Elliot had a great idea to save JMc (although thats just not possible at this point) by having everyone give the soundtrack of their lives in 15 songs and explain the reasoning behind why each made the cut. I thought on it and I decided that 15 wasn't a very fair number considering there are SO many awesome songs that help "set the mood" if you will for some truly amazing moments of my life. So, I say I get a song for each year of my life which is now 28 and nobody can argue with me because its MY damn blog.
To me, for a song to make the soundtrack of my life...every single time I hear it, I have to remember exactly where I was, what I was doing and/or how I felt during a specific moment in time. I have to stop and take notice of it whether I'm in the car, at the grocery store or sitting in an airport coffee shop waiting on a delayed flight to FINALLY land. Thinking of songs that have helped define my life wasn't the problem with this so much as narrowing it down to the ones I was willing to share publicly. Not because I wouldn't share them with you...I'm good with intimacy...I could blow your mind with the private details of my psyche that I'm willing to expound. I just found myself wanting to keep so many of the songs and stories behind them to myself...to preserve them in the Natural History Museum of Linda and allow no one person admittance to all the exhibits. I'm stingy that way I guess.
Music has played such an important role in my life that I can't adequately express it in words...and I think that's where so much music really comes from...it truly is love in search of a word. The songs here aren't necessarily my "favorite" songs in the world; some of my all time favorite ditties don't really have stories behind them, I just love them because I do. These are 28 of the God knows how many songs in the soundtrack of my life...the songs that have shaped moments of my history and that dwell in the center of me. What are some of yours?
American Pie-Don McLean
American Pie-Don McLean
Hands down, this is my favorite song of all time. As a child of divorce, I spent a lot of my childhood in transit. I remember driving home from the St. Louis airport with my Father and waking up in the backseat from a short nap and looking up at him between the two front seats and he was singing every word in time with Don McLean while tapping the steering wheel..."Helter Skelter and the summer swelter...birds flew out from a fallout shelter, 8 miles high and falling faaaaassssssstttttt!" I set about to learn every word to that song and began a love affair with lyrics in music then and there that remains strong to this day. I still know every word to that song and will sing it on command. If I hear it while switching stations in the car, I HAVE to listen. I'm compelled to...always.
Islands In The Stream-Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
As little girls, my best friend Tab and I used to put on our Mother's bras and stuff socks into them, lock ourselves in the bathroom and sing this song into hairbrushes. In that moment, we WERE Dolly Parton and we were stars! Eventually we took our show on the road and had some of the neighborhood kids enjoy the song on her front porch. We charged a nickel. No lie. There are photos somewhere at her house. To this day, we still laugh about this and will bust out with the song when we're feeling silly. We tried to teach it to our daughters but they weren't interested. "
Endless Love-Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
This was the song played at my parent's wedding. It was the second marriage for both and I was the flower girl. I remember standing at my Mother's side and watching her and my Dad as the song played (on cassette!) and wondering if they were sad or happy because they were both crying and I couldn't tell. Their marriage has proven that this song was a perfect choice... "You're every breath I take, you're every step I make." When you know, you know and they knew that their love was endless and my life was changed for the better the moment that song played.
For Once In My Life-Stevie Wonder
On my way home from my first OB/GYN appointment, I was driving down Yale crying my eyes out because I was scared to death to have a baby and nervous about what to tell everyone who would surely be hugely disappointed in me. The doctor's words kept echoing in my head "Most single women in your position opt out." Opt out? Opt out? It wasn't like I was choosing whether or not to accept being on a mailing list for coupons. I was growing a baby and this was a make or break moment in my life! I realized I had the radio off which is a true rarity for me in the car and missing the distraction, I reached down and turned it on to drown out the sound of his voice in my head. As soon as I turned the dial, Stevie Wonder's voice slapped me into the reality of my future..."For once in my life I have someone who needs me...someone I needed so long. For once unafraid, I can go where life leads me and somehow I know I'll be strong." From that point forward I associated this song with the beauty of the gift I was given in my daughter and I still play it for her often.
My first birthday that Jim and I were together, we'd only been dating a few months. As a surprise to me, he had invited all of my friends to a club for my birthday. Margaritaville was the first song we danced to that night and I remember this little turn/shake/twist thing he did while singing "I blew out my flip-flop, stepped on a pop-top. Cut my heel had to cruise on back home" along with Jimmy just before he winked and dipped me that made my heart and stomach do the strangest things. I think it was in that moment, after the song was over and he hugged me and we kissed that I knew what it was really like to have someone adore you who isn't legally obligated to do so. It was a great night, great party and for the next few years a great relationship. My unconventional love song, if you will.
