Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook
To celebrate the release of Nick Hornby’s Songbook, several authors wrote in about their favorite songs.
January 9, 2006
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: “Two-Headed Boy” by Neutral Milk Hotel
October 6, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: “Venus in Furs” by the Velvet Underground
September 28, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle.”
September 15, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: Duran Duran’s “The Chauffeur.”
September 8, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: “Willy” by Joni Mitchell
August 7, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.”
July 21, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends.”
May 23, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: “Penny Lane” by the Beatles
May 7, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: Piano Concerto No. 3 by Ludwig Van Beethoven
April 13, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: “Red Skies” by The Fixx
February 23, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: “One Tree Hill” by U2
February 3, 2005
Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook: “Wonderful” by Everclear
A soon to be pop icon from PA, writes:
My favorite song is "Reflection" sung by Christina Aguilera. It is such a meaningful song. It shows that you don't have to "be someone else" all your life and that you should be you. You should respect yourself and the things you have accomplished. It also helps having Christina Aguilera singing the song, because she has a beautiful voice (and a great body)!!
A published songwriter from the south, writes:
One of my most favorite songs is "Go Rest High On That Mountain" because of the lyrics. This song was written about a real person and that is the one thing that people can relate to -- REALITY!
An aspiring guitarist from scotland, writes:
Hmm, a hard one this. My favorite song changes depending on the mood i'm in. If I'm angry, then something a bit heavier, like Master Of Puppets by Metallica would be ideal. If I'm in an apathetic mood, maybe Street Spirit by Radiohead. But I would have to say my favorite song of all time is... Cowboys From Hell by Pantera. Now I know most people out there won't agree on this one, but the sheer power of the song makes it a classic for me, and it never fails to get me going.
A songwriter from Montana, writes:
My favorite song would have to be "Imagine" by John Lennon. It was the song that made me want to be a songwriter. It says everything that I feel and believe.
A singer/actress in Phoenix, writes:
"Let it Be" by the Beatles. The lyrics are wonderful. The title phrase is the best piece of advice to get.
A rock 'n' roll siren to be..., writes:
My favorite song is anything and everything that is pumping outta my stereo at the given time, however, lyrics wise -Common People by Pulp has an incredible feel to the lyrics, Jarvis Cocker has a voice to die for, and the words... well.. I am speechless.
Earl F. Mellor
An aspiring songwriter, writes:
In the folk genre, it is "In the Bleak Midwinter" (trad.) -- as performed by Pierce Pettis on Windham Hill: The words really grab me inside. It paints a picture of winter with the same intensity as the movie Fargo (if one ignores the violence) does of winter. In the pop genre of the past 60+ years, I'd choose "September Song" -- It says so much about life in general, for one can apply the message to just about anything. In rock, it's "You Can't Always Get What You Want."
Just a girl from Ottawa who loves music..., writes:
Many songs move me in different ways. My favourite song is "Angel" by Vancouver-based singer/songwriter, goddess of music, Sarah McLachlan. It's a beautiful piano ballad with really intense lyrics. It has sentimental meaning to me and makes me cry every time I hear it, but it's also very comforting. Of course, Sarah's voice tops it off! I also love "In The Wings" by Tara MacLean; another one of Nettwerk's artists. It uses imagery and Tara's sweet, soothing voice to create a gorgeous package. I've just recently discovered Melanie Doane's "Waiting For The Tide" which is about surrendering yourself to a higher power--that being the water-- which I find myself very connected to. I'm drawn to the water and that song just speaks such simple truth. And finally, for fun, to show that I'm not all about dark, serious singers, I also love "Go to the Moon" by Toronto's funny guys Moxy Fruvous. :) The harmonies in that song will blow you away and anything by Moxy will always put a smile on anyone's face. :)
A Ne'er do well wannabe in Tucson, writes:
Normally, I'd choose I Am The Walrus. Since the Beatles, however, are all ready well represented (Strawberry Fields, She Said, She Said), I'll go with The Boxer. Simon's acoustic guitar tracks are exquisitely detailed, expanding on the textures he wove so convincingly on Mrs. Robinson. Set upon the implacable heart beat of the kick drum, they dance and flutter like solemn butterflies. Very few major artists could get away with the opening line to this song, but Simon's delivery not only suspends mundane reality, it welcomes the listener into a story so matter-of-factly that one one simply assumes it's authenticity. Garfunkle's intimate, intuitive harmony is so finely crafted and performed that it's nearly transparent; like the guitars, it focuses attention on the song, rather than itself. The inclusion of the bass harmonica compliments and emphasizes the narrative so well, that it achieves an aura of inevitability. It is nearly impossible to imagine the song without it. Then one comes across that ephemeral guitar solo. Because the guitarist uses the volume knob or foot pedal to allow the notes to swell into being, the solo appears to glide into and out of awareness; a ghost moving serenely through the mist. Simon stated, in a long-ago interview, that he was initially opposed to an extended ending for this song. At that time, Hey Jude had just recently taken that concept to the limits of pop utility (and then some!)and he didn't want to appear to be contrived. Fortunately, Garfunkle and Halee convinced him otherwise. And so it is, that after one of Simon's most profoundly moving verses (listen to the restrained delivery on the last quatrain.....it HURTS), we are treated to layer upon layer of sonic textures, opening upon some facet of the many emotions implicit in the song. Simon DID prove his instincts were correct when, at the very end, everything drops out, save the acoustic guitars and a brief, haunting voice that seems to be singing to itself. Well, enough. P.S. I like this forum!
