As a requisite to both literary and music culture studies, this book has been reviewed by countless enthusiasts since its release. I’m not going to talk about it, instead I’m going to make my own version of it. But I must say, if you haven’t read it yet, you might want to get your hands on it after you read this blog.
Just like Nick Hornby’s book, this blog is also dedicated to all the people who sent me new music to listen to.
The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
When The Camerawalls went to Iloilo for a show at the Mellow Mangrove, I had the pleasure and privilege of actually meeting them. While we were walking from the venue to their hotel, I remember talking to Clem Castro, the vocalist, about The Smiths. My question has now been vagued by the two years that has passed, but his answer is still vivid, “baka dahil sa 500 Days of Summer yan” or something along those lines. But his point was the film introduced The Smiths to a wider audience, especially to people my age. He was right, well, partly. I met The Smiths because of Charmed, Frank Turner’s “Reason Not To Be An Idiot”, few Londoner online friends and yes, 500 Days of Summer.
“There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” is morbidly romantic. And for a person who romanticized everything including death, I found the honesty of Morrissey’s lyrics mesmerizing. The song starts off pleading, it climaxed to frustration and everything falls into an emotional dive with Moz sincerely repeating the line “I don’t care. I don’t care.” All happening to Johnny Marr’s gloomy but oddly blissful arrangement.
This song is self-torture. It drains you with all the emotional pain you have/must go through. And strangely, it is comforting. I remember one Saturday night, when lightning and thunder seemed to be chasing each other while the rain plays referee for them, I experienced the song in all of his glorious sadness. The pain of wanting to go to a place “where there’s music, and there’s people and they’re young and alive” is so strong it is almost physical. I played the song countless time, till I could only hear Morrissey’s agony and not mine. It eventually dissolved all the pain.
I have since developed the habit of sitting at home and listening to The Smiths, just like the girl in that Frank Turner song.
Frightened Rabbits feat. Camera Obscura – Fuck This Place
I have dreamed of walking into a pub and being welcomed by a Scottish indie- folk band this singing this song. Sometimes when I ardently think of it, the image of Scott Hutchison unfolds in front of my eyes. And he’s singing “”would you be good enough to take me home”.
The song is like a dreamscape that switches layers with each verse. Scott Hutchison has explained that the idea of the song came to him in his dream and it is amazing how he was able to transport his listeners to that dream.
When my friend Joy broke up with her long time boyfriend, we went to bars from night to-night seeking comfort in bottles of beer and endless conversations. We went to a bar where they allow us to play the songs we want, when this song came up, the air cleared out like a blanket slipping off from a bed. And slowly I woke up to dream, I’m here just because every one else has come just to be seen. A part of me suddenly wanted to go home. But that place with colorful lights dancing to people’s mocking laughter oddly feels like home. It was like I was with them but I wasn’t there.
Fuck that place.
Eddie Vedder – Society
Into the Wild is one of my favorite movies. There is always something satisfying in disagreeing with a powerful whole, ie the society. If your life gets a little bit screwed it is always easier to blame others, your parents, the government and other autocratic entities. Existence is a series of storm that stirs your mind and heart and leaves you calm in between. Sometimes the storm gets too nihilistic that you have to go away from it.
It is always a cliché to compare your life to a movie, but movies are based on real lives, Into the Wild is even based on a “real” life. The pattern of Christopher McCandless’ brief life reflects one eighth of my life; literature, nature, non government organizations. The first time I watched this movie made me ache terribly to runaway. Which I did. It was a complicated story made even more complicated by how I complicate things. I was 21. Unlike Christopher McCandless, instead of seeking refuge in a magic bus on Alaskan mountains, I braved the wild ways of the city I am caged in. I had to move out of the house that has sheltered me so well that it did not give me a chance to live freely.
For almost three years now, I have left home and lived alone. I wake up ten in the morning, went ‘home’ when I want to, sometimes even went home to others home and sometimes would take a flight to Manila to watch concerts and to see someone. I would refer to our house as my parent’s house. Before they sleep, my parents wonder what their middle child is doing. All I did was to exercise my own definition of freedom. Until I found out what Bob Dylan meant when he said “no one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky”.
Just like Alexander Supertramp, I was angry at the society, I always disagree. And just like Alexander Supertramp, I found out that “happiness is found only when it is shared”, good thing I did not have to die to find that out.
