Friday, October 25, 2013

Dreaming of Paradise: 10 Songs That Take Us There

Spending the last few months in so many gorgeous settings, has gotten me thinking a lot about paradise: What is it? Where is it? How do we get there?

According to Charlene in her 1982 No. 3 hit "I've Never Been to Me" (co-written by Ron Miller and Kenneth Hirsch and first recorded by the great Randy Crawford in 1976), "it's a lie, a fantasy we create about people and places as we'd like them to be." The Oxford Dictionary's take: "an ideal or idyllic state or place." 

In the beginning, that would have been the Garden of Eden. But Adam and Eve were the only two people who ever got to enjoy the breathtaking splendor in the grass there. Since their banishment from the first paradise, it's been up to all of us to find our own -- here on earth or in the imagined afterlife. 

For Christians, it's heaven, a place I've always imagined to be another white city, where angels sing, the band plays harps, and the sweet nectar flows freely. That's not exactly my kind of social scene, but when I think of the scorching hot alternative way down below, I'd gladly spend eternity lounging on a little fluffy cloud in a tunic as the angel choir provides the soundtrack.

Frankly, though, I prefer the more secular version of paradise, which, for most, would probably involve a beach. It would be a land far, far away from home, where you can walk on the water, splash around in it, or just sit and admire it, while sipping a primary-colored cocktail. 

For me, paradise doesn't necessarily involve a beach, though an obstructed view of one never hurts. When my mind takes me to paradise, I'm usually on top of a mountain, looking out at miles of nature in the distance, at the trees, at the blue sky. My paradise is blue, green and brown, and I'm definitely admiring it solo.

Paradise inspires so many mental settings, so many moods, so many songs. When songwriters dream of paradise, it's usually an emotional rescue, a state of mind for two, a perfect place for all of the senses, especially sound. Have you ever noticed that there are no bad songs about paradise? Here are 10 that prove that point.

"Paradise" Sade

"Paradise" Coldplay

"Paradise" Freddie Jackson

"Paradise" Robbie Nevil

"Paradise (Not for Me)" Madonna

"Paradise Is Here" Cher

"Paradise by the Dashboard Light" Meat Loaf

"Two Tickets to Paradise" Eddie Money

Pastime Paradise" Stevie Wonder

"Gangsta's Paradise" Coolie featuring L.V.

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