Flashback to the summer of 2001… A tall skinny white kid bounces around the glossy white vinyl flooring of his parent’s kitchen with moves that look eerily reminiscent of 90’s boy bands. Now picture him whispering “Bye, Bye, Bye” in nasily out of breath gasps…. Yup, that was me.
Needless to say, I’ve never been super “artsy.” In 1999, as a recovering basketball jock with bleach blonde tips, I wrote my first song, “Dreamgirl.” It extolled the values of Joshua Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye and made numerous girls in my senior class cry (in a good way), but that’s about as far as it got. My first year of college, I found Napster and other free mp3 sites and began downloading thousands of voiceless pop karaoke tracks in order to write Christian parodies. In other words, I stole songs for what I thought were good reasons. The funny thing about that is I justified it. Drop dead serious. I spent hours perfecting the meter and rhyme until they came out sounding like this:
“One second after you die, are you gonna be with Christ, Oh, absent from the body, present with Him, He died for you and me, Yeah, rose again in three, and I know that He’s coming back again… Don’t wanna stay in the ground, when I die, I’m leavin’ when the trumpet sounds, Baby, Bye, Bye, Bye.” (Insert tune to first verse of N’sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye)
My friends split guts when they heard me sing this stuff. At the time, I thought they were laughing because of the boy bandish choreography that ensued. Now that I’ve hopefully gained some much needed self awareness, I realize they were doubling over in their seats and sometimes literally falling on the floor because of the of the corny lyrics and William Hung style voice. Ahh, the wisdom that comes with age.
To make matters worse, my next big musical leap was “Ravisch.” That was my “Rap” name. For one whole year, I took on the back throated voice of Eminem and proceeded to rap my way across Spring Arbor University’s campus every day. Now I know why my sister Michelle was once asked in college, “How does it feel to be the sister of Rob Vischer?” My quasi-fame spread when I was given a spot to throw out rhymes in the all-campus chapel. A couple of girls walked out in the middle of my angry and infamous “abortion rap.” I stirred controversy wherever I went with my hollow beats and angry musings, and that’s the way I liked it.
I’ve had many style changes since then and within the last two years overheard some of my more “hipster” acquaintances snidely comment on my apparent lack of musical integrity by saying, “He’s done every style of music.” It’s true. I’ve done rap rock. I’ve done angry abortion rock. I’ve done acoustic love songs on an album that you’ll never hear. I brought together a rock group called Facing Away, which I successfully erased from itunes and every other form of digital media. Two years ago I recorded another album dominated by acoustic love songs called “The Best is Yet to Come.” The album is pretty good, but the name stands true. I believe my next album will easily be my best effort. So far I’ve recorded three of the new songs, and I will be releasing my new single with a music video before June 1st.
I didn’t begin writing this blog with the intent of passing down my musical history in order to discredit my own opinions, although it seems I have done just that. Instead, I would like to direct your focus to the songs that have inspired me to write well. On first listen, every one of these tunes kindled a desire in me to learn the song or try to pen another song like it, and in some cases, both. I hope you enjoy my all time favorites along with their youtube links. Caution: Please don’t watch the videos the first time through. Just listen with closed eyes, a pad of paper, and a pen. While listening, you probably won’t bust a move on your kitchen floor, but beautiful writing may occur.
Note: On almost all of these, you will have to click “Watch on Youtube.” It will link you to the song. Also, comment on which songs you liked and any suggestions you have for songs I may like.
1. Falling Slowly- Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
2. Mad World- Gary Jules (Cover of Tears for Fears)
3. Such Great Heights- Iron & Wine (Cover of Postal Service)
4. Poison & Wine- The Civil Wars
5. The Scientist- Coldplay
6. The Dog Days are Over- Florence and the Machine
7. Little Lion Man- Mumford and Sons
8. Hurt- Johnny Cash (Cover of Nine Inch Nails)
9. I Will Follow You into the Dark- Death Cab for Cutie
10. Hallelujah- Jeff Buckley