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Songs That Touch My Soul

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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 seventh 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.

“Magic” – Colbie Caillat

With the recent changes in my personal life, romance has been on my mind again. I can’t help but think that this time, I want it all. Fuck settling for someone who is “close Ryan Reynoldsenough”, frankly I don’t need someone in my life just to fill space. This time I want it all, I want the fantasy. “Magic” is about the fantasy, that perfect chemistry in love. Caillat’s lyrics evoke the images and feelings of cold fire moving over bare skin with the lightest touch from a lover and the joy of seeing the face you adore, above you with love in their eyes. It’s an intoxicating image sung in a beautifully sweet, romantic, almost girlish way but with a sensual, lustful feel to it and decidedly big-girl lyrics like: “You've got magic inside your finger tips/ Its leaking out all over my skin/ Everytime that I get close to you/ Your making me weak with the way you/ Look through those eyes”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Colbie Caillat knows what it means to be a woman in love.

“All Kinds” – Dan Wilson

And of course I want a man who can’t resist me. Who adores me, thinks that no woman anywhere was ever or has ever been as perfect and amazing as I am right now. Okay, who doesn’t want that? I think Dan Wilson sums it up beautifully when he sings to some very lucky girl: “You've got the kind of beautiful/ Makes the boys want to give up running all around/ You know the kind of magic spell/ Makes the wild, wild horses lay down on the ground”. “All Kinds” is the first track from his latest solo effort Free Life (one of my best albums of 2007) and like the rest of this poignant alt-folk-rock album it has the same mixture of acoustic and electronic instruments; feeling still, bare, evanescent but with a nearly orchestral quality to it. Dan Wilson seems to understand what many men do not, when you love us we don’t want there to have ever been anyone nearly as life altering as we are. And when we leave you, we simply want you to pine for us for the rest of your lives. Is that really too much to ask?

“Keith Don’t Go” (Acoustic Live version) – Nils Lofgren

There are musicians that the general public love – usually not terribly technically proficient but they have it and that makes-up for their weakness as a musician – and there are musicians' musicians. Usually technically perfect, always visionary, they break rules other musicians would never consider breaking, and are generally considered, by other musicians, to inhabit levels of genius. And every once in a while there are musicians who are both visionary genius and have that it factor. Bo Diddley, Eric Clapton, and Jack White to name a few obvious choices, are all visionary and talented with wide general appeal. One name that should be on that list is Nils Lofgren.

I have heard him referred to as Chopin with a guitar. And his live acoustic version of “Keith Don’t Go” is a prime example of how amazing a musician he is. Although he now works primarily with Bruce Springsteen as a member of the E Street Band, Lofgren is, in my opinion, far and away the better performer and the more talented musician and songwriter. You can judge for yourself, I have included the video of his mind blowing live performance below.

“Darkest Secret” – Sons of William

Sons Of William (SOW) make bluesy, carnal, dirty rock music, filled with the influences of the delta blues and classic 70’s rock sounds they grew up with. SOW weave rich tapestries of music that contain ear-catching musicianship, purely physical vocals, and intelligent, profound and always literate lyrics. Joe Stark, the band’s frontman, has an amazing talent with a guitar which is easily matched by his mellow, smoky, make-my-panties-wet voice. “Darkest Secret” has everything that I love most about SOW. Here they combine soulful guitar, coloured with classic rock, with oh-so-hot lyrics like "with a heavy hand, and a jealous glow, you touch me so sinful and slow” sung in Stark’s lazy southern drawl that is dripping with sexual promise, in perfect harmony with bassist and backing vocalist Jen Janet’s sweeter, feminine tones. They possess the enviable ability to create passionate, sensually driving emotionally haunting music thatBelly Dancer feels like an intimate caress from a long lost lover. It melts my heart and my loins every time I hear it. You really need to own this album.

“Come on Closer” – Jem

This is a deceptive track, hiding its erotic nature under a layer of electro-folk-pop. Jem’s 2004 debut album Finally Woken is rarely far from the top on my Sansa’s most played list and this song is only one of the reasons. It has a strangely ethereal quality with layers of synth woven through and supporting Jem’s gossamer, lithe, Beth Orton-esque vocals which are very soon joined by a heavily distorted, almost hard rock guitar riff. It sounds bizarre and believe me it is, but the rhythmic motions and contradicting musical styles create an erotic atmosphere, and it’s fabulous to belly dance to. But it’s the lyrics that are truly the sexual touch, hidden in what could be mistaken for a an almost cheery electro pop song: “Come on closer/ I wanna show you/ What I'd like to do/ You sit back now/ Just relax now/ I'll take care of you”. And that is just what this song inspires in me. Anyone feel like sitting back and letting me belly dance naked in their lap? Come let me show you how much pelvic control it takes to gyrate and grind slowly while straddling you.

“Keith Don’t Go” (Acoustic Live version) – Nils Lofgren

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About A.L. Harper

  • Phillip Winn

    Good grief, woman! The way you write about music — amazing. I love Sons of William already, and now I’m not sure if I should check out Jem or not!


  • A.L. Harper

    *laugh* Thank Phillip! Sons of William are amazing. Jem is great fun too. Go check her out.

  • Mark Saleski

    pwinn, you’re a married man. are you actually allowed to read this column?

    i mean, i didn’t read it..just looked at the pictures and stuff.

    no, really!

  • Phillip Winn

    Reading the column is no problem. Commenting on it, well, that might have been foolish. 😉

  • A.L. Harper

    And why couldn’t a married man read my column? Ok, yes… I know I’m very sexual about music but only because to me the two go hand in hand. You can’t have really good sex without music and you can’t have really good music that doesn’t illicit feelings of passion. You know that lust swelling of the chest you get when you listen to something that is really good. It’s like the foreplay of mind-blowing sex…

    A bit of that, I suppose, comes out in my music witting.

  • Josh Hathaway

    I love the Dan Wilson. The Colbie bird is pish, I’m afraid. It’s pleasantly packaged pish, but I think I’ll have to take a pass on that.

    I had to read most of this with my eyes closed.

  • A.L. Harper

    How do you read with your eyes closed? Having a psychic moment you were you?