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i do music things with my butterfly wings

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Longer Written Pieces

Cover Girl

Here’s a list of some solid cover songs I’ve landed on recently plus a Boyce Avenue one I’ve loved for some time now.

Such a beautiful, slow-downed version of the original.

LOVE me a good, solid Boyce Avenue cover. This take of MJ’s “Will You Be There” (from the 90’s Free Willy movie, ah nostalgia!), is probably my favorite of all his covers. And he has a lot.

This is such a gorgeous song to begin with and when you throw Brett Dennen’s unique voice on top of that, you have yourself a brilliant cover.

Just lovely.

A fun, acoustic version of one of the most fun songs of all time.

I’ve always thought this song had such a great tune – the version I’m most familiar with is the Stars On 54, dance version – and this subdued version proves that this song is timeless.

I find this song very melancholic but it’s one of my favorite Beatles songs and this is a great take on the original. FYI I highly recommend listening to more of Imaginary Future if you haven’t – he recorded some other covers worth checking out.

I don’t have much faith in friendship these days, but Joshua Radin is one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters, bonus points for him being a really nice guy (at least he was the night I met him briefly back when I worked in the biz, as they call it), and this cover is super sweet like him.

SEAWAVES is another artist that not only has created some beautiful covers (like this one), but has some good, original tunes to listen to as well.

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The Greatest Showman

You know when you watch a movie and it kinda stays with you days after seeing it? I saw The Greatest Showman on New Years Day (2018) and I can’t stop thinking about how perfect it was. And ironically, one of the main themes running throughout the movie is learning to embrace your imperfections.

While the story is beautiful, timeless, and often breathtaking, what really got me (as it often does) is the music. I was blown away by how amazing the music was – Every. Single. Song. I was reading something about how even though the movie takes place in the 1800’s, the music was purposely meant to sound contemporary to showcase how ahead of his time P. T. Barnum was.

There really is no stand out to the soundtrack as it’s amazing from beginning to end, but the song that I’m partial to is “A Million Dreams.”

 

My Year In Music: According to Spotify

I’ve been a big Spotify fan since I personally dethroned Apple/iTunes years ago as the place to listen to and discover new music. I’m also a big fan of year-end lists, especially when they are related to music. So, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but an email with a link to a playlist of my top songs of 2017 (courtesy of Spotify)…  it was like Christmas came early this year.

Aside from compiling my Top 100 songs of 2017 playlist, the musical elves at Spotify also sent me some interesting facts about my year in music. My favorite fact? It’s 2017, which is 2 weeks away from being 20 years since *NSYNC appeared on the pop music seen and THEY WERE STILL MY TOP ARTIST OF THE YEAR. Twenty. Years. Later. That made me smile.

Some more of my personal, music trends:

According to Spotify, I listened to over 13,000 minutes of music: over 2,000 different songs from 940 different artist across 55 genres.

Aside from *NSYNC, my other top artists were Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen and The Goo Goo Dolls.

My most played song of the year was Hailee Steinfeld’s “Most Girls.” My other top songs included: “Flame” by Tinashe, “Dark Side” by Phoebe Ryan, “Call On Me” by Starley, and “Barcelona” by Ed Sheeran.

My top genre was pop (not at all surprising.) Other top genres included dance pop, post-teen pop (not quite sure what that is), neo mellow (not a clue), and pop rock.

If you like some of the music on my blog, here’s a link to my top 100 played songs from 2017:

Happy Holidays!!!

–Ashes

My Soul Food

This post was inspired by listening (crying) to Sam Smith’s most recent work of art, The Thrill Of It All. I’ll admit that I wasn’t blown away by his first single off the album, “Too Good At Goodbyes”, however I consistently find that I like non-singles better (for all artists) and this time was no different. Highlights of the album for me were: “Pray”, “Nothing Left For You”, “Scars” and “The Thrill of It All”. But the song that made me weep like a baby was the album’s final track, “One Day At A Time.” Any adjectives I write here would not do the song justice so I won’t even try to describe it. But aside from the cigarette mention in the chorus lyrics (because smokers are jokers), it’s a pretty perfect song.

ANYWAYS, I was inspired to listen to my Soul Food playlist on Spotify after hearing Sam’s album and I gotta say, sometimes you need to add a little soul to your musical diet. I often find this playlist too intense to listen to because of the emotions it forces out of me, but the music and raw talent of these artists is worth the emotional pain. Below, are some of the most lyrically touching and vocally mesmerizing songs I’ve ever heard.

