Question of the Month: Music That “Speaks To Me”

Guess it’s Question of the Month time, isn’t it? Michael sent out the question early last month, and it’s been sitting in my email all this time. If I answer it, I can get rid of the email! Yay!


This month’s question comes to us from Alex J. Cavanaugh:

What kind of music best speaks to you?

This is a much harder question than you might think, because different music speaks to me at different times. At different times in my life, I might have said British Invasion rock, horn rock (e.g. Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears), blues, New Wave, Eighties Europop, jazz in various forms (smooth, post-bop, Dixieland, cool, Gypsy, etc.), “Hee Haw” country, musical comedy (Spike Jones, Homer & Jethro), folk-rock, fingerstyle guitar, surf, garage rock, blues-rock, jazz-rock, fusion, lite rock, yacht rock… and that’s just for starters. Best way to tell is to look at my Two for Tuesdays, or Battles of the Bands, or Monday’s Music Moves Me, or The Friday Five. In every one of those instances, the music I’ve played here is music that spoke to me the day I wrote the post. Or take a look at the playlists I’ve built on YouTube.

See, I can’t really nail it down. There’s music all over, and either I like it or I don’t. A lot depends on my mood. For example, I remember the morning I played this over and over in the car because I was feeling frustrated with my job and my life…

It was really the first time I listened to the lyrics as more than just another part of the music.

When explanations make no sense,
When every answer’s wrong,
You’re fighting with lost confidence,
All expectations gone.
The time has come to make or break;
Move on, don’t hesitate.
Breakout, don’t stop to ask;
Now you’ve found a break to make it last.
You’ve got to find a way,
Say what you want to say; breakout.
When situations never change,
Tomorrow looks unsure,
Don’t leave your destiny to chance.
What are you waiting for?
The time has come to make or break.
Breakout, don’t stop to ask;
Now you’ve found a break to make it last.
You’ve got to find a way,
Say what you want to say; breakout.
Breakout, don’t stop to ask;
Now you’ve found a break to make it last.
You’ve got to find a way,
Say what you want to say; breakout.
Some people stop at nothing.
If you’re searching for something,
Lay down the law, shout out for more.
Breakout and shout day in and day out;
Breakout, don’t stop to ask’
Now you’ve found a break to make it last.
You’ve got to find a way,
Say what you want to say; breakout.
Don’t stop to ask;
Now you’ve found a break to make it last.
You’ve got to find a way,
Say what you want to say; breakout.
Don’t stop to ask;
Now you’ve found a break to make it last.
You’ve got to find a way,
Say what you want to say; breakout.

(Lyrics courtesy Metrolyrics)

Of course, I didn’t do a damn thing about it… but that morning, it spoke to me, loud and clear.

Another time, I was driving to the airport, and this song came on, and when it got to the fast part (started at 4:45), I cranked it all the way up and just drove, really fast, screaming all the way. I think I hit a hundred… I could have cracked up, and I wouldn’t have cared. I don’t know what got into me.

And there was the day I was really pissed about something, and played this a bunch of times…

A lot of times, though, the music just sits there in the background, like white noise.

I don’t know if this is the answer you were looking for, Michael, but it’s the one I’ve got.

I’ll be around to read the responses from the participants, but what about the rest of you? What music speaks to you?

Z is for… #atozchallenge


Zeibekiko: “To Zeibekiko Tis Evodokias,” with Manolis Karandinis playing the bouzouki and some unidentified dancer putting on the show. That’s not paper on the floor, it’s pieces of broken plates. Back when I did the letter G I mentioned that zeibekiko was a free-form dance done by men, although there were a number of videos I found that were saying that women (and quite attractive women at that) were doing it. Turns out, they’re doing the feminine version of the dance, the tsifteteli, which is more like a belly dance. Maybe the ladies in the videos were doing the zeibekiko after all. Whatever…

Zither: Anton Karas playing the theme from “The Third Man.” Along with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, the music is a star of the movie.

