Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Music and Life

I recently decided to make a CD for my voice professor of some MAJOR songs that affect me now and have affected me throughout my life. The Story: I won't be taking Voice next semester, or probably ever again, at Eastern. I have fulfilled more than my share of credits in voice, and it is time for me to move on. I wanted to leave a piece of me with her, as a piece of her, and all of my music friends at Eastern, will always be with me.

This was no easy task. In fact, it has proven impossible, since, as many of you have come to realize, I love music way too much. So I've come up with the top 99. Yes, that's right 99.

So, Lindsay Kesselman, this is dedicated to you. But it's also for anyone who's ever had music touch their life and impact them on many levels. Enjoy.

Top 99 songs that have affected me in 2010 and beyond:

{I love Anastacia. I love the timbre of the voice, the style in which she writes, and her courage and strength. The entire album, Anastacia, was written and recorded while undergoing treatments (including radiation and chemotherapy) for breast cancer at the age of 35. Proceeds from the single "Heavy on my Heart" went to the Anastacia Fund which in turn went to The Breast Cancer Research Fund.}
Beautiful Messed Up World (from Heavy Rotation [Anastacia])
Heavy on my Heart (from Anastacia [Anastacia])

{I recently discovered that Charlotte Church, besides being a child (pop-)opera star and current talk show host, was still recording music! Pop music! Not opera! "Logical World" seems silly, cutesy, and funny at times. However, it can mean so much more: confusion, being lost, things just simply not making sense in the world in general, but also in our own world that we create for ourselves. "Even God" is just an amazing piece that you have to hear to understand. Quiet, but powerful.}
Logical World (from Back to Scratch [Charlotte Church])
Even God (a.k.a. Even God Can't Change the Past) (from Tissues and Issues [Charlotte Church]) (Written by Boy George, Rick Nowels, and John Themis)

{Cher. Is there anything else? Ha ha. The first of these two songs is very uplifting, and, like love should be, it is dedicted to EVERYONE. "Runaway" is a little sadder, but has always said something to me. It represents that need in us ALL to just simply get away from all of it sometimes.}
A Different Kind of Love Song (from Living Proof [Cher])
Runaway (from Believe [Cher])

{More Cher.}
You Have Seen the Last of Me (from Burlesque, Soundtrack [Cher])

{I love Christina. She has an amazing voice (that she doesn't always use correctly, efficiently, or beautifully) and writes some very poignant lyrics . "I Got Trouble" is fun, and bluesy: my favorite Christina style (much like a favorite inspiration of us both, Etta James). "Loving Me 4 Me" is something for which we all pray. "Soar" is inspirational. "I'm OK" is... difficult to talk about. My mother was physically abused by her first husband, as Christina's father abused her mother. This song is about the daughter (Christina) witnessing this abuse. It reminds me of my mother, sister, and brother, and the pain they experienced because of their ordeals with abuse, and it affects me very powerfully on a very emotional level. "Blessed" reminds me that I am blessed for everything that I have, and it was a song I tried to incorporate into a video compilation of my aunt after she passed away. The video never came to fruition, but the song still reminds me of all the things I've lost, and all the things I have.}
I Got Trouble (from Back to Basics [Christina Aguilera])
Loving Me 4 Me (from Stripped [Christina Aguilera])
Soar (from Stripped [Christina Aguilera])
I'm OK (from Stripped [Christina Aguilera])
Blessed (from Christina Aguilera [Christina Aguilera])

{I was introduced to the Dixie Chicks by my friend Suzanna Dorroh when I was about 12-13 yrs old in Princeton, Kentucky. Since then, I have been an avid follower. (I even have the CourtYard Hounds album.) These songs are songs that truly speak to me about life, love, relationships, happiness, sadness, not compromising yourself, and so much more.}
Easy Silence (from Taking the Long Way [Dixie Chicks])
I Believe in Love (from Home [Dixie Chicks])
Heartbreak Town (from Fly [Dixie Chicks])

{Backwoods Barbie is a pretty good album by one of the best songwriters in music. "Better Get to Livin'" is a fun song with a great message. Although I'm not very religious, I am extremely spiritual and when I heard "Jesus & Gravity" for the first time, I cried. It is extremely powerful, and really says something about our connection to the earth and to the universe; to ourselves and to God.}
Better Get to Livin' (from Backwoods Barbie [Dolly Parton])
Jesus & Gravity (from Backwoods Barbie [Dolly Parton])

{I discovered Ferras doing research for Rainbow Sounds. He is 4 years older than I am, to the day. (Yes, that means we share a birthday!) He is also an OUT singer/songwriter whose song "Hollywood's Not America" was featured briefly as an exit song on American Idol. “Everybody Bleeds the Same” is a song with a wonderful message.}
Everybody Bleeds the Same (from Aliens & Rainbows [Ferras])

{This entire album means so much to me. It is Idina's first major release (Warner), and I love her voice, her writing, her collaborations, and her choices for this album. With songs like "I Stand", "Brave", and "Gorgeous", I can't say anything more except amazing!}
I Stand [Idina Menzel] (songs: I Stand, Better to Have Loved, Brave, Gorgeous, Where Do I Begin, Don’t Let Me Down, I Feel Everything, Forever, My Own Worst Enemy, Perfume and Promises, Let Me Fall [Bonus], I Stand [Acoustic / Bonus])

{John Barrowman is Scottish-born, American-raised, and one of England's finest talents. Barrowman is best known for his West End work, as well as being Captain Jack on Doctor Who and Torchwood (both of which are where I fell in love with him), When I found out Barrowman was a West End star and singer, I became ecstatic. "What About Us?" is the only original song he's ever recorded. "I Know Him So Well" is a duet from Chess about two women who love the same man. For OUT actor John Barrowman to sing this with OUT singer Daniel Boys is extremely powerful to me.}
What About Us? (from Music Music Music [John Barrowman])
I Know Him So Well (from Music Music Music [John Barrowman featuring Daniel Boys])

{First love of my life, Judy, and the incomparable Babs. Need I say more?}
Get Happy / Happy Days Are Here Again (from The Judy Garland Show, 1963, can also be heard on Duets [Barbra Streisand; Judy Garland])

{More Judy…}
Zing! Went The Strings of my Heart [Judy Garland]

{Since the moment I heard Kelly Clarkson on season 1 of American Idol, I loved her. The first season was actually a pretty amazing season. And while I love the majority of Kelly’s music, and there are songs not listed here that are amazing, these are the songs that have really spoken to me throughout the years. “Cry” is really an amazing country rock ballad that should just stand alone, be taken separate from all of her other work, it is such a great piece. “Sober” and “Hear Me” bring out the empath in me, feeling the emotions of what others feel when they are crying out. “If No One Will Listen” was an excellent choice of a cover song, and I honestly feel that she does the song way more justice than the writer and original singer, Keri Noble. The song says a lot of self as well as society.}
Cry (from All You Ever Wanted [Kelly Clarkson])
If No One Will Listen (from All You Ever Wanted [Kelly Clarkson, cover of Keri Noble])
Sober (from My December [Kelly Clarkson])
Hear Me (from Breakaway [Kelly Clarkson])

{Mariah Carey has an amazing voice. No matter what you think of her, her songs, her writing, or her style of singing, this fact (simply named “The Voice”) can not be denied. These songs are gospel-oriented and inspired. “I Wish You Well” draws lyrics from scripture, describing the injustice of being mistreated and judged, saying that “I Wish You Well” even if you don’t wish the same of me. “Fly Like A Bird” features Carey’s pastor reading from the Bible. While I am not a religious person, I like that these songs are about self-empowerment, and having a deep spiritual relationship that takes you to a positive place.}
I Wish You Well (from E=MC2 [Mariah Carey])
Fly Like A Bird (from The Emancipation of Mimi [Mariah Carey])

{Let’s face it: first season of American Idol, I was in love with RJ. I was praying (coincidently enough) that he was gay. When he DID come out in 2006, I had only mildly let him slip into the back of my mind. At that time, I searched out his album, which I had previously decided not to listen to because it was an INSPIRATION/CHRISTIAN album. However, this album is amazing. There are latin influences (despite being raised by his white, adopted family), there are rhythm and blues influences, and songs about God that are such UNIVERSAL messages about love, peace and forgiveness, of ourselves and others. It’s really a pretty incredible album.}
Real Life [RJ Helton] (songs: Even If, My Devotion, Love Song, All We Need to Know, Freedom, Tell Me, Why Don’t We Pray, Delicate Child, Forgive, Crazy, Missing Me, Canto de Amor [Bonus, Spanish of “Love Song”])

{Rupaul, Rupaul, Rupaul. What can be said? The most popular drag queen in the world, entertainer extraordinaire, full of EXTRAVAGANZA… and heart. Champion was an album FOR the gay community, and Rupaul makes no qualms about it. It’s really his (her, in drag) first album directed, intentionally, toward his (her) loyal gay audience. “Never Go Home Again” tells the story of two youth who fear returning home because they are not accepted by their “family” and “friends”. The bridge encourages and reminds us to “make the family you want with ones who really love you.” “Let’s Turn The Night”: community, commitment, and Proposition 8. “Coming Out of Hiding” is simply fabulousity, and (again, though not intentional) definitely speaks to the LGBTQQI community as a whole.}
Never Go Home Again (from Champion [Rupaul])
Let’s Turn The Night (from Champion [Rupaul])
Coming Out of Hiding (from Red Hot [RuPaul])

{I discovered this musical revue (Bed, Boys and Beyond) around 2004, and absolutely fell in love with the music. “Gay Today” asks the critical questions of how LGBT individuals are looked at in the wide scope of society, such as: “Will I find love and friendship in this new day? Will some of the stigma and blame finally fall away from being gay today? Will I at last feel I’m safe living out and open? Will I have the heart or the hope to help me cope with being gay today?” “May I Take Your Hand?” is much more personal, a plea from one love to another, wanting to show affection, even in the simplest of ways. “I don’t want to make a statement to conservatives and purists; confuse all the ladies, or frighten the tourists. I’m not looking to shock or offend, but must we always pretend that you are nothing more than a friend?”}
Gay Today (from Bed, Boys and Beyond)
May I Take Your Hand? (from Bed, Boys and Beyond)

{A must-see film (Latter Days). “If I Could Be With You Now”, a great male love duet. Great, great songs for this film. These songs stuck out the most to me, and speak to me. They are must-hear.}
If I Could Be With You Now (from Latter Days, Soundtrack)
Hymn for Those Left Behind (from Latter Days, Soundtrack)
Another Beautiful Day (from Latter Days, Soundtrack)
Abide with Me (hymn, also from Latter Days, Soundtrack)
Tuesday, 3:00am (from Latter Days, Soundtrack)

{If you’ve never seen or heard of Rent, you are missing out. You don’t have to love it, but please appreciate it for what it is. It speaks VERY poignantly about HIV, AIDS, life and death, music, hope, growth, and so, so, so, so, so much more. If you can’t see a production of it, please RENT (he he) either the film or the DVD, Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway. The reprise of “I’ll Cover You” is extremely powerful and emotional, and that’s all I can say. “Love Heals” played in the closing credits of the film version. The notes from the CD booklet say this: "Jonathan [Larson] wrote LOVE HEALS while working on RENT, to help in the efforts of Love Heals — the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS education. Alison was one of the first heterosexual women to contract AIDS from a "one night stand." He wanted to help her and the organization in the best way he could: with music. Although not written for RENT, we have included this bonus track as a tribute to Jonathan and to help further the cause of AIDS education.”}
I’ll Cover You (Reprise) (from Rent, the Motion Picture)
Love Heals (Bonus Track) (from Rent, the Motion Picture)

{These are songs that are meaningful and powerful. Thanks to Kage Alan and Rainbow Sounds for helping me find these wonderful artists and songs.}
Say What You Want (from Non-Stop [Andy Bell])
Crucified (from Massive Luxury Overdose [Army of Lovers])