Parson James “Waiting Game” – Those first few piano notes and I’m already done. Listen to this song with tissues. You’ve been warned.

Joss Stone “Free Me (2017)” – Joss’s (Joss’?) voice is one-of-a-kind.

Sam Smith “Nirvana” – My favorite song of Sam’s.

Samm Henshaw “Only Wanna Be With You (Unplugged)” – I stumbled upon this song recently and have never looked back. The epitome of a love song, this has become one of my all-time favorites.

Tobias Jesso Jr. “How Could You Babe” – Doing a complete 180 here, this is the epitome of a heartbreak song. I mean, the painfully beautiful way Tobias belts it out is so good it’s almost unfair.  Like, can you throw some of your talent my way, babe?

CeeLo Green “Fuck You” – Some may not classify this honest, to-the-point song as soul but this is my blog and I DEFINITELY do. I mean, I play this song and I’m instantly feeling better about everything. The same thing happens when I eat chocolate chip cookies… or cheese fries. Hands down one of the best songs to ever happen to pop music.

No Words

As a race, I think we’re failing ourselves and the future. This planet, this place that we call home, is so precious and we’re just making everything harder for ourselves as a whole. We humans overthink everything, fight about everything, and make a big deal out of everything. At the end of the day, none of us have forever, so why can’t we all just be kind and learn to live with one another in peace now? I know it’s wishful thinking but we’re all thinking it… or at least many of us are.

Anyways, when it gets too noisy and busy out in the world I like to listen to music that puts me in a more relaxed and calm state of mind. Instrumental music, in particular for me, creates that sense of zen. Songs don’t need words to tell a story, after all.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite instrumental pieces:

The Band Perry “Comeback Kid”

This song is incredibly meaningful for me to post because today, if someone asked me “What’s new?,” I could reply with a resounding “yes!” Today, I’m starting a new job (and hopefully one day, career) in healthcare administration. The road to this day has been the most treacherous journey of self-loathing, self-discovery and self-acceptance that I have ever gone through. Physically, I came out of this dark tunnel 15 pounds lighter, stronger and a year older. Mentally, while I still have a long way to go, I am at a place where I am more open to change, and more understanding of the fact that life is never (ever) going to go the way I expect it to. Emotionally, I’m still working on coming to terms with my personal flaws and shortcomings. However, I’ve slowly begun to acknowledge that they will always be ingrained in me as a part of the person I am. And if anyone has a problem with me or the way I live my life, they do not belong in it. It’s been a big growing up year for me to say the least.

***

In 2015, I was a very different person. I was sad, lethargic, bored, overwhelmed, overweight and all around over life. I was laid off from a soul-sucking job in a soul-sucking company. As a highly-educated, college graduate, I could not come to terms with the fact that I had to apply for unemployment. Obviously I applied, but I was embarrassed and ashamed. I was mad at myself for letting it get to that point. While I had no control over the outcome of that particular situation, I felt I made a mistake in college-that I should’ve chosen another major. Why did I have to choose communications? What does that even mean? Where do I go from here? I applied and applied to countless jobs and maybe a handful, if that, contacted me. I interviewed for even less than that and wasn’t offered anything. Who the hell were these employers hiring? I felt completely lost without a map in sight.

Aside from not having a job, I was constantly comparing myself to all of my friends who were already married and now having babies, getting tenure and buying houses. They were all settling down and here I was jobless, boyfriend-less, apartment-less and overall clueless. It was one of the worst times of my life. I felt that I had no purpose, that there was no point for me to be in this world. I even went so far as to wonder why I was born. What good could I possibly bring to anyone or anything? It got severely dark inside my head… Still does.

I thought I had hit rock bottom and yet I found myself falling even more. How was that even possible or logical? Well, I discovered that rock bottom is more like a large black hole that can suck you down and down and down if you don’t do anything to at least try to change your current situation. So one day, that’s what I did. One day, I made the decision to stop applying for jobs in the music/media industry and try something else. Even if I wasn’t getting paid I wanted to go some place where I could be useful and feel that there was a reason to wake up and get out of bed. So I applied for a volunteer position in the behavioral health department at a hospital. And I got it.

