Knowing Our Roots

My dear indie readers,

I realize that today is Follow An Indie Band Wednesday and we try to cover it, giving you the highlights of our fave new bands of the day.  However, sometimes we take breaks from FAIBW, and that’s good too, because usually we will only do it if we have something superb to give you in place of it, and also you will be really excited when we do it for you next week.

So, tonight I want to encourage you to explore FAIBW on your own so that I can post something a little different.   Ok, complete honesty, I am in the middle of a very busy week and don’t have a lot of time tonight to explore new music.  But I promise I have something great to share with you!

Tonight I’m going to share my roots.  Is this too personal?  Well, then, kick me off the damn blog.  I’m feeling ANGRY tonight and I need some kind of outlet, and guess what?  That outlet is this blog, which by the way, was supposed to be sarcastic in the first place, making fun of all the douche bags who think knowing about music before anyone else makes them cool.  Well you know what?  I am having a crappy week, and I need comfort not coolness.  And yes, I have been listening to Bach and Elton John all week, not any number of indie bands you’re hoping to read about, and so if you don’t like it, you can just skip this post altogether.  Also you can suck it.  Just kidding I know none of you are like that, and that’s why you’re reading this blog.  But I have a lot of angst and I’m trying to rid myself of it.  I apologize for my misdirected hatred.

These 11 songs (it’s still prime, ok?) are ones that make me feel better about my twenties, or at least a little less alone.  Do you know what it feels like to be a twentysomething?  It feels depressing, like you don’t know anything, and you are always wrong, and you are ill-equipped for literally any possible career, even though you (or your parents) just spent a crapload of money on college (unless you had scholarships, in which case, you probably don’t feel like this now because you are a genius and in grad school or working for Google).

1. Vienna, Billy Joel This song speaks to me.  Every time I listen to it, I think, Billy Joel, can you come be my mentor?  It is as if he has crawled inside my mind.  “Slow down, you crazy child, you’re so ambitious for a juvenile, but if you’re so smart, tell me why are you still so afraid?  hmmm?”

2. Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Elton John Let me just tell you that picking one Elton John song is nearly impossible because the man is a genius.  Daniel is a good option, as I sang the song on my way to class every day senior year when I was taking a class on the biblical book of Daniel, and also I sang it to my friend Daniel a lot, but he didn’t like it so much.  Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is another of my all-time f avorites.  But Someone Saved My Life Tonight wins out because it’s fabulous.  Really.  Actually, in Elton’s biography (yes I did read some of it, no I did not read all of it, yes I am a dork), we learn that he wrote the song for a friend who saved him from marrying a girl he did not really love, because OBVIOUSLY he is gay.  “It’s 4:00 in the morning, dammit, listen to me good!  I’m sleeping with myself tonight, saved in time, thank God my music’s still alive…” yes, thank GOD!

3. Queen Bitch, David Bowie Annnnd this is what I am being tonight.  I know, I know.  Another difficult choice, as Bowie has been quite influential.  If I could pick another (which I guess I technically could since it’s my list, anyway), I’d pick Bewlay Brothers.  Or Ashes to Ashes.  Too many choices!  But Queen Bitch is rockin’.

4. It’s Too Late, Carole King It’s odd that I would call this song influential since I don’t really connect with the lyrics, but I still love the feel and the raw emotion.

5. American Pie, Don McLean What is it about this song?  It’s the longest song in the history of the world and I love it to death.  I learned all the lyrics one summer because they played it on the radio every hour on the hour.  You hear it and you think, gosh this is deep, because when you stick religious imagery in a song it automatically gains a million points of meaning, and then you learn that it’s about the musicians in the plane crash, and sure that was sad but the song just isn’t as metaphorical as it seems, and then you are a little disappointed but you still love it because it’s damn good writing.

6. Don’t Kill the Whale, Yes The lyrics are weird but Yes is BEAST and I love them.  Again, why influential?  All I know is that I started listening to Yes in middle school, and this was one of my favorite songs.

7. Baba O’Riley, The Who Somehow, I am living in a teenage wasteland.  My life is a teenage wasteland, and I am not even a teenager.

8. The Boxer, Simon and Garfunkel Oh, S&G, always so lovely.  So full of truth.  Maybe I’m not a poor boy or a boxer or Mickey Rourke, but this song will never not speak to me.  I love double negatives.  “After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.”

9. Walking in Memphis, Marc Cohn It’s a classic.  A piano bar classic.  And I would love to sing it at the top of my lungs at a piano bar right now.

10. Que Sera, Sera, Doris Day “When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, what will I be?  Will I be pretty?  Will I be rich?  Here’s what she said to me: ‘Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sera, sera.”  Well thanks mom.  Kimya Dawson’s mom told her, I hope someday you get paid for being Kimya Dawson.  Our moms tell us, I don’t know, sweetheart.  What will be will be.  Ah well, we might as well tell the kiddies the truth early on.

11.  Bad Reputation, Joan Jett I work at a Christian school.  I sometimes need this song to get me through the day.  It is also the Freaks and Geeks theme song, which adds a whole extra layer of awesome sauce.

Close runners up (minus the ones I’ve already mentioned): She’s Got A Way (Billy Joel), Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me (Rosemary Clooney), I Can’t Go for That Long (Hall & Oates), Copacabana BarryManilowDON’TJUDGE ME!), and Tombstone Blues (Bob Dylan)



p.s.  Now I want to hear yours.  I know you silly little indie hipsters have roots, what are they?  And don’t say the Velvet Underground just because Belle & Sebastian did.

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6 thoughts on “Knowing Our Roots

  1. i loved: The Ring of Fire, JOHNNY CASH
    The Summer of’69, BRYAN ADAMS

  2. Kristin, you are the best. Ever. Love love love the list. So many great memories with so much great music! I would add “One Hand In My Pocket” or whatever it’s actually called by the one and only Alanis. I know it’s angry girl music but I LOVE IT ANYWAY and it’s alllll about the frustration and confusion of being a twenty-something. I would sing it at karaoke if people wouldn’t judge me so much. MISS YOU SO MUCH!

  3. Roots? Course I have roots, Kristin, but I keep them dyed or hidden under a hat.

    I was twenty-something in the golden days of Britpop, so whilst my teens were spent with The Smiths and The Cure, these are the tunes that got me through my 20s.

    Suede – Saturday Night. First of a whole bunch of tunes that made my cry in that cathartic way that seems to make your pain have meaning but really just makes you another existential wannabe. It’s a list that also contains:
    James, She’s a Star
    Skunk Anansie, Secretly, Hedonism
    Radiohead, High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees
    Sneaker Pimps, Six Underground
    and even, dammit, The Fugees

    Then there are the tunes that made me want to write. And as that’s what I still do, I guess I have a lot to thank them for:
    Depeche Mode, Barrel of a Gun
    REM, E-Bow the Letter
    The Damned, Eloise
    Garbage, Special

  4. Ah oh my gosh. I LOVE this. All of it. I would love to add something… but I really can’t – you have pretty much covered it. I would pick “Rocket Man” as the Elton song, but like you said, everything about his music is perfect and there’s really no point in trying to pick just one song. Amen to “Bad Reputation.” I’d add “Come Sail Away” (Styx – love me the Freaks and Geeks soundtrack) and I will echo Dan by saying The Fugees. I have so many thoughts but I will just say I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!

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