Imagining Dragons, and I’m Not Crazy
While I do not believe in magic, I do believe in strange connections. I feel that sometimes, life has these crazy coincidences. And while I don’t think they necessarily mean anything, it’s still pretty cool.
Now you may ask, “Where does music come into this?” I will tell you. You might think I’m a loser for looking so far into this, but just let me have a few minutes of your time.
I spent last weekend in Las Vegas for the Engineers Without Borders International Conference. I had an AWESOME time. It really was such an enjoyable weekend with my friends and peers from other EWB chapters. Since I’ve been home, EVERYTHING has been about Las Vegas. Everything. I see commercials for it. I see Facebook statuses about people going to Vegas. Even the American Country Music Awards were on the other night, live from Las Vegas.
Last night I was involved in my regular procrastination habits of looking through YouTube music videos, and stumbled on a band called Imagine Dragons. I think I was originally looking at bands from SXSW (South by Southwest… which I WILL, attend someday) and found a band called Imagine Dragons. They’re not new per se, but they are up-and-coming. I listened to one of their singles, “It’s Time” and fell in love with it. The live version is great.
Well, then I did a little research about the band. Guess what? They’re from Las Vegas. Guess what? I was just there. Think that’s not weird? Keep reading.
Then one of my friends told me that The Color Run, a fun 5k race involving throwing colored powder at runners, just added Boston as one of their race locations. I’m definitely signing up. I was on their website reading some information about registration and looking at some of their past races. One of their most recent races was up, so I clicked on it and started watching it. Guess where it was! Las Vegas! Think that’s not weird? Keep reading.
In the background of the video I heard this really upbeat song, but I wasn’t sure what it was. It sounded familiar, but I really could not recall. So earlier tonight I went back onto the website to look up the video again. I wrote down some lyrics to the song. Something about “being on top of the world, HEY!” I thought that was sufficient. I knew it wasn’t the Pussycat Dolls or Dean Martin, which were some of the first search results, but I kept looking. Then I stumbled on “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons, the band from Las Vegas. Las Vegas, the location of me last week. Me, the person running….
Alright I know you get it. I guess I just over-excited myself, and it’s not that weird. But for everything happening in such a short time, that’s an interesting connection. From now on, I will connect Las Vegas, Imagine Dragons, and The Color Run to each other.
With that, take a listen to Imagine Dragons. Their music is fun, upbeat, and worth your time. They currently have an EP out now, titled “Continued Silence” with six tracks. Not to mention, their guitarist and bassist are longtime friends from Berklee College of Music, located here in beautiful Boston. Look at that, another connection.
The Guide to Playlisting
One thing that I’m never sure about is where I stand on the music spectrum. I certainly don’t consider myself strictly on the mainstream, and I tend not to listen to FM radio too often. I mostly listen to alternative and indie rock, but most of the bands are on some radio stations, and in many cases, popular with college students. There’s still a whole world of music that I don’t even delve into and certainly force myself to get familiar with. Still, I’m always open to music.
Anyway, regardless of where I am on the music spectrum, I think it’s important to know how to develop a good playlist and this can be done in several ways.
1. Season – For years, I have created playlists based on the current season. Each Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, I put together all of my favorite songs into one playlist that corresponds to the season or as I hear about them. That way, I have a current list of songs that I like. It also keeps a good history of how my music taste changes over time. Never be afraid to carry songs over to the new season, though. If you still like it, keep it until you wear it out!
2. Theme – Sometimes I get ambitious if I hear a bunch of songs with a similar theme. For the past year, I’ve wanted to create a playlist with all of the songs that mention the words “Lion”, but then I actually tried and I could only find about four that mentioned lions or had “Lions” in the name. Inspired by the Arcade Fire album “The Suburbs”, a playlist with a neighborhood or urban sprawl theme. Overall, I haven’t had much luck yet, but I’m not giving up.
3. Mood – Who doesn’t love a good playlist when you’re in a bad mood? Maybe you need some angry music to let off some steam, or you just broke up with your significant other, sometimes the tone of the music you’re listening to can make all the difference.
4. Purpose – Are you going on a road trip? Are you going for a run? Studying for an exam? Pre-gaming with your friend? Getting ready for bed? How about a hot date? Often times there might be an occasion that you want to create a playlist for. If you are going for a run, maybe you want some upbeat songs to keep pushing you the extra mile you’re reaching for. Maybe you’re getting ready for bed, so you want something calming to relax you before you shut off the lights. Again, putting songs of similar tempos and tone can add to whatever you plan on doing.
