learning love songs

est. 2008


October 2012


“Two headlights shine through the sleepless night
And I will get you, get you alone
Your name has echoed through my mind
And I just think you should, think you should know
That nothing safe is worth the drive I will
Follow you, follow you home…
I’ll follow you, follow you home..

I’ll follow you, follow you home…
I’ll follow you, follow you home…

This slope is treacherous
I, I, I like it”
Taylor Swift, Red

I told myself, “Self, you haven’t blogged in awhile, make sure that when you do, it’s not about the new Taylor Swift album, because you’ve got a long list of older tunes that deserve a heads-up.”


This song pushes me to the break that promise. Mostly because of the bridge. “Red” overall is pretty damn impressive.

OK. Back to work now.


“…I’m on the ledge, while you’re so, goddamned polite and composed…”
Marianas Trench, Ever After

Have I ever mentioned how fantastic of a singer I think Josh Ramsay is? Because he is. Marianas Trench is overtly pop, as far as my tastes go, though they’ll get some play in scene crowds on occasion. If I believed in the thing of guilty pleasures, these guys would be it. But that’s a cop-out category in general, you dig something or you don’t and if you’re ashamed of what you like you have self-image issues that run deeper than liking a pop tune. I love driving and singing to this band (poorly, albeit). The part of me that is a total romantic sap is completely sold, packaged and shipped.

(Every now and again, I want to listen to something that doesn’t completely depress the living daylights out of me, believe it or not.)

Their latest effort, “Ever After,” was pretty impressive, vocally and otherwise. It was framed as a concept album….which I have trouble listening before  but eh, creative license, I guess? There’s a lot of fantasy imagery, and in the music videos they pull it out strong. They’re clearly quite creative and drama-minded. But I find it hard to pull out a truly specific narrative other than fairy tales don’t come true unless you try to make them.

Anyway I think the songs are hella-fun, the production is laser-perfect and the vocals/harmonies are soooo good. Lovelovelove. This tune is happier, dance-ier:

“We’ve been stuck now so long,
We just got the start wrong,
One more last try,
I’ma get the ending right.

You can’t stop this, and I must insist,
That you haven’t had enough,
You haven’t had enough,

Stuck now so long,
We just got the start wrong,
No more last place,
You better get your story straight.

You can’t stop this, and I must insist,
That you haven’t had enough,
You haven’t had enough..”

~Haven’t Had Enough 
Marianas Trench, Ever After


A very beautiful song.

A pair of very talented ladies performed this at an open mic last night, I was very impressed. Pretty much everyone was phenomenal last night. But this song was extremely well-executed and they sang like angels from Folk Heaven. I myself was not so impressive — quite the opposite, actually, still trying to erase the memory. But it all got me thinking about natural talent, the gifts we’re born with that we choose to hone. It could be anything. You’ll hear people say that 90 percent of success is showing up, and that talent means nothing if you don’t use it…which I believe, to a certain degree. Affinities need to be mastered in order to achieve greatness. Sweat equity bears results. But sheer, God-given talent…well, regardless of skill, you just know it when you see it or hear it or read it or whatever. It touches your heart instantly, makes time stop and makes you see the world in a different way, for a minute or for forever.

I simply don’t think that’s something you can learn. Pity those of us who are not as blessed, who instead look up in a humble mix of awe and envy, wondering what it feels like to be able to give those gifts to the world.

I was born when I met you,
Now I’m dying to forget you,
And that is what I know.

Though I dreamed I would fall,
Like a wounded cannonball,
Sinking down with my heart in tow.

Bright lights like white lightning,
Who shot me down?
Who will cut me down?
I’m frozen in my bed till the day comes around,
How I’m lost,
How I’m found.

There’s a man all alone,
Telling me his friends are gone,
That they’ve died and flown away.
So I told him he was wrong,
That you friends are never gone,
If you look to the sky and pray.

Bright lights like white lightning
Who shot me down
Who will cut me down
I’m frozen in my bed till the day comes around
How I’m lost
How I’m found

Someone told me a lie
Someone looked me in the eye
And said time will ease your pain
But behold, when you fall
It’s that same old cannonball
Coming back for your heart again

Bright lights like white lightning
Who shot me down
Who will cut me down
I’m frozen in my bed till the day comes around
And it may come around
Until the day comes around
How I’m lost
How I’m found

I was born when I met you
Now I’m dying to forget you
And that is what I know

Brandi Carlile, The Story


This makes me smile.

First there’s the seemingly unchoreographed, slightly awkard milling about stage, clapping and casting sidelong glances to those with instruments in hand. He is the new kid, young and anxious and uncontrollably giddy. Then that second verse? The way Bruce smiles in the background, then the way he nails the last two lines and the ? You can tell Brian Fallon is having the time of his life. This is the moment he cannot believe he is really living.

Good things come to those who don’t give up.

Plus, who doesn’t love this song? It was extra meaningful for me this past summer, deployed all alone in the world with little but memories for comforting company. Made me remember how much fun I’ve been fortunate enough to have. Then there’s how I routinely feel my bones aching, catch my hair falling out and require four aspirin instead of two after too much hard liquor on Friday nights. Feeling older makes you remember how free it felt to be young, I suppose…yet all of it just makes me want to hold on tighter, to dive back into doing whatever it takes to get that life I didn’t dare dream of. The one where I get to feel careless and tameless, inspired and unencumbered by passion and love and nothing to hold me back.

They’d say not to do it. But surely listening to conventional wisdom never did Bruce Springsteen or Brian Fallon any good.

“Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim,
The walls of my room are closing in,
There’s a war outside still raging,
You say it ain’t ours anymore to win.

