Switchfoot – “Back to the Beginning Again”

(As far as I’m concerned, ignore the background/thumbnail. It is simply the youtube channel and has no relation to the song or artist.)

A track from rock band Switchfoot’s newest album ‘Fading West’. The album doesn’t officially come out until next week, but I’ve been getting my share of samples from youtube and itunes. Preemptive judgment has determined that this is my favorite song on the album. Please give it a listen, as I need to know that I’m not the only one infected by the chorus. It is so. freaking. catchy.

I do not own or associate myself with Switchfoot, their record label or any establishments related to or managing Switchfoot or any of their works.

Edwin’s Dilemma Short Story (Part 1)

I’ve been away for a while, for any number of reasons not worth outlining here, so I apologize.  Nevertheless, here is a new short story called Edwin’s Dilemma.  Or rather, it is the first segment of a marginally larger story.  This Christmas I approached my younger brother with a proposition.  He comes up with the plotting and outline of a story that I can update every 3-5 weeks (estimated to last a year, we’ll see) and I will bring that story to life.  This is the consequence of that team-up.  Not my usual cup of tea, but I like it and think it has potential.  Enjoy.
P.S. Recently powered off two books that I recommend: “Steelheart” by Brandon Sanderson and “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. Check them out, especially if you have a ‘nerd’ lean.  One is about superpowers the other is about videogames. Can’t beat that.

Edwin’s Dilemma – Part 1 (1,797 words)

                For once, traversing Kastern was comfortable.  The streets, while in need of maintenance, were mostly clear.  It might have been cold, but Edwin considered that a grace this time of the year.  Things had been so humid and warm that it was nearly boiling, which resulted in fresh worries as to whether his new fortune could melt or not.  Could rubies melt?  Could diamonds?

                Edwin swung back his wineskin and filled his throat with something distinctly fruity, “Bismark, what is this one?”

                “Red.  You ask like I know anything about fine wines.” Bismark studied the rings on his hand.  They could hardly fit around the callous, “Wearing these makes me nervous.”

                Waving it off, Edwin plugged the wineskin again, “Nervous for what?  You could out-arm anyone in the city.”

                “Not in these clothes,” the man grimaced, “I feel like a nobleman’s fool.”

                “A nobleman’s confidant.  Carry yourself like one Bismark.  It will be important when we make audience with the king.”  Edwin grinned.  He still liked the sound of those words.

                Bismark shook his head.  Kastern was kind to the right people: the wealthy and the acclaimed.  There was even some mirth in the street urchin and thief culture, some level of status and reverence that grew out of their underhanded accomplishments.  Kastern was not so kind when the latter breached their territory and aimed for greater riches.  The caste system was there for a reason.

                Then again, maybe their transformation was something else.  Or maybe they were just stupid.

                “I feel cheap,” Bismark said, “Like I’m only pretending to know what I’m doing.  And how could anybody possibly walk in such restricting trousers?”  He moved his legs up and down like a marionette, “God forbid.  You can hardly even bend at the knee.”

                Edwin shrugged, caught off guard by the tightness of his nobleman’s doublet, “That’s what servants are for, my uneducated sir.  To bend for you.”

                Frowning, Bismark set himself to a dull and uncomfortable stride, “Would you stop talking like that?  I’m losing more faith in this enterprise with each passing minute.  How can we possibly expect to look the part of wealth when we are tripping over ourselves?  Both linguistically and literally.”

                “You say all of that,” Edwin said, “Yet you use words like ‘enterprise’ and ‘linguistically’.  Trust me, we’ll do fi–” Edwin cut his words short, a sharp tip prodding the small of his back.  “Bismark.”

                A grungy voice spoke, “Don’t move!”

                Holding up his new confidence on thin leg, Edwin spoke slowly. “What is it you want?”  A half-expected, but inevitable swing of events.  Kastern thieves always aimed for the less protected of the noblemen.

