Music from The Swamp – the ‘top 10 most played songs’ edition


Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows how much I love music. It is the salve that soothes my soul, it feeds me and keeps me sane all at the same time. So, dear readers, I present to you my top 10 list of songs:

10. Crash Hard by Dustin Bentall played 164 times.

9. Someone Like You by Adele played 164 times.

8. Torn Screen Door by David Francey played 169 times.

7. What Will Become of Us by Passenger played 180 times.

6. Rest Your Head by Ben Caplan played 198 times.

5. I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons played 212 times.

4. Weighty Ghost by Wintersleep played 220 times

3. Same Love by Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis played 250 times.

2. Lover’s Eyes by Mumford and Sons played 298 times.

1. Ghosts that We Knew by Mumford and Sons played 412 times.

Clearly I have a thing for Mumford and Sons! I am not sure this list is completely reflective of my listening habits over time. I reset my iTunes play counts about 2 years ago so this reflects my obsession with Mumford and Sons late last year. Perhaps I will do another list of 11-20.

Music my balm for life

When I was blogging daily in 2011, WordPress encouraged bloggers by sending out topics of the day. I found most of the topics to be banal or lacking in substance so I rarely used them.[1] I have stayed on the mailing list and the topics have improved. Today’s topic: discuss the role that music plays in your life, is very relevant to me. I have blogged many times about artists I love through the category: Music from The Swamp. Music plays a huge role in my life.

Since I can remember, I have always listened to music. As a young child my mother listened to Jim Croce, Three Dog Night and the Lettermen. The first pop song I remember engaging with was ‘Seasons in the Sun’ by Terry Jack.[2] I would sit with my radio waiting with anticipation for them to play it again. My older brother taught me how to call into the request line. I was probably 6 or 7 at the time. The next music that I can remember resonating with me was Queen’s ‘We will rock you’ and ‘We are the Champions.’ I would stay up late so I could hear those songs on the Top 10 countdown every night.

As I moved into my teenage years, my tastes became a little darker. I listened to Supertramp’s Crime of the Century constantly. The lyrics really resonated with me. The songs ‘School’ and ‘Hide in your Shell’ were my go to songs as an angst ridden teenager living in an abusive home. I would lie in my bed and cover my head as I listened to these songs over and over again. I also related to my parents’ music. Really, just about any music worked for me.

Music soothes and calms me. I pour all of my anxiety and frustration into singing along. I tend to like my music loud. As a teenager I used to think that by the time I was 40 I would no longer listen to loud music. In actuality, what happened was that at 40 I could afford a better sound system so now my loud music sounds good. Now I am pretty sure I am going to be the one in the retirement facility who gets noise complaints.

Music speaks to my soul in a deep and profound way. I always wanted to be a back up singer in a band. I don’t sing well enough to carry the tune myself but I sing harmony very well. And, if I couldn’t be in the band, I wanted to be a groupie. I still have these desires but I have come to the realization that I am a music consumer and as along as I can sing in my house or in my car, I am happy.

I think part of the reason I am feeling so much better is because I started listening to music at home in early 2012. When I started listening to music again, I did it for another reason.[3] I quickly realized what I had been missing. I have no idea why I stopped listening to music at home but the tunes were back on now! I had continued to listen to music in my car but that was not enough. Now if I plan to be in my office for more than a few minutes the dock gets fired up and the music comes on.

I really believe that had I not discovered the healing properties of music at a young age, I may well not be here. So much of who I am and how I have coped with life has been shaped by music. There is so much music out there that just reaches in and soothes my soul; it calms me down and it energizes me. I sometimes wonder if music is my way to connect with my emotions as I am a pretty linear person in my day-to-day life.

I have also been told I am a musical imperialist so this post will not be complete without a musical interlude.

I discovered Passenger after watching an episode of Elementary. Now, Passenger used to be a band but the band broke up and now it is just one guy: Mike Rosenberg. Most of his stuff is quiet and introspective with acoustic guitar. He does not have a perfect voice. His lyrics are brilliant. One of my favourite lines from a song called ‘A Month of Sundays’ is: “Black kettles and black pots seem to fight an awful lot, and make the kitchen the most uncomfortable of rooms. Empty words don’t mean an awful lot and for me that’s all you’ve got.”

Feather on the Clyde was the first Passenger song I heard:

Month of Sundays:

Now, I would love to hear from all 12 of my readers: What music gets you going? What role does it play in your life? I am also totally up for some recommendations!

