Song of the Week – Bouncing Souls

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve done a song here. Time to fix that. And who better to do it with than the Bouncing Souls?

Every year I make my wife a mix for Valentine’s day, since she hates overpriced flowers and chocolate. She’d much prefer I randomly surprise her with those items throughout the year, which is something I’m trying to get better at. But back to the mix tape (ok fine, it’s an itunes playlist). Usually she plays it on and off for the rest of the year while she’s picking the kids up from school, grabbing groceries, and running other errands. The kids usually like most of the songs and sometimes a song here and there stands out. On this year’s mix, it was definitely this song. My 8 year old constantly requests it, and everyone sings along, even my 2 year old. I love hearing the words coming out of their mouths. I hope the meaning is getting through to them too. I want them to hold on to the important things in life, through all the peaks and valleys they’ll face.

With every peak and valley
With every white-knuckled fist
With everything I’ve lost and learned
I won’t let go of this grip
With every storm we weather
I would never miss
I won’t give up, I won’t let go
I’m going down with the ship


If Ever I Stray

I was racking my brain all weekend trying to come up with a post for today. But I got nothing. I headed into work this morning, thinking maybe inspiration would strike. But after working most of the day, I’m still coming up empty. Possibly because I just turned in a new revision to my agent this weekend, and my mind is catching up on some needed rest. Whatever the reason, I’m drawing a blank.

So I thought I’d turn the time over to Frank Turner for some words of inspiration:

Love is free and life is cheap
As long as I’ve got me a place to sleep
Clothes on my back and some food to eat
I can’t ask for anything more

I think this holds true for wherever you are in life. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative things and forget how much we really have. I can honestly say I couldn’t ask for anything more in my life, and I hope you can say the same. Keep smiling, keep living, and keep creating!

Song of the Week – Florence + the Machine

I was back home in Utah for the day last Saturday (more on that later). It had been a few years since I’d been there, and it was great to see my old stomping grounds. One of the best things was seeing the mountains I grew up with. As I drove down the freeway toward home, this song came on the radio. I had heard it a few times and really liked it, but something about being back where I grew up and driving to the house I’d lived in for the first 19 years of my life, made it stand out even more. I’ve been listening to it pretty much nonstop since then. I hope you like it too.

“I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart”

Song of the Week – Sick of it All

Me and Lou, Sick of it All singer. Circa 2001

Hardcore is Punk Rock’s louder, harder, more aggressive brother. Hardcore bands range from melodic, such as H2O, to pretty brutal stuff by the likes of Strife, with plenty of variations along the way. My favorite hardcore band, and one of my favorite bands is Sick of it All. They’ve been around for 25 years, helping define the New York Hardcore sound and scene, and have only gotten harder through the years. In my mind they’re the best hardcore band, period. Their shows are amazing, and I’ve been able to meet them a few times. Despite what their sound might suggest, they’re incredibly nice guys. I’ll admit their music isn’t for everyone, but you should give it a shot, even if you only listen on a day when you need some loud, fast, and for lack of a better word, hardcore music. Turn it up.

My little girl likes them too 🙂

Valentine’s Day Mix Tape

My wife isn’t big on celebrating Valentine’s Day. For one thing, she doesn’t like being told when to show someone that you love them. Also, she doesn’t want me buying expensive, marked-up flowers. So we usually don’t really get anything for each other. (As far as I know it’s not a trap) But for the past six years I’ve made her a new mix of songs that reflect how I feel about her. Now, the music I usually listen to doesn’t lend itself very well to this sort of thing, so I kind of have to look outside my normal listening range to find these songs. But it’s fun hunting around and finding new artists to listen to and enjoy. I decided to put this year’s together and share it. Hope you like it! (Be warned: The first song is pretty silly, there are bands you most likely haven’t heard of, and yes, there is a country song.) The track list is below. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Aquabats – Lovers of Loving Love
Kina Grannis – In Your Arms
Pearl Jam – Just Breathe
Lenka – Don’t Let Me Fall
Mat Kearney – New York to California
Meiko – Reasons to Love You
Brandi Carlile – The Story
Joshua Radin – They Bring Me to You
Regina Spektor – The Calculation
Randy Travis – Forever and Ever, Amen
Kina Grannis – Valentine
Mindy Smith – One Moment More
Coldplay – Till Kingdom Come

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to do a post of my favorite Christmas hymn, which is O Holy Night. There’s something amazing about that song when sung well. But with all the holiday business, I hadn’t had a chance to put it up. Then a few days ago my sister sent me an email with an mp3 attachment. It was a recording from 1948 of my grandfather singing Silent Night. I never knew my mom’s dad. He died of cancer before I was born. But from what I’ve heard, he was a great man. My sister found some old records and had gotten them converted, and this song was on one of them. It’s pretty scratchy, but it still sounds decent. Silent Night is another of my favorite hymns, so I made a quick video with a picture of my grandpa and grandma so I could share it.

Today was a fantastic Christmas. We spent a lot of time with family, the kids had fun with their presents, and overall it was a day to remember. I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and I hope this post doesn’t offend anyone. But for those who do celebrate Christmas, I hope they had a fun and memorable day. And I hope at least once during the day some thought was given to that night so long ago, when a child was born in a humble manger in Bethlehem.

