• Claudia Guerra

soundtrack to my soul

I keep getting messages from the universe in small doses. With this week’s entry, I wanted to go on about a lighter topic because I’ve been incessantly heavy with my thoughts and words. I decided to write about music. The first song I wrote about was none other than Say It by Maggie Rogers. And that’s about where I left off with that one and went about my week. It came to me in such an overwhelming wave, where I knew I had to write about the songs that take me somewhere I’ve never been before...and Maggie is always the first one that comes to mind. She just has that ability.

After I wrote some words on the matter, I closed my computer and haven’t looked at it since. It’s now Friday night or Saturday morning, it’s all relative anyway. It’s 3:00 am and I’m reading a book titled Daisy Jones & The Six (thank you HK). The whole premise of it is the dynamic between the members of a band in the 70s — it feels like a disservice to the book to strip it down to that bare description but evidently, it’s much more complex than just that, but that’s the gist of it. It’s been all about music recently and for a while I just wanted silence. Listening to anything made me anxious. But I’m back to a point where I need music as much as I need to breathe. These little messages from the universe or certain decisions I've made have been leading me up to something; whatever that something may be, I don't know yet. I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something and I’m waiting for it, all ears.

Which is funny now upon finishing the book, that Daisy Jones says “if you’re narcissistic enough to believe that the universe conspires for and against you — which we all are, deep down — then you can convince yourself you’re getting signs about anything and everything”

But I don’t know, I think we all have a right to be a bit narcissistic in that sense. To crave guidance from external forces that are so much bigger than us. To me it is not an act of self-importance but an act of self-love, one that can be quite humbling.

Sometimes it is uplifting to feel like there are more languages than just the spoken ones, that things are communicating with you if you’re willing to listen. Yes, we can project, yes, we hear what we want. But when we are too into our own heads, it can feel like the things we tell ourselves, aren’t valid. But if it comes from something/somewhere other than ourselves, there’s meaning and truth behind it.

Anyway, here are my top five songs (in no particular order). Why they move me + why they are indescribable and incomparable. Songs that remind me that I am alive and that I feel everything oh so deeply…the soundtrack to my soul, if you will.

SAY IT BY MAGGIE ROGERS

I am notorious for playing the shit out of Maggie’s music. But I really can’t help it. Her music makes me feel so understood, held. The whole album from start to finish feels like the soundtrack of my inner monologue. Every song became an anthem for me, and I traced every lyric that Maggie sang with my mind. I can feel my heartbeat shift as soon as the intro plays. I close my eyes and her words decorate the inside of my lids: “standing in the open light within the swelter of the night I found myself starring at you.” Unlike anything I have ever heard, I want to move to the beats and percussions. As if it can be anymore ethereal, hearing the song live was transfixing. I stood across the venue from Maggie, wearing my orange leopard-print bell bottoms, my cowgirl boots and a fringed top. It was almost a full moon that night and I danced right across from her. I felt as if we were connected by a string and were mirrors of each other. It is such a surreal experience to see your favorite artists in person, there is the sense of disbelief, the desire to want to internalize e-v-e-r-y second, debating whether or not you should record for fear of not being present enough.

SONGBIRD BY FLEETWOOD MAC (Remastered + instrumental)

As I play the song again, I can feel my nose getting red. It’s my tell when I’m about to cry. I remembered the first time I listened to it. Really listened to songbird. I was sitting on my bathroom floor; emotions were weighing heavier than normal. And I was slumped on the floor leaning against the lid of my toilet, crying. In tears. It was so beautiful and so sad and so broken. I felt frail and in pieces.

There is such a rawness when hearing the instrumental, the producer saying recording take 10, it makes me feel like I was right there with Lindsey as he played the guitar, Christine on the Keys, it feels so overwhelming, so powerful, to be at the hands of music that was created for the world but feels like it was made just for me. When I listen to the Instrumental (take 10), I feel like I am right in that damn recording studio. Sitting on the floor, lavishing at the sounds, feeling the vibration of the keys, the rug under my hands, my ears are ringing and I’m okay. Nothing feels as present as music. It can transfix you and transport you from one place to the next and for me it’s always somewhere far away from where I am. I can’t even pinpoint where it takes me because it isn’t a place that exists. But what I can say is that it feels like looking through a sheer curtain after it rains, when the clouds are swarming through and the sun is on the brink of setting, where the world looks like it was on fire, a fire that is no longer roaring.

The beauty of music is that no matter the intent of the artist, it is up to the listener to determine the lyrics fate. I never really completely and wholeheartedly understood the lyrics of Songbird, I did in the sense where you think you know what love is but in reality, you don’t know shit.

I listen to it now and the words echo. The song is about loving someone, loving someone to the point that you want to make sure they are okay all the time, that everything is alright. That someone is your lover, you, both:

And I wish you all the love in the world

But most of all, I wish it for myself

I know that now.

This song was recorded in one take, in an amphitheater with 15 microphones across the space to capture every trickle of sound. Christine McVie wrote, sang and played the keys of this song. On a stage, one take, on her piano. And to me that’s beautiful.

