14 Songs: 4 Minutes Can Change Everything

Three things you can never recover in life – the word after it is said, the moment after it is missed, and the time after it is gone.  We dwell on missed opportunities, on the choices we’ve made, and on the emotions we feel everyday like over-thinking our actions is going to change what we would have done.  Thomas Edison said, “Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”  Each minute that passes by is another minute lost when we could have been productive, could have been spending it with someone we love, could have been doing something to affect change.  Four minutes can feel like an eternity, or it can feel like the speed of light.  Many songs that we encounter in our lifetime are less than four minutes.  It can change our mood, it can make us recall a memory, or it can be a moment in time where we stop and question a thought, emotion, or an action.

“We watch the season pull up its own stakes
And catch the last weekend of the last week
Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced,
Another sun soaked season fades away” –Stolen (Dashboard Confessional)

So what’s in a song that makes our brains turn upside down?  Is it the music?  The lyrics?  A combination of the two?  Why do we gravitate towards certain music genres and not others?  As a music lover I love listening to everything – from Rap to Bubblegum pop, but this post is more about the lyrics of the songs that I have chosen in this playlist.  They are all poem-like where there seems to be a deeper meaning behind each one.  Some are tied to movies, some can give you the strength to begin again the next day, and some make you feel like there is someone out there that is meant to be your other half.  Running makes you think a lot when you are not gasping for air trying to get to the next block.  During each song on my playlist I have learn to fall into the music instead of fighting against my own body and totally giving up; pushing to the next street.

“There’s a block on the edge of this town no one talks about
Where the train doesn’t stop and the kids know they’re not getting out
You live in the loop, the smokes on the stoop
Counting the coins you got
You work at a bar where all that you are is everything you’re not
Someone tell me when
I can start again
And rewrite this story
How long can I stay
Lost without a way to rewrite
I wish I could rewrite this story” –Rewrite This Story (Smash Cast)

Four minutes can change everything – meeting someone that connects with you beyond your looks, losing someone that meant everything to you, or closing your eyes and imagining that life can be a better place with just a little bit of understanding.  A four minute song can bring you closer to understand all the emotions that happen inside.  The ones that you are not ready to talk to about with anyone; not even the ones closest to.  These words can make you feel better even if it is just a good cry that you never knew you needed.

“No hesitation now she gets up and walks
She thinks of all the pain and pride that it cost
She empties all the tip jars and won’t get back what she lost” –Best Fake Smile (James Bay)

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is loving with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary” (Steve Jobs).  Emotions are a funny thing.  They make us act before truly thinking and sometimes that can be a good thing because it doesn’t allow us to over-think.  Fall into the music and let it carry your thought process even if it is for only four minutes.

Click here for the playlist!

As Long As We Got Each Other – T.V. Theme Songs & The Messages They Leave

American society is obsessed with television.  We become addicted to shows where waiting for a new episode next week is pure torture, or binge watching a Netflix season to the point of sleep deprivation.  There are few shows that I will watch repetitively, and if you put me in front of a show from my childhood I guarantee you I can sing the theme song and probably recite various scenes from every episode of Boy Meets World, Full House, and Growing Pains.  I’m an 80s baby and a 90s kid, obsessed with my generation and never wanted to leave.

It was the family togetherness that wasn’t looked on upon as weird, but as what everyone wished they had with their real family. Not to mention that the theme songs were catchy as hell.  The Growing Pains theme song has been running through my head for the last week as I have toiled and analyzed the lyrics to exhaustion.  It’s my own fault as I had an epic seven season marathon for over two weeks where I literally watched nothing else.  After I finished the seasons I bought the T.V. movies that I am sure my younger brother will rip on me forever, but I can’t help myself.  It is the nostalgia of it all and my inner most feelings that I know these characters personally.

The siblings that will hold each other down just to hear the other beg to stop sitting on them.  The brother and sister that can never stop bickering because what else are siblings for but to get on your nerves.  What about the siblings that help you pull one over on your parents and when you get caught you blame it on each other.  This describes my sibling’s relationship perfectly.  No matter what though, I know they always have had my back when I really needed them.

If you don’t know the show here are the basics. It’s a middle-upper class family living in Long Island where the dad is a therapist, the mother a writer, and they have three kids Mike (The trouble maker), Carol (The Brain), and Ben (The Smartass).  There is a forth kid (Chrissy), but she didn’t have much of a roll till the last season so I don’t really count her.  I think this family related to my real family in every way.  Not only were the sibling pretty much identical to the way my brothers and I acted, but the fact that one would do anything for the other is an act of selflessness you don’t see in most families today.  It is a rarity that you will find a family as close as mine, but you are welcome to try.