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heav’nly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

Nine Years and Counting…

Today is my nine year anniversary. I met my beautiful wife in Anchorage, Alaska in the summer of 2002. We were both there for the summer driving tour buses for one of the cruise lines. We instantly hit it off, and within a few weeks we were engaged. Six months later on a rainy day (which is good luck, I’m told) in San Diego, we got married. Kind of crazy, I know. But it’s worked out amazingly well so far, and I don’t see it ever stopping. We now have four kids and we still really like each other. During that Alaskan summer, I made my soon-to-be wife a few mix tapes, (back when people actually used cassette tapes) and on one of them I put the Ben Folds song The Luckiest. It’s an incredible song, and we both kind of clicked with it. It expressed exactly how we felt (and still feel) about each other. Although I didn’t ever think I’d have one, we had found “our song”. Sorry to get all mushy, but I’m truly lucky to have her in my life. I hope you can all find someone in your lives who reflects the feeling in this song.

Now I know all the wrong turns,
The stumbles and falls
Brought me here
And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know
That I am
The luckiest

Thoughts on Halloween/Song of the Week: Misfits

When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to go trick or treating. It was that glorious time of year where gray skies and red and yellow leaves prevailed. I remember waiting for night to fall so we could run around town trying to fill our pillow cases with candy. There was an electricity in the air as the sky grew dark. We lived in a very small town. No one was worried about bad people. No one had ever heard of a trunk or treat. All around town groups of ghouls roamed the streets in search of candy.

Unfortunately, things change. I sent my kids off to school in their costumes today because that’s when the school is celebrating it. Tonight we’re going to a trunk or treat for our church. And I’m sure the kids will enjoy it. But come Monday, on Halloween, we’re going trick or treating. We’re going to run through the streets of suburbia and have fun. My kids are too young to head out on their own, but I hope in a few years they’ll want to. I want them to enjoy the holiday. I want them to have fun getting scared and being scary and filling up on (parent inspected) candy. I want my kids to remember Halloween.

PS. The Misfits are an awesome band. Check them out!

Bonus song!

I talked about AFI’s All Hallows EP last week. This cover of Halloween is another song off of it. (the last couple minutes are just creepy noises 🙂

Song of the Week: AFI

AFI singer Davey Havok and I. Circa 2000

AFI is one of my favorite bands. Through the years, they’ve evolved quite drastically. If you were to listen to one of their early songs compared to a song off their last album, you might have a hard time believing they’re the same band. Whether or not you like the changes in sound they’ve gone through, they’ve consistently written great music. I’ve been able to see them play a bunch of times and even met them. They couldn’t be nicer guys, and I’m glad they’re getting the success they deserve.

Though I like it all, my favorite music of theirs is from the middle of their discography. They came out with an EP during this period called All Hallows, and it’s perfect for this time of year. Really, a lot of their songs fit the season quite nicely, but Fall Children in particular. If you don’t know about them, check them out. They’re playing much larger venues now, but it’s still worth your time to go see them. They put on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, and like I said before, the music is incredible.

Song of the Week: Tiger Army

Cade and I with Nick13. Circa 2001

I know this is kinda late, but it’s finally October!  Fall is my favorite time of the year. As much as I love Southern California winters, I hate the lack of fall’s cool weather and changing colors. Still, I love the season, Halloween in particular. So this month I’m doing fall and Halloween themed songs. Hope you like them!

This week’s song is by an amazing band called Tiger Army. A few weeks back I highlighted Nick 13 and mentioned Tiger Army. Tiger Army is a psychobilly band, which means they combine punk and rockabilly elements (think early Johnny Cash and Elvis), as well as science fiction, horror and other underground topics. On each album Tiger Army does a more country-sounding song, and one of my all-time favorite songs is their song “In the Orchard”. While not specifically a fall song, it always reminds me of this time of year.

I’ve been able to see them play a few times, and they always put on an incredible show. One fall my friends Cade and Korey and I saw them play in Salt Lake City. Cade and Korey carved Jack-o-lanterns and we gave them to the band. They ended up putting them out on stage when they played. Super cool guys and amazing music. Tiger Army Never Die!

Bonus song!
Nick13 covers himself on his solo album. Here’s a more laid-back version:

Song(s) of the Week – R.E.M.

I was driving to work Wednesday morning, flipping through my ipod for something to listen to, and I came upon R.E.M. Now, R.E.M. and I go way back. They were one of the first bands I really identified with. The first cassette I ever bought was their seminal album Automatic for the People, and I ended up buying all their albums, first as cassettes and again as cds. So as I was driving I started with Murmur and just kind of skipped through the albums, listening to all of my favorite songs. When I got to work and got online, there was the news: R.E.M. was breaking up, or “calling it a day” as they said in their press release. No fighting, no name calling or bad tempers. Just a group of friends who’ve been making music for 31 years deciding to shut things down. I have so much respect for that, and for them. I could go on and on about how much I love this band, but instead I figured I’d just put a bunch of my favorite songs below. Thank you R.E.M. Thank you for the years and the songs and the memories.

Along with It’s the End of the World As We Know It, Losing My Religion, and Man on the Moon, here’s one most people will recognize.

Plenty more down below.

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Song of the Week – The Bouncing Souls

And now for something a bit faster.

The Bouncing Souls are one of my favorite bands of all time. They’re a punk band from New Jersey who often mix poignant lyrics with their fast and melodic sound. Over the years their music has only gotten better and better. I actually got the name for this blog from one of their songs. They have their fun with songs about playing soccer and bmx bikes, but their songs about love and life really get me.  They recently celebrated their 20th year as a band, and I’m hoping there’s plenty more to come. Enjoy!