With my somewhat eclectic and indiscriminate music tastes – I’ve attempted to narrow this post down to the three songs that are ‘significant’ to me. In some cases, I was really just impressed by the song itself and in others the weight of the song came from what it meant for the artist or myself. Either way, the songs listed below are extremely important to myself, treat them with care :)
Melancholia (Album: The Duke Plays Ellington) – Duke Ellington
Although Ellington is renowned for his work in jazz compositions and typically associated with jazz orchestra pieces – this song, and the entire album in fact, show that he probably could have made a career for himself as just a pianist. Melancholia quite literally sounds like its name – it’s sweet, sad and slow. The emotional weight of the song really comes from the tone – it’s somehow sad and very content at the same time, you really come to understand what the composer was writing when he did so, even through these lonely and often singular notes. For me, this song really just embodies the complexity of human emotion – we’re not so simplistic that we only feel one way or another, like so much music nowadays might imply. It means so much to me, truly because I admire it and Ellington’s characteristics as a composer, and maybe even as a person.
Wish You Were Here (Album: Wish You Were Here) – Pink Floyd
Although it was initially met with mixed reviews, WYWH later became one of Pink Floyd’s most renowned songs – for evident reasons. In some ways, I interpret this song similarly to Melancholia - conceptually, they’re both heavily focused on the complexities of the human condition. The songwriter and lead singer, Roger Waters, has often talked about how the lyrics are based around the dichotomy of his own character. And that’s exactly it – the lyrics are minimal but carry all the weight of the world. Everything in the song is so minimal, so meticulously performed – but so extremely raw and emotional. It’s about losing someone, about the desire to get something that you once had back. Even though I doubt I’ve ever experienced something so extreme as this, WYWH makes the listener understand. That’s where its significance lies.
Runaway (Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) – Kanye West
This selection may seem a bit strange in comparison to the other two songs noted here – but this song was very important to me, in a very different way, but impactful regardless. It’s a fairly widespread fact that West is one of those ‘controversial’ celebrities. This song really demonstrates the fact that although West might be a flawed person, that doesn’t mean he can’t make a damn good piece of art. Written as an apology of sorts to Taylor Swift, Runaway is really also an apology from West as to all the mistakes he’s made in the past. The songwriting is superb, witty and extremely intelligent in an almost hyper-self-aware manner. Aside from its many artistic merits, it’s heartbreakingly truthful and honest – something that we see rarely in such an industry. Remorseful, regretful and cathartic – West’s debated genius shows itself in these nine minutes of pure brilliance. And c’mon, how many people can write the line ‘Let’s have a toast for the douchebags’ and still make it work?