{These songs are very meaningful for me. "A Song for Mama" is very powerful. At my grandmother's funeral, they played this song, and now it represents the love that, not only I have for my mother, but for the mothers of my parents, and the mothers of my grandparents, and so on. I sang "You Raise Me Up" at my high school graduation. It was a very powerful moment for me, singing in front of hundreds of people, hundreds of families, at the EMU Convocation Center, representing the love we had as new high school graduates and burgeoning adults for the people in our lives who got us there. When my grandfather passed away, I was asked to sing this at his funeral, and at that moment it meant just as much, if not more. Family (biological or otherwise, chosen or not) is very important to me, and these two songs represent this very well.}
A Song for Mama (from Soul Food Motion Picture Soundtrack and Evolution [Boyz II Men])
You Raise Me Up (from Closer [Josh Groban])

{Other songs:}
Pop (from Celebrity [*NSync])
Everytime (from In The Zone [Britney Spears])
Taking Chances (from Taking Chances [Celine Dion])
Honest Questions (from Gotta Get Thru This [Daniel Bedingfield])
Stan (from The Marshall Mathers LP [Eminem])
It Don't Matter To The Sun (from Garth Brooks in... The Life of Chris Gaines [Garth Brook as Chris Gaines])
How Do I Feel (The Burrito Song) (from Hoku [Hoku])
Last Tears (from Despite Our Differences [Indigo Girls featuring Brandi Carlile])
Terrified (from Unbroken [Katherine Mcphee featuring Jason Reeves])
How Long Has This Been Going On? (from Let Yourself Go [Kristin Chenoweth, song from Rosalie])
Taylor, The Latte Boy (from As I Am [Kristin Chenoweth])
I Will Love Again (from Lara Fabian (English) [Lara Fabian])
Forgive Them Father (from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill [Lauryn Hill])
Umbrella (acoustic cover of Rihanna [Mandy Moore])
Gay Bash (from The Movement [Melange Lavonne])
Reason (from Reason [Melanie C(hisholm) aka Sporty Spice from the Spice Girls])
God Is in the People (from The Awakening [Melissa Etheridge])
I Will (from Princess P [Paris Bennett])
Dear Mr. President (from I’m Not Dead [Pink])
The World (from Persona [Queen Latifah])
When You Love Someone Like That (from Reba: Duets and Family [Reba McEntire; LeAnn Rimes])
I’m A Survivor (from Greatest Hits: Vol. 3, I’m A Survivor [Reba McEntire])
Goodbye (from Forever [Spice Girls])
30 Minutes (from 200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane [t.A.T.u.])

Purpose (from Avenue Q, Original Cast Recording)
She Loves to Hear the Music (from The Boy From Oz, A Decca Broadway Original Cast Recording)
Listen (from Dreamgirls Motion Picture Soundtrack and B'Day Deluxe Edition [Beyonce])
I Am Changing (from Dreamgirls Original Cast Recording [Jennifer Holliday])
I Know Where I’ve Been (from Hairspray, Motion Picture Cast Recording [Queen Latifah & Cast])
His Eye Is on the Sparrow (hymn, also from Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Soundtrack [Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount])
A Deeper Love (from Greatest Hits (1980-1994) and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Soundtrack [Aretha Franklin])


I wish I could go into detail for every song, but I figure this is a pretty comprehensive (and already tiring) list. I hope you took the time to at least look through the song titles, recognize some favorites, and find some new favorites.

Thank you for reading.

Please visit http://facebook.com/jamestaylorjrmusic for the most current, up-to-date information about album progress, upcoming performances (there’s quite a few), and Rainbow Sounds.

1 comment:

  1. As I was reading this new Blog, I never knew that i could love you even more than a Mother already does, but my heart feels like it has.
    You are an Amazing Young Man and an even more Amazing son.
    Thank you for sharing your love of music and its meaning you feel.

    I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!
    Love, Mom

    ReplyDelete