My Seven Songs

Think of seven songs that had a profound effect on you and how they changed your life or the way you looked at it. Each song has a story, so be sure to tell it. Perhaps the song helps you identify a particular time, place, or person. For my seven songs, I decided to put them in chronological order according to when I first heard each one.

1. Miles Davis – ‘Round Midnight
What a way to get introduced to jazz music. As a kid I remember my father playing this for me. At first, it was the sound of the muted trumpet, but the improvisation with all of the instruments… well, if you know this song, you know.

2. Chick Corea Elektric Band – Rumble
I think this was the ultimate wake-up call for me. After hearing this song with Chick Corea, Dave Weckl (drums) and John Patitucci (bass), I think that I knew I was going to be going way beyond the radio. And I knew I wanted to write music like this someday or play in a group like this. Or both.

3. Sting – Fortress Around Your Heart
I had always been a fan of The Police and then Sting, but this song became a bit of an obsession. First I learned every possible nuance of the drumset part and practiced it until the record was toasted (ah, vinyl). I remember then purchasing the sheet music and working out all of the parts on the piano. Rhythmically, harmonically and structurally, this song just perfectly balanced everything.

4. John Adams – Harmonium
When my father played this for me in preparation for singing this with the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, it was like nothing I’d ever heard, and I related so much to the sound landscape. Much of my writing still calls back to this piece of music.

5. Joseph Schwantner – …And the mountains rising nowhere…
I was fortunate to have played in a great high school wind ensemble at Cherry Hill East under the direction of Bruce Yurko. (Side note, Mr. Yurko, thank you!) While we didn’t play this piece, I distinctly remember him pointing me in the direction of this piece when I started getting serious about my writing. And then I was fortunate to get into Eastman School of Music, and study with Dr. Schwantner, which in itself was amazing.

6. Peter Erskine – Boulez
Okay, so you have never heard this piece, I’m sure. But as a drummer and a composer who wrote my music using computer sequencers, notation programs and such, this song was a 3 minute encapsulation of so many influences. Cue the drum solo.

7. Dave Matthews Band – Grey Street
This track from the Busted Stuff album is a rhythmic feast. And of the modern rock artists, Dave Matthews Band is clearly my favorite. (Apparently a few others like him too.) Rarely do a loop one single song, but this would be it.

Now it’s your turn to write about the music that changed your life…

And just FYI, this is posted on Facebook as well, so feel free to copy the idea and post to your own Facebook profile.