Eddie Vedder captured the whole feeling and put it in a haunting song. As my friend Dennis said, “he speaks to my soul”. I liked them because of their eloquence, him and Eddie Vedder. This song used to be the strength that moves my feet to run into the wild, but now when I hear it, it becomes the light that guides me home.
Radiohead – How To Disappear Completely
What’s wrong with Thom Yorke? Why does he keep on singing these songs that make you awfully sad it becomes comforting when you listen to them over and over. A sad song is a sad song but when Thom Yorke sings it, it becomes even more sad. And you feel good because there is someone out there sadder than you.
Radiohead songs are like Atlantic cold water that bathes you with chills and leaves you cleansed after. I listened to Kid A more than any album. The Beatles is probably my favorite band but Radiohead is my most played band. It is kind of strange but when I think of it, I don’t even have a specific story to tell about them, not even this song. Maybe, it only gives me that fleeting experience of how blissfully painful the momentary in-existence is. ”I’m not here, this isn’t happening” till you fade away with the song.
Wait. An idea just dawned in me, in Zen, one is thought to recognize every thing and let them go. Maybe, that’s what this song is all about, that eventually you have/must disappear completely.
Eraserheads – With A Smile
If you are a kid who grew up in the Philippines during the nineties, it means that you grew up listening to Eraserheads. They were all over, in your neighbors loud sound systems, your older sisters fm radio station, your cousins cassette tapes, literally everywhere and there was no refusing them and you won’t anyway because they are really a great band. So great that only the adjective ‘great’ could greatly describe them.
Anyway, I consider this song the most uplifting song of all time. It is like a friend that tells you that you’ll get by with a smile. This song has The Beatles simple but melodic sound to it which makes it catchy.
I met Ely Buendia outside the Stone Temple Pilots concert on March 9, 2010. I did not even recognize the man at first. He wore a kind of detached expression on his face. That man is hard to figure out if you see him up close the first time. There seemed like a wall that separates him from others. It is odd how he was able to make people feel the same emotions through his songs and be distant face to face. Talking to him is like talking to a wall, only the wall nods after you said something.
Regardless, I still consider him my Pare Ko who never fails to make me smile.
Frank Turner – Substitute
I could choose a number of Frank Turner songs but this one weighs the most. I normally like a song that I could relate to, this one is different. With this song, I am completely on the audience seat not experiencing the story, in a passive but appreciative way. The song is a tale of a musician who always stumbled but never really fell in love and that’s why he’s placing the weight of his love on his music.
Frank Turner is a gem, and I quote Foster the People.
He is a true modern poet. No matter how mundane and superficial the things he sings about, the way he tells them makes it more sensible than any flowery lyrics a pop song could come up. That might be the reason why they coined the word “folk punk” he has the honesty of punk and the logic and reasons of folk. By themes, his songs especially this song seems to deal with all the story that he has to go and gone through. The lyrics are smart, and his music is contagious.
When he sung “if music is the food of love, then I’d be a fat romantic slob” he argued with himself “what i would do, not to stumble but to really fall in love, is I could substitute this singing for the sound of someone sleeping next to me”. He is definitely in conflict with two of his loves. Aren’t we stuck with the same thing all the time?
You can’t really love both, sometimes one has to substitute the other.
The Beatles – Two of Us
“Two of Us” isn’t my favorite Beatles song. I mean who has a definite favorite Beatles song anyway? Hundreds of great songs, it is impossible to choose. I claimed I was a Beatle fan but one of my musician friends played “Eight Days A Week”and I didn’t know its title.
This song is special just because of one line, “two of us have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead”. Yes, I am hopelessly sentimental person. I hold on to things even though they already have obviously slipped from my hands. I can’t let go of things, my friend who apparently have found someone to spend time with, the people I met online who have found new people to talk to, the first Converse shoes I bought with my own money and even the piece of paper with the list of my first earning from writing. I get emotionally attached to almost everything, especially this song.
I honestly did not know the story behind this song. I even don’t know who composed this. It sounds like a Paul McCartney song but the story is John Lennon’s. Regardless, this song and I have memories longer than the road the stretches out ahead.
Wait. There is another line from this song that I could relate to, “runaway home, we’re goin home”.
This post went unfinished. How the hell did Nick Hornby shortlist the songs to 31? I’ll get back on you with the part two if I finally decided on which songs to include.