Charms to Soothe a Savage Beast

Okay, I know it’s “soothe the savage breast,” but I like beast better.  When I feel rage and grief arise and feel…well…like a beast, music is such a balm to my angry, weary spirit.

Soon after Tom (the man who is now my husband) and I met, I made him a tape of music that I loved so he could get to know me better.  He did the same for me.  The music you like says a lot about you, I think.  And music is almost as essential as food and water to us.  One of the first things we discovered about each other was that we both were big fans of Doc and Merle Watson.  In fact, we saw it as a good sign when it turned out that his Doc Watson record collection filled the holes in mine, so that together we had a pretty complete set.

Anyway, I thought for fun I’d list the first ten random songs that come up on my Sansa (no, I don’t have an Ipod.  You got a problem with that?)  If nothing else, the selection will probably expose me for the eccentric oddball that I am.

So Are You To MeEastmountainsouth  Oh, I am so glad this one came up! It is a love song—the kind that might bring a tear to even the most jaded eye.  The melody is so pretty and their harmonies are gorgeous.  I’m sad that they only made one album before breaking up.
Banjo BoyRyan Shupe and the RubberBand   With a band name like that, you might have guessed that this would be a funny song.  You’d be right.  Damn funny.  And he lays down some funky grooves with that banjo.
Cattle CallLeAnn Rimes and Eddy Arnold   I have always loved this yippy-yi-yay yodel from the first time I heard it. It just makes me happy.  My son Benjamin has always hated this song from the first time he heard it, so naturally his sister and I have to crank it up and sing it at the top of our lungs every time it comes on (Sorry, Benjamin!)  But, dang! That LeAnn Rimes can flat-out sing.
Take These Chains from My Heart-Hank Williams   What can I say?  One of the great songwriters of our time.  What a pity he was taken so early.  This is another one that we crank up when we play it in the car and sing along until people in other cars begin to point and laugh.
We’ll Meet Along the WayHem   What a beautiful song—an interweaving of voice and instruments that is lush, rich, and hypnotic.
World Spins Madly OnWeepies   Wonderful harmony and catchy songs with intelligent lyrics.  I also like the solo work of Deb Talan, one of the two Weepies.
Up to the Mountain (MLK song)-Patty Griffin    An amazing singer-songwriter.  She sings beautifully, with deep feeling and writes songs with complex melodies and intelligent lyrics.  To me, she manifests more soul and talent than all the Britneys, Mariahs, or Christines put together, so why isn’t she more recognized?  Ah, well.  This is a wonderful song inspired by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.  And she feels it.  Say AMEN!
You Are HereThe Whitstein Brothers    Sweet harmony inspired and influenced by the Louvin Brothers.  I love the simplicity and poetic nature of the lyrics of the love songs they wrote, including this one, sung in old-time country harmony style.  They even did a couple of Simon and Garfunkel tunes—in the same style.  It works for me.  My favorite of theirs is Rose of my Heart.
I Think of YouMr. Rogers    Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood wasn’t around when I was a kid, but I watched it with my children.  He was so genuinely kind and gentle and somehow could almost make you feel he really was talking to you when he said, “I like you just the way you are.”  And don’t we all need to hear that?  I love this song and sing it often, thinking of my children away at college:  When the day turns into night/And you’re way beyond my sight/I think of you/I think of you/When the night turns into day/And you still are far away/I think of you/I think of you.
Time After TimeEva Cassidy    OK, I cheated on this one.  This isn’t the song that came up, but no music list of mine is complete without Eva Cassidy.  She is the only singer I can think of whose covers I like better than the original artist’s work.  Cyndi Lauper had a fine hit with this one, but Eva, with her magnificent voice and sensitive guitar playing, has a bit of an edge, in my humble opinion.   Another incredible talent taken before her time.  If her version of the old Irish standard Danny Boy doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, well, God help you.  Your heart has surely turned to stone.

11 Responses to “Charms to Soothe a Savage Beast”

  1. ronbailey Says:

    You couldn’t be any more correct about Eva’s work – I saw a video of Sting listen to Eva’s “Fields of Gold” for the very first time – and the man was crying when the song ended. She really was something special.

    Nice post!

  2. blue ridge blue collar girl Says:

    Ronbailey: Wow, I would have loved to have seen that video. I have listened to Eva’s “Fields of Gold” many, many times, and, still, it almost always brings tears to my eyes. She sang in such a completely pure and true way.

  3. ronbailey Says:

    I am pretty sure it was on VH1; hopefully they will show it again some day. I’ll be sure to Tivo it and upload the clip to YouTube if they do.

  4. blue ridge blue collar girl Says:

    Ronbailey: Thank you! Hopefully, one of these days, I’ll have something besides my cursed dial-up internet and be able to actually watch YouTube. (I don’t have cable or satellite) I appreciate you letting me know.

  5. colleen Says:

    I was beginning to feel dejected. Not only did I not know the saying but I didn’t know the first eight songs! I loved Time After Time when Cyndi recorded it, about the same time my sons were watching Mr. Rogers.

  6. lucky pennies Says:

    A most excellent list! I was listening to Hem just this morning, in fact. It was going through my head and then I saw it on your list.

    Oh, guess who’s coming to Cat’s Cradle? Josh Ritter! I’ve gotta look into tickets. And find someone who actually knows who Josh Ritter is to go with me to hear him.

  7. ronbailey Says:

    Man – have I ever spent my share of Friday nights at the Cat’s Cradle…

  8. ben (aka guitar maniac) Says:

    Great songs…except for the danged “Cattle Call” song. But I must concede that Leann Rimes does have a heck of a voice…no, wait…I meant a HELL of a voice. It’s just that there’s something about people making random whooping noises that seems to instantly make a song childish. Sorry. But I still do listen to Hank Williams at full volume ;-). I must say that the mountains took those flatland chains from my heart and set me free…

  9. Ric Says:

    Where did you find a recording of Mr. Rogers’ “I think of you”? I just heard it for the first time and love the tune and am desperately trying to find a recording. Thanks.

  10. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Ric: You can find it on the Mr. Rogers album “Bedtime,” which you can find at Family Communications (, the organization behind Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Though Mr. Rogers has passed, they carry on his message of love and acceptance. Click on SHOP, then MUSIC, and you will see “Bedtime.” And, by the way, I listed the wrong title. It is actually “When the Day Turns Into Night.” What a lovely, lovely song. I still sing it to my eighteen and nineteen-year-old children, and my son plays a beautiful version of it on guitar.

  11. birdsandbenjamin Says:

    I don’t hate it anymore. I must be more childish 😉

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