...The following represent times where I've held onto these songs for dear life.
1. The Police- Message in a Bottle
Who hasn't "felt like a castaway, an island lost at sea?" Nobody could speak better to isolation and loneliness than Sting during the early Police days. He certainly spoke to a ten year old living in a strange land.
2. U2- 40
I love concert closing, hold up your lighter songs. With the exception of maybe Peter Gabriel's "Biko", no song comes as close as "40." And this tune really embodies what the band and Bono the man and the humanitarian are all about. If there was ever an anthem, a prayer, an embodiment that rock and roll CAN change the world...this one's it.
3. The Talking Heads- Naive Melody (This Must Be the Place)
Shawn Colvin reinterpreted the song with the emotional depth and femininity it needed, but going back, I get more out of David Byrne's wonderfully strained vocals now than ever before.
4. Wilco- Jesus, Etc.
Though not ABOUT the event, the poignant strings and the words "tall buildings shake, voices escape singing sad, sad songs" had a haunting, yet comforting, post 9/11 resonance to me than any other song, even stuff on Bruce's "The Rising" (sorry, Steve).
5. Nick Drake- Northern Sky
Without a doubt, the most beautiful love song ever written. The piano, holy organ and Nick's kind, ghostly voice rise the music to cloud-level heights; spirit lifting, life affirming.
6. John Lennon- Imagine
No explanation needed.
7. The Clash- Straight to Hell
The Eastern scene of commercialism and Western abandonment Joe Strummer paints make this the Clash's quietest, yet angriest song they ever wrote- the slow, mean burn of reality.
8. Van Morrison- Into the Mystic
My wannabe gypsy soul and imagination has been rocked to life many times by this this tune.
9. Al Green- Let's Stay Together
If there was ever a song I WISH I could sing, this one would be it. It's the deepest, simplest profession of love you could ever say to somebody, yet Al is a bit plaintive: "Why, why some people break up...Then turn around and make up...I just can't see." I know.
10. Joni Mitchell- Amelia
I have a love of flying and this song always did it for me. But, it's less about a trail blazing pilot as it is lost chances and close calls in other aspects of the human condition. It's dramatic, vivid and beautiful. Typical Joni.
...and very, very honorable mentions to:
1. Bruce Cockburn- Lovers in a Dangerous Time
2. Ron Sexsmith- Strawberry Blonde
3. Tom Waits- Whistle Down the Wind
4. Ricki Lee Jones- Flying Cowboys
5. Red House Painters- Have You Forgotten?
6. Patty Griffin- Moses
7. Peter Gabriel- Secret World
8. Lyle Lovett- If I Had a Boat
9. The Sundays- My Finest Hour
10. Thomas Dolby- The Flat Earth
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