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Longer Written Pieces

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Songs I’d Spin If I Were A Radio Programmer Today

I gotta tell it like it is, I’ve been completely uninspired by what’s on FM radio these days. And having worked for a major radio company in the past, am still baffled by how many solid songs and artists continue to get ignored. Although, I was pleasantly surprised to here Alessia Cara’s “Here” on NYC’s Z100 the other day. So props for that one thing…

Anyways, we all know that radio programmers play far too much of the same songs to the point of exhaustion. So in that regard I guess it’s OK that some of the best emerging artists and songs never “make it” to the airwaves. I mean, I really have no desire to get sick of the songs I enjoy. BUT at the end of the day, as a music industry professional and even as a general music fan, I still often find myself wondering why certain songs and artists get played and others don’t.

When I worked for that major radio company I mentioned at the top, I had the amazing opportunity to take part in the programming of a digital radio station for brand new, emerging (and even unsigned!) musicians. It was one of the highlights of my career to date. I got to thinking on my way into work one morning last week, what songs I’d like to spin (in moderation) if I had my own radio station. Here’s the songs I’ve come up with and who my audience would be for each:

The 1975 “The City” – Excuse my french, but how the fuck has this song not been spun even once on a major NYC radio station? For those who enjoy euphoric anthems.

Banks “Beggin For Thread” – For those who enjoy off-center, dark pop that’s catchy as hell.

Klingande “Jubel” – For those who enjoy life, basically. And sick beats.

Lana Del Rey “National Anthem” – Underrated jam. For those who enjoy the underdog.

Lilla Salskapet “Om vingarna bar” – For those who can enjoy the music even though they don’t have a clue what the song is about.

LIZ “XTC” – For those who liked 1998 because this one could’ve come out that year.

M83 “Midnight City” – I know people know this song but I don’t think they’ve heard it enough. For those who prefer the nighttime.

Mas Ysa “Margarita” – For those who enjoy perfection because this song is close to it. Oh and sax solo’s because perfection always involves a sax solo I don’t care what anyone says.

Tobias Jesso Jr. “How Could You Babe” – For those who enjoy a solid throwback sound and don’t mind slowing things down for just under 4 minutes.

Twin Shadow “Old Love/New Love” – For those who enjoy dancing even when they are sober.

Until The Ribbon Breaks “Revolution Indifference” f/ Run The Jewels – For those who enjoy putting their music up to 11 (yes, that’s a Spinal Tap reference).

Years & Years “Take Shelter” – For those who enjoy traveling because this trio is from the UK, where the music is way ahead of our time.

It’s My Birffffday

…And here are a few of my favorite songs that make me happy all year long!

John Mayer “Your Body Is A Wonderland” – Gotta start the birthday off right with a favorite from a favorite. Classic Johnny right here. Plus it will forever remind me of The Office’s Michael Scott and Andrew Bernard “singing” to a pair of girls they just picked up from a local Benihana.

Adam Lambert “Nirvana” – My favorite American Idol of all time. And let’s be real, he won even though he didn’t.

Bastille “Flaws” – This is one of those songs I can’t just listen to once. I always ALWAYS listen to it at least twice in a row.

The Ben Taylor Band “Surround Me” – This song is what the one ring was to Gollum, my precious.

Sarah McLachlan “Fear” – If I had to pick ONE song to listen to for the rest of my life on a deserted island, this would be it. Also, Roswell.

Collective Soul “Needs” – Because I asked them on Twitter to play this song at a show I went to and Dean Roland wrote back to me “We’ll see what we can do.” And they did.

Gavin DeGraw “Dancing Shoes” – I love this man. And I can say that because I met him for 5 seconds one night in NYC.

Lifehouse “Simon” – 2007. Starland Ballroom. New Jersey. One of the best nights of my life, concert-wise. Thank you, Lifehouse.

Goo Goo Dolls “Black Balloon” – Every time I see them perform this song live, a million balloons fall from the sky and for 3-4 minutes, it’s pure magic.

The Weepies “World Spins Madly On” – Because at the end of the day I may want the day to end. But there’s always tomorrow. And the world keeps spinning. And I’m alive. And with or without you, that’s good enough for me.

Ashes Love Notes

I’m single. And not exactly thrilled about Valentine’s Day this year (or any year) but I plan on working out, drinking wine and pampering myself so there’s that. Anyways, even if I’m not in love currently, I can still appreciate beautiful love songs. Here’s a short(ish) list of songs that you may want to cozy up to with whomever your valentine is this year, even if it’s yourself. Self-love is important people. But I digress.

Rascal Flatts “Bless The Broken Road”: For all the hopeless romantics, like myself, who still haven’t found love but imagine this song playing during the first dance at their future wedding.

Dave Matthews Band “Crash Into Me”: An essential pick for all of us who can’t get over the phenomenal music of the 90’s. Oh, and the TV show Roswell.

Marc Cohn “True Companion”: A song that has elicited many tears from my eyes sung by a man whose music is a little bit like heaven on earth.

Train “When I Look To The Sky”: For my grandparents. Always.

Amel Larrieux “Make Me Whole”: Because I don’t think enough people have heard the beautiful dream that is this song.

Ellie Goulding “Your Song: Cover song magic.

Ben Folds “The Luckiest”: For the love of the piano.

Lifehouse “You & Me”: Because Jason Wade’s voice is love.

John Mayer “The Heart Of Life”: For the love of life and living in general. ‘Cause that’s really what it’s all about, after all.

And last but never least:

Disney’s “A Whole New World”: This song, from Aladdin, can be sung by any one and I will like it. Even me. And that’s saying something.

Christmas Song Bliss

So yes, I admit they do start the Christmas music a bit too early these days – before the turkey is even on the Thanksgiving table. However, I’d definitely call myself a fan of holiday tunes (in moderation). And not those droopy, slow, boring ones from years of yonder but more modernized songs with the same Christmas spirit. Here’s a modified list of my favorite songs of the season, all of which can be found on good ‘ole Spotify!

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The entire *NSYNC Home For Christmas album. Always? Always.

Half of the 98 Degrees’ This Christmas album. Their version of “Oh Holy Night” is still my favorite.

Amy Grant “Tennessee Christmas”. No, I’m not from nor have ever been to the state, but she makes it seem awfully inviting.

Britney Spears’ “My Only Wish (This Year)”. Kind of a sad song if you really think about it. Ah, #singlelife.

Dave Barnes “Family Tree”. This song should be a Christmas staple in all houses.

Harry Connick Jr. “(It Must’ve Been Ol’) Santa Claus. This one is actually a staple for my family when we go on our annual Cape May vacation.

James Taylor “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”. Gotta love Jamesy.

Jimmy Buffett “Ho Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Rum”. He’s the best.

Kelly Clarkson “My Grown Up Christmas List”. Lyrically, one of my favorite holiday songs.

Michael Buble “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”. The most polite Christmas tune.

New Kids On The Block “Last Night I Saw Santa Claus”. I mean, does this even need an explanation?

*NSYNC “You Don’t Have To Be Alone (On Christmas)”. Yes they are on the list again. What are you going to do about it? 🙂

Rob Thomas “A New York Christmas”. As a native NY’er, I’ve always loved this little ditty.

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