A songwriter in Mississippi who just ran out of ink :), writes:
My favorite song is hard question to answer. I like so many, for so many different reasons. I guess I would have to say Unforgiven II by Metallica, because of overall lyrics and Musical composition
A "Wish it was my real job" songwriter from the Adirondacks, writes:
Can't Live (If Living is Without You): Harry Nilson
I first heard it in high school and was mesmerized with chills and goose bumps. The combo of haunting melody and excruciating, simple verse made me say, "I want to do what this song did to me to a million people, too!"
Others on my list? OK...if you insist! ;)
Yesterday (Beatles) Another Old Lange Syne (Fogelberg) Crazy Love (Van Morison) Suite Judy Blue Eyes (CSN) Where've You Been (uh...recorded by Kathy Matea) (apologies to the fine writer!!!!!!)
An 18 year old singer/songwriter, writes:
With so many beautiful songs, it's hard to pick just one, but one current song I really love is entitled, HANG, by Matchbox 20. The song really depicts different situations, but for me it describes a relationship between a man and woman, gone bad. As the character sings I get the feeling that he is very sorry for things he's done in the past, and although he cannot change them he understands that her mind is made up, and he has no other choice but to "hang around" and see what happens next. One line in the song reflects them both on opposite sides of a closed door, still thinking about each other, even though they both know that they're past the point of no return. Which is how a lot of relationships go nowadays.
Aspiring from Pa, writes:
Strawberry Fields Forever - though there are many great Beatles songs, some at times i like better than this one, it time and again catches my attention. It is great lyrically, musically, and is a great fantasy, and is even better when you listen to Penny Lane right after it (MMT).
A long time songwriter & composer currently living in New Delhi, India, writes:
My favorite song changes all the time, but currently I like Frank Zappa's Sofa #1 and Sofa #2. To me, this is an example of something that comes totally from the imagination. There is no fitting into a standard structure; the melody goes until it is finished, and it is beautiful. It is grand, majestic and funny. It takes its time to grow and stretch out. It is childlike and simple, dramatic, and seems to be drawn totally from the imagination with a total lack of preconceptions which is what I really like. I think it takes a lot of courage to compose that way, not to mention skill and imagination.
Just another wanna-be songwriter, writes:
MacArthur Park by Jimmy Webb. Has there ever been a song so Wagnerian in scope; so complex, yet accessible and compelling; so distaining of all conventional wisdom about the rules of commercial viability, yet successful for two totally disparate singers in separate decades?
James R. Davis, Jr.
Professional Musician/songwriter from Colorado, writes:
As a songwriter, I can't list a single favorite song for the simple fact it's asking me to compare apples to oranges. I have many songs that were all inspired by different emotions. They are all like children to me and I couldn't choose a favorite child. Perhaps in a year or two, you'll have the opportunity to hear my some of my songs and find that you couldn't pick just for yourself either.
Oddball rock songwriter, writes:
My favorite song is "Visions of Johanna," by Bob Dylan. It's the only song that's so luminous and vivid that it sucks you in every time you listen to it. Lines from it come to to me every day, especially on the subway when "the all night girls whisper of escapades out on the D train" sucks me in and before you know it the ghost electricity is howling in the bones of her face, if ya know what I mean.
