Our good friend Eric Landro has returned to talk about some of the songs that are most influential to his life. I Am Geek isn’t just about television, movies, and comics. It’s about geeking out, and we’re always happy to have a little bit of music on the site. Check out Part 1 of Eric’s new piece.
For almost three years, I’ve been wanting to write a music piece for I Am Geek. It was a post written by I Am Geek contributor Jen, where she dropped in to share her thoughts on music. I really appreciated the things she wrote, but one thing in particular really jumped out at me. In her closing, she said, “Feel the music and let it consume you.” This one line perfectly illustrated how I felt about music. After reading her piece, I knew this was a subject I wanted to write about, but I needed time to think about which songs to use and time to actually write it. It’s taken a lot longer than I would have wanted, but here we are.
Music has the ability to teleport you back in time and re-experience those moments that ignites the most emotion from you. It can push you towards that final mile, calm you down when you’re feeling anxious, or simply place you in a better mood. For me, music is a state of being. Its power can shape or alter my mood, dig out the roots of a problem I’ve buried over time, and it can even cause me to rethink situations I’ve handled in the past. Whether loud or soft, happy or sad, music will eventually coax some sort of emotion from me.
These eight songs aren’t necessarily my favorite songs, but they are the most important. They aren’t just songs, they are moments. Here are the eight most important songs of my life.
- Hear You Me
Artist: Jimmy Eat World Album: Bleed American (2001)
Favorite Lyric: “What would you think of me now,/So lucky, so strong, so proud?/I never said thank you for that,/Now I’ll never have a chance”
The first time I heard this song wasn’t just a moment, it was an experience. To make it even more intensifying, I heard it live. I was in the front row at Jones Beach, the day turning to dusk and the cool, ocean breeze sweeping across Nokia Theater. Just a month prior, I fulfilled a long-term goal of mine and bought an acoustic guitar. I was so excited to start and I picked up the basic major chords fairly quickly, but when I needed to transition from one to the other, my progression hit a standstill, along with my interest. Practicing on a limited schedule, in a small, hot bedroom with no real instruction from a professional, learning a complexed instrument like a guitar became less of a dream and more of a perfunctory endeavor. So, let’s just say when I arrived at Jones Beach for the Incubus concert my fingers were no longer calloused. Jimmy Eat World was the other big name touring alongside Incubus, and to be honest, I was kind of indifferent about seeing them. Although Jimmy Eat World has been around forever, I never got into them. I only knew their hits “The Middle” and “Sweetness”, arguably the two most over-played songs of all-time. I was going into it with low expectations and I was immediately proven wrong. They played some great music from the start, and I immediately was inspired by lead singer Jim Adkins. From someone who suffers from ADD and has no ability to multitask, watching someone sing lead vocals and play guitar simultaneously is nothing short of a miracle. It wasn’t until he took out the acoustic when I became truly inspired. He began playing “Hear You Me”, a soft rock ballad about losing someone special. You heard the heartache in his voice when singing, “I never said thank you for that, now I’ll never have the chance.” With minimal drums and electric guitar (a beautiful solo in the middle), the acoustic guitar and Adkins’ vocals powered the song and left me speechless. That moment, my motivation was resurrected. I wanted to be able to play that song. I called for an instructor the very next day, and have been practicing any chance I could ever since. I have listened to all their albums, and they have become one of my favorite bands to date. Do yourself a favor, see as many live concerts as you can, there’s nothing like it.
- A Favor House Atlantic
Artist: Coheed and Cambria Album: In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (2003)
Favorite Lyric: “Your eyes tell the stories of a day you wish you could/Recall the moments that once have”
Quirky. Unorthodox. Loud. Not only would I use these words to describe Coheed and Cambria’s most commercially successful hit, it would also be the three words to describe my best friend Holly, which in turn, is the reason why this song cracks my list. Truthfully, I only know a handful of songs by this band, but I find that there seems to be some clear emo-like darkness sung by lead vocalist Claudio Sanchez, which is masked behind his high-pitched, nonthreatening voice. For me, Coheed songs are a flamboyant, fun and humor-filled ride on the surface, but underneath there is a great deal of sadness, quandary and frustration. Holly and I found each other at a time where we needed a friend. Both stuck in a rut in life, we found solace in music. We would take long, aimless drives down the 495, singing with our obnoxious voices, forgetting our troubles as we did. There are about 20-30 songs we can reminisce about, but no song best exemplifies our friendship more like this one. This is our go-to song, a song which feels like it was made just for us. Today, we live two very separate, but happy lives on opposite sides of the East coast, but we still cherish the friendship we had, and appreciate the one we have now. These songs help remind us how far we’ve come and how happy we are today. So, when this song comes on and I get flashes of the choreographed hand motions, hysterical laughter, and air guitar wizardry, I can say with absolute confidence that “A Favor House Atlantic” became so much more than a song, but rather a journey with my best friend.
