In an earlier post, I presented a list I compiled of 50 things that make me feel good. In a moment lacking inspiration, with over thirty minutes of my daily writing time still to fill, I needed something to go on—I found a middle school prompt that I initially thought would take mere minutes, but required the rest of my writing time for the day to complete. To expand on this writing project, I began an effort to discuss each of the 50 entries, and this post is a result of that project. Read the list at the original post, here.

While I’ve never been the vinyl-underground-mix-tape-turntable type of music lover, I’ve always loved to listen to music. I don’t play music, I don’t write music, and I don’t know anything about music history. As a kid, I only listened to Christian music, then as I began sneaking secular music in high school it was mostly the metal scene. As I’ve grown up, my taste has expanded. When I say expanded, I mean expanded and not “refined.” I’m not a music snob. My definition of “music snob” is simple: anyone who pretends (or truly believes) they don’t like certain types of music because they think it makes them look hip or dignified. Through most of my twenties, I told everyone I listen to everything but country. Now, straining towards thirty, I even listen to country.

For me, the love of music is centered on lyrics. I have to understand the lyrics, like the lyrics, and know the lyrics by heart to really love a song. While I can tap my toe to the awesome beat of a tune as much as the next person, I’m enjoying a jam most when I can sing along. The more of the song I know, the more fun I’m having.

I can go on and on about the topic of lyric mastery. I could dig up some research (you know how I like to do that) on how lyrics effect our brain waves or something scientific-al like that. I could write 2,000 words on loving lyrics, easily. I won’t make you suffer, though. For this particular portion of the “50 things that make me feel good” series, I’ll just share with you some of the songs I know best, love to sing best, and admire/enjoy the lyrics best.

Mr. Jones – Counting Crows

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “I will paint my picture/ Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray/ All of the beautiful colors are very very meaningful/ Gray is my favorite color/ I felt so symbolic yesterday”

What is it about this song? 

This song, like many songs I love, is about nostalgia for me. I remember singing this loudly with some of my first college friends while we drove around too fast in our cars. Beyond the love of the lyrics, it reminds me of aimless, misguided, beautiful youth.

This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “This is how we do it, all hands are in the air/ And wave them from here to there/ If you’re an O.G. mack or a wanna-be player/ You see the hood’s been good to me/ Ever since I was a lower-case G/ But now I’m a big G. The girls see I got the money/ A hundred-dollar bills y’all”

What is it about this song? 

Everyone who knows me well knows that I should have been a white rapper in the 90s. Seriously, I was born a smidgen late, with a serious lack of musical talent, but other than that, it could have happened. Beyond the love of the lyrics, it’s just plain fun.

Battle Ready – Otep

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “supreme — linguistic — mental machine/ your brain cells swell – the intellects extreme”

What is it about this song? 

Though I love the song, a lot of my interest in Otep originally stemmed from a deep admiration of her as an artist. Something about her personality struck me as poet gone metal, which I dig. Beyond the love of the lyrics, it reminds me of the art behind weaving words into something intelligent that still has a rhythm.

Awake and Alive – Skillet

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “I’m awake I’m alive/ Now I know what I believe inside/ Now it’s my time/ I’ll do what I want ’cause this is my life/ here (right here), right now (right now)/ I’ll stand my ground and never back down”

What is it about this song? 

This song, like many songs I love, feels like it is amping me up for some extreme course of action. It reminds me that I am powerful. Not to soften the message behind the lyrics, but this is one of those jams you could put on a “workout mix.” Beyond the love of the lyrics, my long-time love for the band, Skillet, keeps me camped out in the “fan” arena, falling in love with many of their songs regularly.

Riding with Private Malone – David Ball

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “It was a young man named Private Andrew Malone/ Who fought for his country and never made it home/ But for every dream that’s shattered, another one comes true”

What is it about this song? 

This song, like many songs I love, has a deep connection with one of my primary values—respect for and pride in our military men and women. Beyond the love of the lyrics, it reminds me of the sacrifices military service people and their families make each day. My father is retired Navy, and given that history, I try to maintain a high level of respect for our military.

Redeemer – Nicole C. Mullen

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “Who taught the sun/ Where to stand in the morning/ And who taught the ocean/ You can only come this far/ And who showed the moon/ Where to hide till evening/ Whose words alone can/ Catch a falling star”

What is it about this song? 

This song, like many songs I love, also has a deep connection with one of my primary values—faith. Beyond the love of the lyrics, it offers a perspective that is easy to forget in day to day life. There is something greater, more powerful, and vastly more important out there than myself.

Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlisle

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “You know how much I love you, Daddy/ But if you don’t mind I’m only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time/ Oh with all that I’ve done wrong I must have done something right/ to deserve her love every morning and butterfly kisses at night”

What is it about this song? 

This song is a meaningful piece of my childhood. Beyond the love of the lyrics, it is my dad and I’s song. Enough said.

Don’t Take the Girl – Tim McGraw

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “Johnny hit his knees and there he prayed/ Take the very breath you gave me/ Take the heart from my chest/ I’ll gladly take her place if you’ll let me/ Make this my last request/ Take me out of this world/ God, please don’t take the girl”

What is it about this song? 

This song, like many songs I love, also has a deep connection with one of my primary values—unconditional love. Beyond the love of the lyrics, it tells a story I find important. Love is meant to be a beautiful and rewarding part of life. It is also a painful and difficult part of life. When we decide to commit our life to loving someone, it is our responsibility to do so unconditionally. This is the kind of love I see in the lyrics of this particular song.

Proud to be an American – Lee Greenwood

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free/ And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me/ And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today/ ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.”

What is it about this song? 

This song is deeply patriotic. While I don’t always like the way our country operates, my father spent the bulk of his young life dedicated to serving this country in the military. Beyond the love of the lyrics, this song displays a patriotism that doesn’t have to be perfect—it just has to exist. We will never always agree with our president, government, or military. However, we we’re born in this land, people are dying for this land, and that needs to count for something.

Sam Smith – Stay with Me

The Lyrics

Favorite lines: “Why am I so emotional?/ No, it’s not a good look, gain some self-control/ And deep down I know this never works/ But you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt”

What is it about this song? 

This song has an emotional resonance with me. Beyond the love of the lyrics, it speaks to a feeling of loneliness I feel like I deeply understand. It is a feeling of loneliness I believe deeply effects many people across the United States, triggering such issues as depression, anxiety, etc. For this reason, I believe the lyrics (and the song) matter well beyond its chart-topping capabilities.

I’m 28 years old and have been listening to music for most of those years. This list could never come close to including every song that ever touched my heart. It is also a list that rises above the “favorite songs” type of list we are used to seeing. These aren’t necessarily favorites. However, they are songs that I love. They are songs that touch me in the way that makes music entry nine on my list of “50 things that make me feel good.”

Do you all have some songs that have touched your heart you would like to share? Feel free to comment and tell me about them.

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