Perfect Playlist #1 – Being a Parent

I have always loved songwriters who use their children or children in general for inspiration. Being a Father to three I am constantly touched by the thoughts and sentiments of songwriters. The fact that some go on the call their kids Moon Unit, Fifi Trixibell or Apple is an entirely different matter!

The playlist runs the gamut of emotions from grief to elation. Do some investigating and enjoy.

1. Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton suffered the worst nightmare of any parent: the loss of their child. Clapton’s son, Conor, plunged to his death from the window in an apartment block and this song was his way of dealing with the devastating grief.

2. Danny’s Song – Kenny Loggins

A wonderfully uplifting song from brilliant songwriter Kenny Loggins. It tells the tale of meeting his wife and how their world was made complete when their first child came along.

3. The Things We’ve Handed Down – Marc Cohn

Marc Cohn is a brilliant songwriter. Looking a little deeper than Walking In Memphis you can find some gems. We have all wondered, prior to the birth of our child, what traits they have inherited from Mum or Dad. This song encapsulates those feelings and thoughts beautifully.

4. This Is Home – Lucy Kaplansky

Lucy tells the story of the adoption of her baby from an orphanage in China better than I could here. This song was her way of telling the story. The lyrics a moving especially when she sings of her adopted baby to be lying, alone, in an orphanage “getting used to being left behind”. A simple but powerful song.

5. Over There – John Gorka

Lyrically a brilliant song about how being in a family with his wife and two children keeps him grounded. “And the little but that I give up/It’s all coming back a hundredfold/It’s not lost if it goes to love/It rounds you out so you can roll”.

6. Father and Son – Cat Stevens

A fantastic song about a father who wants the best for his child and the son who wants to make it in his own way….

7. Teach Your Children – Crosby Stills and Nash

A great song about looking to the future and wanting the best for your children and that how it was done before might not be the best way. Second part of the songs speaks directly to children of parents fears and hang ups.

8. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) – John Lennon

Lennons stunning , brilliantly written song to his son Sean.

9. Sarah Maria – James Taylor

Sarah Maria was James’ first child with Carly Simon and this a sweet song about his little girl.

10. Taking You Home – Don Henley

As one half of the main writing partnership in the Eagles you can expect great quality. Henley’s solo albums have a more of a personal touch to them which makes for a more in depth listen.

Sometimes the joy of parenthood comes when you least expect it and this is true of Don Henley. This is his song relating his feelings when he first saw his newborn and wanted to simply take her “home”.

11. Speaking With The Angel – Cry Cry Cry

Lucy Kaplansky sings here on a collaborative album she did with Richard Shindell and Dar Williams. The album is made up of songs by their favourite artists. This is their brilliant version of Ron Sexsmith’s song.

Well, that’s it. I hope you do seek out and enjoy this music and it speaks to you in the way it does me.

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Perfect Playlists – Philosophy

I am going to begin a series of Blogs of what I consider to be perfect playlists around certain themes.

Each will contain 10 to 12 songs and will contain music from familiar and unfamiliar artists. I have tried to focus more on those artists and songs that are a little less known – there is a wonderfully rich vein of music that simply goes umissed.

I will provide some commentary on each song where appropriate. I have always been a sucker for a good lyric and so the songs chosen will hopefully draw you into the songwriters world……

I hope that you find them interesting and they lead you to discover some new artists and music. Please feel free to make comments and suggestions to add to the playlists to makethem even more “perfect”.

The first of these will be on the emotions of being a parent and will follow shortly……

Perfect Playlist #2 – Death and the Afterlife

Love, sex and why doesn’t she love me songs are easy subjects to write about. Those songwriters that move away from these staples usually find great inspiration and thoughtful reflection is death and the afterlife……..

1. My Heaven – Mary Chapin Carpenter

Beautifully written and sung this is MCC’s image of what her heaven would be like…….

2. For a Dancer – Jackson Browne

“I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can’t sing
I can’t help listening”
 
This is the opening to the second verse of this beautiful song. It speaks of many things from funerals to our time here on earth as only Jackson can. The song appears on his masterpiece Late For The Sky.
 
 
3. This Used To Be My Town – Gretchen Peters
 
This is a haunting song about a murdered girl watching her family and friends grieve at her funeral. I suspect it was inspired by the events in The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. From her brilliant album Halcyon the woman should be substantially more famous than she is here.
 
 
4. Hard Times in Babylon – Eliza Gilkyson
 
Eliza Gilkson is the daughter of Terry Gilkyson. Who you might ask? Well Terry Gilkyson is the writer of Bare Necessities and was a writer for Disney back in the 60’s. A popular singer songwriter in her on right this is an homage to a friend who commits suicide despite being popular and which a close group of people who could have helped.
 

5. Concrete Angel – Martina McBride

This a song that always brings a lump to my throat every time I listen to it. A mistreated little girl is ignored by teachers and neighbours and suffers the ultimate consequence. Emotional stuff sung amazingly by a woman with one of the best voices I have heard.

6. Dance With My Father – Luther Vandross

To me Luther Vandross was a great singer who churned out polished pop songs that were invariably throw away. Then he wrote a song that was clearly extremely personal to him and displays what a wonderful songwriter he was.

7. Last Seen October 9th – Eleanor McEvoy

A very simple song about someone who has gone missing and the adverts and pleas for her safe return.

8. The Angels Rejoiced Last Night – Lucy Kaplansky

A cover version of an Ira and Charlie Louvin song. A woman dies so that God can gt her husband to go to church. An odd concept but it makes for a haunting song especially when song her by Lucy with Richard Shindell on backing vocals.

9. Let Them In – John Gorka

The lyrics to Let Them In are based on poem written by a nurse based at a hospital in the Philipines in World War II. John Gorka added a few more lines and the music and created a song about how our fallen young soldiers should be treated when they get to  heaven.

10. Sand and Water – Beth Nielsen Chapman

Beth Nielsen Chapman lost her husband to cancer at a very young age and this song is the title track from an album that deals with the grief she felt. Stunning.

11. Travis John – Tracy Grammer

Travs John is a fallen soldier lamenting the potential he has but is now “dead and gone”. Powerful stuff.

12. Mary’s Place – Bruce Springsteen

You have lost your loved one and what do you do? You have a party to celebrate her life, invite all your friends around and play all her favourite songs…..The most uplifting track here but if you listen to the lyrics they will bring a tear to you eyes.

So there you have it. Not the most cheerful selection of songs and I guess not a playlist to put on if you are feeling down!