The Best Song in the World


Orange Sky- Alexi Murdoch
December 31, 2008, 9:49 am
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Ah, this song is so sweet. I don’t even remember how I first heard it, but I do remember feeling so moved listening to it. Something about the way he sings, “Brother, you know you know/ It’s a long road we’ve been walking on/Brother you know it is you know it is/Such a long road we’ve been walking on . . .” that has a ring to the journey that most of us find familiar. Since I apparently think all my favorite songs are secretly about God, I gotta say Alexi hits it home with his chorus, “my salvation is in your love . . .”. Again, who knows if this is secret Christian infiltration, but my salvation is in love, so I guess it’s cool.

As a side note,  this song has apparently been used on the T.V. show “The O.C.” which I’ve heard is a little trashy, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t really judge. The point is that song is super cool, no matter what context. Maybe it’s because it’s 9 in the morning and I spent most of this morning waiting for an invisible bus in the freezing, freezing cold, but I guess this will be a bit of a brief post. I don’t want to short you, Alexi, but I don’t think I even could. After all, this is the best song in the world.

Have a Listen!

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Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues-Kelly Joe Phelps
December 30, 2008, 6:25 pm
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Man, can this guy play guitar! I was introduced to Kelly Joe Phelps by my best friend (who will be on this site soon) in his dimly lit Seattle apartment, which I always am drawn back to when I hear his songs. Something about the overstuffed arm chair, coffee, ashtrays, and dirty boots seems a very fitting setting to accompany Kelly’s song and style. I first heard this song and it stuck with me for months. I remember I came back to Seattle quite almost half a year later and spent a good part of my afternoon trying to describe this song until my buddy put Lead Me On in his CD player. Finally, I was returned to peace and joy with the tunes of Kelly Joe Phelps.

KJP has a friggin’ sweet voice, with a mixture of sweet and gravely, and his guitar matches that talent. I love this song because it encompasses everything there is to love about Kelly and his music: a yearning, honest, cracking voice, incredible lyrics, and devilish guitar to tie it together. I love this song so much because of the weight and soul he brings to his lyrics. Granted, it’s a cover which is possibly cheating for my standards, but I’m not sure yet. Regardless, Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues’ ache, tone, and guitar composition renders it the best song in the world for many times to come.

I could only find a live extended version–but maybe you’ll like it more.

Have a Listen!

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Ella’s Song-Sweet Honey in the Rock
December 29, 2008, 3:13 pm
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Whew. Sweet Honey in the Rock. I don’t even know if I’m cool enough to talk about these incredible women, they blow my socks off so hard. An a capella group since the late seventies, SHR has been doing political, heart moving music to stir up the movement for more than my short life. I was blessed enough to glimpse them in person, which was my first introduction to their art. Not only do they sing and play their music with more love than any artist I have witnessed, but they also sign in in ASL. I was as mesmerized by their voices and movement as the signer who managed to articulate the music that almost did justice to what I was able to hear.

I am not connected with SHR enough to try to describe who they are, their story, or what inspires them; I would be afraid of doing their power a disservice by not illuminating it clearly. But I can say that their spirit is infused in their songs incredibly deep. I love Ella’s Song because of this—they aren’t parroting some “love everyone” lyrics that folks tune out as soon as they catch on. These words are radical, powerful, and true. Powerful, connected elders demanding youth to lead them and asking how to best be humble is inspiring stuff. Their voices ride beside and over each other like a unfolding waterfall. The first time I heard this song, tears came to my eyes in the way that happens when truth is trumpeted clearly, honestly, and openly into the air. This really is it, folks. For the love, message, and sound, Ella’s Song is the best song in the world.