Zydeco: Wikipedia tells me that zydeco music is a combination of blues, rhythm & blues, and music indigenous to the Louisina Creoles. I had to look it up, because I didn’t know the formal definition of it. I did know it by the sound, and that’s what’s important. Chief instruments in zydeco are the accordion (button or piano) and the rub-board, a wearable washboard you play with two old-fashioned bottle openers. Don’t know what this song is, but watch this couple cut a rug…

Zappa: As in Frank Zappa, the late musician and philosopher, who once said that most people wouldn’t know good music if it bit them in the ass. Read kind of a sad story today that the family is feuding over the estate now that Frank’s wife Gail has died, preventing son Dweezil from calling his current tour “Zappa Plays Zappa.” All I can figure is, if Frank knew they were fighting over the estate, he wouldn’t have left one. “Peaches en Regalia,” from Frank’s 1969 Hot Rats album, has become something of a jazz standard in the forty-plus years since it was released.

ZZ Top: This Houston-based power trio has been around since 1969, fer cryin’ out loud. Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals), Dusty Hill (bass), and Frank Beard (drums, ironically the only member who doesn’t have a beard) do some of the best straight-ahead blues-rock at high volume I’ve heard. This is a live version of “La Grange,” their first hit and the first song by them I heard many years ago.

A2Z-BADGE [2016]

And that, my friends, caps off the A to Z Challenge for both my themes (portmanteaus finished six hours ago) for 2016. Thanks to all of you who visited me for the first time during the Challenge, those who subscribed to the blog, and those who left comments. Thanks also to my minions and to the other co-hosts of the A to Z Challenge for making this a fun time for all, myself included. It’s now 1:30 Eastern Daylight Time where I am, leaving me a good day and a half to answer your comments and reciprocate your visits before I have to put on my writin’ hat again.

Keep an eye on this space May 9 for the announcement about the A to Z Reflections posts, where you get to tell the world how wonderful the A to Z Challenge is and to tell us what we’ve screwed up we can do to make the 2017 A to Z Challenge better and more enjoyable. There’ll also be a questionnaire with more questions than the SAT where you can provide us with feedback on what you liked, what you didn’t like, and what changes you’d make to the Challenge for next year.

That’s all from me. Straight ahead!

Ten Songs By The Beatles With “You” In The Title #atozchallenge


I’ve been reading a couple of books about The Beatles, namely The Beatles: Every Little Thing by Maxwell Mackenzie and Meet The Beatles by Steven D. Stark, and it put me in a Beatles mood. Plus I realized I haven’t focused on them yet during this challenge. This started out, as all of these have, as five songs, then I thought I might put all of them in here and realized there were almost 50, so I settled on ten. I’ve probably left your favorite out; let me know what it is in the comments.

For You Blue: From Let It Be, this is a peek into one of the sessions with George, Ringo, Paul, and Johnandyoko.

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away: From Help!, written and sung by John.

Do You Want To Know A Secret?: From Please Please Me (UK) or Introducing… The Beatles! (US). Written by John, sung by George, back in the days they didn’t let George write songs or sing much.

She Loves You: Originally released in the UK as a single, it was added to The Beatles’ Second Album by Capitol in the US.

You’re Gonna Lose That Girl: Also from Help!, also written and sung by John.

From Me To You: Released as a single in both the UK (Parlophone) and US (Vee Jay), it wasn’t included on an album until the compilations 1962-1966 (US) and A Collection of Beatles Oldies (UK) were compiled.

I’m Happy Just To Dance With You: Was in the movie A Hard Day’s Night (from whence this comes). The UK soundtrack album, which included songs not in the film, was issued by Parlophone. In the US, the soundtrack album was issued by United Artists Records, because UA had done the film, but the songs that were not part of the film were removed and replaced by versions of the songs done by the Hollyridge Strings. Capitol issued the album Something New for the US, which included the songs from the film and some odds and ends, because they had already released the songs from the film on the album Beatles ’65. Confused yet? George did the vocal, but the song was written by John and Paul.

Till There Was You: A cover, sung by Paul, of the song from the musical The Music Man. Includes an outstanding guitar solo by George. It was on With The Beatles in the UK, and on Meet The Beatles in the US.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand: Wasn’t released on an album in the UK, but was included on Meet The Beatles in the US, because that’s just the way Capitol rolled. This was The Beatles’ first #1 song in the US.

P. S. I Love You: Was on Please Please Me in the UK, but was removed from Introducing… The Beatles! by Vee Jay, simply because American albums had twelve songs, not fourteen. That’s the explanation I got. Vee Jay did release it as a single on their Tollie label as the flip side to “Love Me Do,” which had also been dropped by Vee Jay.