I want to sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover’s bed
With a wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head

We made a promise we swore we’d always remember,
No retreat, baby, no surrender.
Like soldiers in the winter’s night with a vow to defend,
No retreat, baby, no surrender.

~No Surrender
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.


Warning: This will be all over the place.

It’s truly fucked up how much years can fuck up everything.

So I’m going to listen to the So Impossible EP on repeat, anyway. Because songs this sad and unadorned and unprecedented are somehow justifying, 10 years after I first burned them onto purple Memorex discs.

So sure that I am righteous, I hear what it is to hear honestly, and then it easily passes from one ear to other because I couldn’t care less. Because my head and my heart are living elsewhere,somewhere miles and mountains of feelings away…it would just feel so refreshing to have someone tell me something impossible, something wonderful. It’s very easy to detect what is false and what is desperate, because those things are all over…what’s more is to find something special, honest, unique, real, and those things are just not in front of my eyes or hands or mind at this time.

The past, though, reminds how it felt,and it is haunting, distracting.

I’m debating getting a pickup in the Epiphone so I can plug in.Cheaper than getting a new guitar, and it could sound really wonderful considering how it rings….I just don’t know if I feel like modifying my first guitar? Something pure about it I want to keep, hold onto, remember. Because so much else fades into nothing. Possessions are so transient, and people are too, so the few you manage to retain it may be best to preserve.

Above all I value honesty, beyond that, strength, and those are just really hard things to come by.

“I’m starting to fashion an idea in my head
where I would impress you
with every single word I said
Would come out insightful or brave or smooth or charming
and you’d want to call me

And I would be there every time

you’d need me
I’d be there every time…
But for now I’ll look so longingly
For you to want me, for you to need me, for you to notice me”

~For You To Notice
Dashboard Confessional, So Impossible EP 


One of my favorites on this record. My favorite part of this song — that real quick measure of picking then the organ kicks in. Don’t forget you have Danger Mouse on this record, hitting and holding those chords with just the right attack. Just a perfectly sad little song, warm and muted and hurt.

Ain’t it just like dying,
Except you can still feel the shame,
All hands on deck now,
The sea is getting rough again.

You see him out your window,
And even when you close the blinds,
Cause all you ever wanted
Was someone to treat you nice and kind.

Take a step before runnin’,
Take a breath now before you dive.
When you walk the streets, darlin,
Make sure your sneaker laces they get tied.

I’ll be a black bird darling
Hanging on your telephone wire

Flap my wings over you
And set your heart afire”

~All You Ever Wanted
The Black Keys, Attack & Release


Found this song on a mix recently, love it more now than I did then. Sort of bummed I can’t find a video with the album version, because I love the production and it sounds so good at the last couple lines…but this version has fun solos, even if the audio sucks and it cuts off super abruptly at the end. YouTube, I expected more from you.

I never really listened to Mae after “The Everglow,” probably should check it out for kicks. Their songs have a consistent frankness about the consistent perils love and want and life…and yet their songs exudes positivity, for an early 2000s scene group, anyway.

“She greets the day with her hair wet
She asks them to vacate the building
Because she’s got a plan they don’t know yet
And if it goes wrong, there’ll be no one to see

If she could just get the word out
God knows she’s trying
They’re watching her with eyes closed
She’s always stuck with the old route
Does anyone knock when they barge in to beat her down?

Will you come back?
It’s all she wants to know,
She knows she’s part of the problem too.
Could she let it go?
It’d take a miracle,
So that’s what I’m praying for.

No one can know just how she feels,
She won’t use the phone, she’s too tired to pick it up.
She’s going back to the old way,
She sits in the classroom to learn with the others.

Please don’t give up when it’s easy
Don’t you know that me and Jesus will cheer you on?
He’s the only one that will be constantly everything you need

Will you come back?
It’s all she wants to know,
She knows she’s part of the problem too.
Could she let it go?
It’d take a miracle
So that’s what I’m praying for.

She lives on Tisbury Lane
She lives on Tisbury Lane”

~Tisbury Lane 
Mae, Destination: Beautiful

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Mae’s album “Destination: Beautiful” as “Embers and Envelopes,” which is actually the name of the first track. The sleepy author regrets this error, because “Destination: Beautiful” is a great album title.


So dark, so right. The instrumental a little before halfway into this song is stunning, with the same choirlike echo that caps it off again at the end. The desperation is palpable, foreboding. Frighteningly steady. Question loss of faith not lost on me.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. today, no particular reason other than restlessness. Think I slept too much this weekend, maybe. My body seems to like feeling a little strung out and I have been taking such decent care of myself that I think it could be rebelling. That, or the emotions I’ve swallowed are chewing at me, ulcer-like, from the inside out. I don’t know what’s right anymore, but I do know being up all night alone in bed probably isn’t it. 

“They call holidays an option for a reason,
I heard you’re coming back to life just for the fourth.
I’ve been catching all your ghosts for every season,
I pray to God you won’t come back here anymore.

do you pray with him, too?

They should deliver all my blessings
in small brown paper handbags near the porch.
I wished I’d known that you were bleeding while I sat
and watched you reading with the Lord.

I read with him, too.

When you look at me,
I’ll be digesting your legs.
Cause I can hardly see
what’s in front of me these days
and those days, too.
I’ve got to take what I’m making,
and turn it into something,
I’ve got to take what I’m making,
and turn it into something,
for you…

I’ve got to break what I’m making,
and turn it into nothing,
I’ve got to break what I’m making,
and turn it into nothing,
for you…

God, where have you been?

~Where Have You Been? 
Manchester Orchestra, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child

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