1) "Squalor Victoria" The National
2) "Kids" MGMT
3) "Love Ridden" Fiona Apple
Wow... this is kind of an unexpected song to come up. I vaguely remember hearing Fiona Apple for the first time somewhere around my freshman year in college. I remember thinking that she was different than anything I'd heard before (up to that point I'd really only listened to Christian music) and thinking that there was a lot of music that I just plain hadn't heard. That was an interesting year. It was, probably, the beginning of the developing tension between my desire to consume any and all music I could get my hands on and my desire to not listen to too much junk that I thought would pollute me. Music is so powerful, so influential. It subconsciously alters our moods, our perceptions, even our political ideals. I think everyone realizes this on a small level. I remember a friend of mine saying that he was surprised that I wasn't more liberal based on the music I listened to. I remember being surprised by that statement but then thinking about the fact that so much of the music I was listening to was about a mistrust of authority and government. He had a point.
It's funny how those types of influences can really become a part of who you are and where you've been. I was at lunch today with a friend and "Time" by Hootie and the Blowfish came on and I was instantly transported to my sophomore year of high school. I could feel that awkwardness, that insecurity, and that same sort of wonder at the fact that I had more freedom and more friends that year. That was also a season where the music I listened to all carried a certain level of optimism and I remember feeling fairly, well, optimistic. What is interesting about "Time" though is that it came off of a CD that also had a song about the presence of racism in our country. That was really the first time that I realized that music could be a platform to address the evils in our culture and being impacted by that. It was the first time that I realized that music could mean something and mean something to me.
Both of those phases (the Fiona phase and the Hootie phase) are interesting when you compare them to where I'm at now. I listen to art rock and experimental music (Radiohead and Passion Pit). I listen to commerical rock (Fall Out Boy). I listen to folk and acoustic (Iron and Wine and Sufjan Stevens). I even listen to The-Dream and Rihanna. I listen to everything. What I think is important to recognize about all that is that while the period in which I listened to Fiona Apple and the period in which I was listening to Hootie were times in which music had a very specific impact, the music I listen to now has an impact that's all over the place. Maybe, as a result, it's especially important to stay rooted, stay grounded, to ensure that I have a consistent contact with God. Otherwise, I could see something like music turning me into a sort of multiple-personality mess. Well, maybe that's a little extreme, but it certainly doesn't help me to find where I really am. I'm not saying it's bad to love a diverse variety of music. I just think it's important to keep hold of who you are and who you were made to be.