Roy Orbison – In Dreams

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In dreams, you’re mine
all of the time.

There are a handful of beloved pop songs that somehow fill me with the most profoundly dark imagery, contrary to their buoyant reputation. In Dreams is one of those songs, a lifelong favorite and classic radio staple that shakes me to my core every time it plays.

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A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall: Bob Dylan Sings My Decade-Long Anthem

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And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
And I’ll know my song well before I start singin’

This line became my reluctant personal anthem when it first sank in, over ten years ago. I was always hesitant, cautious to a fault, and shy. So terribly shy.

I’m good at meeting people, saying the right things, being a kind and welcome presence for strangers and friends. But I was always terrible at letting my real self out, being emotionally open, and putting my hopes and fears on display. I’ve been terrible at sharing my personal art, my true expression, with anyone. Anyone. It’s so hard to let go.

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“And it hurts with every heartbeat…”

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I don’t really have anything clever or interesting to say about this song, other than this: it hits me right in the feels.

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Cat Power – Colors and the Kids

Sometimes a song slips right between the ribs and punctures my breath, the very first time. This is one of those songs.

Cat Power (Chan Marshal) recorded this song fourteen years ago for the maybe-masterpiece album Moon Pix. Despite having heard the odd single over the years, this was my proper introduction to her work, this year. I may be a little late to the party but I have the feeling that I wouldn’t have appreciated this as much at the time. There’s a gorgeous sense of resignation and near-snuffed-out hope felt in the tightness of my throat, the way certain lines send a shiver up the sides of my neck.

I could stay here
Become someone different
I could stay here
Become someone better

[full lyrics]

The moment this hits in the song, her vocals take off in a way that melts through to me. It’s an already intimate song taken to confessional. The knockout delivery perfects a song about things I understand only too well.

Please, give it a try. I subconsciously avoided Cat Power throughout the years perhaps out of unfair lumping in with the flood of early 2000’s indie pop bands, which turned out to be a huge mistake. The album, by the way, is eleven straight great songs, if not all being equal to this heart destroyer.

Buy it directly from Matador or at a local shop like I did.