                He could almost hear the thug smile, “You made it out.  You made it rich, young urchin.  I want out too, and I want out big.”

                “Can’t say I blame you.  It’s pretty great on the other side.”  Edwin felt the sweat on his forehead growing thick.  Bismark stood only a few heads away, but wouldn’t dare make any snap motion that could get his lord killed.

                The smile faded, “Brat.  You’re still too new to this.  Have you already forgotten?  Noblemen should never walk the streets on their lonesome.”

                Edwin shrugged, “I do have my confidant.”

                “What?” The thug snorted, glancing at Bismark, “That wilt?”

                “Yes,” Edwin nodded slowly and snapped his fingers once toward the sky.  On cue, a long-shaft arrow struck away the thief’s knife.  Bismark spun with practiced motion and, in three swift movements, ripped their offender to the ground, resting a knee on his throat.  Edwin chuckled, “I also have eight guards tailing us, should someone try exactly what you have done.  Even without them, Bismark is one of the greatest underground fighters in Kastern.  No luck, bud.”

                Edwin looked out over the rooftops, where silhouettes matched the bitter night.  “Bismark, let the man go,” Edwin said, “If he follows us one more step, our friends will introduce him to iron.”

                Bismark nodded and released, returning to Edwin’s side like a passive sentinel.

                “Now leave,” Edwin said.  And like that, the thug hurried off, a dog threatened by another kick.

                “That was actually rather pleasant.  Well handled, my lord,” Bismark said.

                Edwin continued his trek towards the king’s palace, “It’s easier when you’ve been in their shoes.”

                Nobles and royalty everywhere.  Edwin sniffed, taking in every scent of their richly clad feast.  The king’s palace was to the brim with lords and ladies, come together for a night of gratitude and celebration.  Edwin wasn’t sure why.  He was too busy scanning over every figure in the room.  They wore their wealth in a way he didn’t yet understand.  Something about how they moved and held their heads.  Their riches didn’t show just on the outside, but innately, within their souls.  It was their confidence and morality.  These were people who understood the world in a brighter way, through a lens that Edwin could never afford.  They were fools.  And now he was one of them.

                “I don’t even recognize some of these odors,” Bismark said, catching the fragrances against the air, “Is that roasted beast?  It smells like the Kingdom of Kings.”

                “Bismark, focus,” Edwin said, “Our priority for the evening is to meet the king.  Do you see him?”

                Edwin had never seen the king, but it became obvious very quickly.  Crowns usually made men distinct that way.  Their sire was of an older cut, but not so old that he was expected to roll into his grave anytime soon.  His back was firm and his gaze forward, looking toward the future and over his peers.  Even from his past as an urchin, Edwin had to admit this man was a good king.  Better than many he’d heard of in historical texts, and he owned his authority with honor.

                “We seem to be in luck,” Bismark said, “It looks like he’s making friendly banter.  The question is do we make the cut?”

                Edwin didn’t hesitate.  He wore his chest out and chin up, stretching a mild, but practiced smile.  Bismark followed behind, reluctant.

                Waiting politely for the King to finish an exchange with one guest, Edwin stepped in, “My liege,” he bowed to what he thought was the perfect level, “It is an honor, truly.”

                The king smiled, “I do not believe I’ve had the chance to meet you,” he glanced over at a person who seemed to be his advisor.

                The young advisor perked up and shuffled through a couple sheets of lambskin parchment, “Um, oh, this is Lord Edwin of Lower Kastern.”

                Brows lifting, the king grinned, “Ah, that’s it, then.  The one who recently inherited his fortune.  Welcome, son.”

                Edwin bowed again, “I wasn’t expecting my reputation to precede me,” he held out a hand, “Again, I’m honored.”

                The king took his hand in a worthy grip, “Lord Edwin, it’s my –”

                Just then, the king of the realm sneezed forth like a maelstrom.  A million fragments of moisture poured from his nostrils and lips, all across their interlocked hands.  It was beautiful in the eyes of none.