Daddy's Hands-Holly Dunn
This song has always made me think of my Dad and in 1999, my best friend's father (who was just like my own) passed away suddenly and they wanted me to sing this at his funeral. There was no way I could have made it through the song due to the grief alone so we played it instead and I still haven't been able to listen to it all the way through. I usually have to turn it when I hear Holly sing "There are things that I'd forgotten that I loved about the man but Ill always remember the love in daddy's hands." I just can't bear it...it makes me think of John and how much I miss him and how different things would have been for his family had he lived and then I have to think about my own Dads and their mortality. It's a beautiful song and maybe one day I can listen to it again.
Free Bird-Lynyrd Skynyrd
It's a classic rock staple, that's a given. It's Lynyrd Skynyrd for chrissakes...you GOTTA love it. Its un-American not to, by God! But, when my friend Donald died and they played this at his funeral, it took on a new meaning for me. He had battled
Danny's Song-Anne Murray
I can remember being very young and going with my Dad to the VFW to watch my Mom perform with a band she was in at the time. Red Dirt something. (All Oklahoma bands are called Red Dirt something or other I think.) Anyway...I remember sitting on the floor underneath the table playing with my dolls and looking up as my Mother sang "Now I see a family where there once was none, now we've just begun. Yeah, we're gonna fly to the sun" and she had the most amazing look on her face...the biggest smile...something really different in her eyes. My parents hadn't been married very long and after a really terrible divorce from my Father, we were finally a normal, happy, healthy functioning family and I think that line just meant so much to her and therefore the memory of her singing it means so much to me.
Seeing Things-The Black Crowes
This was the song I was listening to the first time I got stoned with my friend Stephanie at her friend Michael's house was this heart wrenching ditty. As the song wore on and was repeated a time or ten (you know it takes a million times before you can fully process something when you're stoned) I realized that it was a terribly sad song and that whoever wrote it had to have gone through something really difficult. "Sorry ain't nothin' to me. I'm gone and that's the way it must be. So please I've done my time...lovin' you is such a crime." That was the first time I really began to explore other people's pain...that was the point in my life when I really started to realize how many dimensions there were to love and how when youve had enough, youve had enough and no amount of begging and pleading by someone else can make you torture yourself like that again...even if you do love them. I would go on to get up close and personal lessons later in life but at that point, it was my first taste.
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue-Crystal Gayle
I LOVE ME SOME CRYSTAL GAYLE! As a little girl I would sit in front of the radio or television in a trance anytime she came on. She was so gorgeous and her hair was just amazing. I spent most of my childhood with my Grandma in
Smells Like Teen Spirit-Nirvana
The first time I heard Kurt Cobain scream out "With the Lights out it's less dangerous...here we are now entertain us. I feel stupid and contagious...here we are now entertain us." I was immediately struck with the feeling that someone else was just as pissed as I was. I was full of teen angst, trapped in a one horse town with nothing to do and not quite certain where I fit in anyone's picture including my own. This was my anthem...it was my beginners rebel yell and when I hear it today, I can still see those tattooed cheerleaders and the freaky old man with the mop in the video on the MTV in my mind where they still play good music videos and ONLY good music videos. I missed two days of school after they found Kurt dead. Yes, I was always this emotional and dramatic.
Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good-Don Williams
When I was a young child, I spent a lot of time with my Grandma on her farm. She taught me how to can fruit and vegetables, how to plant and tend a garden...about chickens and cows...the quickest and best way to kill a snake...how to make red beer and everything a girl could learn about Don Williams. We used to put Don into the 8 track (yes, I said 8 track and yes she still has it) and sing his songs as we went about our busy day on the property. As an adult, I've seen Don live 3 times and each time I choke up when he goes into "Lord, I hope this day is good. I'm feelin' empty and misunderstood. I should be thankful Lord, I know I should...but Lord, I hope this day is good." Even if you don't like country music, who can't relate to that? His voice is one thing that can always calm me even now. So incredible
These Arms Of Mine-Otis Redding
When I first brought my daughter home from the hospital, I naturally spent many late night hours awake. I tried her out on a lot of different music in those wee hours of the morning...just to gauge her reaction, just to see if she would recognize any of the tunes I had played to her while she was still in the oven. The hands down winner every single time was Otis Redding. I would take my little newborn baby in my arms and dance with her in our living room and sing "These arms of mine, they are lonely. Lonely and feeling blue. These arms of mine, they are yearning. Yearning from wanting you." It fit so well because toward the end of the pregnancy, I was so miserable in my body and so anxious that all I wanted was to hold that little life in my arms. She always loved it and she still does 6 years later. So along with "Amazing Grace" and "You Are My Sunshine", "These Arms of Mine" is a fixture in our bedtime ritual most nights.
