Doing whatever it takes in the November rain. Just try it

I’m driving my son to hockey on a rainy Sunday afternoon. We are listening to his pump-up playlist by request and as we wait at a red light he asks me, “Dad, what is your single favorite song in the world?” I’m silent. This is not a mind-blowing question. I get it all the time, but I know he’s going to grab a hold to my answer and have more of interest in the “why” as opposed to the “what”. I think about it and respond by saying I have a few, but if I had to pick one it would be from the Pearl Jam catalog. I volley the question to the backseat. He also ponders and then with force awards it to Imagine Dragons. We decide — over the next day, we would both compile our top 10 songs with the reason and then report back to each other.

With the thought fresh in my mind I scribbled a list while watching him practice, literally with the rink glass serving as my writing support. I noticed two things in doing this exercise: 1.) it’s very hard. 2.) not only creating my list, but detailing the meaning behind why it made the cut was very refreshing. Jotting this soundtrack to your life down on a page serves as a kind of catharsis, and provides a sincere perspective. To submerse myself in this process, I made a playlist of just these songs and found myself bopping and singing out loud along with them while walking down the street, without a care in the world.

So, here are my 10 today. The descriptions attached are what the songs mean to me, which may be completely different from what the writer’s intended meaning actually is or what the song is about. Regardless, give it try sometime. The result is — you end up listening to your favorite songs, appreciating the spirit they inject into your life and most of all… it just makes you feel good.

“I Got Id” by: Pearl Jam

This song has a unique touch where somehow the music, namely the guitar riffs, match the emotion and vibe of the lyrics. It spoke to me the moment I heard it in 1995, and it gets me all the way through each time I hear it still today. I feel everything. Deeply. And I feel this song from the first note to the last. From the guitar melodies to Eddie Vedder’s vulnerable delivery of such honest words. It was my introduction to self-expression via art that constantly serves as a beautiful reminder. Picture a cup in the middle of the sea.

“Overjoyed” by: Stevie Wonder

A classic filled with heart and soul, this was my introduction to music. My mother played it for me and then took me to see Stevie Wonder in concert at five-years-old. Like “I Got Id”, some songs make you sail away from the opening riff. I glide with the piano here, right into wonder that is Stevie. Plus, is there a better feeling in the world than “Overjoyed”?

“November Rain” by: Guns N’ Roses

I would sit my basement for hours impatiently awaiting the video for “November Rain” to play. The progressions throughout the nine minutes and seventeen seconds are so unique. Each turn is captivating and Slash just perfectly lights the whole damn thing on fire. This song always makes me say, “Wow, look what music can be. Look what music can do.”

“Millworker” by: James Taylor

Me and my machine. Roll up your sleeves. Dig deep and keep grinding. What fascinates me with “Millworker” is that in the narrative of the song, it doesn’t actually seem to work out favorably for the main character, but somehow, Taylor inspires you to believe that it can for you.

“Point of View” by: Silverchair

“You’ll make it through, with another point of view”. That line is essentially what’s imprinted on the promotional banner tied to the back of the airplane that flies around inside my head. Daniel Johns has always been one of my favorite voices (literally) on the planet. Records are his canvases and his outpouring vocal prowls are his paints. The pre-chorus here is so simple and melodic. I am constantly amazed on how the wave of just one tiny word can carry me away… very profound words like “ittttttttt” and “againnnnn” in “Point of View”.

“Whatever It Takes” by: Imagine Dragons

This is the only song on my list that is relatively new to the airwaves. There’s a ton of sentimental value here. I’ve always been infatuated with the endless power contained in the phrase “Whatever it Takes”. The Imagine Dragons version is like a Rocky Balboa theme bundled with up-beat instruments and an authentic anthem from Dan Reynolds. What Imagine Dragons are continuously doing with their platform simply amazes me. This represents that fortitude and always recalibrates my “Point of View” when needed.

“Three Little Birds” by: Bob Marley

There’s something spiritual about befriending Bob Marley in the morning as you sip your coffee and watch the sunrise. It seems to properly set your frame of mind. With “Three Little Birds”, I fly on the wings of feeling grateful right into the open arms of Jamaica – my favorite place on earth, and a culture that celebrates daily life. Mr. Marley was a pioneer on that mission. Thus, there’s an unmatched tranquility to visualizing three little birds at my door step singing sweet songs.

“Find the River” by: R.E.M.

Michael Stipe’s voice is sensational. My definition of that is — that it contains so many senses while maintaining a rich and velvet-esque purity. “Find the River” appreciates the struggle of the climb. It beautifully captures the journey not the destination. There are plenty of downs (“nothing is going my way”) in navigating this river, but it ends as it should — a reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more feeling as it closes the curtains on Automatic For The People with; “Strength and courage overrides, the privileged and weary eyes, of river poet search naivete. Pick up here and chase the ride, the river empties to the tide, ALL of this is coming your way.” Come on, that lyric is not even fair.

“Come And Get It” by: The Beatles

If you want something, go get it. This song by the melody masters, the melody goats, the melody inventors, practiced what it preached. It took years for it to be recognized and displayed as a Beatles song. Paul McCartney believed in himself when no one else did. It worked out pretty well for him.

“Blow Up The Outside World” by: Soundgarden

Oh man… there are a million reasons why this rolling thunder of a masterpiece is on my list. I’ve given everything I could here, burrowed down in, and this is all I can come up with. I just miss Chris Cornell.

Honorable Mention:
“Placed on Hold” by: Mutemath
“Not Ready To Make Nice” by: The Dixie Chicks
“Sometimes” by: Candlebox
“Be Here Now” by: Ray LaMontagne
“Look Around” by: Blues Traveler
“The Wind: by: Amos Lee

Featured art by Jay Alders, for more visit