                Edwin clinched, not wanting to be rude, but feeling effectively disgusted.  Somehow in his many reveries, he hadn’t expected high royalty to sneeze.  Thankfully the king withdrew from their contact and his advisor offered a cloth to clean Edwin’s hand.  This must have been a recurring theme for the night.

                All in all, their conversation carried on in a smooth and prompt fashion.  Not wanting to rob their high King of too much precious time, Edwin and Bismark left the man to his lordly business.  The rest of the night was simple and short.  Together they traversed the labyrinth of socials, making connections that only a year ago Edwin would have never expected to build.  The anatomy of the royal circles was elaborate, filled with more politics and gossip than his interest cared to handle.

                By the time they left the king’s palace, Edwin felt a unique sort of exhaustion.  Upon their departure, his shoulders slumped and his face fell.  Keeping up impressions was hard work.  When they returned to the manor Edwin purchased in his new wealth, he and Bismark split off to their own separate quarters.

                That night was filled with good dreams and nightmares alike.

                Heat spun through Edwin’s skull, and walking straight was a step short of brutal.  The morning had not been kind.  He was sick, sicker than he’d ever felt.  Worse even than the time he’d accidentally swallowed Lacrydine.  The sicknesses were not similar, but regardless, what he now experienced was worse.  That was impressive in its own, horrible way.

                “My lord!  You look dead!”  Bismark said, in spite of himself.

                “Thank you for your flattery,” Edwin sniffed, “I’m sick.  The apothecary can’t identify it.”

                Bismark sized up Edwin with concern, “Your skin is so pale.  Go lay back down, immediat–” Bismark caught himself and cleared his throat, “Rather, I suggest you lay back down and get some rest.  It can’t be good for your health to be up and about.”

                Edwin shook his head, “I tried, but I’m too restless.  I cannot figure out how I could have come down with any disease.  This is the first time in years.  My immunity is usually much more reliable than this.”

                “What do you think the cause might have been?”

                For a long moment, Edwin was stuck in a mental silence, half-conscious.  He was startled awake with force, like a beam of steel through his chest.  The King.  The king had sneezed on Edwin’s hand, spreading some sort of rich man’s disease.

                “That monster,” Edwin said, “I cannot forgive him.”

                Bismark’s forehead crumpled, “M’lord?”

                “The King.  I am stricken with an illness from the King.”

                Clarity, confusion and horror broke through Bismark all at once, “Surely you don’t mean–  My lord, please do not be taken with haste.”

                “My new life.  At the epicenter of my transformation,” Edwin said, “He has ruined it!  The king has destroyed all of my plans.  My ambitions!  A disease that even the doctors cannot cure?  Something worse than drinking raw Lacrydine?  Certainly there must be compensation.”

                Trying to maintain an air of control, Bismark seemed to let Edwin fume while he gathered his thoughts, “You are making rash conclusions.  Please, I beg that you return to your bedchambers.”

                “No,” Edwin stumbled to the window and peered out into the new day, “I can’t do that, Bismark.  I need to get revenge before it’s too late.  I must hold retribution for what he has taken from me.”

                “You mustn’t!  Think this through, Edwin!” Bismark pleaded.

                “Yes, it is so.  I wish there were an alternative, but there is not.  For his crimes, I must kill the king.”

End of Part I

I See Fire (Ed Sheeran)

The song for this week is one I’ve only recently discovered by Ed Sheeran.  I See Fire was written for the soundtrack of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.  It has a very melancholic, drifting energy.  I recommend checking out not only the song, but all of Sheeran’s works.  You might already be familiar with some of his songs, such as “The A Team” and “Give Me Love”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mllXxyHTzfg

Two Short Poems

As anticipated, I was not able to write a short story this week.  I did manage to get some work done with the RPG script, but not much else.  I hope all of you had a satisfactory Thanksgiving and weren’t trampled the day after.  Because people seemed to like my last poem “Termites” (it got more ‘likes’ than any of my stories, which I find interesting because I don’t think I’m good at poetry), I’m going to post two more shorties. The first one was published in my college’s literary magazine, and the second I made for a class. I’m going to post brief explanations afterwards.  I dislike needing to explain them, but I’ve had multiple appeals asking me to explain my poems after the fact, so I’ll put them down should anybody want to know.  Enjoy, God bless, and rock on.

