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Songs That Touch My Soul, Eleven

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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 eleventh 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. I know it's been awhile, but this edition marks the end of writers block…. I hope.

Saltire Face"Flower of Scotland" – Various

This is an ode to my adopted home country Scotland. A country that has given so much to our modern world; to quote Voltaire "We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilization." Scotland is a country of amazing people and achievements. It is because of the Scots that we enjoy so many conveniences and necessities in life, as the Scots are the inventors of much of the modern world. Things we take for granted from, tarmac, the telephone, television, the post office, radio, and the fax machine; to things you couldn't live without like, antiseptic, anesthesia, penicillin, the MRI machine, hypodermic syringe, and beta-blockers.

It was during the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, that the fathers of many of the modern sciences (geology, economics, chemistry, engineering, and medicine among many) lived, thought, and worked in the heart of Edinburgh's New Town – which they also designed and built. Men like Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, Adam Ferguson, John Playfair, Joseph Black, and James Hutton are some of Scotland's greatest sons. Even the American Constitution can find most of its ideas and ideals in the philosophy of David Hume and America's economic principals (capitalism) are based on the works of Adam Smith. Quite a resume for a country that has never had a population of much more than five million people.

“Flower of Scotland” is the unofficial anthem, that talks of military victory; but really it speaks to most Scots hearts of their strength, of what they have overcome and what they have accomplished, frequently against ridiculous odds. After nine years living in Edinburgh I can attest to the unfair, sometimes neglectful treatment of the Scots by the English who usually treat Scotland like the ugly red-headed step-children; which is a problem, as we are meant to be a United Kingdom. But as devolution evolves and Scotland becomes a completely independent country again, hopefully the Scots will once again shine as innovators on the new world stage, in science, religious diversity, and social acceptance.

"Seven Years" – Norah Jones

My daughter just celebrated her 15th birthday. As I watch her grow-up, both outside and inside, I find myself more and more remembering what a sweet, perfect, happy little girl she was; and I marvel at Little girl in leaves the transformation. In such a short time she has gone from innocent, sweet, perpetually cheerful, and full of wonder to, beautiful, intelligent, sensitive, and more sensible than I have ever been (not sure where she gets that actually), and now she is nearly full grown. Every time I hear "Seven Years" I remember one particular autumn afternoon. My daughter Ysabeau (pronounced E-sa-bow) and I were raking leaves together, well I was raking she was playing in the pile. Every time I got it big enough she would jump into the middle scattering the bright red and orange leaves everywhere, and like crisp crumbs (British for potato chips — chips of course is British for French fries) the crunchy leaves were becoming smaller and smaller, and more difficult to rake, but I didn't care. Her joyous giggling ringing through the crisp air was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, nothing will ever compare.

The simple, elegant lyrics of "Seven Years", perfectly capture every moment of that day, as if Norah had been watching us. "Spinning, laughing, dancing to her favourite song/ A little girl with nothing wrong/ Is all alone," and "Crooked little smile on her face/ Tells a tale of grace/ That's all her own". Norah's caressing, loving vocals feel like my own heart's voice singing to the memory of that long-lost little girl. Lost to time, maturity, and her own insistence that she isn't a little girl anymore. Lost but not forgotten, never forgotten.

"If You're Not The One" – Daniel Bedingfield

Yes he is a scary, freaked-out, christian boy, and for the most part his music falls into the simpering-mockish-cack (British slang meaning feces or nonsense, rubbish) category but this song touches that part of my soul that is all teenage girl. With lyrics like: "If you’re not the one then why does my soul feel glad today?/ If you’re not the one then why does my hand fit yours this way?/ If you are not mine then why does your heart return my call?" BLECH! Cringe worthy I agree, says the full-grown woman part of me, the part of me that Josh Hathaway calls FirebreathingAndrea is actually nauseated by the song; but OH… that young hopeful romantic part of my soul, wants to meet the man that will really say to me: "And I hope you are the one I share my life with/ And I wish that you could be the one I die with/ And I pray you’re the one I build my home with/ I hope I love you all my life". Just not in the same girlie falsetto voice as Bedingfield, or firebreathingAndrea will probably just kick the crap out of you.

