Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Five: Songs that Compel Extreme Emotion

A bright Happy New Year to you, kids. I know it's been a while, but I am in the midst of reworking Constructive Compulsion and its purpose in the blog-o-sphere. Please be patient with me as I reinvent my vision.

However, this morning I was unexpectedly inspired (thank you iPod) to come up with today's list: songs that compel an extreme emotional response. Now I don't just mean weepygirl reactions, or songs about broken hearts. I'm talking about inspiration, love, sadness, sentimentality, etc. Narrowing it to five has proven challenging, but if you've learned anything about me yet... Bring it.

For your listening pleasure (or not), I have also provided links to each song, courtesy of YouTube. I don't know if I need some sort of disclaimer, but I don't own the rights to any of this, so thank you YouTube and all of the other organizations/companies/collaborators associated with this material.

1. Run by Snow Patrol: I will listen to this song over and over again until my iPod dies. There is something so beautiful in the tone of this song. The jist of the song is that the two people have to be apart, and have to run in order to be together elsewhere. They are scared and sad, but the message is to not give up, that they will find their way back to one another. The melancholy blend of hope and fear, mixed with the urgency of the vocal style is what I find so beautiful. It leaves the listener with a sense of absolute certainty that their love cannot fail, that they will find each other. Total fairytale kinda stuff.

2. Lateralis (Lateralus) by TOOL: All hail the Kings of Nerdrock. I include both the original spelling from the first pressing of the album Lateralus wherein the track was originally spelled "Lateralis" and then was subsequently changed to match the album. See what a big fan I am? ANYWAY...

This song always connects me to a sense of spirituality. Lyrically, it basically sums up the core of what I believe, and musically it fires up an instinctive connection to universal energy. The drumwork, albeit complex, is somehow tribal in its nature, evoking a sense of ritual, and building to points of epiphany and clarity. I have seen/heard TOOL do this song live (and hope they will again on 2/1), and the energetic reaction is not only palpable, but euphoric and also exhausting.

3. Moonlight Sonanta (Mov 1) by Ludwig van Beethoven: On days such as today, when the rain is pouring so hard, it sounds like a tiny platoon is doing drills on the roof, this song is sad, yet comforting. There's a contemplative nature to this piece, one that gently suggests you take some personal inventory... if you feel like it. It's a slow, quiet conversation that doesn't quite resolve anything, but alleviates the sadness, just a bit.

4. Caught a Lite Sneeze by Tori Amos: I have probably heard this song 20,000 times since 1996, and it never gets old. One of the most brilliant things about Tori is her ability to harness the rawness of universal emotions, whether it be love, heartbreak, loss, anger...

Lyrically, it wrenches out the urgency and confusion in the midst of a crumbling love affair: the frustration of realizing the weakness of the relationship; the lingering attraction and the attempt to resist falling back into chaos; the need to remain strong and not show too much pain. It also touches the need for support from the "Girl Zone."Musically, it maintains a sexy rhythm, backed by dueling harpsichord and piano, the fluctuation between strength, sensuality, weakness, and calm. Call her a "man-hater" all you want, but if you can honestly say you've been in a relationship that failed and you didn't feel any of this...

5. River of Deceit by Mad Season: The late, great Layne Staley brought a certain rawness to his music, the kind that is both relatable and haunting. This particular song suggests inner focus, introspection, and choice without punishment. It recognizes the difficulty in navigating a world that isn't always fair, honest, or nice. Yet, the message is that we choose to live in pain. Or we don't. He addresses the self, as well as the collective "we," juxtaposing isolation and safety in numbers.

The music itself also coaxes quiet contemplation, the acoustic guitars in their infinite ability to comfort, coupled with light percussion to keep the river moving. It's a song that serves more as a reminder to choose to live, with bright spots that suggest transformation and hope. What makes it so brilliant is that it maintains its air of solemnity. It's by no means a song that intends to inspire you to a life of positive thinking, but one that recognizes the duality of that struggle.

Feel free to share the songs that spark something compelling inside you.