I have always been interested in psychology and mental health having personally battled anxiety and depression since 2009. I assumed I’d have to go back to 10+ years of schooling to work in this field but upon volunteering, I realized I don’t have to be an actual psychologist. I don’t even have to work directly with patients. I could utilize my current office and administration skills and pick up new ones within this specific field as I go along. And that’s what I did. It’s what I’m continuing to do. I’m not going to lie and say that luck didn’t play a part in it. Luck always plays a part in it. But I think everyone deserves a little luck every now and then, especially after putting in the hard work.

Today, I can honestly say that I am in the process of coming back from one of the darkest, loneliest places a person can go. At the end of the day, while there are so many things I thought I’d have in my life by this age, I am proud of the woman I am right now in this moment. I may not fully understand her, and I may not even fully love her yet, but I respect her more than ever.

***

My individual path is not straight. It is not traditional. It is not a fairytale. I’m not the girl who stands tall with confidence. I’m not the girl with the corner office. I’m not the girl who gets the guy. I’m not the girl who knows what to say or when to say it. But you know who I am? I’m the girl who is always there for her friends. I’m the girl who is completely in love with her family. I’m the girl who will always forgive those who have hurt her. I’m the girl who wakes up every day with the full knowledge that she may never wake up next to someone who loves her and still goes out and does actual things… That’s who I am.

My path is winding. It is lined with rejection, insecurity, failure and heartache. There are dark forests filled with my fears and many, many ghosts lingering about. Yet recently, I’ve been noticing small yet significant changes to this path of mine. Patches of courage. Blossoms of inspiration. Echoes of laughter. And gratitude. Streams (and streams!) of gratitude. I’m starting to enjoy the twists and turns. But it got me thinking…

Maybe it wasn’t the path that changed after all.

Maybe it was me.

 

ROADIES (TV Show Review)

As someone who has personally spent 8 years working in the music industry and countless days and nights putting on live events and productions, I can tell you that Cameron Crowe’s Roadies (airing Sundays at 10pm on Showtime) has hit the right note in capturing the chaotic essence of the live music business.

That being said, the main difference between this show and reality is that these characters (Reg, Kelly Anne, Bill, Wes) are MUCH more likable than most of the production people I’ve encountered in real life. Side note: Rafe Spall’s performance as Reg is inspiring and adorable; his greatest line so far in Episode 6 was when he told (that bitch) Janine that he doesn’t understand show people. So true. They are definitely a different breed.

Aside from the brilliant acting (Imogen Poots), I’ve been loving the music selections chosen for each episode and the fact that real musicians (keyword: MUSICIANS) who write and play their own music, make cameos. My favorite so far has been Lindsay Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) – his acoustic rendition of “Bleed To Love Her” was breathtaking. I was also happy to hear some of my favorites like “Come On Get Higher” (Matt Nathanson) and “Everything’s Embarassing” (Sky Ferreira.) And enjoyed discovering some new tunes like “I Wish I Was Sober” (Frightened Rabbit) and “Longer Days” (John Mellencamp.)

If music is a part of your life in any capacity, I’d highly recommend checking out this show.

I Regress

Oh the 90’s. The pre-9/11 era of innocence. When I had all the friends in the world and no cares aside from homework and choosing which *NSYNC member I wanted to marry (FYI I believe that honor ultimately went to JC)… There was and will always be something special about the music from this decade. Running home from school to watch TRL with my friends, recording our favorite music videos on VHS tapes and rewinding and then replaying them 10 times in a row to practice the dance moves, calling in to Z100’s 9 at 9 when it was still cool, making cassette tape mixes, going to The Wiz to buy new singles (literally, one song on a cassette or CD). Ah it was amazing and I’m super happy my childhood and pre-teen years occurred before social media took over. Everything is too easy to consume now. We had to work for it. Go 80’s babies!

Anyways, from the height of the boy band era, to the ultimate pop princesses, to sweet r&b and hip-hop, here’s a list of some of my favorite classic 90’s jams (ok most are from 1999 because apparently that was the best year for music but still):

Backstreet Boys “The One” and “I Want It That Way” – Millennium is arguably (but not really because it is) their best album. “The One” is an intergalactic upbeat love song, and no one on planet earth can decipher what’s going on lyrically in “I Want It That Way”(and believe me they’ve tried), which makes it even more special.

Boyz II Men “I’ll Make Love To You” – I saw these lovely men live in concert 2 years ago for the first time and damn, they’ve still got it. If you want to please any crowd, just throw on this song.

Brandy “Almost Doesn’t Count” – Brandy’s 1998 Never Say Never album was on constant replay in my CD player. This song always sounded good but the lyrics and message started to mean more over the years.