A 15yr old female.. looking to be a songwriter from LA., writes:
My favorite song would have to be.. "I will come to you" by Hanson. I love this song everytime i hear it. They song has a lot of meanig to it and meaning that I can relate to.
A singer/songwriter from Kentucky and Florida, writes:
It's so hard to decide on one. I will have to say, that my favorite song is from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' One Hot Minute and I believe the title is One Big Mob. The words are awesome, the bass and guitar rock. Plus, I just love the arrangement of words rythms, and kick. It's great to ride a bike to, or just funk out if you please.
A Musician/ Songwriter in Branson From Iowa, writes:
Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones. This song is one of the best songs written by the Jagger/ Richards team. A very deep & sad songs about saying good bye to a love and looking back at yesterday's. I get teary eyed every time I hear it.
A physics Ph.D. student and sometimes singer/songwriter, writes:
It's so hard to decide. I think I'm going to go with a recent cover by Jars of Clay of a Petra tune called "Rose-Colored Stained Glass Windows", on an album called "Never Say Dinosaur", a collection of Petra covers by current bands. I'm not much of a Petra fan, but Jars of Clay rendered the song with a combination of gentleness, power and...just plain groove. The song features rhythmic dissonance between the drums and vocals (in parts), echoing electric and acousting instruments playing "tasty licks", forceful lyrics sung tenderly and a powerful ending. It continues to take the listener by surprise, yet maintains a standard verse-chorus structure and stability in the rhythm and melody. The lyrics are well-posed and make their point without resorting to fancy words. It's one of the best songs I've ever heard.
Alex van den Broek
A musician trapped in NZ!, writes:
My favourite song(s) would have to be
"Thru the eyes of Ruby"
"An Ode to Noone"
because they always stir me up inside in different ways)every time i hear them.
Struggling progressive rock and bossa nova influenced songwriter from Liverpool, UK, writes:
Waters of March (Aquas de Marco)by Carlos Jobim I like this song for its sheer exhuberance and inventiveness, Jobim stretches everything: lyrics, melody, poetry, motion, flow, harmony just run by you as you try to catch your breath. How could something so simple be so complicated... ..or did I get that the wrong way around?
A budding songwriter from England, writes:
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen because a) The operatic section, which has to be the most orignal and weird thing in a pop song ever; b) the way all the sections fit seamlessly together; c) the sheer meaninglessness of the words, especially the operatic and d) the fact it`s just an amazingly fun song.
A college student/new songwriter, writes:
"Slide" by the Goo Goo Dolls is my favorite song w rite now because it really has the same mood of my life right now. It captures how I feel an represent s an escape for me. Sometimes I really have to sear ch hard for happiness in my life and one simple plea sure to me that always makes me happy is a good son g that really means something to me. As for its mean ing. That's personal. Everyone interprets music and lyrics differently. That's the beaty of being a musician you touch millions of people in millions of different ways. I'm sure the Goo Goo Dolls have no idea how much they save my life sometimes. They really do..
One of the biggest country fans, writes:
my favorite song of all time has been my favorite since the day i heard it, ran right out and bought the album, "i shouldve been a cowboy" by toby keith. It just says exactly what i feel, "i shouldve been a cowboy, shouldve learned to rope and ride, wearin my six shooter ridin my pony on a cattle drive, stealin the young girls hearts, just like gene and roy, singin those campfire songs, oh i shouldve been a cowboy"
A teen songwriter from Brisbane Queensland, writes:
Yesterday by the Beatles. I can't get enough of this song and the many different versions of it. Of course i love the original but i also love the version sung by Boyz II Men. These two version are 20 or more years apart. Thus emphasising the timelessness of this song. Is there any better...i think not!
An up and coming songwriter from Oregon, writes:
"The Dance," because it sends a very well articulated message that I fully believe in. Live life to where you have as few regrets as possible. Like Garth Brooks said about it, you need to live where you could honestly choose, if you had to, on whether to give up one yesterday for one more tomorrow, you have to be able to say no to that.