[1] I may have even written a post mocking the topics…

[2] Currently it is on the list of CBC’s On the Coast worst song ever contenders.

[3] We had an extremely annoying, demanding and manipulative person who lived with us from September 2011 until January 2012. Loud music was a cue to her not to bug me. It worked. I am not proud of this childish behavior.

Music from the Swamp – the ‘Mumford and Sons’ edition

NaBloPoMo update – Woo hoo! This is day 2 and so far so good. I would also like to note that Beth over at Not to be trusted with knives is also joining in on the daily posting in November!!! Go Beth!

If you haven’t heard Mumford and Sons yet you are missing out on an amazing new band. The group is named for Marcus Mumford who is all of 25 years old! I am astounded at the level of sophistication in their music. Their lyrics mine deep emotional territory that artists twice their age are not able to access. Check out this live performance on Q:

Music from the Swamp – the ‘Eagles’ edition

A couple of months ago, I heard someone describe the Eagles as boring. I was shocked to say the least. There are many adjectives[1] that could be used to describe the Eagles but boring is not one of them. The Eagles paved the way for country-rock. The Eagles sold more albums in the 1970s than any other group.[2] One of my favourite albums was the Eagles Live record released in 1980. The song ‘Life’s been Good’ became the unofficial party song of my youth. Here are my top 5 Eagles songs:

Hotel California – Seriously who has not heard this song? watch?v=NUbTW928sMU

Peaceful Easy Feeling – this song really spoke to the young lesbian in me. It transported me to a place where everything would be fine. I would dream about being with the woman and it was the secret I kept just for me. watch?v=44A9iDQNrss

Seven Bridges Road – The opening acapella sequence is out of this world. The harmonies in this song are some of the best ever performed. watch?v=c-q7Mih69KE

The Last Resort – the lyrics to this song are as relevant today as they were in the 1970s. watch?v=ekytTpFy96o

Desperado – again, another hymn of the 1970s. I wonder how many weddings, dances and events closed with this song? watch?v=0BwOXlGbW6Q

More in the Music from the Swamp Series: The David Francey EditionThe Decemberists EditionThe Warren Zevon EditionThe Playlist Edition, The Matthew Barber Edition, The Richard Shindell Edition

[1] Revolutionary, ridiculously talented and amazing come to mind!

Music from The Swamp – the ‘Richard Shindell’ edition

Richard Shindell is one of my all-time favourite folk singers.[1] He hails from the United States but has been living in Argentina for many years. The very first song I ever heard Shindell sing was Cold Missouri Waters originally written by James Keelaghan. He partnered with Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky[2] forming Cry Cry Cry and they covered mostly each other’s songs. This song compeletly blew me away the first time I heard it over 10 years ago.

It was very difficult to find Shindell’s music in the early part of 2000. Record stores didn’t carry him and the ease of music purchasing online was still in its infancy. Music sharing sites like Napster didn’t have any of his music then. I can remember ordering the original Cry Cry Cry cd from my local record store then. The first cd I was able to purchase was The Courier. This is a live cd and really cemented my love affair with Shindell’s music. There are several standouts for me on this album.


This is one of two songs about the US Civil War on Courier. Shindell really shines when he tells stories. This song is about a young kid who joined the Confederate army. I couldn’t find the album version. Here is a different live version.


This song is about an American immigration agent trying to get information about the ‘campesionos’ from one of their own. He does this by threating his wife. In the song he weaves a very interesting story while the tension continues to build in the song. I couldn’t find the Courier edition of this song either.


In Transit, Shindell tells the story of a nun who leads a choir at a prison. The story is about the difficulties she encounters getting there. This song, like many of his songs, is quietly political; offering commentary about the issues of the day. Interestingly, he will change some of the lyrics when he performs it live. Unfortunately this is not a great recording.

A Summer Wind a Cotton Dress

Another story, this time about a relationship that cannot be consummated because both people are married.

Are you Happy Now?

Are you Happy Now is seriously the best break up song ever!

All of Richard Shindell’s music is available on iTunes.

[1] This will be the first of several posts covering Shindell’s music by album.

[2] Lucy Kaplansky often toured with Shindell providing back up vocals.

Music from the Swamp – the ‘Matthew Barber’ Edition

Several months ago I heard Matthew Barber on the CBC when he released his most recent eponymous album. Barber’s music has been described as indie, alternative with a few country twinges. His latest album is actually his sixth. His first album, ‘Means and Ends’ was released in 2003. Matthew Barber graduated from Queen’s[1] and then went on to McMaster and earned a Master of Arts degree in philosophy.[2] Music seems to run the family – his sister Jill Barber is also an accomplished musician.[3] Unfortunately, none of his songs are in YouTube so I can’t link to them. Check him out in iTunes!