Britney Spears “…Baby One More Time” – My best friend and I choreographed our own dance to this song and performed it dressed up as Ginger and Baby Spice for our family. Because that’s how we entertained ourselves back then. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” – 90’s kids, we’ll never let go.

Christina Aguilera “Genie In A Bottle” – This is when pop started getting a bit more “edgy”, a bit more “sexy”. Her debut album was always one of my favorites.

Chumbawamba “Tubthumping” – Who doesn’t want to piss the night away to this jam?

Destiny’s Child “Say My Name” – Ugh, I love the all-female, girl-power groups of the 90’s. These ladies were the perfect amount of fierce.

Hanson “MMMBop” – No explanation needed.

Jessica Simpson “I Think I’m In Love With You” – I had like 20 crushes in the 90’s and I dedicated this song to all of them.

Jordan Knight “Give It To You” – One of the many songs way too sexual for us at the time but we had no idea what the hell was going on so no harm done.

K-CI & JoJo “All My Life” – Pure r&b perfection. I mean, people were obsessed with this song. Myself included.

LFO “Summer Girls” – This super popular song was like nothing we’d ever heard before and we consumed it like scavengers.

Mariah Carey “Always Be My Baby” – This sweet song is a staple in any 90’s music collection. And if it’s not in yours you should be ashamed of yourself! (Just kidding but seriously)

Monica “Angel Of Mine” – They just don’t make jams like this anymore.

Every *NSYNC song that came out in the 90’s – Praise. Here’s “I Want You Back” since it was the first single.

Real McCoy “Another Night” – The quintessential 90’s dance track.

Robyn “Show Me Love” – Today’s pop stars should just bow down because you can’t compete with this masterpiece of a song.

Sisqo “Thong Song” – Enough mushy love songs. I want to go back to a time when the hottest song on the radio was about thongs dammit!

Spice Girls “Wannabe” – My favorite girl group of all time. What 90’s girl didn’t sing along to this song with her friends and feel like the coolest person in the world? None of them.

Epic

I haven’t posted in a bit because I haven’t heard anything worthwhile in about a week or two. So I decided to write this post instead…

I firmly believe that every one of us wants to hear something epic every now and then. A song that moves us to the point of stillness. A song that captures a moment in our lives so perfectly yet we’ve never even crossed paths with the artist singing the words. So, how would they know how we’re feeling?

Music, as said time and time again, is a universal language. And when you hear lyrics that resonate with you and melodies that travel deep down into your veins, it kind of makes you feel not so alone. That someone out there gets you and how you feel. And that’s powerful. That’s epic.

Below is a list of some of the epic songs in my life. What are yours?

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The Ben Taylor Band “Surround Me” – A hug in the form of a song.

Cary Brothers “Honestly” – This song reminds me of the fall, my favorite season. When the leaves are their most colorful and there’s a slight crispness to everything. When there is so much beauty around you, yet you can still be sad.

Chantal Kreviazuk “Time” – An anthem I’ve been in love with for a long time.

Delta Rae “Dance In The Graveyards” – The embodiment of joy and happiness.

Ella Eyre “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” – Her voice. Those words. That passion. I’ve never met a cover song I’ve loved so dearly.

John Mayer “The Heart Of Life” – My favorite from my all-time favorite.

Kate Bush “This Woman’s Work” – A heartbreakingly beautiful song.

Kodaline “All I Want” – This one might be the most sonically epic on this list. And the video is one of my favorites.

Kwabs “Perfect Ruin” – Every time I hear this song I fall in love with it all over again. When it’s over, I get kind of upset until I realize, that’s what the back button is for. Repeat! And believe me, I do. Every time.

Lifehouse “Simon” – This song reminds me of a time when music was about the music itself. Some of my favorite live music experiences were watching this band live.

Mumford & Sons “After The Storm” – This one is epic in the most delicate form.

Sheryl Crow “I Shall Believe” – If you ever watched the episode of Roswell (RIP) where Liz dances with future Max to this stunner, and you were single at the time you watched it, and nearly twenty years have passed and you’re still single, then this one would get to you too.

Sia “Breathe Me” – Remember when Myspace had background music for your profile page? Remember Myspace? …Well, this was one of the first songs I chose for mine and I felt sooooo cool because it wasn’t a well-known song at the time. Plus the lyrics and piano beat were darker than anything on the 9 at 9 (Z100 reference). My profile page may be long gone but I still feel cool as shit when this songs lives on through my headphones.

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