Saturday, July 23, 2016

Three Favorite Walking Songs

Lately I've been partial to long walks, which have gradually been evolving into sweaty, painful runs through Florida's humid heat. And along the way, my constant companion is music.

I'm partial to sad, melancholic bands with a bit of barroom oomph and/or embedded crescendos. So let me introduce you to three of my favorites:

Exhibit A: The Strumbellas: "Spirit"

This is actually a new favorite but I can tell it's going to be sticking around. Aside from the sound, which has lots of interesting surprises -- the vocals that sound like a bunch of guys singing in a bar, the rollicking beat, and the lead singer's winsome voice -- there are also the lyrics. There's the chorus of "I got guns in my head, spirits in my head and they won't go... the gun still rattles, the gun still rattles, ohhhh" but there are also the in-between lyrics about not wanting to keep running and "waiting for my day to come" and living a half-life out of fear. It's about just plunging into your true life with hope, courage, and honesty.

Exhibit B: The Lumineers: "Angela"

The Lumineers always have interesting lyrics, and this one does not disappoint. But first, let's talk about the music. It starts off with an intimate, acoustic feel but gradually builds with a kind of down-home stomp-the-floor intensity that has almost a foreboding or urgently beseeching quality to it. But what I like best are the lyrics:

When you left this town, with your windows down
And the wilderness inside

Let the exits pass, all the tar and glass
'Til the road and sky align

The strangers in this town,
They raise you up just to cut you down
Oh Angela it's a long time coming

And your Volvo lights lit up green and white
With the cities on the signs

But you held your course to some distant war
In the corners of your mind

From the second time around
The only love I ever found
Oh Angela it's a long time coming

Home at last

Were you safe and warm in your coat of arms
With your fingers in a fist

Did you hear the notes, all those static codes
In the radio abyss?

Strangers in this town,
They raise you up just to cut you down
Oh Angela it's a long time coming
Oh Angela spent your whole life running

Home at last
Home at last

Vacancy, hotel room, lost in me, lost in you
Angela, on my knees, I belong, I believe

Home at last
Home at last
Home at last
Home at last

Home at last, hmm

How beautiful is that? Again, a dominant theme of coming home, of finding one's true life, of not living a shadow life built on lies. It's a call to honesty, authenticity, to facing down pain and moving through it with courage, and then finding someone real on the other side of it all. "Home at last."

Exhibit C: Boy and Bear: Southern Sun

I've been obsessed with this one for months. The opening 30 seconds are kind of painful (not my favorite) but the guitars and the way the sound gels in the rest of the song is just so... satisfying. The sound reminds me a lot of Fleetwood Mac, which is also one of my favorite groups (never get sick of "You Make Loving Fun" and "Gypsy" and a host of others) but of course this group is not just a replay by any means. And as for the lyrics, the part that speaks to me is this:

So come on, come on I'm ready now
Go get your things out honey, let's get ready to roll
Oh I can feel the wave coming over me
I've been waiting for this day too long just to let it all go

So once again, a song about hope, resolve, and standing up to embrace something new. It's a song for a watershed moment.

So there you have it. Three good ones to enjoy on your own walk through life. They sound much better on iTunes than they do on these videos, by the way...

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