Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Gut Music

If you've glanced at my profile, you know that one of my interests/loves is "classic rock". Note: I use this terminology, which I find rather limiting and condescending, only because it seems to be the least ambiguous way these days to refer to what used to just be called "rock" - as opposed to the noise that my kids listen to. [Gee, I'm sure my parents said the same thing about my music 30 years ago!] For similar reasons, I accept (tolerate) the classification of "Orthodox" Jew, though I find that term even more deceptive and derogatory. But I digress...

I'm thinking about this today, as Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" plays in the background, because we've just entered the "three weeks", during which many follow the practice/custom of not listening to music. My own practice has always been to avoid live music during this time, as well as during sefira, but not to extend this stricture to radio/recorded music. This has always seemed eminently logical to me. Clearly, recorded music did not exist when the custom of not listening to music - which
really started out as not attending weddings or other occasions of simcha - was first instituted. And just as clearly, having a live band playing before one is a quantum leap ahead, simcha-wise, of simply flipping a switch.

But while this argument is certainly rational, I admit that it is also, to some degree, a rationalization. The truth is, the release that rock music give me, on physical,
emotional, and even spiritual levels, would be very difficult to give up for these extended periods each year. I can't even imagine what it would have been like, to have gone through my recent year of mourning for my father without it. To say nothing of my current situation.

Bottom line, my "Orthodox" Jewish beliefs/practices notwithstanding, rock music is an important part of who I am. I wouldn't exactly say it's in my soul, it's more like in my gut. And there are certain songs in particular that, for me, are gut-wrenching. These songs seem to have just the right mix of
tune, beat, instrumentation, lyric, and vocal to evoke an utterly visceral reaction. Each one gets me right there - and each time I hear it just as much as the first time. Sometimes I refer to them as "songs that give me goosebumps". I'll end this post with my "top ten+1" list of these songs (in no definite order):
  • "Jungleland", Bruce Springsteen
  • "Roll Me Away", Bob Seger
  • "My Little Town", Paul Simon
  • "I've Got A Name", Jim Croce
  • "Miracles Out Of Nowhere", Kansas
  • "Brown Eyes", Fleetwood Mac
  • "The Letter (live version)", Joe Cocker
  • "Blue Collar Man", Styx
  • "Crazy On You", Heart
  • "Whipping Post", Allman Brothers
  • "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding", Elton John
Comments welcome, as always. In particular, do you have a list like this?


At 7/26/05, 7:18 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

I don't know if this is quite what you're looking for. But I still feel pretty strongly about the songs mentioned here. Although now that I have a Temptations collection, I'd have to add "My Girl." In general these are songs I could listen to again and again. Maybe since you've brought it up, I'll answer the trivia questions on my blog.
BTW, I don't listen to recorded music. I really feel like I'm missing something when I don't so it reminds me of the mourning during these times.

At 7/27/05, 10:08 AM, Blogger Elie said...


Thanks for the link to your post from January. I like all the songs you listed though I don't think they would necessarily be on my own top ten list.

BTW, this may be somewhat hairsplitting but the list I posted were not necessarily my favorite songs, but rather the songs that hit me in a certain emotional way. Maybe half of them would also be on my top ten or twenty favorites list. I've tried to compile such a list a couple of times, but it's very hard to narrow it down.

Though I know my tastes are at least somewhat outside the mainstream. E.g., in any [classic] rock station countdown of the top 100/500/1000 songs, "Stairway to Heaven" is invariably #1, but it wouldn't make my top 100. It's not even my favorite Led Zep song.

At 7/27/05, 11:27 AM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

I understand but my standard is what songs do I have no trouble listening to again and again and again. On my CD's I'd listend to "Operator" and "Brandy" the most I think. Repeatedly.

At 7/27/05, 11:36 AM, Blogger Elie said...

Actually "Operator" would probably make at least my top 20 as well. Wonderful, touching song.

BTW, I was the friend you quoted in your January post as speculating that Croce would have been much bigger if he hadn't died when he did. I was in turn quoting an my cousin's opinion, which I agreed with at the time. In retrospect I doubt he would have been quite mega-superstar material; probably more on the popularity level of a James Taylor or Jackson Browne.

At 7/27/05, 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I would never include Joe Cocker on any list of favorites; not after he butchered I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends.

Most Beatles songs do it for me, especially She Loves You, I Feel Fine, and the chorus from Hey Jude. My favorite Beatles cut is the live version of She Loves You from the Live at the Hollywood Bowl album. I remember the first time I heard it on the radio - I was sitting on my bed tying my tennis shoes; my mouth opened and my shoe fell on the floor until the song was over.

Other chilling songs:
House of the Rising Sun, Animals
In the Year 2525, Zager & Evans
**Ode to Billy Joe, Bobbie Gentry**
Revolution #9, Beatles
Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd
Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd
Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, Meatloaf (sorry David)
Swingtown, Steve Miller Band
Jet, Paul MCCartney & Wings

At 7/27/05, 12:31 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

I was about to post a similar comment about Joe Cocker. I don't much like his "the Letter" either. But music's about taste and that's as subjective as it gets.
Don't apologize to me (do I know you?) but I don't much like Phil Rizzuto so that poisoned PbtDL for me! Anyway I much preferred "You took the words right out of my mouth" to "Paradise..." so it wasn't even my second favorite song on the album.
You're right. I was quoting you about Jim Croce.

At 7/27/05, 1:01 PM, Blogger Elie said...


Thanks for the comments!

Agree with you about Cocker's butchering of "I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends". I don't like him in general ("You Are So Beautiful" is painful to listen to!) but "The Letter" is my exception. It's almost a totally different song than the original and one of the few examples where the power of a live version comes across on tape. Of course, as David says, this is all a matter of taste.

I like most of your other "chilling" songs and "House of the Rising Sun" should have been on my "gut" list. Never cared for "In the Year 2525" though, nor "Revolution 9" - one of the only two Beatles songs that was just too strange for me to get into at all - the other being "You've Got My Name, Look Up the Number".

As for "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" - well, that one's kind of special for me! I'll elaborate in another post, hopefully later today. :-)

At 7/27/05, 2:17 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Revolution #9 has to be listened to with good earphones in a dark room. AB taught me that.

At 7/27/05, 9:15 PM, Blogger Elie said...

Shouldn't that be Professor AB? :-)

I'll have to try that headphones experiment sometime. Though from my recollections of Revolution #9, I'd probably have nightmares afterwards..

At 8/11/05, 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

green day holiday
sugarcult bouncing off the walls
maroon 5 this love
yellowcard ocean ave
simple plan shut up
switchfoot dare you to move
linkin park numb
good charlotte anthem
blink 182 feeling this
jimmy eat world pain

At 8/12/05, 9:08 AM, Blogger Elie said...

See what I mean?



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