- Blue and Yellow
Artist: The Used Album: The Used (2002)
Favorite Lyric:“Well you’ll never find it/If you’re looking for it”
When I was around twelve years old, I heard the song “Blue and Yellow” for the very first time. Music then wasn’t something I was into. Movies and sports were the only things I really knew and loved, so when my sister asked me to listen to the song, I was reluctant. I have a real stubbornness, and when it comes to watching or listening to something someone else suggests, it takes me forever to actually do it. But the one person who could (and still can) get me to do things I don’t want to do, is my older sister, Melissa. So, after many failed attempts, I was thwarted by her older sister persuasion. I remember holding the Discman steady in hands, as the beautiful acoustic filled my headphones. The song was a slow build, starting light and soft and eventually a crescendo into a powerful final chorus. Bert McCracken, lead singer of The Used, has this incredible, unique soprano voice that makes him immediately recognizable. The song was so good, I nonchalantly hit the back button to hear it a second time. I was in love. In that very moment, music was no longer something I heard, but rather something I felt. The Used became a staple in my music catalog, and they led me to so many other incredible bands of the 2000s (My Chemical Romance, Rise Against, All Time Low). I, unfortunately, no longer actively listen to them, aside from “Blue and Yellow”. I think I outgrew that time, and a lot of the artists started to sound similar. But, there is no question, how important The Used were for me. There’s no better feeling than having Spotify on shuffle, and hearing those first few acoustic chords and piano notes come on, and immediately taking me back to my room with my sister and her Discman, and feeling music for the first time all over again.
5. Forgot About Dre
Artist: Dre. Dre (Feat. Eminem) Album: 2001 (1999)
Favorite Lyric: “Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say/But nothing comes out when they move their lips/Just a bunch of gibberish/And motherf***ers act like they forgot about Dre”
When I was around twelve, rap started to become a “thing” amongst my circle of friends. My parents did their best to shelter me from that world. Thinking back, I don’t blame them, I was way too young. That being said, these were the same parents who let me watch Lethal Weapon at the tender age of thirteen, but I digress. It was the summer of 2001 when I heard my very first rap song (dirty and uncut, not bleeped on the TRL countdown). I was fortunate enough to have been part of a childhood not completely lost inside a tablet or a TV screen. My friends and I rode our bikes, not towards any particular direction, but just let the wheels roll while we got lost in conversation, never knowing where we’d end up. Thankfully, one summer evening, it led us straight to our friend who lived just outside our neighborhood. He was the sort of kid who was first to know about everything; sex, drugs, and in this case, rap music. He showed us the cover to Dr. Dre’s 2001, which was just a plain black cover, but in neon green the date 2001 and on the right, some sort of leaf right next to it (I was so precious). My eyes immediately were drawn to the “Parental Advisory” sticker to the bottom left though. To parents, it was a symbol of warning, but to adolescents, it marked the only albums cool enough to own. “You gotta hear this song, this dude M&M kills it”, I remember him saying. To be honest, at the time, I was a bit of a skeptic. A guy who named himself after a candy didn’t seem credible as a legitimate artist. But then, the song began, and I was immediately hooked in. The beat was the coolest thing I ever heard (eventually became iconic to all). Dre’s cool, melodic verse meshed perfectly with Eminem’s fiery, angry one. But the chorus did it for me. Eminem’s rap speed blew my mind and sparked an obsession with his music, becoming one of the most influential artists of my lifetime. This song started it all. It opened the door to rap, my rebellious stage, and a culture I’ve grown to admire. The competitiveness and the diss tracks that resulted from it was something very new to me, but I instantly became an addict. “Forgot About Dre” may not be the most important song on my list, but trust me, it is by far the coolest.
Part II will be posted later on, with songs 4-1 of my most important songs of all-time. Keep an eye out for it and thanks for reading!