Songwriter/musician / visionary who shakes his head at the "conventional rules" of songwriting, writes:
"Paranoid Android" and "Exit music" both by Radiohead....a tie. Thom Yorke is a brilliant songwriter, and the "Ok Computer" album is a revoloution that proves that originality might not be dead after all. What is it exactly that makes these songs so incredible? 1. The COMPLEXITY. I've listened to paranoid android thousands of times, yet I am constantly hearing something new in the intricate dance of the instruments. The chords are far from your standard 3 chord progressions. Don't the usual chords in the same old ways bore anyone else? 2. The EMOTION. yes, music can be both complex and emotional at the same time. Listen to Thom Yorkes vocals at the beginning of "Exit music"...so emotional it's spine tingling. 3. the LYRICS. This is not the usual "story telling" format that most of the pop world embraces. Yes, the lyrics are telling a story, but they are telling in in the form of thoughts inside the character's head: "could you please stop the noise I'm trying to get some rest..." and in the form of images. To me, it's the difference between watching a movie about someone's life, and actually being able to become that person and live their life as it happens. Combined with the texture of the chords and melodys, it's like an experience translated into music. If the lyrics seem hard to understand to anyone, it's only because they've gotten lazy listening to conventional pop that doesn't let them think for themselves. 4. The HONESTY. Radiohead keeps their artistic integrity. They didn't give the world what it wanted to hear....they gave the world something better, something new. Honesty comes throgh in the music. The music is an extension of thier souls. 5. the fact that IT TAKES ME TO A DIFFERENT PLACE This is not "background" music. This is the kind of music that I play loudly while lying in the middle of my living room floor in the middle of the night with all the lights off. And you just kinda float away on it. No, I'm not on drugs. :)
I could go on for hours, there's so much to say. Maybe most of you won't see any value in my vision of what music could be, but if something I said ignited some small spark of interest in you, or if you can identify please email.
A worship leader/songwriter from Illinois, writes:
Boy, that's like asking which ER episode is the greatest! I've been touched by many in my life, but my favorite has got to be Awesome God by Rich Mullins. As far as songwriters go, Rich is a real inspiration to me and my family. He's simple, yet deep; profound, yet easy to understand. Although he passed away last year, his songs will live a long time!
A lyric writer, poet and all-around cool girl, writes:
"Yellow Ledbetter" by Pearl Jam because it's a song that the listener can't ever figure out the lyrics...which actually make no sense, so you are forced to appreciate and listen to the music...and make up your own words!!!
A young songwriter from Central Florida, writes:
Lyrically, my favorite song would be "I Am The Bull God" by Kid Rock, because the lyrics tell the story of an everyday, middle class, white trash guy. There's something special about nothing. Musically, my fave would be "Of Wolf And Man" by Metallica, because it has a great rhythm, powerful instrumentals, and just altogether tears the house down.
An unpublished songwriter from Indiana, writes:
Most any Lennon/McCartney material. There are so many great songs, it depends on the mood I'm in. General traits of songs I love: Great backbeat, tight groove with well-defined rythym section, up-tempo (typically), lyrics that evoke emotion without requiring much thought or analysis (hard to analyze anything well in 3 minutes). Examples: Nowhere Man, I Should Have Known Better,Daytripper, Side 2 of Abby Road, Street Fighting Man, Jackson Browne's Redneck Friend, Brown-Eyed Girl, Mary Chapin Carpetner's recording of Passionate Kisses, George Harrison's Beatles version of Roll Over Bethoven, Brooks & Dunn's Long Time Gone. You get the idea. I like slow songs too, and have written several good ones, but the groove HAS to be there, one way or another. The best one that I have ever written is a medium-tempo song driven by accoustic guitar, bass and drums, lead guitar on the fills, and some harmony on the chorus. The song cooks, but slowly.
A 16 year old female from Canada, just starting in song writing, writes:
I like many songs, but I would have to say my favourite song is called "Violence". It is by a Canadian artist, Bif Naked. It talks about the world, and how we violate each other, and we should protect our children from being around violence. My favourite part, "It's not about me, It's not about you, It's not about them and what they do." Then after a bit of a softer sort of echoing sound, the line, "It's about life."
A music major, performer,wanna be songwriter in Florida, writes:
I just recently analized Evil, by Stevie Wonder and found the song to be phenomenal. This song changes keys like five times! It just builds and builds and ends back on the one of the original key. In most cases when someone changes key, there is a sight dissonance, but not here, everything is placed so well and it flows so perfectly that you are just left in awe. and changes I think five keys(I can't quite remember)and each change is so well placed.
A wanna be songwriter from Minnesota who would like info. on being one, writes:
I love the song "Baby one more time" from Brittany Spears. It is so cool, the song stays in my head for days, and I yearn til I hear it again. I think I'm obsessed with it.
