Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge Day 8: Sing With Me, Sing for the Year

Day 8: A Song to Which You Know All the Words

Searching my head for a song that fit today’s prompt was a fun exercise if only to remind me of the songs I used to have memorize. These are the songs, after all, they were played incessantly out of tape-decks, CD players, car stereos, computers and portable MP3 players at various stages of my life. Going through these tunes was like flipping through a musical biography.

For instance, the first song that I could sing all the way through from memory was… actually, let’s not go that far back. The SECOND song that I could sing all the way through from memory was Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” I can actually remember the first time I heard it. I was at a friend’s birthday party (let's call him... 4)and he was opening presents. There were two gifts that were clearly (from the size and feel of the wrapped package) CDs and as he went to open then he hopefully chanted, “Metallica, Metallica, Metallica, Metallica,” and cheered when he tore through the wrapping paper to reveal Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. I’d never heard either but his enthusiasm rubbed off onto me and as we listened to the albums I launched into two pre-teen years that were exclusively dedicated to Metallica and Megadeath.

This almost magnetic attraction to metal was broken in middle school when I learned all the words to the majority of Green Day’s Dookie, and then later in high school when I learned all of Blink 182’s Dude Ranch and Less Than Jake’s Hello Rockview, among many others. Of course there were some clunkers here or there on my way to memorizing Rilo Kiley’s “Pictures of Success” and Belle and Sebastian’s “Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying.” But I think in large part I still enjoy (in some cases nostalgically, but in most cases not) the tunes I used to know by heart. I could probably still sing along, actually, if the song was playing in the background.

These days I memorize a much smaller percentage of my favorite songs than I used to. I listen to more new albums a year than in high school and the list of older albums that are still in steady rotation is far longer. The only song to come out this year that I can confidently claim to know front to back is probably Admiral Fallow’s "Four Bulbs". That’s not the song I want to spotlight right now, however. Instead, my pick is going to go to a song from one of my favorite albums from last year, M. Ward’s Hold Time. It’s a song that I like to think I can sing half-decently and one that, when I do sing it, always brings me a measure of peace. It’s also really pretty.

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