“The Light That Guides Me Home”

To the blinding, burning light
Drink me up
Reduce this mortal coil to dust

In one instance I find you
A blast brighter than no other
A callous
manufactured
masquerade of God

No mercy for me
nor child
Nor the widow soon to be
Our curtain slowly closes

I pray your light never reach them
Your words never deafen
Their innocence and peace

Please forgive me, holy terror
But I hate you so much
Damnable synthetic device

Too simple, you fulfill your design
Pull in your pin
cooked in a palm
Thrown with no aim at all

What am I doing here
with your grace open before me
Opening your jaws
of shrapnel and white?

No matter
of little consequence now
Envelope my soul, I ask
nurse my body to death
And call me into that final goodbye.

“The Red Thread of Fate”

Spun upon my finger small
Chanced by fate’s design
Finger-hook
to the cheek
Gently, gently tugging along

Oh, curse you, red thread of fate
For evacuating my apartment
Dragging me into winter’s hymn
Sacrificing my marrows
to Mother’s song

How she catches my eye again
That delicate soul
with her glissade and spin. Dancing
on snow-touched lakebed.
A dwelling for the child in her soul
so sweet and I
can only fawn.

Calling me out here, hm, red thread of fate?
With what to say? 
I fret to stay and linger
Tear you from me
If only I could
and not let my heart flutter ‘til dawn

Moonlight blessing touch this heart
Give this thumb-twiddling man
Words to weave
in spite of himself. With
confidence tempered, nice and strong

Red thread of fate, I am so afraid
But already she has seen me
there is no retreat.
I join her on lonely white sea

She takes my hand
a gesture sudden and unexpected
but hardly upsetting
We begin our own ballad
to which we slowly ascend
I voice my heart like a trumpeter swan

Spun upon my finger small
That red thread of fate holds tight
Welcomed to wrap my heart
And gently, gently tug along.

In sum: The Light That Guides Me Home is from the perspective of a soldier who’s watching the blast of a grenade in front of him, certain to take his life.  The Red Thread of Fate is a mild love poem based on lore from some Eastern Asian countries such as Japan and China. You can read more about it here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_thread_of_fate

Fairy Tail Main Theme

And, as I said on Friday, I will also be including a song with every new post that may or may not be related to much of anything. This week’s pick: The Fairy Tail anime theme song. I have mixed opinion with the actual series, but the soundtrack is fantastic. This piece has energetic and powerful guitar riffs, accompanied by bagpipes and some quality choir. Rocking magical fairy style.
(I don’t own anything, though I sometimes wish I did.)

The Interview (Short Story)

Hello all you happy people.  I thought I’d do a fun spin for the week.  A story about a hero interviewing to be a villain.  1,810 words, though I could have easily made it longer.  I wanted to try and write something that was driven largely by dialogue, and this was the result.  Because I’m going home for the Thanksgiving holiday, there probably will not be a new story next week, though I’ll figure out something neat that I can post.  In the meantime I’ll probably work on my book a little bit and the scripting for the videogame project.  I also have to catch up on the Walking Dead, so there’s also that…
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Image

The Interview

                “As I’m sure you’ve suspected, this isn’t normal protocol.”

I nod as I take my seat, “If we were normal, we’d be out of a job.”

If the overlord was amused, he didn’t show it.  My answer seemed to satisfy him enough, but I can’t say the same for the triad of his peers, my interviewers.  Then again, I knew they were a tough crowd.  Any supervillain worth their mettle always was.

