Music is my passion, even if my number scrobbles doesn’t quite reflect that. They can express feelings and ideas in so many more ways then words can do alone. Sometimes they can convey exactly what you’re thinking without you even realizing it. Other times then can lift your spirits from depths you thought were inescapable. Although I value each and every one of my 9,990 other scrobbles very much, I wanted to do something special as I reached the big 10k. So I crafted a playlist of 10 songs that were very special to me. Not just songs that I liked the way they sounded, but songs that were close to me, that meant something to me, that defined me. In theory it was an easy task, but I quickly found that it was very very difficult. The end result was a 2 hour 20 minute playlist (I’m a sucker for those giant epics) full of music that (I hope) represents me.
Dream Theater – A Change of Seasons
(Cherish your life, while you’re still around.)
Dream Theater’s first epic was largely inspired by Mike Portnoy’s experience with his mother’s death and him realizing he needed to live each day to the fullest. Life is guaranteed to change whether we like it or not. Sometimes it’s gradually like how the seasons pass, other times it can be in an instant. Although it’s easy to get bogged down with our daily routines, it’s so important to be thankful and enjoy what we have now. Carpe diem. Seize the day.
Yoshiki – Without you (Classical Version)
After the passing of hide, Yoshiki composed this amazing piece in memory of him. His piano work here is absolutely stunning, backed beautifully by an orchestra. It ranges from soft and somber to graceful and technical. Yoshiki really held nothing back, pouring so much emotion into his playing; so much that you can hear him panting and holding back tears when the orchestra backs off.
Nightwish – Ever Dream
(Ever dream of me?)
One of my favorite Nightwish songs, consistently in my top three, my absolute favorite depending on when you ask me. Simple, tried and true song format. But packed with an excellent mix of band and orchestra, and beautiful vocal work by Tarja (with honorable mention to Marco for his echos). Lyrics are pretty clear cut on this one.
Ayreon – Day Twenty: Confrontation
(Rise up and show the world you can be a better man.)
The explosive conclusion to The Human Equation album. This song was an instant favorite for me. For 20 days, the main character, Me, confronts his past, his emotions, and his actions, while trapped in a coma. He realizes the kind of person he had become, and finally breaks free, a changed man. I believe all of us have done this at some point and will continue to do it, though probably not to the extent that Me does in the album. It’s important to take our past experiences and our emotions and learn from them in our never ending question to become better people.
Dream Theater – Wither
(Like reflections on the page, the world’s what you create.)
This song I was really on the fence about adding to this playlist. I believe the general consensus says the song is about writer’s block. But John Petrucci did an excellent job wording the song to make it vague enough to be able to let the listener interpret it however they want. (On first listen, I initially thought it was about the bands frustration at being on the road so much, like they were withering away.) The chorus always moves me and the bridge even more so. But the line that always stands out the most to me, is that the world is what we create. Our possibilities are truly endless, if we’re willing to stick our necks out there.
Stratovarius – Hunting High And Low
(Diving from the sky above looking for, more and more.)
Another relatively simple song, but I’m always glad to hear it. We’re always searching for something out in the world. Whether it be a companion, an adventure, or a purpose. And at least with the music video, it shows that we don’t need a bunch of fancy stuff to be happy.
Dream Theater – The Best of Times (MP Vocal Demo)
(I’ll always remember, those were the best of times. I’ll cherish them forever, the best of times.)
Dedicated to my father. I picked this version specifically because it was Mike Portnoy singing. Written for his dying father, the song becomes infinitely more powerful when it’s Mike singing to his father. It recounts all his fond memories the two of them made together and his feelings as his father’s health took a turn for the worst. Likewise, I’ll never forget those best of times.
Nightwish – Dead Boy’s Poem
(The sweet piano writing down my life.)
Another song I was hesitant to add. I know it’s a very close and personal song to Tuomas. And although the song probably means something totally different to him, it still has quite an impact on me. The piano doesn’t have a large part in the song, only playing while the Dead Boy is reciting his poem, but it is very important to the feel of the song. I was introduced to the piano during a real low point in my life and I fell in love with it at once. As many people will tell you, there’s nothing quite like sitting behind a piano, crafting rare melodies and weaving contrasting parts together, all created from nothing. When you’re in the zone, the feeling of the music flowing through you is incredible. I don’t play as much as I used to as now I just live vicariously through the music I listen to. But every so often I will get that urge to bring some notes on the sheet music to life.
Dream Theater – Octavarium
(Step after step, we try controlling our fate. When we finally start living, it has become too late.)
To be specific, I chose the live version from Score. I prefer the slightly faster tempo, and the orchestra really gives it that extra something. This is such a complex song, embodying the full-circle concept of the album. There are so many great ideas and feelings that I take away from this song. The first section, Someone Like Him, always reminds me not to be “content to live each day just like the last.” Our days are undoubtedly numbered, and it would be a waste not to treasure each one as a unique day. The second section, Medicate (Awakening), always gets me within its chorus. I can never really pinpoint why. Perhaps it’s because the patient has been gone for 30 years, unable to live his life, and how sometimes, we don’t get second chances. The third section, Full Circle, contains my hands down favorite keyboard solo. Jordan Rudess is absolutely brilliant here. The lyrics are also great, using an interesting form of alliteration, and full of musical references. Intervals, the fourth section, really ties everything together in a mind baffling way for those who understand at least some basic music theory. Each interval summarizes its respective song with amazing accuracy while referencing what key the song is in, relative to the root key of F. What I really take away is the octave line, about how we try controlling our fate. Once again, it’s so easy to become content with living each day bound by our schedules, our work, our relationships, trying to control every aspect of our life. We often loose sight of the big picture, that our times are short here and we need to live each day to the fullest. If we get stuck in our daily rut, before we know it, we’ve lost so much time. Which conveniently leads us back to not living the living each day just like the last, completing the circle.
X Japan – ART OF LIFE
My absolute favorite song. Ever. It goes from ballad, to power metal, to insane piano soloing, with everything in between. Although the lyrics seem rather simple, they are very loaded lyrics and it really feels like Yoshiki was exposing his inner feelings on this one. The lyrics follow someone alone, saddened, and in pain, and slowing breaking down the walls surrounding their heart and mind, eventually opening themselves to the world. I found it just about impossible to find one or two lines that really stood out to me since just about all of them hold meaning for me. The song also treats us to some vicious drumming and blazing guitar solos that I never grow tired of. Then there’s Yoshiki’s infamous 8 minute piano solo. While most people will hear chaos, I hear beauty (my analysis located here). I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to this song, but I don’t think I’m even close to scratching the surface on it’s meaning.
Onward to 50,000 scrobbles!