To check out some of my current playlists, look for me on Spotify! Username RyGordon601@yahoo.com
Stay tuned for some sample playlists!
Engineers Without Music
My three weeks in Honduras without music.
In December 2011, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Honduras with Northeastern’s Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Actually, I currently lead the group as Program Director, so I was pretty much in charge of the trip. But that’s not the point. The point (in case you were wondering), is that this was not a vacation. I didn’t jump on a plane to head over to a tropical location and lay on the beach for three weeks. I worked for three weeks.
Engineers Without Borders is a non-profit organization with over 300 chapters that provide services to improve the quality of life for communities in developing countries. For Northeastern’s Chapter (EWB-NEU), we currently have two current projects to build water systems to the homes of people in rural Honduras. However, as a member of the travel team, there are certain rules and responsibilities that need to be followed to have a successful and productive trip. One of these rules is to leave your iPod at home.
Now, I am not a person who only downloads music from iTunes and listens to music on an iPod. Most of the time I use GrooveShark, Pandora, Spotify, Sirius XM, or YouTube to listen to music (but that is a whole other story for another day.) Now when I say you have to leave your iPod at home, I don’t mean you can’t bring it to listen to music on the plane or in the hotel when we are in the city, but overall, it’s something we try to avoid. We do work in a much more rural and poorer area of the country, so we try not to bring too many flashy things. Also, iPods and laptops can just be a serious distraction when we have long days of hiking, doing work in the villages, or revising designs until the early hours of the morning. Our trip is just better off without them.
From my trip in Honduras, I learned a lot of things. One thing I learned is that I am so lucky to have all the resources to listen to the music that I like. Of course, there are many places around the world that have access to the same music that I do, but for the rural area we worked in, I’d be surprised if anyone we talked to knew the bands that I listen to.
These are the only times I remember hearing music in Honduras:
1. Music videos on the TV at the Burger King we ate at in San Pedro Sula
2. Music videos at a Mexican Restaurant in San Pedro Sula
3. Over a broken loudspeaker on the vegetable truck that rolled through the village during our time in the valley
Other than that, there are no instances that I can remember of hearing music. Going from listening to music everyday to not at all is difficult, but I did not realize how much I missed it until I got home. My mom picked me up from the airport, and we drove home, but my mom never drives with the radio on, so I didn’t try to have her put it on. Looking back, I’m also surprised that I didn’t listen to anything on the plane ride home, I don’t even think my plane had television screens.
Since I was gone during Christmas, my mom had me open presents when I got home. One of the things that I really wanted for Christmas was a pair of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones. Much to my surprise, I opened up my presents, and that was certainly the best one! I ran downstairs to my room and plugged them into my computer. I turned on Spotify and listening to Bombay Bicycle Club’s “Lights Out, Words Gone”, which starts out pretty slowly, so it was a good way to ease back into music. All I can say is that nothing had sounded so sweet. Not only were my ears raw to hearing music, but my experience was really enhanced because of my awesome, new headphones. All I could do was lay on my bed and enjoy the sound.
Writing this post, I feel like I’m complaining, but I certainly don’t have anything to complain about. Not listening to music is difficult, but it seriously wasn’t that difficult. I survived, and if I survived, then you can too.
My name is Ryan and Welcome to AmpersandtheRest.com. If you haven’t checked out my bio yet, check it out here. My focus on this website will be music, and will be done in a couple of ways. First, I will write reviews. Concert reviews, album reviews, any other review you can think of, I’ll do it. If there is something that you’d like to see me review, please let me know and I will try my best to do it. I’m always looking for new albums and artists, so there might be something that I just haven’t discovered.
Second, I’ll write blogs. I’m not too sure how I’m going to approach blogs yet. I might only write, or I might choose a hybrid of at least one blog or vlog (video blog, for you old schoolers) a week. I’ll be writing about anything that comes to my mind, but it will mostly end up being about a specific artist or a playlist that I’ve made. I’ll try to keep it interesting and think out of the box, just for you!
Finally, our group will come up with an ongoing calendar of concerts and events in the Boston area so that you know exactly what’s going on. This is something I’ve never done before, so bear with me. Unfortunately, we will just be sticking to Boston and New England events, but I will also probably list artists who are currently on tour.
I’m writing music because it has always been something special in my life. Even as an engineering student, I always go back to music on a daily basis for going through my daily routine, doing homework, running, or just for personal enjoyment. Usually, I find music to be to be very expressive, when I can’t find the right words (I have trouble with words sometimes, haha.)
So there it is. I’ve started. Post #1… let’s get rollin’. Enjoy!