Friday, December 10, 2010

Blog #7 - A Widow's Playlist (part 1)

My 2nd "sadiversary" is fast approaching...

Yes. Almost 2 years since my husband Jason lost his battle to cancer. Blogging about my favorite singers earlier got me thinking about songs that have stood out in my mind in these past 24 months. So now I gots to type about them.

When Jason passed away in the ICU unit of the hospital, I was up there for another 2 hours or so. I had to make sure people that wanted to see him and say their final goodbyes got the chance, I had to sign a lot of paperwork, and pack up our stuff in the waiting room. I stayed until the funeral home picked up his body, and figured out who would stay with me that first night as a widow. I wasn't quite ready to face our apartment as only my apartment, so a big group of family & friends decided that I needed to go with them to Johnny Carino's where I could drown my pain with alcohol, and they could all try to feed me. I insisted on driving there alone. It was down the street, and to be honest, I just needed 5 minutes to myself. When I started up my car, my mp3 player started where it had left off.

I was in the middle of "The Block" (New Kids On The Block). Say what you want about NKOTB, but I have adored them since the age of 10, and that will never change.
The first song that I heard in my widowhood was "Don't Cry." It is a ballad about the end of a relationship.

"Oh, what if God wants to take me away? Oh, you better take me like it's the last time. Love me like it's the first time. I'll kiss you like it's the last time. And I'll love you like it's the first time."

Oh shit. God just took Jason away. We already shared our last kiss. I will never get to kiss him, hold him, be held by him again.

I let my car warm up while I sobbed all over my steering wheel cover. I needed those precious few minutes alone to start mourning my love.

The next few days I listened to a lot of music. I had to pick songs for his funeral. I had to pick music to mark the end of our marriage, just as we had done together for our wedding day to mark the start of our marriage. The two songs I decided on were covered in my Ink blog post, but just to refresh your memory:

Alanis Morissette "Torch"

"Miss your approach to life and your body in my bed"

How long would I sleep on top of the covers? I can't sleep under them. He slept there. It probably still smells like him.

"One step, one prayer, I soldier on. Simulating, moving on."

Time to pretend I have control of my life.

Depeche Mode "Death's Door"

"Father are you pacing? I'm coming home."

His father passed away a decade ago. Do you really get to meet in Heaven?

"Well, I'm knocking on death's door. Will I take my rest? Have I passed the test?"

I know there is a heaven and he is there. No doubt. Only faith.

There was a third song I wanted to play at the funeral, but it's an industrial song. I knew my friends would appreciate the lyrics, but I didn't want to scare everyone else. The song is "Beloved" VNV Nation.

I can't find a good video of it, so you just gotta go look it up. It is beautiful. Trust me.

"Moments lost, no time remains. I am so proud of what we were. No pain remains, no feeling. Eternity awaits."

I am extremely proud of the life Jason led and the relationship we shared. He is not in pain anymore. An eternity of peace is his now.

When I saw the band several months later, I had the opportunity to meet the lead singer at an after party. I told him my story and what those lyrics meant to me, and thanked him for writing them. He started to tear up and hugged me, telling me that this is why he loves meeting fans, to hear their stories and what the music does for them. It was a very healing moment for me.

Songs always bring emotions to the surface for me. And it can be from any part of my life, childhood, my high school love, my 20's with Jason, the start of my 30's with my new love, old friends, family I am close to, family I don't speak to, random memories. The following songs were on heavy rotation at the start of my widowhood.

The Dreaming "Whole"

"And I cry to the angels to bring you home to me. But that is not destined to be in this life. Now I'm lost and alone. Only you can make me whole. I am broken and alone. You have left this gaping hole in my soul."

Will this pain ever go away? How can I be complete without my other half?

I did think my life had ended too. But as I healed, I learned to be a complete person on my own, allowing me to love again.

The Dreaming "Let It Burn"

I can't pick one line from this song. You must look this up. Seriously.

I have met this band since Jason's passing. And again, I thanked the lead singer for writing lyrics that helped me through the darkest time in my life.

Band of Horses "No One's Gonna Love You"

"And anything to make you smile, you are, the ever living ghost of what once was. And no one is ever gonna love you more than I do. No one's gonna love you more than I do."

Is that true? Will I never find another love? Am I done with love at 28?

I now look at this song from the other perspective. No one will love Jason more than I did. He told me all the time during treatment that he fought hard to stay alive for me. He didn't think he would have fought at all had we not found eachother.

The Offspring "Gone Away"

This song has always affected me. I have always turned to this song for comfort when someone dies. It because especially important when one of Jason's best friends died 3 months after him.

"Pulled away before your time. I can't deal, it's so unfair."

Evanescence "My Immortal"

Yes, a bit of a silly band. Jason didn't care for them at all. He drove my brother and I to their concert and picked us up. He didn't have to go, and we got a designated driver. Say what you want, but her voice is amazing.

"Now I'm bound by the life you left behind."

He apologized for leaving me behind to deal with his mother. Long story short, we don't speak anymore. And he predicted that.

"These wounds won't seem to heal, this pain is just to real. There's just too much that time can not erase."

For a long time, I didn't think I would ever heal. Now I know it is an ongoing process and I am in a good place.

Tori Amos "Parasol"

"When I come to terms, to terms with this, my world will change for me."

"I stare at the wall, knowing on the other side, the storm that waits for me."

Again, this song relates to Jason preparing me for what was next. He told me he felt a guilty peace about dying. His problems would be over then, but mine would be far from over.

There are songs that remind me of us, of that chapter of my life that will be in a seperate blog entry.

Music helps to heal the soul.

Blog #6 - Top 10 Lead Singers

A friend of mine Tweeted a link to a top 30 lead singer list, and didn't agree with their rankings. So I asked him to do his own top 10 list. He has done it, my brother has done it, and now it is my turn.

In alphabetical order, I present my top 10 favorite lead singers, at this moment in time. It could change after another album or concert or something.

#1 Brian Aubert - Silversun Pickups
I had not heard of this band until I saw them in concert in 2007. My (deceased) husband Jason was a fan, and asked me to go see them with him. The show was at The Conservatory in Oklahoma City, hands down the worst concert venue I have ever been to. Halfway through the show, the cheap club equipment broke and they couldn't finish the show. They stuck around to sign autographs and take pictures with everyone, which I thought was a super nice gesture. I have been a fan ever since that night. The last album, Swoon, would be on my top 10 album list if I did one. I have seen them live 6 times, and can't wait to see what else they do in the future.

#2 Ben Bridwell - Band of Horses
I discovered this band when one of their songs was featured during a scene of the NBC show "Chuck." (Sometime I have to do a blog about my love for TV, specifically HBO and NBC.) I immediately jumped on my computer to find out who this band was with the haunting vocalist. Ben Bridwell's voice is gentle, comforting and haunting all at the same time. When I got the schedule for Lollapalooza 2009, I was heartbroken to see that they would be playing at the same time as Silversun Pickups. Thankfully, when the after shows were announced, Band of Horses had one. This left my brother & I free to see SSPU at Lollapalooza, and Band of Horses at midnight. The show was at the House of Blues in Chicago, and beyond capacity. Seeing a room full of sun & alcohol exhausted Lollapalooza fans swaying back and forth to their haunting melodies was a beautiful sight.

#3 Ian Curtis - Joy Division
Joy Division was a big part of my falling in love with music. Digging for their vinyl with my boyfriend and my little brother in record stores on the weekends are some of my happiest memories from my teenage years. Perfect. Brilliant. Missed.

#4 Dave Gahan & Martin Gore - Depeche Mode
As Depeche Mode is my favorite band, their two singers are going to be on my list. The combination of Dave Gahan's voice and stage presence is just amazing. This man is one of the reasons I fell in love with music when I was growing up. He is also on my brother's list (who calls him a bad dancer, but he doesn't know what he is talking about). Martin Gore, the principal songwriter, is the heart and soul of Depeche Mode. He sings one or two songs on each album, and performs one or two of them at every concert. His live performances are some of my all time favorite concert highlights. I have seen DM 6 times.

#5 Caleb Followill - Kings of Leon
This was Jason's favorite band. The first time we saw them was in a shitty little club in Bricktown after their first album came out. There were maybe 200 people there. The second (and last) time we saw them together was at the Diamond Ballroom, on Jason's birthday, with maybe 2,000 people. It was after their second or third album, the timeline escapes me. Cancer treatment made him too sick for concerts after this, so the next time I saw KOL it was years later after Jason had passed. I went with a group to see them rock the sold out Ford Center (Now OKC Arena - home of the NBA Thunder). It is amazing to see them in such a variety of venues. I didn't get to see them headline Lollapalooza 2009, as they played at the same time as Depeche Mode. And sorry Kings of Leon, I know you got Oklahoma roots, but Depeche Mode wins every time. But I congratulate you Caleb Followill, your voice can bring tears to my eyes, and you win in the category of Southern rock inspired vocalists. And their new album may be my favorite album of 2010.

#6 Christopher Hall - Stabbing Westward & The Dreaming
In high school, I was a total junkie for Stabbing Westward. I just adored everything this band did. I got to see them once (God Lives Underwater was the opening act - bonus) in like 1999. I think I was the only person in the state of Oklahoma that purchased their last album (self-titled from 2001). But that last album totally showcased the beautiful voice that is Christopher Hall. Then in 2007, I had the chance to see his new band, The Dreaming, at The Whiskey in Hollywood with my cousin. Totally hooked from that moment. I have seen them two more times since then, just adore these guys, and can't wait for the new album coming soon.