“Jericho here has to level a Mediterranean island this evening, so forgive us if we are attentive to time.  It couldn’t be helped.”  A burly oaf with skin fair enough to challenge The White Witch gave a stunted nod.  I’d heard of Jericho.  He was probably the least imposing of the titans before me, but still had enough experience and power under his belt to give A-class heroes a modest challenge.

As for the piece of work that had been breaking me in, that was Malachi, more notoriously known by-and-large as Utter Doom.  I’d trained myself to look at his forehead when speaking with him, so as to avoid direct contact with the “Lucifer Eyes” that brought him to the top of his field.  They were blank, cleaner than white, and only an accessory to his esteemed fury.  Utter Doom had been around since the dawn of the supervillain, and was the standard that defines many supervillain tropes.  Ironic, because nearly all of those came from his younger days and most of them are a reflection of inexperience.  Nowadays it’s a rule of thumb that you don’t make your ventilation ducts large enough to crawl through, and you never monologue for more than two lines.

“That’s understandable,” I said, “Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.”

Utter Doom gave a curt nod, “Of course.  Let’s begin.  Why are you interested in becoming a supervillain?”

I did my best to shed a practiced smile and passed my eyes along each of my interviewers, steering clear of their gazes, “As a former superhero,” I paused for an instant to take in their expressions.  Good, none of them were surprised by this, “I have always admired the resilience of your side.  You make greater sacrifices than most of the supposed ‘heroes’, and are very action-oriented.  Supervillains are creative, meticulous, and have tremendous resolve.  Superheroes do not do much for themselves.  They simply respond to your presence.  If not for you, there would be no need for the hero.  I am fascinated by that instrumental importance and influence you carry.”

Doom scrawled things on the clipboard in his lap.  He sat straight-backed in a black throne chair, fitted with leather.  It was daunting how his expression remained.  Absolutely deadpan, without the slightest tremble or fidget.  “You clearly weren’t a superhero for very long.”

This caught me unprepared, “Might I ask why you think so?”

“In my experience, heroes often sacrifice just as much, if not more than the supervillains.  We might be lonely, or in perpetual financial ruin, or thought monsters, but like you said: it is by our own devices.  We are the proactive ones.  Maybe some of us have better reasons for our actions than others, but ultimately it is still our decision to behave and act against standardized morality.  We are sinister and underhanded, and many heroes are felled by our cunning and deceptiveness.  Some even come to our side because of how much we have cost them.  Do not underestimate the sacrifices of your enemy.”

I found myself closing peeled lips.  I hadn’t expected such class and respect from a supervillain, especially towards his adversaries.

“Our records show that you were a superhero for only five years?”  A new voice broke the conversation.  Miranda, the only female in the office.  The Queen.  I nod my affirmations, “What was your region and what are your powers?”

The Queen was entirely different from Utter Doom.  She weaved her words with enough restraint, but the tears of blood forever spinning from her eyes made me wary, like she would happily drive twelve blades into my heart at the drop of a hat.

Keeping your voice straight in front of a woman of this caliber was no simple task, “My first few years were largely based in central Europe, but the latter half was spent on the Eastern American shore.  As for powers, I can manipulate gravity.”

This seemed to please her.  “Always formidable if utilized properly,” she said.

I couldn’t stop my grin.

“Show me,” Jericho spoke.  They weren’t words.  They were bombs, and they blew apart both my knees and my conviction.  Steeling myself, I thrust one palm forward and unleashed a hideous shockwave, one strong enough to snap pillars of stone like chicken legs.  The table we gathered around blew into dust and shards, and the room was filled with a low-bass ringing like we were inside a troll’s war drum.  While the hair on his flesh might have flittered, the giant was a full four-hundred pounds of not-moving.  Only now did I realize that any one of my interviewers were enough to topple a nation.  I had nothing before them.  They were each at least ten times deadlier to the world than I was.  Doom didn’t even blink.  Jericho grunted, “Pretty good.”

Pretty good?  Oh, man.

Until now, the last interviewer hadn’t yet graced me with a word from his unholy tongue.  Honestly, I would have preferred it stayed that way.  The final of the four was Famine, one of the infamous Horsemen of Apocalypse.  A demon among supervillains and probably the only inquisitor present with enough spine and cruelty to stand up to the devil.  “If you were accepted for the position, what methods would you take to ensure optimal damage output?  What are some of your operational preferences?”

Swallowing through my heart, I persevered, “Until now I’ve been familiar with working alone or in small groups, but I feel the next best step for my career is to join an organization.  Power in numbers and all of that.  This will give me the first-hand experience I need for the long-term ambition of leading my own dark organization.  A sort of anti-hero unit, I suppose.  We will have no other purpose but to destroy those who defy us,” I paused for a moment to study Utter Doom, who seemed to be clenching his jaw quite tightly.  I continued, “As for specific methods, I would abide by the guidebook of Doom’s apprentice ‘Black Stroke’.  Absolutely brilliant methodology and technique, with humor and wit to boot.”

“It’s a shame he didn’t take his own advice,” Doom said off-handedly, in a slow drone, “Rule twelve: ‘Never let the hero have a last request.’  That one mistake was all he needed.”

“Nevertheless, they are quality guidelines for any contemporary supervillain,” I defended, “And as for ‘optimal damage output’ I would probably start by convincing my former companions that I was still interested in being a superhero.  Manipulation and deceit are wonderful tools, even for ordinary villains.”

Famine was a dirty red color in his skin, like desert sands at sunset.  His skull was lined with jagged black protrusions and I wondered how he ever slept.  Or if he ever slept.  He pursed his lips and tipped his head, jotting down notes.

Utter Doom cleared his throat and readjusted himself, “Answer the following with as much speed and precision as possible.”

I readied myself.  I’d been studying for this part.

“As a supervillain, is it better to have a son or a daughter for your progeny?”

“Neither,” I shoot out, almost forgetting the rest of my answer, “Sons are proud, and their inevitable plans to usurp me might fail, but it will almost certainly be at a critical point in time.  The distraction could result in my downfall.  Daughters are easily tricked into falling for the hero’s swashbuckling charm and skill, thus leading to ultimate betrayal.  Though if I had to choose, I’d rather have a son.  I could use his evil strength until he came of age, and then I would kill him in what looked like an accident.  If he had friends, they would be disposed of preemptively, so as to waylay their possible vengeance.”

Doom was quick with the next question, “When is an enemy considered defeated?”

“When they are either cremated, or at the very least, mutilated to the point that they wouldn’t want to live.  And absolutely no assumptions.  If they fell down a cliff, I would personally go down with a strike team to retrieve the body and finish up a proper disposal.”

“If you had a platoon or army under your command, what sort of aesthetics would you employ in the design of their uniform?”

This one was disappointingly easy.  Only the stupid villains missed this question anymore.  “Grant them individuality.  They might all wear one suit, but make it unique and open to slight variety and character.  If helmets are included, and they should be, then they ought to reveal the identity of the soldier underneath.  At the very least, the eyes should be visible.  Such a simple device does tremendous things to the hero’s psyche and makes your underling more likely to survive in battle.”

Utter Doom sighed and penned his thoughts onto the board, “Straight from Black Stroke’s lessons.  I can’t say they were poor answers…just rehearsed.”

“I prefer to use the word ‘practiced’.  Makes me feel more disciplined and malleable.”

The Queen licked her lips, “One last question.  If there were any one villain you could follow for a day, who would it be?”

“Whipgun,” I answer, aware that I might be making a poor decision.

“Whipgun?” The Queen grimaced, “The speed beast?  Why him?  He has fulfilled nothing but minor-league contracts, heists, and burglaries.  Any hero worth their power can defeat Whipgun.”

“Because if I could follow Whipgun, that would mean I was really, really fast.”

Jericho made a tumbling noise in his chest that I hoped was a chuckle.

