One of my job duties with WordPress.com is to write the daily prompts at Plinky.com, which is our tool for helping people come up with new blog posts. We call it our “cure for writer’s block.”
Because I am often quite busy at work, I don’t get a lot of time to answer my own prompts. Today, my co-worker Stephane (who does all the technical legwork keeping Plinky up and running) took the time to answer today’s question: Name three songs you never get sick of. Inspired by his decision to take time out of our busy workday to answer the prompt, so did I. And it was fun going down the musical memory lane…
This is a song about supporting each other, being a friend, in times of great stress. We’ve all been there, on both sides of a crisis — having it happen to us, or watching it happen to a friend.
Though this song was written before Sept. 11, 2001, the lyrics were eerily prescient, with lines like “tall buildings shake, voices escape, singing sad sad songs.” The album was actually set to publish on 9/11, but the horror of that day delayed the release.
In general, Wilco represents, for me, a growth in my taste of music. I grew up listening to country music — being from South Texas, that was the main option, especially if you wanted to see live music. Wilco is known as “alt-country” — the instruments sound like traditional country-western music, but the lyrics are a lot more grown up. I can’t get enough of them, especially this song.
A lot of today’s country music has devolved into sophomoric and superficial songs that lack originality and focus on the “redneck lifestyle” (case in point: a top song on the Billboard charts right now is “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer”).
Even one of the genre’s greatest artists, George Strait, has (somewhat) fallen into this trend and I don’t bother with his current releases. But his earlier albums showed his knack for selecting songs (he doesn’t write many of his own) that are now legendary examples of Southern storytelling. “Amarillo by Morning” is the account of an exhausted, broke bull rider just trying to survive the Texas rodeo circuit.
The lyrics are poignant, but this is also one of the world’s finest Texas Two-Step songs. Anyone who has visited a Texas dance hall knows this *IS* the song to get everyone out on the dance floor.
I spent many a summer night doing just this, under the giant oak tree at the outdoor dances at Garner State Park in the Texas Hill Country. The song’s opening violin strains are enough to send me right back to being 15, in my too-tight Wrangler jeans, hoping a cute boy asks me to dance.
I first heard this song while watching “The Last Waltz,” a Martin Scorsese film that details the last concert by The Band, who were famous in the 1970s. My husband had suggested we watch the movie, not only because he was a fan of The Band’s music, but also because the concert shows all the great artists The Band paired up with during their run — including Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Neil Diamond. It’s a fantastic movie.
The Band has a lot of well-known songs, but “It Makes No Difference” is simply one of the world’s greatest love songs, a tale of deep longing and heartbreak. If you’re trying to win someone back, send them this song.
Personally, the song illustrates how I felt when Brendan and I were temporarily apart, after he moved to New York and I was in Texas. My intense sadness was what made me realize he was The One. This song will always get to me and serve as a reminder of how I never want to feel that way again.