were wet by the surf. His friend didn't come, again. :'(
The lyrics now seem lighthearted. Yet, certain lines and chords manage to occasionally tug at my heartstrings; probably because of vivid imageries associated with each scene. Close your eyes as you listen, I am persuaded you will envision the oversized dragon frolicking on a misty seaside, with Jack keeping outlook on the sturdy crook of Puff's tail.
Sail On - Commodores
"Sail On" -- "Don't wanna know where you're going...I gave all my money and time.... I know it's a shame...but I'm giving you back your name....yes, I'll be on my way..." Those lyrics are not necessarily in order, just a few that stand out to me. How sad! "I'm giving you back your name," - a poetic divorce decree.
"I gave you my heart and tried to make you happy, and you gave me nothing in return.... you know it ain't so hard to say, 'would you please just go away.' ... I'm tired of being used." These lyrics are appropriate for any relationship where someone is not giving their best. Relationships - whether professional, romantic, platonic, or spiritual - require investment from all involved parties.
Time in A Bottle (Vinyl) - Jim Croce
Time in a Bottle
I just turned 39 - some say that's young, some say that's old. I feel great. However, being in my fortieth year has caused me to be still and inventory life. I am over halfway to 70. What have I done? What have I left to accomplish? What dreams need I pursue?
"Time in a Bottle" - although a love sonnet - its lyrics spur consideration of how time is spent. Am I spending with the people and causes I treasure? Am I spending time with my children the way I should? My oldest turns 13 this spring. WHOA... suddenly, a song whose melody I enjoyed as a young child becomes poignant, "But there never seems to be enough time..." I am reminded of Psalm 90:12, "Lord, teach me to number my days...that I may gain a heart of wisdom." Yes! That I may never regret how I use my time. That each moment spent is not squandered but wisely invested for a great return-of-investment.
Morning Has Broken (live) - Cat Stevens
Morning Has Broken
My absolute favorite time of day is dawn. Birds singing, fresh dew-kist air, delicate spider webs glistening, a still that only sets before the world awakens. My heart bursts with gratitude to our Maker, the Lover of our souls - Yahweh. I give thanks to Him, reflect on the many blessings of my life, and gain vigor and vision for my day. These lyrics reflect my mindset in early morning.
When I was younger, I did not realize "Morning Has Broken" is a hymn:
Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise form them springing, fresh from the Word.
Summer Breeze - Seals & Croft
The opening lyrics always captured my imagination, "See the curtains in the window...", as did the line, "blowing through the jasmine in my mind." I always, always yielded to the picture painted by Seals and Croft and imagined light-weighted curtains behind a screen - a half window, like one commonly found above a kitchen sink - the curtains gently caressed by a summer breeze. I imagined, almost could hear, a television with a 13-station turn-knob humming in the background.
To this day, the scent of jasmine (to which I am endeared) reminds me of Summer Breeze. Summer Breeze instantly calms me. Takes me back to my single-digit years of childhood innocence and wonder.
Space Oddity (Major Tom) - David Bowie
Space Oddity - Major Tom
I always thought this song was titled "Major Tom" until I searched for the video! I did not know it was David Bowie's voice that is so engrained in my memory, either. Thank God (seriously) that I did not see this video as a child. It would have possibly ruined the song for me.
The lyrics struck my young mind with a somberness -- a realization that life ends sometimes in unquestionable tragedy. I remember feeling remorse for Major Tom's wife and always imagined him with kids, although there is not a mention of offspring. I also was struck with empathy at Major Tom feeling caught in a trap, unable to get free from death's grip. (Again, the video would've changed my young train of thought.)
To this day, the melody of this song brings reflection to progress and its risks, as well as the men and women who brave the unknown in pursuit of advancement.
Holding Back the Years - Simply Red
Holding Back the Years
Holding back the years
Chance for me to escape from all I've known
Holding back the tears
Cause nothing here has grown
I've wasted all my tears
Wasted all those years
And nothing had the chance to be good
Nothing ever could.... yeah...
Wow. How discouraging. What dispair. These lyrics take me to a time when my parents had just divorced, and life was chaotic, I was lost. I don't feel that way now, thankfully. I do not ever want to feel like "nothing here has grown" -- but have felt as if certain seasons of my life were fruitless. This song is good for licking wounds, if your a self-pity sort. If not, it's good for being thankful that God, if you let Him, doesn't waste anything. He is able to make good from anything. He doesn't send tragedy and loss, but He is well-able to turn it for good. My life is proof.
Blowing in the Wind - Bob Dylan with Joan Baez
Blowin' in the Wind
Even as a child, I grasped the rhetorical wisdom of this song. How long will we trudge blindly, repeating tragedy of history? How long will we pre-judge people based on their skin color? The recent tragedy of Trayvon Martin's death brings a reminder -- because there is a sect of people who think that Zimmerman is racist for shooting an African American youth. Yet, would they think that if Zimmerman were black? The tragedy is that a young man was killed unnecessarily - regardless if he is black, white, hispanic, oriental, etc. Why does race matter? How many tragedies must ensue tragedy due to prejudice? With store-raids, hate-filled speech against whites (who made up the Supreme Court that clarified what "created equal" means and took steps to enforce it), suspicions aroused, death-warrants proclaimed with a bounty? How long? How long will people be so blinded by rage of injustice that they become a part of the problem rather than its solution? I pray the answer is not blowing in the wind, but in our hearts, and that we take enough time to pull ourselves from any prejudice, any bitterness, any hatred -- regardless of race or creed -- and see truth for truth. Period.
Leaving On A Jet Plane - John Denver
Leaving On A Jet Plane
I always imagined a woman singing this... Ha! And I imagined an elegant, black woman with an "up-do", full smile, and shining eyes, singing into a spotlight, wearing a sparkly evening gown. Nope. It's John Denver.
"There's so many times I've let you down...Every place I go, I think of you, every song I sing, I'll sing to you..." We have all disappointed someone. We all have asked for second, perhaps third and fourth chances in relationships, not necessarily just romantic ones. And we all dream of getting through a season that presents challenges, and dream of a hopefully near future with those challenges resolved. For this song, it's the singer's travel agenda. For me -- other things. For you -- something, I'm certain.
Sound of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel
The Sound of Silence
"Hello, darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk to you again..."
How many times have dark times caused us to reflect? The darkness here is the busyness of life with no true connection between people.
People talking without speaking,
people hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared, and no one dared
To stir the sound of silence
Fool, said I, you do not know, silence, like a cancer, grows
Hear my words and I might teach you, take my arms then I might reach you
But my words, like silent raindrops fell, and echoed in the wells of silence
Lamentably, these lyrics ring true of today -- re-visit my thoughts on "Blowing in the Wind". But on a personal note - is my life speaking anything of value? Or am I just busy? Am I sharing what is in my heart? Am I LISTENING to others' hearts? Are you?
Georgie's Growing-Up Playlist
- Top Ten Songs I Grew Up Listening To
Everybody has certain songs that remind them of when they were young. Here are ten of mine.
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