The Queen curled her fingers around the pen in her hand and looked at me hard.  For a second, I thought I’d made a mistake.  But my concerns melted when she smiled.  An evil smile, but a smile all the same, “At the end of it, he cracks a joke.  I like how you play this game.”

Doom and Famine were profoundly unaffected by the humor, but it wasn’t for them anyways.  “That’s all I have,” Doom said, “Does anyone else have something they’d like to add?”

Unanimous shrugs and head-swaying across the board.

“Very good,” Utter Doom directed himself towards me, “Before we go, do you have any last questions?”  He’d already begun to leave his seat, so I took that as a cue that I could as well.

I wore that practiced smile like a mask of hope, “Only one.  When can I start?”

And Then There Was Music (A Top Ten List)

I’ve determined that along with my Tuesday short-story updates, I’m going to be incorporating a small tuft of music with each post.  For no other reason than because I viciously enjoy many different flavors of music and think it would be seven levels of awesome if someone else enjoyed any of it too.  To kick off this process, I’m going to be drawing from a pool of “top ten” lists that me and my friends have made over the last couple years.  Here I will now post my “Top Ten Songs of All Time”, which was probably the most soul-burning list that we had to make.  In fact, you might as well consider them closer to “Ten Songs That Cooper Really, Really Likes That May or May Not Be His Top Ten”. There are so many hundreds of songs that had to be labelled unworthy, despite my appreciation for them.  I also love finding new music, so any who might read this post, please feel free to share your interests in a comment. 🙂

With the exception of the very last installment, these are in random order.

Shattered – Trading Yesterday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_LOOKssMpA “Shattered” by Trading Yesterday. Album: More Than This. This song won the Annual Stephen Music Awards 2012, a self-imposed music competition done by my friend Stephen every year. The reason this song is on the list is because of the change of pace found at 2:25 in the song. The build up of additional instruments and vocals becomes increasingly grandiose until at a precipice and the singer’s raw emotion draws you into his zone.

Trading Yesterday – Shattered (MTT Version)

http://www.youtube.com

Broken Mess – The Classic Crime http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srgW52CnYik “Broken Mess” by The Classic Crime. Album: Vagabonds. I had a difficult time deciding what my favorite work by this band was, but ultimately I had to go with this one. It starts off sort of pessimistic, a conversation between two brothers: the singer, and his brother who was recently betrayed in his marriage. But it builds into the revelation that love is bigger, stronger, and more beautiful than we imagine or first understand.

Broken Mess – The Classic Crime with lyrics

http://www.youtube.com

Just Another Birthday – Casting Crowns http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Tu6NQ4L01w “Just Another Birthday” by Casting Crowns. Album: Come to the Well. You know that Annual Music Award thing? This is my pick for this year, as of now. The song tells of a young woman and her life over the course of five years and how she is desperately looking to find the approval of a father who never cared about her. Watch the music video (the link I’m posting), it will tell the story. What really does it for me though is the bridge. All of the song, every last mistake she’s made, every inch of her torn heart, is pulled into one sentence that echoes in her mind as she lies on an abortion table. A cry to Jesus: “Be a father to the fatherless”.

Casting Crowns – Just Another Birthday

http://www.youtube.com

On Fire/Souvenirs – Switchfoot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhcJh-gF1-8 “On Fire” by Switchfoot. Album: The Beautiful Letdown. The oldest on the list and one of the most beautifully crafted songs I know, delivered by who I believe to be a sensational artist. A humble worship song, sung by Jon Foreman, a voice of this generation. So delicate and simple, yet it hits you so thoroughly. The reason another song is on here is because it might be replacing On Fire very soon. “Souveneirs” is from the same artist and equally as good. It’s a bittersweet, final goodbye to a best friend sort of song.

