This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #26: I’ll Be There by Walk Off The Earth.
If you have been a faithful follower of these music countdown posts then you will be well aware that these posts were not so well-received by my daughters way back in the beginning. I believe their comment was something like, “This is old music for old people”. So, I challenged them to come up with their own list of, what they believed, were the Top Ten most important songs for them. Then, every 25th post, I turned the countdown over to them and we all got to see what they thought constituted a good song.
So, in keeping with tradition, this post is dedicated to my first-loved…Leah. Unlike her sister, Sophie, Leah’s ten song choices covered many genres and eras of music. She liked musicals such as Hamilton, as well as Momma Mia. She opted for two Christmas songs….”Christmas in Killarney” by The Barra MacNeils and “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” by The TransSiberian Orchestra. She did mention some newer artists/songs such as “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, as well as, Canadian up-and-comers, Walk Off The Earth, with their hit, “Gang of Rhythm” and fellow, Canuck, K’naan, with “Waving Flag. Leah rounded out her picks with “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train and the Just Dance favourite that started her picks all off, “That Power” by will i am (featuring, Justin Bieber). This leaves us with one final song from Leah’s personal Top Ten list and that song brings us back to Walk Off The Earth again, with their song, “I’ll Be There” from their album, “Here We Go!”, released in 2019. Here is the story of “I’ll Be There” by Walk Off The Earth, according to Leah.
Up until 2019, Walk Off The earth consisted of five members: singers, Gianni Nicassio and Sarah Blackwood (who are married), singer, Ryan Marshall, Drummer/Percussionist, Joel Cassady and guitarist, Mike, “Beard Guy” Taylor. The quintet out of Burlington, Ontario, had been on a career trajectory that had seen their fortunes steadily improving; in terms of record sales, video downloads/views and awards (such as “Group of the Year” at the Juno awards). The future looked golden until one day, completely out of the blue, 51 year old Mike Taylor passed away. His health had been good up until that point in time and there was no indication that anything was amiss. Naturally, when you rise together as a tight knit group, bonds are formed that make you seem as much family to each other as you are bandmates. Needless to say, the death of their friend, Mike Taylor, devastated the four remaining members of the group.
As is often the case when such a tragedy occurs within a band, a decision has to be made as to whether or not to continue. In the case of Walk Off The earth, the four remaining members decided that the best way to honour the memory of their friend was to continue on. So, in 2019, they released a new album of all-original material called, “Here We Go!”. From that album was a song called, “I’ll be There”. “I’ll Be There” is a song that celebrates some of the most important aspects of Life including, friendship, loyalty, commitment and love. It is a song that rose out of the grief that Mike Taylor’s death caused but, it does not wallow in sorrow or self-pity. Instead, the four remaining members offer up a statement that says how devoted they are to each other and how much stronger they are because of those very bonds and how, most importantly, they are going to soldier on.
I asked Leah why this song meant so much to her that she opted to chose it as her top pick overall. She replied that the message from, “I’ll Be There”….. that there are people in all of our lives that we can depend on to be there for us, no matter what…. is very important and reassuring for her as she goes through her teen years. I know that she feels this bond from within her own family. That she seeks to find this in those she considers her peer group ends up being reassuring in reverse for her mother and I, as parents. As our children grow up, we all hope that we have done enough as parents to set them on the right path in life. For us, knowing that Leah sees great value in people who possess such character traits as being loyal, dependable, trustworthy and faithful, gives us hope that she will surround herself with good friends, just as the members of Walk Off The Earth have with each other, too. As the old saying goes, “Friends are family that you get to choose for yourself.” and, from my point of view, there is nothing more important than family.
So, please enjoy Leah’s final musical selection in our countdown. It has been a pleasure for me to watch her make her ten selections and set them free, out into the world for your evaluation and judgement. I am grateful that you have all shown such kindness and generosity toward her, in reply, with your kind and supportive comments and stories. If there is anything I am learning about Leah as she grows up, it is to trust her judgement. She has a good value system and makes good choices with the books she chooses to read, the friends she opts to socialize with and, as this countdown has shown, she knows a thing or two about music, as well. Thanks for being such an integral part of this musical journey, Leah. It would not have been the same without your input and support. As I am sure you know, you are deeply loved.
So, without further delay, here is Leah’s final musical selection……”I’ll Be There” from Walk Off The Earth. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “I’ll Be There” by Walk Off The Earth, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Walk Off The Earth, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Leah MacInnes, can be found here.