So, in no particular order, are some of my favourite Matthew Barber songs:

‘Man in a Movie’ – The first couple of times I heard this song was on the Alaskan crusie I took with my mother in June of 2011.

‘Oh Lexi’ – This is a simple song but I love it. The piano in it is phenomenal. Deb hates it.

‘Hawks on a Highway’ – is from True Believer

‘Somebody Sometime’ – from ‘Ghost Notes’ is my current favourite!

[1] I also graduated from Queen’s!

[3] I have tried to like Jill Barber’s music but I can’t get into it.

Music from the Swamp – the ‘I like to sing’ edition

Today I thought I would feature some songs that are fabulous for singing along. When I am singing along to a song that hits the right chord for me, I am probably at my most ‘zen.’ Everything feels right and my mind is focused only on the music. The songs change over time so here are some of my current favourites:

Counting Crows – Anna Begins

John Stewart & Stevie Nicks – Gold

This is a very old song. I remember hearing it for the first time when I was about 14 years old. It took years to find it again as all I could remember were the opening lyrics.

Eagles – The Last Resort

Tori Amos – Witness

I couldn’t find the original song. If you are interested it is on her Beekeeper album which is one of my favourites.

The Decemberists – June Hymn

More in the Music from the Swamp Series: The David Francey Edition, The Decemberists Edition, The Warren Zevon Edition, The Playlist Edition

Music from the Swamp – the ‘playlist’ edition

As I may have mentioned a time or two, music is central to my self-care. It is how I escape the stress and anxiety that mark my life. I am really not fit to live with if I do not have time to listen to lots of music in my day. On the days I go to work, I have my 1.5+ hours in my car to listen to music and sing loudly. On the days I am home, I probably spend 3 hours listening to music while I have breakfast and spend time on the computer. In no particular order, are 5 songs that I am really relating to these days.

  1. Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Death to my Hometown’ – Bruce may be old but he is still able to capture the pulse of America in his music. He has done this in the past with songs like ‘My Hometown’ and ‘My City of Ruins’ after 9/11. He does not disappoint with his latest song. The premise of the song is that even though war has not come to America, its cities and towns have been decimated. He points out that no dictators have been crowned but that marauders and robber barons are to blame. It is a very powerful song.
2. From the new Sinead O’Connor album there are several songs I really love. The standout right now is the ‘Queen of Denmark.’ I love the anger in this song.
3. Since seeing Spirit of the West at the Commodore on St. Patrick’s day, I have become re-acquainted with their song ‘Unplugged.’ The song is about not wanting to become a burden to one’s spouse. As I get older this song really resonates. This is a live, ‘unplugged’ version:
4. I have featured David Francey before. I just keep finding songs I haven’t heard before that I really like. The latest one is the ‘Long Way Home.’ Canadian music at its finest if you ask me.
5. The Decemberists song ‘The Crane Wife 3’ is an amazing song to sing too. It really satisfies the singing need.

Music from the Swamp – the ‘Warren Zevon’ edition

I have loved Warren Zevon ever since I heard Werewolves of London. Zevon, like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, did not have a perfect singing voice. Regardless his music was respected by his peers. Zevon had an incredibly sardonic take on the world and it showed in his lyrics. His song ‘Excitable Boy’ off the album of the same name, which came out in 1978, is a case in point. There are very disturbing lyrics sung to a happy little tune:

Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette’s leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy

He took little Susie to the Junior Prom
Excitable boy, they all said
and he raped her and killed her, then he took her home
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy
After ten long years they let him out of the Home
Excitable boy, they all said
And he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy

Zevon’s most popular song was ‘Werewolves of London’ which was also off the ‘Excitable Boy’ album. It is also one of my faves:

There are a couple more standouts from ‘Excitable Boy’

‘Lawyers, Guns and Money’

‘Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner’ is about mercenaries in the African wars in the 1960s. This is a live version from 2003 on the David Letterman show. It was right after Zevon was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Carmelita is one of my favourite songs from ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead:

Right before his death he put out another album, ‘My Ride’s Here’. There is a song he wrote for his wife:

Keep me in your Heart

After his death in 2003, Bruce Springsteen did a cover of ‘My Ride’s Here.’  This is off of a compilation of covers of Warren Zevon songs called: ‘Enjoy Every Sandwich.’ It is a fabulous version!