5 songs that changed Ebe Dancel's life
MANILA, Philippines – Before Ebe Dancel became the Ebe Dancel we know today, he was the unknown frontman of an unheard-of band called Sugarfree.
At their first gig, they played to only 10 people – 5 of whom were part of the band playing after them. The rest of the audience left after Sugarfee played their second song.
"Sabi ko (I said) I will remember this day, and someday, I will write songs and people will not walk away from it," Ebe said, as he recalled the story of that night.
Twenty years later, people are no longer walking away from Ebe's songs. In fact, quite the opposite. Sugarfree is no more – but not after releasing 5 albums and making a significant dent in OPM in the 2000s.
Ebe, now a solo artist, is now recognized as one of the most prolific songwriters of this generation. His music is played on the radio and in school dances. It's covered by budding musicians, even played on primetime as the theme song of one of the longest-running teleseryes on Filipino television.
On Tuesday, December 10, he played at the Ortigas East Light Tunnel for the first-ever outdoor Rappler Live Jam, and even if the announcement was only made a few hours before, a decent crowd turned up – much more than 10 people, who stayed through the entire set and even lined up to take photos after the show.
Many of those who watched live or the thousands of people who streamed the show online might say that any one of Ebe's songs changed their life. But what songs changed Ebe's (apart from his own)?
We ask him that question in a room inside a parking lot moments before he played on the Live Jam stage.
Here are his picks, and the reason for his picks, in no particular order:
"Ang Huling El Bimbo" by the Eraserheads
"I think that was the peak of their pop years, kung baga. And it was such a massive song, and then intro pa lang, alam mo na that's the song, alam mo na that's the band, so parang, wow, that totally blew me away."
(I think that was the peak of their pop years, in a sense. And it was such a massive song, and then just the intro, you already know that's the song, you already know that's the band, so, like, wow, that totally blew me away.)
"More than Words" by Extreme
"I grew up in the province my whole life, so madalang kang makakita ng people coming together because of the music (you rarely see people coming together because of music). Then when they released this song, everyone from the freshies to the seniors, they were singing this song constantly. Every day they were trying to learn it on the guitar."
"God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys
"For very many reasons, I think [this] is one of the most if not the most beautiful song ever written. I like the melody, I like the message, I like all the strange chords going on in there."
"Histrionics" by Popsicle
"Major inspiration 'yan ng songwriting ko (that was a major inspiration of my songwriting) when I was back with Sugarfree, because what Abstinence does, what Popsicle does, is they take really, really sad lyrics, and really, really happy melodies, and just sort of mix it all up."
"Moon River" by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer
"The last one is very special to me, it's called 'Moon River.' 'Moon River' has a million versions. The first one was Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany's. I remember growing up, we didn't really have much when I was young, so my mom would make merienda for us every day, banana cue, camote cue, whatever. And then we would sit at the table patiently, and while she was making merienda, she would always sing this song to herself. My mom's got a beautiful voice, so when I learned how to play the guitar, that's one of the songs that I labored over."
Listen to Ebe's 5 picks:
Or relive the magic of his December 10 Live Jam: