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.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘things for which I am grateful’ edition

I have been a little moody/bitchy since Sunday. This is not normally me. I realize that a great deal of why I am feeling so crappy is that I have not had any time off since June that did not involve my mother. I tried to get a couple of weeks leave without pay in September but the powers that be said no. I still have some vacation days left so I have asked for next week off. If I don’t get it, I am going to be very upset.

So, in the meantime, I have decided that if I focus on some positive things my outlook may be different. Here is the list:

  1. I am grateful for my wife. I am a fortunate woman because I get to share my life with someone who loves me fiercely. We support each other and laugh so much.
  2. I am grateful for our dogs. Without dogs, I would just merely exist rather than live. They make me smile and laugh every single day.
  3. Music and the amazing dock in my office. I also have really good speakers in my car.
  4. The NHL Lockout
  5. CBC Radio One
  6. The end of the US campaign!

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:

Tech Review: Beolit 12

Beolit 12

What is it?

The simple explanation is that the Beolit 12, by Bang and Olufsen is a dock for your iDevices. It allows you to play music via Airplay or USB. About the size of an old-fashioned lunchbox, the Beolit 12 delivers incredible sound.

How does it work?

It works via Airplay or USB. Music can be streamed via Airplay from a computer or iDevice or you can plug in your device’s USB cable directly to the Beolit 12. It also sports a rechargeable battery that is good for 8 hours which makes the Beolit 12 highly portable. The Beolit 12 has a substantial heft to it but it is easy to pick up by the leather strap that goes across it diagonally. If you plug in your iDevice it will charge it, even on battery power.

The Macworld review cited difficulties with plugging in the power cable and looping it over a peg in the rear compartment. I did not have any issues with this – perhaps it just needs smaller hands.

Why should I care?

The sound!!! The sound is why you should care. If you are an audiophile you will absolutely love the crystal-clear sound delivered by the Beolit 12. You can turn it all the way up and it does not distort or lose clarity. To quote Macworld: “The Beolit 12 can get hilariously loud – as in, ”I need to go into a second room before I turn the volume all the way up” loud.”

I first read a review for the Beolit 12 in January. I lusted after it until close to my birthday. Deb found one and I got it 2 weeks early. I absolutely adore it.

That’s all great but how much does it cost?

The Beolit 12 is not for the faint of heart. You are looking at $1000 CDN for this fabulous piece of speaker hardware. It is worth every penny. In addition to its fabulous sound it has a great visual aesthetic. Clearly this is something you buy because you have to have a fabulous dock. As music is my sanity it is a great investment in my self-care.

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 ‘Spirit of the West’ edition

We saw Spirit of the West at the Commodore Ballroom last night. The last time I saw the band perform was in the early 1990s at the University of Calgary cabaret. While certain members of the band have changed, the soul of the group John Mann and Hugh MacMillan remain strong. In fact, I have never seen anyone perform with as much energy as John Mann. He never stops bouncing!

Spirit of the West has such a huge back catalogue it must be a daunting task to pick songs for a live show. They played crowd favourite ‘Home for a Rest’ which had the entire crowd on the floor matching John Mann bounce for bounce singing loudly ‘take me home.’ As a nod to us old timers they played ‘Political’ and ‘Venice is Sinking.’ I probably knew about 75% of the content. I was surprised they did not perform their new single ‘Bulembu.’ We left before the encore so they may have played it then. The outstanding performance of the night goes to their current fiddle player. I can’t remember her name unfortunately. She is young and fabulously talented!

Fish+Bird opened for Spirit of the West. They were ok but seemed to lack some personality. Of course, pretty much any band will seem to lack personality when put up against Spirit of the West.

I liked the Commodore as a venue. We were able to make reservations so we did not have to stand. They kept it quite cool which is a challenge with that many people. My only real complaint is that it is just far too loud. Even when they were playing music before the show started I needed to put earplugs in because it hurt my ears. I can’t imagine how the staff there survives that onslaught.