do you have comfort songs? do you know what i'm talking about? they're the songs you go to when life feels hard? maybe they make you feel better or maybe they just feel like you feel, and that, in turn, sort of makes you feel better.
a few years back, i read nick hornby's songbook. if you haven't read it, it's a compilation of essays about his favourite songs. and what's so great about it is not so much the songs he writes about but the way you can feel his absolute love for and devotion to them through his words.
there's one essay in particular, on rufus wainwright's cover of his dad's "one man guy" (which is a song i also love), that i think about fairly often. in it, nick hornby writes: "i try not to believe in god, of course, but sometimes things happen in music, in songs, that bring me up short, make me do a double take. when things add up to more than the sum of their parts, when the effects achieved are inexplicable, then atheists like me start to get into difficult territory (...) all i can say is that i can hear things that aren't there, see and feel things i can't normally see and feel, and start to realize that, yes, there is such a thing as an immortal soul, or, at the very least, a unifying human counsciousness, that our lives are short but have meaning."
if i had to write book of essays on my favourites, these two comfort songs would very likely make the cut.
1. norah jones- the long way home
when this album first came out, i wasn't exactly on board with the whole norah jones phenomenon. i found her too commercial. but my mom loved her. we're talking LOOOOVED her. and when she found out that norah was coming to town, she wanted us to go. so i said yes, because, when all your mom needs to be happy is to get to go with her daughter and one of her best friends to see norah, you say yes.
but i secretly wasn't super jazzed. i think i thought i was too cool for norah jones. or that she was too mom-music for me. skip ahead to the point of this story: it was a ridiculously amazing and very sincere concert. not the least bit cheesy or commercial or whatever i had feared it might be.
when we went, i had just broken up with my boyfriend at the time and, after this song played, i was so choked up that i had to go outside, have a mini-cry and a cigarette, and tell myself to get a grip. i don't know if i was crying because of the break-up, because of the sincerity of the performance or because of how sweet it was for my mom to want to share her love of norah with me. probably, it was all of those things.
i know it's a tom waits song but, because of the aforementioned reasons, norah's version is my comfort version.
2. sinead o'connor - thank you for hearing me
i guess i don't really have all that much to say about this song afterall... except that i have loved sinead o'connor since high school. and that i have a VHS cassette of a performance she did on muchmusic shortly after this album came out, many years ago, which is when i first heard this song. i must have been in my early or mid-twenties, and i remember being blown away at the idea of being grateful for even the not-so-good stuff someone may have put you through. i thought it was very... honest, and big of her. and also genius to make a song of it.