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Roia Rafieyan: Blog

The challenge of picking just six songs...

Posted on June 21, 2011

Recently, JoAnn, a social media savvy music therapist, was reading Daniel Levitin's book ("The World in Six Songs") and she decided that she too wanted to figure out which six songs reflected her life. Being the fine and interactive blogger she is, she invited the rest of us to come up with our own list of songs.

So. There we all were (we music therapists, I mean) on Twitter, tweeting away, and she reminded me a couple of times, that, um, I hadn't done this yet. 

Okay, so, yes! It's true! I was resisting this exercise, because, I mean- really! Six songs? Only six? That's just cruel! Couldn't I have runner-ups? Or second sixth choices? Or something....? Oy.

Alright, so fine! I think I've finally managed to come to some agreement with myself about at least five of them. I may need to give some more consideration to song #6 because  it still freaks me out a bit to have come up with the complete list and only be 45 years old. I mean, what if it somehow implies that, "now you've come up with your list of six songs and you're done with your life now"? You know? (And yes, I do know normal people don't think that way, thank you very much.)

Here goes:

Song #1 has to be "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" (the Simon and Garfunkel version, and no other). It's my favorite song of all time, and I can't even tell you specifically why. I think it has to do with the lovely intertwining harmonies and the fact that S & G are one of two groups (the other being the Carpenters) my whole family agreed we could all happily listen to while driving across the United States one summer when my brother and I were in high school. The other thing is: in spite of being a fairly good finger-picking guitarist, I still can't play this song in a way that feels right to me. It's Simon and Garfunkel or nobody (oh, wait, I said that already)! 

Song #2 is Dan Fogelberg's "Song From Half Mountain". I know I already carried on about this song back in December (in this very blog even), but I'm saying it again. I love this song. I'm not sure I have any official connection to the song. It's just that it's so achingly beautiful. I guess in this complete mess of a world, I find a need to surround myself with beautiful sounds that evoke beautiful images and sensations. Maybe that's it- it's so sensorily lovely. 

Song #3 is, okay, I admit it, one of my own. It's "Grateful" (complete with my coughing and throat clearing and kvetching) (it would only be right), and here's the thing: I chose this one, because, for me, it represents the best of what my songwriting has been and could be. Writing songs, having the opportunity to record two CDs, and getting over myself enough to perform them (!) has been an important part of my life (and growth as a human being). This song was absolutely the easiest one I ever wrote. They should all be this easy, but...well, what can you do? They're not. 

Song #4 is "Silent Night" because it reminds me of my parents. When they were visiting this past Christmas, my Jewish mother and my Muslim father and I sang this song together. And if that isn't world peace, then I don't know what is! 

Song #5 is (in spite of it all) Lynyrd Skynyrd singing "Sweet Home Alabama". It has been brought to my attention that there's a lot wrong with this song (morally, ethically, racially), but it always makes me think of my brother and that same family trip I mentioned in Song #1. We'd all have dinner together, and then my parents would head out for a walk while my brother and I took care of the dishes and broke out the heavier music we couldn't listen to while we were all driving together, and this was one of our favorites. It still is. Go, brother Kamran!

Now. Here's where things got tricky. I couldn't decide between James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. And, er, then, even if I could pick one of them, then I'd have the insanity of trying to figure out which one song would express it all in just the right way for me, and I just haven't been able to do it.

So I'm going with this (which is completely different from the three above-mentioned contenders): Song #6 is "I Need to Be Still" (it's not a version I particularly like, but it's really about the song anyway). I spent a lot of years at Unity, and even though it's no longer my spiritual home, I learned this song there, and, if anything- I think the song has probably become like a spiritual home for me. 

Phew! So there you have it. At last! (And I'll try to not be paranoid about having finally come up with all six songs.) (Even though I may have to change one or two here and there.) (But maybe not.). 

Here are some more music therapists who kindly shared their six songs: Kimberly Sena Moore, the Music Therapy Maven herself shared hers here. Rachel Rambach tossed in her song, er, hat here

Feel free to throw in your two cents (or six songs, as it were), or a link to your blog if I missed yours!