Five Songs That Changed My Life… 5. Many Rivers To Cross by Jimmy Cliff

Five Songs That Changed My Life… 5. Many Rivers To Cross by Jimmy Cliff

I was introduced to Jimmy Cliff by my uncle in the form of the classic The Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall, an incredible movie about Cliff’s struggle to realize his dreams and escape the Jamaican oppressive system of orders. But of all this legend’s songs, one has remained closest to my heart, the ballad of the lonely wanderer, “Many Rivers to Cross.” In the fall of years ago, I left behind my dream job, security, money, friends, family, and the love of my 22 year old life to go hiking through Europe for 6 months. In the first month, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I started the trip with a car crash, torn muscles, and broken toe. All my plans fell through and there wasn’t a day in those first weeks that I didn’t think about seriously giving up and going back home. I don’t know what compelled me to stay to this day and finish the trip, but it was the greatest adventure of my life. As I hitchhiked through Moldova, Albania, through the hills of Macedonia, I sang along the roadside this song, again and again.   “Many rivers to cross But I can’t seem to find my way over Wandering I am lost As I travel along the white cliffs of Dover Many rivers to cross And it’s only my will that keeps me alive I’ve been licked, washed up for years And I merely survive because of my pride And this loneliness won’t leave me alone It’s such a drag to be on your own My woman left me and...
Five Songs That Changed My Life… 4. Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie

Five Songs That Changed My Life… 4. Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie

The past three songs that I have written of so far have depicted isolation, belonging, and understanding the world around me, but none of them have gone further than touching on the subject that most songs are about… Love. Love is the greatest mystery of life, it is an energy that comes from nothing but a glance and will push us to move mountains, to explore, and even to settle. Growing up anywhere in any context, there is the feeling of love all around you, whether you have it or not. Personally I understood what love was supposed to be, but I never knew what it was until I met the first true love of my life. The one that makes you believe in happy endings, the one that makes you feel like nothing could go wrong. But at times it does, and that emotional turbulence has created some of the greatest songs of all, but one in particular stands out in my eyes. “A Lack of Color” is a song about the realization of a love lost in the mind of a man who seems to be infatuated with logic. There was something almost unbearably honest and raw about the lyrics as the scenario unfolds over and over again on repeat- the classic story of realizing what you have after it is unattainable.   “And when I see you, I really see you upside down But my brain knows better, it picks you up and turns you around Turns you around, turns you around If you feel discouraged when there’s a lack of color here Please don’t worry...
Five Songs That Changed My Life… 3. Guilty by Bonnie Raitt

Five Songs That Changed My Life… 3. Guilty by Bonnie Raitt

  In the context of time I cannot honestly remember when I first heard the song “Guilty” by Bonnie Raitt. But like so many things in our lives that develop meaning over time, we do not always have a clear memory of how they even came to be; it’s almost mystical. For those of us who have at one time or another struggled with substance or personal addiction of any kind, the song is in my mind the perfect encapsulation of emotion brought on by those experiences. This song has made me cry, it has made me give up, but it also made me find comfort in knowing that these feelings pass. I found myself so many times at a party, in the center of an organism of ideas and wine, clouded in smoke and pressure. I would often deliberately walk outside into the wind and silently wonder why I enjoy spending my time wasting it, even when I’m not really having any fun. I would sometimes just give up for the night of moving past this dilemma and return home to my records. This song became the anthem of that moment, the anthem of ‘why can’t I feel the way everyone else seems to feel,’ ‘why can’t I just smile and mean it.’ At 3am, in the dark, I would find the comfort in the indescribable voice of Bonnie as she sang these words:   “Yes baby, I’ve been drinking I shouldn’t come by I know. But I found myself in trouble darling And I had no place else to go. I got some whiskey, yeah from a...
Five Songs That Changed My Life… 2. Do You Realize? by The Flaming Lips

Five Songs That Changed My Life… 2. Do You Realize? by The Flaming Lips

During high school I used to work at a local guitar shop in Bethesda, Maryland. We made most of our bread and butter by offering lessons out of the back rooms, and one of the fathers of a student happened to be the former manager of The Flaming Lips. While he would wait for his daughter, he would tell me stories of the band and give me advice about anything to do with the music industry. But one day he came in and imparted to me the record Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The record became the unlikely soundtrack to my life for weeks, maybe even months, but the song that has stood the test of my attention all these years was “Do You Realize?!”. The topic of mortality is not one that any teenager is interested in, nor could possibly fathom. I was invincible, and life was not worth living past 29 anyway. But one summer day, I remember when it all changed as I sat under the tree by the river, looked up, and listened:   “Do You Realize?  That you have the most beautiful face Do You Realize?  We’re floating in space – Do You Realize? That happiness makes you cry Do You Realize? That everyone you know someday will die And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know You realize that life goes fast It’s hard to make the good things last You realize the sun doesn’t go down It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round   As the psychedelic medley of instruments pushed on to the inspired words...
Five Songs That Changed My Life… 1. Cynicism by Nana Grizol

Five Songs That Changed My Life… 1. Cynicism by Nana Grizol

I am simply not a good enough writer to put into words the meaning of music in the context of  my life. From my lows to my highs, music has been from the background to the foreground. It is my atmosphere. It is the filter that all my light shines through. So many people will ask each other the questions, “What is your favorite song?”,“What is your favorite band?”, and some might be a little kinder and ask these questions in the context of the present. Our answers will change, fluctuate. Songs that have been played over a thousand times in our lifetime might never be heard for years to come, or ever again. But as the clock strikes what is to be my 24th year on this planet, I have taken time to reflect on this great question and with no further ado, here are 5 songs that changed my life. They were anthems, comforts, pinnacles of wisdom, but above all else, they were catalysts for change. None of them are my favorite song at the moment, but they are sonic photographs, and in the spirit of the great words of Sir Paul McCartney, “For well you know that it’s a fool, who plays it cool, by making his world a little colder,” I’m happy to share these personal experiences. The year was 2009 and at the time I was a high school dropout, my parents were divorcing, my drug problems were slowly creeping into the center of life. It would be safe to say it was not the best time of my life. Adolescence in the DC...