In the theme song it says:
“As long as we got each other
We got the world spinnin’ right in our hands
Baby, you and me, we got to be, the luckiest dreamers who never quiet dreaming
As long as we keep on givin’
We can take anything that comes our way
Baby rain or shine, all the time
We got each other sharing the laughter and love”

The life lessons that each theme song in the 1980s and 1990s was about how family was always going to have your back.  The situation was never to big or two small to have a hand to hold, a laugher to share, or the ability to have people that inspired and supported the dreams you had everyday.  As you get older thoughts constantly cross your mind as you move farther from family and developing a life, a career, and a family of your own.  It doesn’t need to be separate.  Those people who were there for you in the beginning are going to be there for you in the end.  My brother was in a car accident back in August and it makes you think about how precious life can be.  How in an instant everything can change.  You need to cherish the people who are important in your life everyday.  You never know when a picture of someone will just be a memory.

So, this post is dedicated to my two brothers who are just like Mike and Ben on Growing Pains – my older brother who legit would get me in trouble when I didn’t do anything.  Let’s not mention the tennis ball that broke the face on the antique clock on the mental.  Or my younger one, who I use to want to throw food at across the table as he would hum throughout dinner.  I’m glad I wasn’t an only child because without you two I wouldn’t have these memories.  Sometimes the good times out way the annoying ones, like the memories of my younger brother Johnny and I singing Grease Lighting in the garage, or hanging out with my cool older brother Sal as we sang the song ‘I’m a Bitch’ at the top of our lungs with the windows rolled down.  You guys made my childhood and my adulthood, and don’t worry because I always have access to embarrassing photos if needed.

Album Review: Marianas Trench – NEW Album – A Goonies Adventure

1600x1600srI’m sure you have heard about 5 Seconds of Summer’s new album, the new single by Ariana Grande, and are waiting patiently for the next Justin Bieber album.  During all of that, Marianas Trench has yet again slipped under the radar with their fourth studio album Astoria.  Josh Ramsay, Matt Webb, Mike Ayley, and Ian Casselman bring a mix of the decades with the deep baritone voices and harmonies of the 50s, the swinging beat of the 70s, and the modern sounds of today’s pop, combined with a little 80s soundboard mixing.

The album brings the listener through a 17-track storyline of an adventure of love, loss, and an end of a life chapter.  The storyline theme is roped in their last two albums, Masterpiece Theatre and Ever After.  In this album it seems to be an end of an era.  They combined elements like the shortened instrumental sections connecting the major tracks like in Masterpiece Theatre, and lyrics that reflect songs from Ever After.

Ramsay as always, is on point and in “Burning up” he is all over the vocal scale with the backing of 80s sounds like drum machines, heavy synthesizers, and a nice electric guitar hook.  The opening lyrics is full of metaphors that connect to the style of music that is heard throughout the album like “Been dead as a disco” or “Baby I’m new wave.”  He continues to tie in other musical references, but to the lyrics of his own music, like in “Dearly Departed” where he takes song titles from his last two albums and ties them into an entire verse as a simple ukulele is strummed in the back ground with a light vocal harmony:

“Every masterpiece I’d write again
You’ll always be my porcelain
I crossed my heart
But I stuttered too
So truth or dare
Was I good to you
Haven’t had enough of you all to myself
Still right beside you
In sickness and health
For ever after
You will be my home
And there’s no place like home”

He brings back the Jackson 5 style in “Shut Up and Kiss Me” through lyrical repetition and iconic opening instrumental of a piano key swipe like in Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, which he mimics with strings.  The emotion in Ramsay’s voice is full of energy, youth, and honesty as a chorus of singers lend in harmonies inspired by the original soul brothers of the Jacksons.

The way a Marianas Trench album can go from the life of the party to a basic acappella sound in perfect harmonies is talent you don’t hear in most albums today.  Their lyrics make you think, question the past, question life, and question your choices that have brought you to your current life point.  The last song in the album “End of An Era” brings a close to a chapter with a huge orchestra sound as the band of guitars and rock n’ roll drums fall into place at the close of the album. Marianas Trench ends a chapter on saying goodbye to something or someone and as the listener, I have said goodbye to a chapter in my life by starting a new in Los Angeles which has been less than easy. Sometimes you need to take a leap and hope you land on your feet, especially when you feel like you are standing still. So in the words of Marianas Trench:

“I’m so afraid of trying something new
Cause every start begins
With saying goodbye to you
Our heart divides an unrequited view
But my heart is overdue”

Check out their new album here!

Does Your Playlist Matter in Your Workout?

Have you ever seen the movie Hardball?  In the film the star pitcher Miles needs to listen to the song Big Poppa to pitch well, but when an opposing team’s coach decided to ban his headphones while he was pitching the whole team sang him the song during the game so he could get his mojo back to win the game.  Before Miles even threw a pitch he would get inside his own head by listening deeply to the beat and closely to the lyrics:

“I love it when you call me Big Pop-pa
Throw your hands in the air, if yous a true player”

Music can have a high impact on your ability to perform, workout, or focus.  Over the years Dr. Costas Karageorghis has studied the enhancement abilities music can have on a workout.  Karageorghis created the Brunel Music Rating Inventory which is a questionnaire used to rate the motivational qualities of music.  Administered to different panels of various demographics who listen to 90 seconds of a song and rate its motivational qualities for physical activities.  What has been discovered is that tempo is one of the keys to a good workout playlist.  Using the beat (tempo) to the rate of your movement gives the person a pace to keep so it becomes easier to speed up or slow down.  The other reason why tempo is important is it can keep time with your heart with the right flow of music.  The average person’s heart rate corresponds to the tempo of 120 to 140 beats per minute (bpm).