The lyrics are worth reading over and over again. Song and lyrics under the cut. Continue reading



To Zion-Lauryn Hill
December 27, 2008, 6:14 pm
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I think it’s fair to say that almost everyone misses Lauryn’s heart-wrenchingly beautiful voice and lyrics–even Kanye West called her out on Graduation. This song is the epitome of this to me, and also of the magic and earnestness that she brings to her work. Lauryn’s heart is part of her music, and this song illuminates that link so clearly. It’s also an incredibly honest and vulnerable piece which is one of her trademarks as well.

I wish I had more to say about this song, but I think that it resonates for me because of how humbly and clearly she opens herself to what is coming to her and feel blessed by it. That alone is not a simple thing to just toss against some notes and hope it hits.

For Laruyn’s lyrics, charisma, and depth, she will always be considered one of the best musical artists. This song is easily the best song, not only of her impressive collection, but in the world.

Have a listen!

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Seven Swans-Sufjan Stevens
December 25, 2008, 3:00 pm
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Before Sufjan Stevens became famous for claiming, and at this point, possibly never completing his 50 states project, he was still a friggin’ amazing musician. I once read an interview with him claiming that he didn’t like his voice very much in his early work, since it was so highlighted it with bare guitar and piano. Though I dig the anthemic, multi-orchestral music of “Illinois” and even “Michigan” as much as the next guy, Sufjan does not need bells and whistles (or trumpets and tubas) to make his work rock your socks.
This is a long ode, so hear the song and read Continue reading



San Bernadino-The Mountain Goats
December 19, 2008, 5:41 pm
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Oh, goodness. This song is so beautiful. The Mountain Goats is John Darnell, a true indie artist if there ever is one. His original work was recorded on casettes in his home, and people still buy and love it (and not just to be cool). He is not even that cool as a person! No shag, no tight pants–in fact, he’s sort of old! But this guy knows about music.

San Bernardino employs the skill of rock violin (also deftly emulated here), and tells a lovely story about some folks giving birth to a baby in a motel. The eternal question of this song, of course, is why do they get in their car to drive to a motel to deliver the baby, but it’s worth it even if their sole purpose was for John Darnell to write them a song. It also talks about San Bernardino which always deserves a little love, the desolate, patchy desert land that it is. John grew up in So. Cal, and he’s done some good work tossing some love to the deserted, craggly areas of the coast that Hollywood tries so hard to erase.

So, good music, good story, and some good healing powers my way. Earlier this year I had surgery and I was scared, and tired, and full of this insane grape-flavored juice that was supposed to clear me out in a very uncomfortable way. My mouth only tasted of grape and bubbles and it was four in the f-ing morning. This song was on from the waiting room to the surgery and through it and really, truly allowed me not to freak out. A good song comforts you, uplifts you, entertains you, and warms you–but only the best song in the world keeps your heart steady in the face of fear.

San Bernardino, everybody.   Not just a crappy town no more.

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Ragoo—Kings of Leon
December 18, 2008, 6:07 pm
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Ragoo might be my original BSITW. If such a song is determined by deep moving of the heart, healing powers, and desire to listen non-stop for several days at a time, Ragoo is it. I discovered it the week my beautiful nephew died of cancer, and kept it linked into my ear canal for three days straight—no exaggeration this time. For some reason, the bass line, vocals, and lyrics just soothed me. I don’t actually love King of Leon’s other songs that much which is unfortunate—then I’d get to have a new favorite band—but Ragoo is enough for me to forever glorify them.

On a funny note, unlike Horse Feathers (as I questioned earlier this week) King of Leon’s subtly Christian tendencies are actual Christian tendencies—their father was a traveling Pentecostal preacher. United Pentecostal Church is the stereotype of all raging Southern churches, with the spittle-flicking, white-suited preacher warning of eeee-tah-nal damm-nashen! I’m pretty sure their song “True Love Ways” is a ballad to abstinence (which I have some serious raised eyebrows toward) but if they are talking to Jesus every day as they claim and being rockstars, I’m hoping they’re mystical or creative enough to be slightly progressive.
Thank you for this song, Kings of Leon. Especially during that week, but continually to this day, this truly is the best song in the world.

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