Sexy man on motorbike"Almost Lover" – A Fine Frenzy

A Fine Frenzy (a stage name taken from Shakespeare's, A Midsummer Night's Dream — real name Alison Sudol) is one of my favourite artists. Her debut album One Cell in the Sea has been at the top of my playlist for a year now and every time I hear it, I find a new gem; however I have always identified with "Almost Lover" above all other tracks. More than just a one-that-got-away song, to me "Almost Lover" is the one-that-never-existed song. The dream-man I have been waiting for, fantasizing about, wishing for. That man I have dreamed about finding for so long; tall, dark, and handsome, with the electric blue eyes, intelligent, caring, sexy, capable of doing the laundry AND loading the dishwasher without being asked. The man who is educated, witty and urbane with a six pack and sex drive to match. My perfect man who rides a motorbike (anything but a Harley, this is Britain afterall), enjoys art, literature and can articulate the beauty of Chopin while driving me home from a Foo Fighters concert and then seamlessly switch to joking about the 60 year-old couple in the front row with the Grateful Dead t-shirts.

As I get older (38 this month) I realize that he just isn't out there. For so long every man I dated: doctor, lawyer, film-maker — most recently an African Prince — hasn't equalled my almost lover. Now I know it's time to end it with this epitome of maleness, my imagined Adonis, and move on. Like A Fine Frenzy says: "Goodbye, my almost lover/ Goodbye, my hopeless dream/ I'm trying not to think about you/ Can't you just let me be?/ So long, my luckless romance/ My back is turned on you/ I should've known you'd bring me heartache/ Almost lovers always do".

"Disturbia" – Rihanna

I admit it, I'm a fan of Rihanna and her brand of R&B, Euro-disco dance-pop. It's so addictive when done right and she (or is it her handlers?) is so very good at it. In my original review of Good Girl Gone Bad from 2007 I said "When it’s good it is scorching and when it’s bad the CD is not worth standing your drink on. Thank god for MP3 players so you can chose the best tracks and throw the shite away." With the re-release, Good Girl Gone Bad Reloaded they did just that, discarding most of the crap and adding more danceable, high-energy tracks worthy of the rest of the album. The best of these new tracks is the single "Disturbia".

"Disturbia" is everything I like most about Rihanna, with it's repetitive beats and lyrics, it is inimitably danceable, and its dark electro carnality appeals to the naughty girl in me. The affect on me is obvious whenever I take to the dance floor. My mood lifts, when I feel that hot beat move through my feet, up legs and into my hips, forcing me to gyrate lustily in time to the music. What more reason do I need to love a song?

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About A.L. Harper

  • I absolutely adore “Seven Years.” That song just destroys me every time I listen to it.

  • Oh, and please breathe fire on that Bedingfield twerp and the other Bedingfield. My contempt for them both knows no bounds.

  • Ah…. Josh you’re such a softie!

    It brings a tear to my eye too.

  • *laugh* I like the girl Bedingfield…. well I like some of her stuff. The boy is vile, I admit it. Blech!

  • really great to see both the pensive and the firebreathing andrea back in action.

    p.s. Ysabeau is a beautiful name

    p.p.s. can somebody please give me back the 50 seconds i just wasted looking at a daniel whateverthehellhisnameis video? yeesh!!

  • Thank you very much Mr Saleski! It’s lovely to be welcomed back into your loving embrace.

    I’m glad you like my daughter’s name. *smile* She loves it too, she thinks it sounds like a vampire name. *laugh*

    Why on earth, after I said how cack that Bedingfield song is, would you go and listen to it?! Impressive that you lasted 50 seconds though. I tip my hat to you.

  • if josh has contempt for something, i feel compelled to check it out. let’s call it morbid curiosity.

  • *laugh* I would agree, in most cases this is a very healthy attitude. As Josh feels contempt for most things in life and if you avoided them all you would have to lock yourself in a padded cell; even then the sound of barking puppies would still occasionally waft in through that high, bar covered window.

    But in this case he was right. I mean if you hate everything well… even a stopped clock is right twice a day (unless of course it’s on military time).