Music becomes like a metronome for your body to keep time, pace, and energy.  Besides tempo or rhythm, lyrics and how a song makes you feel emotionally can also have a significant impact.  Considering your emotion can determine your motivation in your workout.  Are you going are hard at the gym trying to push yourself to the limit?  Are you trying to find an inner strength and relaxation place through yoga?  Or are you trying to keep pace to do weight lifting while trying to distract yourself from exhaustion.  It has been proven in studies done by Dr. Karageorghis that music can distract you from pain and fatigue, elevates your mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort, and promotes metabolic efficiency.  In the article, “Let’s get Physical: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music” by Ferris Jabr it discusses how many organizations who put on races have banned music during the race if they are vying for awards or money.  This ban was going to go broader to all marathon runners from music players to prevent runners from having a competitive edge.  There was a lot of push back from the marathon runners so it never become an official rule.

For me, listening to music allows me to get lost in my head.  My brain is constantly running and very rarely shuts off.  It is always thinking – what is my next step in life?  Was the decision I made at work the right one yesterday?  I have to make my to do list?  The list goes on forever.  According to “They’re Playing My Song. Time to Workout” by Steven Kurutz, people exercise longer and more vigorously with music.  I think it is because it gives a person a focus point.  If I can get through this song running my next few laps I am one step closer to the finish line.

I have a tendency to create a playlist for the different stages of my workout.  First you have your warm up where you need to amplify your momentum.  Then you need a driving force to continue to push you in the moment and keep you focus.  Finally, you need some recovery music to bring you back down to a relaxation state and decrease your heart rate.  Knowing friends of mine the three most popular genres that I’ve found on playlists are hip hop, rock, and pop.  All these types of music you can use for various stages of your workout.  A little hip hop to get the blood flowing, rock to keep the push, and pop to bring you back down to a dance your apartment level or stretching.  As Dr. Karageorghis says, “one could think of music as a type of legal performance enhancing drug.”  So, as Nike says “Just do it.”

Click Here for my current workout playlist!  And “I love it when you call me big poppa…” and I might have a slight 80s problem.

Peter Pan – Is It Really A Children’s Story or Life?

When you tell someone they have Peter Pan syndrome it is looked at as a negative connotation, but in my opinion it just means you are still young at heart.  The story is about a boy who never grows up, but he is more then that.  He is a leader, a defender of all that is good, supportive of his friends decisions, and has a sense of humor that can cheer up anyone who is having a bad day.  J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is a classic story and has been one of my favorites since I was a child.  The fantasy of a world where you never grow old, where you can have adventures everyday, and the ability to hangout with your friends all the time sounds like a great place to me.  It seems that I’m not the only one who has an obsession with it because the story pops up in today’s music.

In 2013, All Time Low released a song called ‘Somewhere in Neverland,’ which explores the concept of two people who have grown up and life has not turned out the way they had hoped.  Their lives have become mundane and living in the past.  But the song is truly about falling in love with someone that can bring you to another world and where it could be a better reality together. “Wendy run away with me, I know it sounds crazy don’t you see what you do to me?  I want to be your lost boy, your last chance, a better reality.”  Also in 2013, VanLadyLove released a song called ‘Neverland.’  When you want success to happen you have to be positive, have motivation to an end goal, and be willing to do what ever it takes to succeed.  In ‘Neverland’ the lyrics say, “If you want to fly think happy thoughts.”  Happy thoughts are what makes you fly to another world of success, where fears and sadness are left on another planet.

In 2008, the Jonas Brothers released a song called ‘Fly With Me,’ which also uses Peter Pan concepts.  In the chorus they sing, “We’re chasing stars to lose our shadows, Peter Pan and Wendy turnout fine, So won’t you fly with me?”  It’s about taking risks, believing someone is going to catch you if you fall, and knowing that in the end it is all going to be alright as long as you continue to fight everyday to find where you belong.

The list of songs goes on, 5 Seconds of Summer’s ‘Lost Boy’ and Ruth B’s ‘Lost Boy.’  Peter Pan isn’t just a children’s story it is a story about life.  We are lost children growing up, hoping that there is something more out there for us, hoping that we are meant to do something amazing, but Peter Pan was the creator of his own destiny.  A leader full of happiness and positive thinking that always led him to success from fighting the pirates, to protecting the lost boys, to understanding when it is time for his friends to grow older.  Growing older doesn’t mean that you forget.  It just means that you need to think differently, and that chasing stars to lose our shadows is what we need to do every day.