I don't know about you, but I listen to music practically 24/7. I enjoy having a soundtrack to my day, something to keep my story driving on. Whether it be listening to "Sh Boom" while cooking pasta, the Mamma Mia soundtrack while speed-walking to class in the morning, or a classic Beatles tune while putting my laundry away, music plays a huge role in my life.
But what about when the day is winding down, you've finished all the parts of your daily routine, and you've finally found some time to just sit back and relax. What happens to the soundtrack then?
Here I've compiled a list of some of my favourite songs to turn the lights out, lay back and truly experience... Not just to listen to, not to jam out to, not to dance to, just to feel and really hear. They may not all be relaxing per se, some are rather upbeat and invigorating in fact, but they are all songs which truly deserve to be savored. So, here you go, in no particular order (rainy days and warm sweaters optional):
1. "Birdland" - Maynard Ferguson, 1978
Although not originally written by Ferguson, this piece showcases his and his fellow musicians' talents beautifully, and certainly gets your blood pumping. The intro comes blasting in and lets you know what you're in for right off the top, and everything else that follows is just as strong. Featuring fantastic trumpet solos, a steady pace from the drums, and cool bass slides, this piece is a personal favourite and no doubt deserves a place on this list. The attached version has the cleanest audio, but for a fun live twist follow this link.
2. "Bobcaygeon" - The Tragically Hip, 1998
Sigh... Where to begin. I love this song, start to finish. There's something about the nuances, the many layers that comprise it, that make it such a feel-good song. This is my go-to when I'm stressed, and even when I'm calm I tend to be drawn to it. The rolling bass-line that continues on throughout is so rhythmic and stirring, it's a song unlike anything else I've ever heard. Plus, bonus points for being a fantastic Canadian band! Having been to Bobcaygeon myself on several accounts (and having spent a couple "night[s] in Toronto"), this song brings back a lot of memories, and helps to really transport me back to good times. Be sure to add this to your road trip playlist, especially when touring the Kawarthas.
3. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - The Beatles, 1968
A terrific collaboration between some of the most talented musicians of their time (and perhaps of all time), this Beatles tune is certainly one worth listening to (if you haven't already). Featuring epic guitar lines from Eric Clapton, this song deserves to be enjoyed with no other distractions, preferably with the lights off too. This song is a highlight of the White Album, with a very unique and distinct sound... The rest of the album deserves to be listened to as well, by the way!
4. "Wish You Were Here" - Pink Floyd, 1975
Another classic, with a nice steady feel to it. I add this song to the list because while it can be background music if you like, one should really take the time to get to know it, listen to the story it has to tell, both musically and lyrically. It takes a great deal of time to create a balance, a harmony between both the musical ideas and the words themselves, but the group achieves this beautifully in this piece. If not any of the others, please pinky-promise me you'll give this one a listen.
5. "Unchained Melody" - The Righteous Brothers, 1965
While not written by the Righteous Brothers, the above version of this song is definitely my favourite. And although everything about it is beautiful, down to each individual note, nothing can compare to Bobby Hatfield's vocals. The audio version of the song has a cleaner sound to it, so if you'd like to check that out too then be my guest, but this live version really showcases Hatfield's incredible range, and generally his strengths as a performer. To this day, this song gives me goosebumps, right to the very end.
6. "In The Air Tonight" - Phil Collins, 1981
The cool fade in. Phil Collins' voice. The drum solo. 'Nuff said.
7. "Kashmir" - Led Zeppelin, 1976
This song is a little... out there. It's long, it's kind of heavy, and there's a lot going on. But man, is it ever good. It's just a solid tune, with a sort of driving feel and steady pace, it feels like the kind of song you want to walk out to a standoff to (ok, weird comparison, but you get the picture). There are so many different parts to it, so many sounds, so many chapters if you will. I recall listening to this with my dad as a kid, and even then I was just so intrigued by it. With the unique drum fills, and the cool sounds of the strings in the back, everything flows so weirdly well. A great addition to this list, for sure.
8. "Rocket Man (I Think it's Gonna be a Long Long Time)" -Elton John, 1972
Featuring brilliant piano playing and dramatic tones, this is arguably one of Sir Elton John's best hits. A personal favourite, this is one of those songs that I tend to enjoy with the lights off, just laying back and letting the music swirl in my head. Plus, it just feels good to sing along to. I can't rave about this piece enough, it's inspiring, uplifting, and soul-warming all in one.
9. "Hey Jude" - The Beatles, 1968
Another beautiful piece by The Beatles. Had this list been ranked it certainly would have been very near to the top, but for now it shall stay here. Some may shy away from this tune due to its long length and crazy vocals near the end, but I implore you: Please listen straight through it! It is by all means worth it to listen to every last note, from the steady opening verses right to the climactic "nananana"s. Paul's vocals truly shine in this piece, ranging from pure and sweet tones to harsher sounds, and yet the repetition of the common themes brings it all together. A great addition to anyone's playlist, avid Beatles lovers and novices alike, "Hey Jude" is truly a thing of beauty.
10. "Nothing Else Matters (Unplugged)" - Metallica, 1997
Perhaps this one's a bit of a surprise in contrast to the other, softer pieces on this list, but I find it to be the perfect way to wrap things up. I have always been intrigued by the fusion of genres, and in this case, it's beautifully done: Metallica, a group known widely for their harsh sounds and heavy metal vibes, paired perfectly with a 12-string orchestra. Who knew that such a unique combination could give birth to something so beautiful? When I was a kid my father would play this often, but it wasn't until more recently that I've been able to truly appreciate the complexity and artistry which is embodied in this piece. I hope it gives you chills, just as it does me.
Well my friends, this concludes my list of Top 10 Songs to Savor. There may have been many others to have included as well, but I suppose those can be saved for another time, another list. I hope that I've been able to inspire you, whether that be to try out new music, or to share your favourites with friends, or to dust off that old collection of LPs in your basement. However you choose to do so, I wish you all happy listening.