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 “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)

Broken Mess – The Classic Crime “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

Just Another Birthday – Casting Crowns “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

On Fire/Souvenirs – Switchfoot “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

Butterfly Fly Away – Miley Cyrus “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

Fin* – Anberlin “*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!

Pieces – Red “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

Last Night – Skillet “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

Mark Schultz – Walking Her Home “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 “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

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. 🙂



The Beasts of Autumn – Short Story

This will be the last of my Fall themed short stories. I’m going to start leaning towards the genre that I prefer to write, which is fantasy fiction.  Thank you all of my new followers for your support.  Enjoy. 1,058 words.

The Beasts of Autumn – 10/09/13

                The term, as I’ve heard it used, is cut-flower.  Having been separated from your source of life.  In a patient state of un-living.  Receiving alms from friends with concern as the currency.  It’s a gentle and good thing they do, and I’m thankful.  Sometimes I forget the intent of their charity and focus only on how I haven’t yet found a magical potion to help forget my old unforgivens.  Jeremy hoots about that word and suggests that I look no further than alcohol for my elixir.  Alcohol is contemptible, especially this time of year.  Especially now, in the mid-morning hours, staring down the beasts of Autumn.

                But Jeremy is not a fool.  Only half that, and a splash of genuine friend for flavor.  He consoles me when I wrestle with the annual thoughts of her, that inamorata I once rightfully and proudly called my wife.  Now that I’ve struck the seven-year bell, I wonder if I may still call her that.  My wife.  Once upon a time, so the fairy tale reflects.  When they say happily ever after, they’re not speaking a full truth.  Even at its best, even in a make-believe world, sometime one of the two lovers will have to pass away.  I want to hear that part of the story, told from the voice left behind.

                In this season I have allergies.  Something in the fallen leaves sets me off, but it’s never so bad as to ruin a day.  When the first snow comes, I conveniently become allergic to driving.  A fair trade, since about that time everyone else conveniently forgets how to drive.  I make a fanciful display of pumpkins for my home, assorted on stair-step patterned shelves, directly beneath family photos from nine-some years ago.  The cinnamon candles I brandish year around suddenly make sense for a couple months, until winter decides to anathemize them again.  Nami says I should adapt my candles to the seasons and that it would help me appreciate cinnamon next year when the leaves start splitting off.  I would like to point her to any number of mental health manuals which suggest that hers is a bad idea.  Something about conditioning and associations.  Cinnamon smells like my wife, like my long lost heart.  I can hardly notice the scent anymore, but if I sent it away and in several months it suddenly returned, I imagine my reaction would be worse than frightful.

                It rains a lot during the fall months, to which I tip my hat and beg welcome.  There is nothing quite so stirring as a good long rain.  To be enameled by mother and her gentle nature.  The beasts of Autumn hush down a little bit more when the rain is here, and vanish completely at the first snowfall.  Only during this season of my life do I reflect so piercingly, and at such great sacrifice.  My world suffers without her.  Friends ask for my company and I decline, both to their displeasure and my own.  I think more about the children we never had, and whether they would like the rain or not.  Would their favorite color be yellow, like their mother?  Sickness makes Heaven seem cruel, and it steals away regardless of whether the new absence would be good for the world or not.  Maybe it’s best we had no progeny.  I would suffer to think about their lives if they’d inherited her pain.

                Things seem to get away from me, foremost of which is time.  I could have sworn the leaves were orange no more than two months ago.  To think that it has already been a year.  What even happened in the meantime?  I got laid off work.  I picked up something new, thanks be to Jeremy.  I went on one date and was soul-sick enough that my stomach caught the memo and helped me vomit once the evening was over.  I picked up a pet frog from Nami’s nephew.  Named it Jack Sparrow for absolutely no reason at all.  I think I went on vacation, but that might have been a couple years ago.  Really, I don’t like to track back too far.  The territory becomes unsteady.  Memories start returning, and they drag other things behind them.  I find it’s not worth it.  It isn’t worth the price of remembering.

                I read that in a book once.  The price of remembering.  When you’ve lost somebody, you begin to notice such snippets.  You incubate them in your chest and rehearse them in your sleep.  I know that price, because I barter every August.  I barter and pray the cost will drop, and that the year will be a little less lonely than the last.  Just another beast of Autumn that makes a parade of my life.  In the rare moments that I am transparent with others –and I assure you they are few – such notions make me feel overwhelmingly melodramatic.  I am a child, complaining about child-like things.  My wife died to a common, albeit crippling sickness.  So what if she passed away?  My neighbor recently lost her daughter to the sort of actions that result from overwhelming intoxication, fraternity parties and the occasional, homicidal boyfriend.  A killing stroke like that is a million miles more devastating than whatever plagues me.  But I can’t find it in myself to care.  I don’t truly feel for her loss.  Not from my gut.  Because the worst of my grief has manifested into the image of my greatest hatred.  A writhing contradiction best known as apathy.  Apathy is cold like a stone and sweet like the rain.  It makes me sick, and weary of trying to forgive myself again.  Apathy is a beast worse than hatred.

                But I let the apathy stay, because I’d rather it remained than pay the price of remembering.  I wonder what she’d think of my selfishness?  I shouldn’t dwell on it now.  That is a paper-thin question better left to steal my midnight hours.  I’m going to be awake anyways, what with the rain and my cinnamon candles and my cut-flower spirit.  I will remain that way as long as I can.  Until finally winter might come and the beasts of Autumn will rest in hibernation, resting dutifully and gaining strength for their return.  They are my tourniquet and I expect they always will be.  At least they’re consistent.