WARMER MIXTAPES #585 | by Joshua Hyslop
Like everything else, people disagree about Music. Some people love a certain band more than anything, other people hate the same band with an undying passion. It all comes down to personal taste, and the stories behind our reasoning. I'm not saying these songs are the best songs in the World right now, or anything like that. These are just 10 of my favorite songs because each one of them has gotten through to me. They've helped me express myself when I couldn't find the words to do so. They've comforted me and/or inspired me.
1. Arcade Fire | City With No Children
I first heard this song when I was traveling through South East Asia. I'd been away from home for four and a half months and I hadn't brought a phone or an iPod or anything, so I had no way of listening to Music the entire trip. Just before I flew home I was in Bangkok. It's a hard city to describe, particularly the area I was in. I was a block off of Khao San Road - a street that never sleeps. It's one constant, obnoxiously loud party consisting of mostly foreigners from the West. One of my last days in the city I went to an Internet Cafe to catch up on some e-mails and noticed that Arcade Fire had put out a new record and it was streaming online. I quickly clicked and listened and fell in Love. Each song struck a chord with me, but City With No Children felt like it had been written for me, for that exact moment. There's not a lot of children around Khao San Road, and Bangkok is notorious for it's sex trade, so if you do see kids in that area, you can assume why they're there. Seeing kids whose Innocence had been taken like that broke my heart. I spent several hours over the next few days listening to that album over and over letting their songs give words to my experience of a place I had no idea how to describe. After I'd been home for a while and people had stopped asking me how the trip had been I'd put on that album again and instantly be transported back to the last days of a trip that changed me, to a strange city on the other side of the World.
2. Nick Drake | Fly
I first heard this song on the soundtrack for The Royal Tenenbaums. At the time I was 13 and was just starting to pick the sort of Music I wanted to listen to. Up until then I'd been listening to a terrible mix of Grunge, Alternative Rock (because that's what my sister had on in her car) and Disco... Yes, Disco. There was just something about Nick Drake's voice that clicked in my head. I bought all his albums and started looking into a genre of Music I'd never heard before. I didn't start playing guitar until I was 15 but his playing style had a huge influence on mine. I could pick before I could strum and I spent hours trying to learn his songs. He's still one of my favorites.
3. Bon Iver | Towers
This might be the only song in my list that became a favorite of mine without speaking to me in any profound way. I wasn't going through anything rough and I wasn't miserably unhappy. I was just living Life. I was already a big fan of Bon Iver and had been looking forward to his follow up album for a while. He's a big source of Inspiration to me. I admire his Musicianship and his Songwriting, and he just seems like a rad guy. I bought the album on vinyl without hearing a song off of it and brought it home and listened all the way through. I've done this many times since then. It's such a solid album, definitely one of my favorites and I can't seem to get enough of this song lately.
4. Ray LaMontagne And The Pariah Dogs | New York City's Killing Me
The first line of this song is, There's just something about this hotel, got me wishin' I was dead. I was going through a rough time in my life when I heard this song. My last place had just flooded and I'd lost 95% of all my stuff, and my roommates in the place before that had been seven guys with pretty serious drug problems, so I'd moved into a hotel with about 25 other young people and was having a hard time connecting with the folks there. I was feeling down and pretty isolated and then this song came on and just fit too perfectly. I poured myself a glass of whisky and sat and listened. I felt like it summed up this chapter of my life and that it was time to move on, so I did. It was shortly after this, that I recorded my first EP and left for traveling.
5. The Tallest Man On Earth | Burden Of Tomorrow
A few friends of mine have been into him for a while but I just hadn't heard his music. I was at a friend's birthday party and she put his record on. Two songs in I was asking her who it was, already deciding it would be my next purchase. Not long after that, a bunch of us were leaving to go camping up at our friend's cabin. It was one of those trips that sums up Summer perfectly. Fishing, Hiking, Reading, late night jam sessions, s'mores, all with your close friends... It had it all. To me, this song is a part of my soundtrack to that trip. It's one of my Summer albums now (kind of like how Radiohead's OK Computer is my go to album as soon as it starts snowing) and it's really inspiring to hear an artist not hiding behind anything. It's just him and his guitar and his lyrics. I want to be more like that.
6. Josh Ritter | Girl In The War
This song/album came to me at just the right time. I was feeling bored and my love, or, at least, my enthusiasm for Music had been fading. I'd been listening to the same songs for too long and wasn't feeling inspired anymore. I remember walking into a record store and seeing the album art and taking it up to the counter for a listen. I didn't even get all the way through the first song before I'd decided to buy it. Normally I listen to an album all the way through. But the opening song on this album had something truly special in it. I took it home and pressed play and listened to it on repeat for several hours, no joke. In a way, it sort of woke me up again, and got me back into loving Music as a way of expressing myself. It's still one of my favorite albums and I still feel inspired by it. I'd forgotten why I fell in love with Music in the first place and this song reminded me.
7. Ari Neufeld | Colors Of The Morning
Ari is one of the most talented artists I have ever seen live. He's also a dear friend of mine. I've had the joy of touring with him a few different times and every time I see him play live, I'm blown away. He has an insane amount of Passion. This particular song is one of my favorites because my wife and I danced to it for our first dance at our wedding. It's an incredibly emotional song with some of the most beautiful imagery I've ever heard as lyrics. If you don't know Ari's music, do yourself a favor and pick up this album. It's heartfelt and true, sad and beautiful.
8. Radiohead | Like Spinning Plates (Live)
From Amnesiac, Disc 2. I love Radiohead. Their music is incredible and their musicianship is incredible. I think we all have many different sides to us, and I feel like Radiohead's music helps me showcase some of those sides of myself. Some of their songs are more upbeat and others are darker and slower. The live version of this song is one of my absolute favorite songs to listen to when I'm in one of my darker moods. When I feel a bit low, or a bit angry, when I feel pensive and I don't necessarily feel like smiling, I listen to some Radiohead.
9. Wilco | Jesus, Etc.
I was in a band a long time ago with one of my best friends named Dave. Our band was called The Road Less Travelled and we played guitar every single day for hours on end. We challenged each other in our playing abilities and in the music we listened to. One day at school, Dave was sitting outside on the steps with his headphones in. I was on my way to class but I saw him out there so I went out and asked him what he was listening to. He told me it was a band named Wilco. I'd never heard of them. He told me I had to hear this song, so he gave me his headphones and put on Jesus, Etc. He let me borrow his Discman and went to class. I skipped the rest of the day listening to that album, and that song in particular. They became one of my favorite bands, I've seen them live six times, and I'm still not sick of this album. I listen to it a lot in the fall and when I hear Jesus, Etc. I remember writing Music with my friend Dave on the train tracks by my house.
10. Ryan Adams | Oh My Sweet Carolina
I've been a huge Ryan Adams fan for a long time. His music has inspired me probably more than any other artist I listen to. This song, in particular will always stand out to me though. My Aunt Rachael was a beautiful person with the most infectious laugh. She had a good soul and really connected with me, but she had cancer. She fought bravely for several years and we all loved her dearly. I took my guitar with me and played this song to her in a hospital shortly before she died of a brain tumor. I can't listen to this song, or this album or even Ryan Adams anymore without thinking of my Aunt. Music, I feel, is unparalleled in its ability to communicate. Chords and lyrics can change people. Music conveys more than just words in a language we all share.