As a freelance writer near Portland, Oregon, I appreciate songs that are powerful and meaningful. Portland is a music-loving city. And, of all the content in the world, nothing brings people together or tears them apart more than a song. Many of my friends, past and present, would happily classify themselves as music elitists. I’m firmly in the “I like what I like” category, and that includes songs (or bands) my friends despise.
I grew up listening to The Beatles, and the first song I really listened to for its lyrics was Don McLean‘s “American Pie,” which is one of my Mom‘s favorite songs. When I entered adolescence, I went through a long phase where I only listened to classical music and soundtracks. The first CD I ever bought was Gustav Holst‘s The Planets.
I wrote better to word-less music, and the music my peers listened to (alternative, hair metal, rap, and country) didn’t appeal to me at all. There were certainly songs (particularly rock tunes) that I appreciated, but I definitely preferred Vivaldi to Vedder. (Hmm, and that’s actually still the case …)
It wasn’t really until I discovered the band Garbage in the late ’90s that I found “my band.” I saw them play a quick live set while I was in college, but when I heard their song, “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” on an episode of Homicide: Life On the Street, I was hooked. The intensity of Shirley Manson’s vocals, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson’s guitars/bass, and Butch Vig’s drums and technical wizardry creates music that speaks to me. Their songs range from synth-pop to heavy metal, and the tone varies just as wildly, from love ballads to rock anthems. I’m singling them out for this post because they’ve been on hiatus for seven years, but in 2012, they’re releasing a new album, on their own label, and they’ve set up several concert dates.
The wonderful thing about songs and lyrics is that you feel like the band or singer/songwriter is speaking about you and your experiences. When you meet a fellow fan, then you feel an almost instant bond: “s/he gets it, too.” It is powerful stuff, and I speak from experience. Garbage is also my wife Sara‘s favorite band, and when we both discovered this fact, it’s one of the reasons we eventually ended up together. 🙂
What is your favorite band or musician? What makes you love them?