The Parting Glass—The Quiet Beauty
She keeps to herself. Not everyone knows who she is. But you do. You hang off of every word she says and know how she speaks. You try to tell everyone how great she is, but if they don’t agree it just rolls off your back. She’s the one you’ll always remember, no matter where your life takes you, and even if you don’t end up together.
I first heard this one as a part of Ed Sheeran’s + album. It carries an air of melancholy, finality, beauty, and importance. The very first words, “Of all the money that ere I had, I spent it in good company,” had me hooked. I always think that the song has something incredibly important to say, though I can never quite place what it is. All of the versions are good. All of them are amazing. Listen. Please.
Hallelujah—The Steadfast Lover
She’s always there for you. She always has been. From the very moment you first met her, you knew that she was going to be special. She’s so well-rounded and put-together that you want to call her perfect. You know she’s not, but she’s amazing in all the ways that matter to you.
Cohen penned the original nearly 50 years ago. I’ll be the first to admit that it was not my favorite. The way he speak-sings the verses bother me, given the beauty that the song is capable of. When he passed in 2016, I listened to the whole thing and found it to be better than I had given it credit for. This was one of the first songs I ever learned to play on the guitar, and one that I still do, no matter how infrequently I pick it up. Apparently Cohen wrote something like 90 verses originally. I would do some things I wouldn’t be proud of to read them.
Killer Whales—The Quirky Spitfire
You didn’t see her coming, but when she showed up—man did she grab your attention. She clicks with you in ways that you didn’t know you liked and has opened up whole other worlds to you that you didn’t know existed. Just when you think she’s run out of tricks, she pulls out something that draws you right back in. Maybe she’s not Mrs. Right, but she’s a hell of a lot of fun and you’re just along for the ride.
“Steve, I have a song to show you” said my friend Erin to me one day when I showed up in class. Willing to give any music a try, I grabbed an earbud and listened. The song starts out strong, with a solid beat and cool synths. I was enjoying it. Then the chorus hit, the band sprang into a beautifully coherent crash of cymbals, synths, and bass. I nearly shot up out of my seat in excitement at the incredible and somewhat unexpected dynamism of the band. I was hooked immediately and Erin grinned at my enthusiasm. I will often pick a new favorite song for a few weeks, one that I listen to ad nauseum. This one I’ve gone back to about six different times.
A Thousand Years—The Passionate Romantic
She makes your heart beat out of your chest when she talks to you. She knows just what words to say to melt you into a puddle of goo and puppy-dog eyes. She has that kind of genuine sweetness that makes you want to hold her close in a slow twirl around an empty room to a love song. Your love is sugary-sweet—like out of a fairy tale—and that’s exactly how you like it.
Am I ashamed to have a song up here that is prominently featured in a Twilight movie? Maybe. Will I listen anyway? Absolutely. Of all the sappy, romantic love songs that I like, this one takes the top spot. Every word speaks to me in a way that no other song does. I want to dance to this song at my wedding. And I don’t have a problem admitting to it. Take note, future wife.
Something To Believe In—The Sunny Spirit
She makes you smile with her infectious positivity. You wouldn’t think it works that way, but you just can’t help but be in a good mood when she’s around. She doesn’t have an evil bone in her body, and she can make you dance even if you feel like you’ve got no energy left. Maybe she’s not the most successful or most popular, but that relentless positivity is gonna take her places.
I heard this for the first time at a mall, and immediately wrote down lyrics to look it up when I got home. Immediately, I knew I was down. The chorus takes me into the sky and doesn’t let up for the length of the song. It became my anthem for that summer, and I would listen to it every day to pump me up for work.