MODERATION BY FLORENCE WELCH

Florence reminds me that I am a bad ass. I have never been someone who practices moderation, I am one extreme or the other. I’m all in, always…an all or nothing kind of deal. That definitely is a gift and a curse, but I choose to see it as a testament to my passion. I am an intense person but not an intensity that comes across immediately, an intensity that I pour into everything I do that I wholeheartedly believe in, the things I want and pursue — anyone that really knows me, knows this.

Want me to love you in moderation

Do I look moderate to you?

Sip it slowly and pay attention

There is so much strength in that opening stanza. If you can’t handle it, taken it in doses, “sip it slowly.” Who I am, is not negotiable.

Music that reminds you of how firm you stand, how much power you have within yourself, in your individuality, in your beliefs — that’s immortality.

Florence’s music empowers me, whether it’s a slow track or a fast one. This one particularly, she takes the reigns, she is strong, she is in power. She questions who the person thinks they are addressing, how they can ask her to tone down her intensity, when it’s never been an act she has practiced. The stubbornness that comes with the territory, knowing that sometimes the all or nothing attitude won’t lead to the best outcome.

Girl, you better learn (I just can't win) How to hold it in (Can't hold it in)

I continue to use the word strength and power because that is what this song is, what Florence Welch is, what I am.

I cling to every word.

There is so much freedom and courage in being a performer.

THE CHAIN BY FLEETWOOD MAC

If you’ve ever heard anything like The Chain by Fleetwood Mac…let me know because there is no such thing.

The percussion, the verses, the bass riff. Everything about that song is invigorating.

Stevie and Lindsey in unison bring a real rawness to the song, the synchronicity of their voices and the static beat of the song in the first and second verse build up to that unbelievable guitar solo. The song makes me dance and let go of it all. Of the pent-up emotions, the frustrations, all of it. Thrashing my head back and forth, moving my body to the beat. I feel so free, energized, revived — there is no feeling like it. There is so much unrestrained anger and resentment, that after being repressed for so long, it finally comes full throttle into the world. The song is a point of tension, a metaphorical plate smashing. When the guitar and bass solo come in, it's just something that grows, you can feel something growing inside you, you can feel it unleashing. The Chain isn’t a song that you can really explain, you have to listen to, and really, really feel it in your soul. Sometimes it’s not about the facts, it’s about the feeling.

This is one, if not, the only Fleetwood Mac song that all members of the band have writing credits in. In one of their live performances, I watch all of the members closely but specifically Stevie. After giving him the cold shoulder, she is starring at Lindsey as she sings: “you don’t love me now”, even without seeing it…you can feel the tension. Then everyone goes berserk: Mick on drums, John on the bass, Lindsey on the guitar, Christine on the keys, and Stevie with her tambourine. This song hits home for every member of the band, and it shows.

The demo for this track, is the skeleton of the final cut. The stripped down, unaltered version of Stevie’s love/goodbye letter to Lindsey. It hurts to hear, her begging, knowing she’s already lost. I think everyone has felt that powerless at some point in their lives.

The way this song develops almost feels like the stages of grief: filled with compartmentalization, denial, sadness and anger. As I’ve grown with this song, I have interpreted it in each and every way. It came together in such a fragmented way that feels genuine to what the song is truly about: being chained down to someone or something that is now broken.

SPACE ODDITY BY DAVID BOWIE

Anything, and I mean anything that Bowie has created has always inspired me greatly as an artist. As an immortal entity, Bowie is someone who challenged and pushed past barriers and constraints. He was so individualistic, so ahead of his time. I wish I would have dived deeper in his music a lot soone than I did. When it came to his music and who he was, I could have used him earlier on as a reminder of what it means to be yourself so unwaveringly.

Space Oddity, for me, is the high and the low. Acceptance and what a strange trip it all is. What our lives look like from a distance versus how we perceive them up close. At the end of the day, what it all comes down to. This song just feels like I’m spinning in space and he’s holding my hand and showing me the portal to another dimension. There’s something about that, that just comforts me.

Planet Earth is blue

And there’s nothing I can do

Me too Bowie, me too.

Alright…just one more, I’m having a hard time capping it at five.

SINCE I'VE BEEN LOVING YOU BY LED ZEPPELIN

Keeping it short and sweet with this one.

This song feels like a real sexual awakening. I’m not sure if it’s just Robert Plant’s sex appeal, the instruments, or just all of it. The dynamic changes from one second to the next, it starts off a bit slow, understated, sensual and just grows in intensity, hitting a point of climax and then a come down. Sounds all too familiar.


Since I've been loving you, yeah

I'm about to lose my worried mind

Watch out

There’s danger, secrecy, frustration, the pleading. Robert Plant sings about he desperation of working a strenuous job and the neglect of a lover. Also, just knowing that Jimmy Page produced this song makes it that much sweeter.

I've been, I've been working from seven to eleven every night

I said it kinda makes my life a drag, drag, drag

Lord, yeah, that ain't right


Zeppelin deserves more than this word blurb, but I’m going to leave it here anyway.