#7 Ronan Harris - VNV Nation
Very few singers can make me cry during a concert. Ronan Harris is one of them. This man is my industrial music hero. You will read more about him in my next blog, which I promise to publish before the end of the year.

#8 Maynard James Keenan - Tool & A Perfect Circle + various acts
I can thank my little brothers for introducing me to Tool. I first saw them in 2001, on the first leg of the Lateralus tour. I liked them, but wasn't a major fan. It all changed when I saw them live. Maynard has the best voice in rock, hands down. It is the perfect combination of all the emotions brought to the surface in their music, hatred, love, pain, hope, confusion, angst. This past summer, I went with a group to see Tool again. And we ended up with 2nd row seats. Hot damn. Talk about an amazing night with an amazing band and amazing people. Sammy happy.

#9 Pete Loeffler - Chevelle
I have adored this band since their first album. I remember seeing the video for "Point #1" on Much Music, which we got on our Primestar Satellite. Yeah buddy. Late 90's. Pete has one of those great rock voices that can range from melodic singing to metal screaming in the same track. There is a lot of emotion in his voice, and combined with his lyric writing, it resonates with fans. There is a reason why everyone still sings along to "Send The Pain Below" at every show after all of these years. My boyfriend Brad and I had the opportunity to see them recently at The Metro in Chicago (their hometown) for the taping of their soon to be released live DVD. I have seen them 5 times, and can't wait to see them a million times more.

#10 Justin Warfield - She Wants Revenge
I remember the first time I heard about this band. My husband Jason called me on my cell phone. I was in between classes at UCO. He had read about them in a magazine just now and had to call me immediately to tell me about their influences, about their album review, that they would be opening for Depeche Mode at the show we were preparing to road trip for, and to let me know he was on his way out the door to buy their album right now. Justin Warfield has one of those haunting, dark, mysterious, hollow yet full, deep, perfect rock/industrial voices. This man can put you in a trance when he is on stage. And he is just a nice guy on top of that. We had a conversation about death (my widowhood and he losing a friend) and he just couldn't have been nicer and more open. He seems to be that way with all of his fans, always signing autographs and taking pictures after shows. I have seen them 4 times now, including over the summer when they opened for The Psychadelic Furs. It was the last concert of my 20's. Fabulous night.

Honorable Mention

Paul Banks - Interpol
I guess Interpol would be in that "inspired by Joy Division category" and that is fine with me. Discovering Joy Division was a big part of my formative years, and was probably a big part of his formative years too. I have seen Interpol twice, and already have tickets for another show in a few months. The first time I saw them is another treasured concert memory for me. Jason & I had tickets to see them around our one month wedding anniversary, but he could not go to the show because he had been deployed to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina clean up right after we got married. So my brother Tim went with me. We share a love of music that reflects growing up together and discovering music together. While it sucked that my new husband had to miss the show, it was a great brother/sister night.

Matthew Bellamy - Muse
I think he is more of a frontman than a lead singer to me. Now don't get me wrong, I adore Muse, but I think his guitar playing is better than his singing, and therefore he can't be in my top 10.

Davey Havok - AFI
Let me say right now, I don't know everything about AFI, like most of their other fans do. Yes, my friend James could kick my butt easily in a AFI fan contest. I have like 4 albums, but love everything I have heard. Because I am a newer fan, I will keep him out of my top 10. But I have seen them 3 times, and love the range and beauty in Davey Havok's voice. And he got hot last year, so that's a plus. :-)

Harry McVeigh - White Lies
This band would also be in that "inspired by Joy Division" category. They were the first band I saw at Lollapalooza 2009. I walked in, got a drink, saw them setting up in the rain wearing all black, and thought I should check it out. I was hooked as soon as I heard Harry McVeigh's voice. A few months later, I saw them open for Kings of Leon, met them after the show and thanked them for making such beautiful music. They are preparing to release their second album, and I look forward to watching this band grow.

Trent Reznor - Nine Inch Nails
Yes, I know people debate about this. It's one guy, but it's a band, blah, blah, blah. Nine Inch Nails is my boyfriend's favorite band, and has been for 15 years at least. While I am not that level of a fan, I do really like them. (I don't care what my brother says, Pretty Hate Machine is amazing and always will be.) But I don't think that Trent Reznor has a voice that is stronger than my top 10. He does seem to be a better frontman and musician to me than a singer.

Remember, this is my top 10 list. I know everyone has their own opinion. But this is mine. So there. :-)