Menifee Plugged In: One Man's Favorite Songs

By Neil Kristjansson

So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my phone. The screen’s cracked, it’s slower than molasses and I use it all the time. Not really for browsing the web or chatting on Facebook, though. That’s about 25 percent of what its purpose is in my life. For the most part, it’s all about the several gigabytes of music I have stored on it.

Most of the time, as I’m driving to wherever I’m going, I’ll have it blasting into my ears so loud the car vibrates. I never realize it’s that loud, but it gets there. I get so lost in the music that I forget there’s a world around me.

Typically, I’ll play one band when I drive. I’ll just throw it on shuffle and let that one band do its thing. But lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve been less focused on that and more so on the other stuff that’s mostly been storage for me. All of it is music I like, so why would I just leave it unplayed? Badda-bing, badda-boom. It’s been playing into my ears nonstop now for days.

I wanted to share with all of you my favorite songs. Not my favorite bands, but my top five favorite songs of all time. The songs I absolutely hope to hear now that I let my phone shuffle through the entirety of its music library. The songs that are so close to me, I know them front and back like I know my own friends. Here we go:

5. Henry Purcell – Dido’s Lament (When I am laid in earth)

For me, this is almost an odd pick. I enjoy the sounds of opera, but a lot of it I don’t. When I discovered this song, something about it just clicked. I connected to it immediately. Something about the emotion behind the singer, regardless of who's playing Dido. It’s just one of those songs that strikes a chord in whoever is the voice. And it’s absolutely beautiful.

4. System of a Down – Radio/Video (2005)

System of a Down has always been one of my favorite bands. In fact, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. But this song is my absolute favorite from them. If I’m ever feeling blue, I throw this song on and I find myself smiling for four minutes straight. The vocal harmonies, the joyful and thankful lyrics, the middle-eastern inspired scales. I don’t know. It’s definitely not something everybody would be into, but I know that if I’m ever introducing System of a Down to any of my friends, I would show them this song. It epitomizes the band’s sound, it shows their talent, and it’s just a really, really good song.

3. Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1972)

A couple years ago, I heard about Nick Drake from some comment online. I tend to stay away from the '60s/early '70s era because it’s never really done anything for me. I respect it, I enjoy it, but it’s just not my thing. Maybe it was just the timing, but Nick Drake and his last album Pink Moon really, really meant something to me. It was so mournful, but also so reassuring in its own way. The whole album is beautiful, really. But this, the opening track, is what sets the tone and man, is it probably his best song.

2. Aphex Twin – Avril 14th (2001)

Aphex Twin. What an odd guy. His music is generalized by its fast, electronic beats. He’s known for being almost disturbing in both his image and his art. Way ahead of his time, and even considered a favorite by the likes of Skrillex, Aphex Twin is actually a really great musician. This track, Avril 14th, is something incredibly unique from him. It’s not just a solo piano piece. In fact, he’s not even playing it. In terms of behind the scenes, it’s special because of the work put into programming it all. At the time, that was a difficult thing to accomplish and Aphex Twin did it. But on a more personal level, this song resonates a lot. This is the song I imagine when I see myself at my future wedding. This song, to me, sounds like love in every sense of the word. Absolutely amazing and beautiful.

1. Nine Inch Nails – A Warm Place (1994)

A Warm Place. It’s my absolute favorite song of all time. This song has done so many things for me, as a person, a friend, a son, and a human being. I can’t even begin to describe the depth of this song. The context of its placement on The Downward Spiral (the album it’s from) is absolutely perfect. In the middle of chaos and dissonance is this break. A Warm Place – it’s titled so perfectly. This song, to me, is the moment of peace and solidarity when everything around you has gone to hell. But, it’s so much more than that.

It transcends just emotionality, sadness or happiness. Close your eyes, think of the world, think of the past, present and future, think of everything and everyone around you. This song is peace of mind. In sadness, it makes you sadder. In happiness, it makes you happier. I can’t find anything wrong with it. A Warm Place was there for me when I had nobody. Fittingly, it’s my warm place.

Underneath the opening sounds is a quiet message. One that’s resonated inside of me for years. I’ve constructed my morality, my mentality and my life in general around the simple message in this song. “The best thing about life is knowing you put it together.”

Just typing about these has put me on a roller coaster. Wow. I’m going to go sit back, relax, and listen to some more music. Music, man. Isn’t it great?

Neil Kristjansson's "Menifee Plugged In" column appears each week. He writes about two things of interest to most of the younger generation -- music and electronic gaming. He welcomes your comments here or though email at


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