1. Cartola – Preciso me Encontrar
The nostalgia. I first discovered this song whilst watching the epic film City of God. A few years later when I first arrived in South America to start my journey of wind-blowing-through-my-hair freedom, I came to my first hostel after an insane one-hour of backpack lugging through the muggy streets of Buenos Aires. Upon arrival I dropped my several kilograms and climbed upstairs to the hostel’s internet area to inform the family of my arrival. The breeze was blowing through the window, cooling me down. It was late afternoon, dusk, and the sun was lowering itself. The weather felt perfect; that beautiful feeling of a perfectly warm temperature mixed with a soft wind and freedom. Peaceful samba music was playing and it sounded like my liberty. I asked two Brazilian tourists (luckily) in poor Spanish (my Portuguese is non-existent) if they knew what the music was. They responded in better Spanish that it was Cartola, which I assumed was the name of the song. I found out that Cartola was the same man who performed the City of God song, and thus my obsession began. This song reminds me of that trip, and the freedom I felt, especially after I arrived in Brazil.
2. Ennio Morricone – Il Triello
I always rolled my eyes at the thought of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. A cowboy film? Booooring! I used to also be very hesitant as a girl to watch black and white films. Lucky for me I discovered Humphrey Bogart and everything changed. I then decided I wanted to see all the old greats, including TGTBATU. So I watched it and was blown away, of course. (This is now also another one of my favourite films.) One of the most brilliant parts of this film is the soundtrack. Ennio Morricone is god. (In fact, he toured Adelaide a few years ago and I missed it and I will regret it forever. He also played in Krakow a few days after I left. My parents also accidentally saw him perform, which I don’t like to talk about). I think I first heard of him via the Kill Bill soundtrack and developed an interest, but it wasn’t until I saw this film that I became obsessed, as I do with most things in life. The final scene in the movie and the song work incredibly well together. This song makes me feel heroic, and reminds me not to judge a book by its cover, which is why it has made my list.
3. Chopin – Nocturne In E Minor, Op. 72, No. 1
Of course Chopin was going to make my list. And here’s another movie story – yes, it’s from The Pianist soundtrack that I first grew to love and adore this song. It is so painfully moving, and it helped me through some hard times as an adolescent. There is some hope in this piece. It was on the soundtrack of my first solo trip, which of course was to Poland (Chopin was actually one of the main reasons I decided to go there).
4. Cat Power – Nude as the News
Angry Cat Power at her absolute finest. I was tossing up between this and Cross Bones Style, but Nude as the News wins because it is the most incredible. I like Cat Power’s story – when I was younger she resonated with me in her solitude.
5. Chopin – Nocturne No. 2 in E-flat major (Op. 9, No. 2)
Twice Chopin? Lucky guy. This song was actually in the song bank of a toy keyboard I used to own, but I never became obsessed with it until I discovered Chopin later in life. I once listened to this song half asleep, and dreamt a murder. This song reminds me of beautiful blood and makes me feel like madness. I also walked down the aisle to it.
6. Barbara Bonney – Ave Maria
Absolutely the most beautiful version of Ave Maria. I cannot remember how I came across this German version, but I’m glad I did. I wanted to walk down the aisle to this but husband said it was too typical, so instead I chose murder song mentioned above. Everybody wins.
7. Calexico – Minas de Cobre
I discovered Calexico accidentally. I was working on a local radio station and we were going through the gig guide. I saw that a band called Calexico were touring and thought I’d mention the show because the band name sounded like Mexico and I liked Mexico. I went home and downloaded a song. It was awesome. Although too young to attend the concert at the time, I developed an immense love for the band and their Latin and western-inspired music. Minas de Cobre is probably their best song, excepting the acoustic version which is even better and much more epic. It reminds me of the Spanish songs I used to love playing on the guitar when I was younger – especially my favourite, Malagueña.
8. The Animals – House of the Rising Sun
This was also on my toy keyboard, and is my absolute favourite song to sing at karaoke (much to the disgust of other patrons – “What’s this crap?” Me: “Prepare to die”) Such passion and pain in this version. “Oh mother tell your children not to do what I have done.” Yes. I approve.
9. Radiohead – I Might Be Wrong
I was always a “Nothing will beat OK Computer” kind of girl. But I was wrong. This is probably the best Radiohead song ever, which is featured on an equally awesome album. Every time I hear it I must turn the volume up.
10. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)
I have added this for sentimental value. It is a beautiful song, and I am lucky enough to say that it is “our song”. Yes, Alex and I wedding-danced to a song called The Drowned which is actually about the demise of two lovers. It was a long and enduring dance, and no one knew the song, but it was truly lovely, dancing beside the beach and hearing, “So let’s be married here today, these rushing waves to bear our witness.” Perfect.
NB: This list is subject to change, because my favourite band changes every week…
What are your 10 favourite songs of all time, and why? I need to discover some new happiness.