My relationship with Songs From Philadelphia

Like It’s a Good Life Honey If You Don’t Grow Weary, this is an album I don’t expect many people to have heard of. My brother found it back in maybe 2008 on CD Baby or something, through some daily promotion.

It’s a release from 2000 by The John Conahan Group, an era of music that had otherwise completely escaped my notice, seeing as I was just a little gome then. I’d describe it as piano pop, sometimes inflected by east-coast jazz influences proper to the time. The harmony & overall sound reminds me of a 00’s pop/rock musical soundtrack or something, which has kind a specific flavor to it, if you know what I’m talking about.

In any case, the record was a hit among me and my siblings. Most of us ended up listening to it quite a bit at one point or another in our lives. For me, there was a period of about a year in middle school where I started Songs From Philadelphia every morning while I got up & showered & got ready for school. I would listen to the final track The Same every night before I went to bed, feeling my own feelings along to the music, without having any idea what he was actually singing about.

When you’re in middle school, you have to listen to some music with some good angst to it. This album served as my angst of choice for the period, primarily expressed through John Conahan’s voice. His vocals bring this unaffected but dramatic pathos to the whole album that really set the tone for how the instrumentals come across. While he most often uses a throaty belt, he actually shows some versatility to his voice when he moves to the gentler side in tracks like Darling and High Tide, or whatever he’s doing in Colorado.

There’s not really anything else I listen to that’s like Songs From Philadelphia, and there’s little music that I loved this much in middle school that I still look back fondly on. Maybe you’ll give it a listen, and it won’t meet you at the era of life you’re in now. But if you do listen, try to imagine yourself in the kind of time & place, real or imagined, where it might really hit you & resonate. That’s the world that spoke to me from this record back in middle school.

Have you heard Songs From Philadelphia? Do you have any albums you like with this kind of sound? Do you have any albums you loved in middle school and still enjoy? Let me know your thoughts at my Ctrl-C email: gome ​@ ​