It’s hard to write about beauty without sounding cliché. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” whatever. What else can I say? Opinions are like pitted t-shirts - everybody has one - but that’s what makes the theme for this episode, Most Beautiful Songs, so compelling. As general a prompt as it may be (especially compared to our last few episodes), we all have our own ideas about what constitutes beauty in music, and what gives us tingles in a warm kind of way.
I’m pretty easy. Color a song with some romantic strings, warm Rhodes piano chords, or the timbre of particularly impassioned vocals, and I’m sold. It’s all in the tone for me. However, some of our guests find beauty in more literal ways. Piano teacher and college lecturer Julie Simon identifies a particular swaying tempo and thematic sense of longing in her definition, citing Gato Barbieri’s “Europa” as one song that checks off all the boxes. Film, TV, and video game composer Brian Tyler raves about the technical specs of “Tamer Animals” by Other Lives, feeling so moved and inspired by the band’s achieved sound that he’s adjusted his studio setup to recreate the same effect. Vocalist Gavin Turek loves the tenderness of Roberta Flack’s vocals; Photay relies on the comforting rhythmic plucks from Ballaké Sissoko’s kora; Charlemagne Lazarus, head of experimental record label Deathbomb Arc, even makes a compelling case for the referential complexities and structural beauty of T.Pain’s “Booty, Butt, Ass.” Without giving anything else away, there were no wrong answers for this episode and, as expected, we received a handful of enlightened, enthusiastic recommendations.
We hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed compiling it, and no matter your opinion on what constitutes beauty in music, we think you’ll come away with what guest and comedian Brent Weinbach calls “hardcore goosebumps.”
Did we miss a song this episode? Don’t’ be afraid to tell me over Twitter or Instagram – you might just end up on my message machine.
Until next time…