On Fire-Switchfoot

http://www.youtube.com

Butterfly Fly Away – Miley Cyrus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGKDKF-jA10 “Butterfly Fly Away” by Miley Cyrus. Without argument, this is the most controversial song on my list. You don’t know how much I didn’t want to put this on the list, because I don’t like Miley Cyrus or any of her other songs. But when I had to be real with myself, I realized that this song touches me too much to not put down. This song appeals to my inner father and I also love the acoustics. The only real problem I have with the song is that note she tries to hit at 1:02. I almost dropped the song for that alone, but alas, here it is.

Miley Cyrus – Butterfly Fly Away with Lyrics

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Fin* – Anberlin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Htm4dvI8nzc “*Fin” by Anberlin. Album: Cities. I wasn’t sure whether to put this song on the list or not. It has a bit of a depressing tone to it, but the stride of the melody walks you through what is ultimately a breathtaking piece. The greatest strength of this song I believe is the magnitude of the vocals later on, matched with the dramatic turns in musical style. At 2:52 it evolves a more rock sound. Listen to his voice there! He’s belting out. And then at 3:43 the children’s choir enters the fray, with the singer’s quick return, giving it this almost surreal, entrancing speed. But then it mellows down again by 6:00 (It’s a long song) and opens up space for the singer to deliver his soul to you on a platter. Never mind, this song definitely deserves to be on this list.

Anberlin Fin WITH Meaning!

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Pieces – Red http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Uw8mIcQJn8 “Pieces” by Red. Album: End of Silence. My favorite song by Red. It has a similar ability to Atonement (My #1 song, which you’ll see later), in that as soon as the first couple notes of that piano are played, I suddenly melt. The deep, low rhythm just carries you along, into the song of a man who is forced to be real with himself and with God, realizing how hopeless he is without. Later in the song, the tone picks up into what I would call a “sigh of relief”.

Pieces – Red – Lyrics

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Last Night – Skillet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XCvXyhYLSE “Last Night” by Skillet. Album: Comatose. This song almost didn’t make it on the list. It was competing with a few other Skillet songs from the same album (best album imo) and I almost decided to drop Skillet in general. This is the song with the hardest sound on my list and musically is good, but nothing terribly fantastic. What really sets it apart is the meaning. It is a song told from the voice of God to a girl who wants to commit suicide.

Skillet – The Last Night

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Mark Schultz – Walking Her Home http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ODSx0UfAcA “Walking Her Home”. Okay, so it sort of kills me that I had to choose between this and “He’s My Son”, because both of those songs are so good that I don’t even know what to do with myself. Nevertheless, I picked this one, because I love songs that tell stories. Starting young and progressing through the years, the song talks about a romance that begins at the age of eighteen and lasts through the lifetime and beyond. Emotionally compromising if you listen to it at the right time.

He was walking her home By Mark Schultz (With Lyrics)
And then, for my absolute favorite song of all time…
Atonement – Final Fantasy XIII http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lZC8IUj-cw “Atonement” from Final Fantasy XIII. This is my #1 favorite song of all time. It is the only song on the list that is purely instrumental, and it is the only one from a videogame. The song itself is very good and will eventually appeal to the deep parts of your heart, if you let it. I thought it was alright at first, but the more I listened to it, the more enraptured I became. My connection to this piece is bound to be stronger than most because over the last few years I have built many other associations that connect me to it. Now it’s at the point that regardless of what mood I’m in, whether happy, sad, upset, etc, this song sobers me into a contemplative and appreciative mood. I love it.

Final Fantasy 13 OST – Disc Three – 05 – Atonement

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That’s all of them.  While the continuum of music I listen to is vast, you probably noticed some running themes. First, at least half of them have to do with or somehow include God.  Second, they are all songs that appeal to emotion, something that I actively try to stimulate.  Third, most of them are rock songs, a sub-genre of rock, or closely related to it.  I found this interesting for myself, because I thought with how many instrumental songs I listened to, some of those were more likely to appear on the list, but I guess not.  Again, comment with your own favorite songs, God bless, and enjoy your weekend. 🙂

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