I don’t have “three most important songs”. I could hear a song that I haven’t thought of for ages and say, “Oh, I love that song! It’s my favorite, and that’s what I was listening to when [fill in the blank] happened!”
I’m a pianist, a violinist, a singer. While I love to listen to music, it’s hard to just sit there. I want to sing, or play a part. Any piece that I am learning, that I have learned to play (although they are all works in progress), is important to me.
Fur Elise is special. I can get lost in that one, not have to think about it, and it fills my soul with beauty. So simple, and so beautiful. The notes seems to just flow come out of the piano, my mind is disconnected from the act of making the music. It simply exists, a small moment of perfection. How could that have been written? It must have always been.
“Lullaby for Gabriella” was written for my daughter, to celebrate her birth. It is a lovely piece to play. At one time, I treasured it, but where is it now? Hopefully, somewhere in my stacks of music.
Going back to my first thoughts, the evocative nature of music, maybe “American Pie”. I don’t know what that song means to me. Maybe a shared sense of loss, a nostalgia for a lost lifestyle. It all happens to us in different ways. A moment that bonds us together, often gripping us and we just sit there numbly, together, absorbing the pain. That song was written about the loss of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, but mostly about the loss of Buddy Holly.
I suppose American Pie is a fitting choice, not just for me but for all of us that grew up listening to rock and roll. It reminds us all of an important loss, one that goes deeper than the personal. It is a shared loss, a communal loss. In American Pie, we mourned the loss of Buddy Holly, who not only wrote and recorded songs that live on, such as “That’ll be the day”, but also had a deep and lasting impact on rock and roll. He’s been called “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.” He influenced the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan. That covers a lot of modern music, it was the music I grew up with, and it shaped me. How much more would he have done to drive music, if he had lived? How much greater would his impact have been, on an entire generation? That’s why, when he died, in a sense the music died.
But it never dies. There is so much music, so many different styles, evolving, “fusing”, changing, that it’s impossible to even listen to it all. Everyone who answers this question will have different choices. Some may choose the same songs, but for different reasons. Music is universal, and personal. Is there anything else that we can all relate to? Because —
Music is based on the beat of the heart, the beat of the mother’s heart as you grow inside her.
Ah, now I know at least one answer to the question. My mother’s heartbeat is the most important song in my life. It meant life, and presence.
And here is another piece, based on a song, a “chant”, almost as ancient as that of the mother’s heart: