photo mash-up by: Anthony Friscotti, Mike Cassella, Austin Roa

Featuring Candlebox, Brandi Carlile and Hozier

“You’re feeling nervous, aren’t you, boy? You get discouraged, don’t you, girl?
You gotta dance with the devil on a river to beat the stream.”

“And you’re looking tired, but you don’t look scared.”

You know the feeling…you wake up and the same record that was blasting inside your head as you laid down to rest is somehow still spinning. It may be that it’s simply a song you heard on the radio the day before, while other times, it’s a bit deeper than that. You found the perfect sonic companion to match how you are feeling in the moment. It can be from your favorite artist, something new that resonates in a way you’ve been searching for, or perhaps, there’s just one lyric glowing within an entire song that understands more than anyone else could.

My songs for right now contain parts of all these reasons. I will explain my sequencing at the end, as each of them are totally different in nature and have their eyes set on specific nerves to strike (or calm). They set up shop with me to the point where I compiled a dedicated playlist… of just these three songs. It’s funny, often you do everything you can to push out a song that is stuck in your head. But try embracing it. Ask yourself – why is this loop the soundtrack to my day or week? Did I seek it out or did it find me? And furthermore – what is it doing and how is it making me feel?

photo by: Jeff Gorra

“Blossom” by Candlebox:

I saw Candlebox in concert on April 17th. “Blossom” was the third song played in the set. I was seated/standing on an elevated overhang within the mezzanine, right above guitarist Brian Quinn and frontman, Kevin Martin. Without much introduction the band breaks into this moody gem from their self-titled debut. About one minute in, a set of nine words illuminate upon the stage like the spotlight hit them – “Yes, I know now it’s all on my own.”

Sometimes, with whatever it is you have on your plate – served to you or selected yourself, you are on your own. This doesn’t mean you have no one or that you’ve closed yourself off to the rest of the world, but in certain situations, each of us are simply left to handle our own business as an army of one. Nobody is in the same position as you – you may feel compassion and empathy from outside sources, but the path to navigate is yours and yours alone.

Acknowledgment. Acceptance.

This is an example of music finding me in a timely fashion. The hook here after the line that sucks me in is “as you blossom everyday”. I’m not sure what exactly Martin wrote this song about or what the intended takeaway is supposed to be, but for me, right now, it’s about taking ownership, and believing in yourself. Blossoming every day is deceiving because often you don’t notice the small steps, and that’s what it is – a gradual overcoming, a gradual rise. Call it kickin’ the ladder….

photo by: Mike Cassella

“The Joke” by: Brandi Carlile:

“I see you tugging on your shirt, trying to hide inside of it and hide how much it hurts.” But – “don’t ever let them steal your joy.” I sought out “The Joke” namely to compliment “Blossom”. By now, I am assuming there is not a person on the planet who has not at least heard of this song given its mainstream success and Grammy propelling. It’s well-deserved, but I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written. 

Certain tunes grab me in a way that make me gasp, open my eyes and shoot chills down my spine from literally the opening note. Often that includes a piano or rhythmic guitar riff to set the vibe. “The Joke” is a perfect example of that. I’m a Rocky Balboa freak and I’d like to think if the 40-year Rocky story was thrown into a blender and then translated to song form it would be this Carlile masterpiece.

Did you see Carile perform on the Grammys? I’m still thinking about it now, almost three months later. You know I’m big on delivery and my God was it remarkable. During the performance, one of the only lines Carlile altered in this anthem to keep going as the individual that you are was “but you don’t look scared”… the last line of the second verse. The counterpart to the – you are on your own feeling of “you’re looking tired.”

You got knocked down, but you got back up. Very few songs that I have come across in my life move me like this one. Speaking of which…

photo by: Austin Roa

“Movement” by Hozier:

I have been listening to Hozier’s Wasteland, Baby record religiously since its release on March 1st. While the entire album consists of songs flowing with emotion, I keep selecting track number three as my go-to to start the journey within. It’s straightforward yet prolific in melody, and profound in its messaging. Here I go again about delivery, but leading into the final chorus, Hozier starts vibrating his voice as a wind-up before launching into the final outpour and letting it all go. The reason I harp on delivery so much is because it demonstrates a ton regarding how much the art means to the artist.

This song is a feeling. It’s a song about movement that moves itself, while moving you internally, while encouraging you to … well, move. Like you have nothing left to prove and nothing to lose.

“Move like grey skies
Move like a bird of paradise
Move like an odd sight, come out at night.”

When I open this triple-threat playlist all I do is hit shuffle. For some reason, each time it plays in this exact order.

So, blossom all on your own, don’t back down and keep moving.

What song is stuck in your head right now? And why?