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Songs That Touch My Soul, Eight

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We all have them, songs that seem to touch a secret place in your soul — sometimes secret even from you. They can grow and occasionally fester like an open wound, or they can fill you up, inspire you, and occasionally even heal you. Sometimes they don't even reflect your musical tastes. They can be shameful secrets that you keep from family and friends. You feel like a drug addict craving your next fix. At times like those you thank the powers that be for MP3 players — the syringe of those suffering with this affliction.

This is the eighth installment of songs that touch my soul. And as always this edition is full of passion, desire and lust. This is a form of therapy, this sharing of my neuroses, my secret inner lunacy, the big ball of crazy that is me. Welcome to my musical schizophrenia.

“The Sweetest Thing” – U2

Okay, yes, I know I've been hard on U2 but only because these guys are seriously talented and it pains me to watch them curl up and accept sainthood like a nun in medieval times. Joshua Tree should have been the beginning of the amazing things to come. Instead… well history is its own witness. Just because I'm hard on them now doesn't mean I never liked them. In fact, it's just the opposite. I was a punk/goth girl who loved U2, despite their lack of black clothes, mohawks, eye-liner or tattoos depicting the face of evil; even the words "fuck you" tattooed across their knuckles would have made them more acceptable.

Buster KeatonWe all know the legendary story behind this song by now, written as an apology to Ali Hewson, a.k.a Mrs. Bono, after the rock star missed her birthday. To be fair he was in the middle of writing and recording his magnum opus, Joshua Tree. And to save himself, and possibly his marriage (although who would really divorce their husband over one missed birthday?), he wrote his beloved high school sweetheart a beautiful song.

The video is yet another tribute to his love. It features Bono clowning around a la Buster Keaton, numerous romantic trinkets to assuage the female temper, cameos from Boyzone (very successful Irish boy band), River Dance, Steve Collins (Irish middleweight boxing champion), and of course the rest of the band. Not to mention the numerous instances of the phrase “I'm sorry” that appearer throughout the video, on banners, cars, and even an elephant. Why does this song touch my soul? Its sincerity. It makes me smile a gosh-that's-sweet smile. And personally I would much rather get a personal gift and an honest apology than a bunch of fucking flowers. Wouldn't you?

“The Saddest Song I've Got” – Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox is arguably the coolest woman to ever warble down a mic. Her dulcet tones only add to her accessible brand of blue-eyed soul and without a doubt were a big part of the Eurythmics' success. Let's face it, that deep, rich, powerful voice is enough to soothe the savage beast in anyone. Truth is I could listen to Annie sing all day and night and never grow weary of it. “The Saddest Song I've got” touches me because of the deep, heartfelt emotion, the plaintively begging quality of the Scottish songstress as she morns the loss of love, a relationship, friendship or possibly peace on earth as the video seems to imply, it's difficult to tell. What I can tell you is that the power, sadness, and pain are touching to the point of near tears. And she is ever so cool.

“Analogue” – A-ha

Magne FuruholmenMaybe it's what's left of my school girl crush on Morten Harket and Magne Furuholmen, or maybe A-ha really are a great band. I've never been completely sure. Nowadays the trio all have rather successful solo careers, most notably perhaps Magne, who not only has a solo album – with members from Coldplay and Travis as his backing band – but is also a very successful sculptor, painter, and glass etching artist. He was even commissioned to design an official Norwegian postage stamp. In 2005 the boys from Norway released their eighth album Analogue. Maybe it's Harket's smooth, creamy voice, or the catchy riff; possibly it's the chorus that touches me: “All I want you to know; I love you/ All I need is the time to show you”. When this song comes through my speakers, whether they be headphones, car stereo, or my computer, I want to shut my eyes, gently sway my head, and get lost in a world where either Morten or Magne sing those fabulous words to me, and me alone.

“Sing For the Moment” – Eminem

Musically it's streamlined, elegant, smooth, but I love Eminem for his lyrics, and this one is a diamond in his already jewel-encrusted crown. In “Sing For the Moment” Mr. Mathers – aided by Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith – addresses the parents of the disaffected youth of white middle class America who, for reasons that seem to escape most parents, identify with him. He also talks to his critics who say that he promotes violence, saying that ultimately the offender is responsible. Personally, I think Eminem is to violent street crime what IKEA is to design, furniture haute couture.

I'm a big fan of Eminem, I admire him for his awe-inspiring lyrical abilities, his strength in overcoming less than ideal personal circumstances, his sarcastic often self-depreciating wit and his fabulous body. I also think he is one of the most intentionally misunderstood artists on the planet (followed closely by Marilyn Manson). “Sing For the Moment” shows Eminem in all is glory, as an introspective, intellectual artist with the ability to truly see through and past what many are not willing to look at, at all.

“Tainted Love” (cover) — Marilyn Manson

There is something inherently sexual about Marilyn Manson and his music. There is no denying that goth, as a lifestyle choice, is now more mainstream than ever. Bands like HIM and Evanescence are reaping the benefits of this mainstream version — mallgoth as it's frequently referred to – of the goth aesthetic. Although Manson is undoubtedly the most high profile of these sudo-goth artists I doubt he would identify himself with them, as he sees My Scottish Panties - freshly launderedhimself more as a performance artist. He is absolutely, unapologetically Marilyn Manson. And he, as Alice Cooper before him, defies categorization. Shock-rock, glam-rock or alt-metal, I couldn't tell you. What I do know is that he makes my panties wet and as many of you know by now, that really is the door to my soul.

I grew-up listening to the early 80's version of “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, but it's in Manson's version where the darkly romantic, heart-broken lyrics meet their match. Mason's gothic/hard rock flourishes and more substantial and sex soaked vocals add weight to what was bouncy, snyth-pop and flippant. Where Soft Cell's “Love” made you want to dance cheerily in an Eddie Murphy-dancing-like-a-white-man way, Manson's version encourages you to push your lover down on the bed, tear his clothes off with your teeth, mount him and ride him until all your anger is spent on one final sweaty, screaming climax of angry sex. Frankly, I'm a big fan of angry sex and Marilyn Manson brings that out in me, and a lot more too.

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About A.L. Harper

  • Love the piece and the idea. I too have my favorites that always evoke a deep emotional response. I love Annie Lennox and A-Ha and while I might not like all of your choices, you gave me some new things for this music junkie to check out!

  • valentine

    I love this song so much, and typed this from memory. I may have a word or two out of place, but it doesn’t matter. They don’t make songs like this anymore – these days they just come right out and say “girl let me hit it” or “shake your ass”. Back then, artists like Smokey, Earth Wind & Fire and others sung about the moon, the stars, the trees, flowers… they talked about beautiful things that made you wonder about the romance that MIGHT happen… Thank you for letting me share my thoughts.