Let’s continue our active listening practice with another podcast episode from 5 Song Set. This week with Episode 77, I decided to treat my ears with some bitter-sweet soft music. If you’re feeling tense, or indeed if you’re already feeling a bit mellow, this is the episode for you.
“In this episode you’ll hear 5 songs with a nice, kind of soft feel. I had been thinking of talking in my intro about the stress that pops up at this time of year. But really, most people are stressed regardless of date. Everyone needs to take a moment now and then, even if their lives aren’t that stressful, to relax. So here are 5 songs for when you need something a little bit quieter.”
For listening to this song set, I decided to isolate myself and just close my eyes and sway with the music. Well, some songs were indeed only “kind of” soft but all in all it took me to a new dimension. Each and every song opened a different kind of emotion– a mixture of sad, serene, sincere, and deep connections between my thoughts and my soul.
1. Echoes of Espers by John Anealio
This is a finger-picked acoustic guitar instrumental that simply eased and soothed my mind. I was glad I heard this song because it made me realize it had been a while since I really put my mind to rest.
I just sat down and closed my eyes as each pluck of the guitar strings lulled my conscious self to a calming and peaceful scene. The hustle and bustle to our everyday life makes us move from one place to another, and most of the time we forgot to stop and take a breath. Yet, this song was able to make me shut my eyes and ears to what was around me and just relax with each note of the guitar.
It’s a beautiful example of the power of music to instantaneously change our mood.
2. Dáma, pán a tulipán by Cymbelín
The second song is a different story. The unique beat produced a very different effect within me.
This is the type of song where you would want to sit back and let your mind wander away from the day’s events and back into your life’s past. For me, it took me back to my early childhood and younger years.
The instruments used in this song turned out to be a magical combination. The violin expresses a bright yet sensible sound that adds a delicate touch with the song. And the inclusion of a wind instrument makes the whole package mesmerizing.
Remember those years where you would climb up the trees with your friends and just laugh the afternoon away? Or the time when you were a teenager and you would sneak out from the house just to be with friends. All those thrills from the younger years came back to me like I was lying beneath a tree full of fireflies and shooting stars. It’s magical and childish, but fun!
3. El Paso by Silvestre y La Naranja
The third song also stirred up memories in me, but this time the instrumental sound and yearning vocals opened up good sweet memories of my first love. It took my thoughts back to a time when I was feisty and carefree. It made me feel victorious over the misadventures of present life. Once upon a time, we were a spirited and rebellious version of ourselves.
The banjo and the beat of the drum made me nostalgic. Together they brought back the adrenaline rush of our immature decisions and just taking risks.
Just like the song’s beat progresses to a faster and aggressive beat, it all felt like that before. Even though we realized that wounded hearts take longer to heal than wounded knees, it’s still a bittersweet memory to reminisce over and cherish.
From the fast beat of the third song, this next song takes it in the opposite direction. The intro of the guitar might take you to a scene where the raindrops are rolling down from the cold window. In the vocals, you can feel hopelessness, confusion, and pain. Maybe it’s the sound of a weary and tired heart? You can feel the longing and the emptiness.
This song may sound weak and sad, but it shows real and raw emotions of a broken heart. The lyrics seem a statement of how life plays with our emotions and why the people we love are taken away from us.
5. Old Home Movies by The Botticellis
This song is perfect for soundtracking a holiday getaway, especially if you are travelling alone. The soft vocals and the intense collaboration of the instruments all collaborate to give your ears a soothing and nostalgic feeling. It’s as if you are travelling forwards and watching the trees pass by in slow motion.
I especially love the drums on this one. The perfect timing of the beat along with the emotional voice stirs a real emotion of remembering the good times. This song simple can make you swoon: the vocals, the rhythm guitar, the drums – all are in perfect combination.
Like leaves falling from a tree, you can sway with the music and enjoy the soft, cold breeze brush through your hair and over your face. It’s less dramatic than some of the other songs because it seems to put all the worries, the stress, the busyness behind. It’s like watching a sappy old movie in a theatre by the park and sitting still as time goes by.
I am grateful for this 5 Song Set because each of the songs reminds you to sit back, relax and reminisce. To just let time go, and let your thoughts wander away. It makes you remember the past, but with a smile. It helps you forget, even for a brief moment, all the chores, the office work, the messy house, and all the drama of life. It makes you feel loose and laid back, shaking off all the tension. You may even shed a tear or two but you’ll be glad to breathe some air and just relax.