A songwriter from Hamilton County Indiana, writes:
Sting's "Fields of Gold" I realize this is an older song but the lyrics are so simple yet tell the story and capture emotions so well. The melody line is beautiful. The chord structure is simple - yet intriguing with the choice of sounds he uses. I could go on (I love this song) but that about says it. Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts!
A Southern Calif Christian/Pop Singer/Songwriter, writes:
Unbreak My Heart (written by Diane Warren and performed by Toni Braxton)....wonderful lyrics with invented words (unbreak, uncry, etc) that create a perfect picture, and music that enhances the emotional impact of the words. And Toni's vocals are incredible! What a powerful song! One of many Warren hits!
Just a girl with a song in her heart reaching out for a dream....,writes:
To Make You Feel My Love Written by: Bob Dylan A definite favorite of mine because of the emotional response the lyrics bring out in me as I listen. The more I can identify personally with a song, the more I enjoy it.
A musician from Massachusetts, writes:
"Job Description" by Alan Jackson It's honest and really hits home. It is very inspiring to me because it points to the direction I want to go with my own writing.
95-96 songwriter of the year@the tampa bay area music awards - singer,guitarist,songwriter...founding member of Q R T 93-96...also work in the tv/film industry as an art director/visual designer, writes:
I love many songs...probably too many to mention...but a few would have to be...1)She Say,She Says - Beatles....incredible melody and harmony..awesome arrangement...love the remake by Overwhelming Colourfast...2)both Jellyfish albums...no one has ever borrowed from so many influences and paid such wonderful homage to the people who invented it...while not groundbreaking...a great antithesis of what is wrong with modern rock as we know it..i.e boring and unimaginative...which this is not...theyre about substance not technology....i.e..organic...and 3) I Cant Take It - Cheap Trick....it just strikes a nerve everytime I hear it...doesnt hurt that Todd Rundgren produced it....
Interested in writing songs, writes:
Heart of the matter:
I can feel this song into the depths of my soul. They lyrics describe a common problem in he world and forgivness is definately needed in the world.
Basically this song speaks of truth.
A songwriter from Washington, writes:
When Nirvana covered "Where did you sleep Last Night" on the unplugged album. Beacause I love how eery it sounds it takes me to another place. I love it when he starts screaming at the end and then He pauses to take a breath....It's just beautifully done in my opinion.
A songwriter, singer from Western Australia, writes:
"The Blood of me" , "Make you Mine" by Heather Nova AND "Only when i sleep" by The Corrs CAUSE THEY KICK ASS !!!!! the words and the catchy , swaying, mysterious music !!!!
A song stylist from west coast of Canada, writes:
So very Many!! I love MorninGlory/champagnesupernova The Verve's lucky man old Stone Roses and Sinead O Connor's stuff on T.L.A.T.C. and I.D.N.W.W.I.H.G. albums Sloan And the Beatles!!
A poet,songwriter,singer,mother and fiancee from Indianapolis, writes:
It took alot of thought to answer this question. I enjoy so many artists, and the favorite song varies as my moods do. It has to be a song that I enjoy no matter what happened the moment before.
In sadness and flooded with joy I can always depend on Van Morrison. "Into The Mystic" has a jazzy texture that keeps it light and easy to listen to. The saxophone seems to dance behind expressive lyrics and his comforting singing style making this my favorite song.
A hopeful songwriter from MO, writes:
My favourite song is "Rain Fall" by A Flock of Seagulls. Why? It's such a powerful song that sometimes, depending on my mood, makes me cry. I only hope that I can be a great songwriter like Mike Score is. It's just beautifully written and the music with lyrics makes the whole song come alive.
A pianist/hopeful songwriter from Toronto, writes:
Hoo boy. Tough question posed this time. I'd have to say "Your Song" by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The lyric is straightforward, yet beautiful, and the music is nothing less than I would expect from Elton. Pure beauty in song. Another one that moves me in this way is "Hello Again" by Neil Diamond. Again a very direct yet pretty lyric, with a spectacular musical setting. Both these songs are just absolute pure emotion being conjured into a more recognizable form.
A singer an songwriter from the USA, writes:
Indian Rain by Colonian Cousins. The song is a fusion of Indian classical & western pop.Lezz has incorporated a stunning chord progression with an equally incredible melody line.Hats off to him!