Something In The Way She Moves-James Taylor
My Father and a very dear friend both at separate times have said this song reminds them of me. When I asked why, my friend said it was because it perfectly said the way he felt and thought of me. My Father explained that because he and I didn't get to spend a lot of time together while I was growing up, he didn't realize what he was missing out on by not having a daughter around and that when I was around he always felt so alive and so much happier. So, when I hear this song I think of two very special men in my life and how much they have loved me and I them. "She has the power to go where no one else can find me. Yes, and to silently remind me of the happiness and good times that I know, you know."
Snoopy vs. The Red Baron-The Royal Guardsman
Walk Away-Ben Harper
This is a recent addition to my soundtrack. Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to have the wisdom to know when to walk away from people that you might love, who might love you but who aren't good for you any longer. Ben's song about desperately holding onto something and then learning that in spite of it all you have to give up the fight and let it go can definitely sum up some of my experiences of the past few years. "We've tried the goodbye so many days. We walk in the same direction so that we could never stray." There is both beauty and pain in walking away and I have experienced each emotion in equal amounts.
Brown Eyed Girl-Van Morrison
My sophomore year of high school I went to
Looking back, it seems like high school was such an "every discouraging, difficult or trying event no matter how big or small is going to kill me" time of life. Drama filled and emotional to the max, this song brings back all those feelings for me. In a little school, you're friends with not only your classmates but usually those above and below you on the food chain as well. In 1995, some of my best friends in the world left me to finish out my high school career without them. It broke my little 17 year old heart. I remember all of us driving around on the back roads in silence holding back tears while this song played. "Here we are again saying goodbye. Still we'll fall asleep underneath the same sky. You're all I knew you'd become."
Heal Over-KT Tunstall
This is my newest addition to the soundtrack but one that I'm positive isn't going anywhere. KT has written the PERFECT song for me and for all my girls. I had this on repeat for two days straight several weeks ago and its so cathartic. A friend of mine came to me recently completely broken down, miserable, sad and afraid of what her future has in store for her. I bought this CD, took it to her house and played her this song. We sat on her couch and I held her in my arms while she spilled all her tears. This song is so beautiful and honest and so healing. Its just astounding. "Come over here lady; let me wipe your tears away. Come a little nearer baby. Cause you'll heal over...heal over...heal over someday."
I'm About To Come Alive-Train
This song cut me deep when I first heard it. Jim was on his way into rehab for his drinking problem and we were struggling to hold onto what was left of our relationship while juggling to pay the bills, take care of Emma, go to school and work and not fall apart. It's a great song and definitely came at a time in my life when I needed to hear it but to have the opportunity to TELL the person who wrote it what it meant to me that he shared it with the world and have him thank ME for sharing my experience with him...now that was PRICELESS. Definitely one of my all time greatest brushes with famous people for certain. "No one thought I was good enough for you except for you. Don't let them be right after all that weve been through. Somewhere over that rainbow, there's a place for me. A place with you." We didn't make it but it's such a hopeful song. I like to listen to it every now and again just to remind me how far I've come.
Nuthin' But A G Thang-Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg
This was the cut. From the minute we heard it on "The Chronic", we knew this song was really something special and we were addicted. Picture for me if you will...hell, if you CAN...a bunch of white kids wearing Rocky Mountain and Wrangler jeans with Roper boots driving muddy pick up trucks sitting on Main Street in rural Oklahoma on Friday night with their tailgates down, drinking beer with a rap album on repeat. Go ahead...I'll give ya a minute to do that. "One, two, three and to the four Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the door." Get some, bitches...you know you're groovin'!!!
These Eyes-The Guess Who
I'm not going into a big, long explanation on this one because people who I KNOW read this KNOW people and yada, yada...I just won't on this one. But, suffice it to say that if this song is played after the appropriate amount of time has elapsed post break up, under the appropriate circumstances, with the appropriate lighting and the appropriate amount of puppy dog eyes and the EVER so subtle tear drop...the words "These eyes are cryin', these eyes have seen a lot of love but they're never gonna see another one like I had with you." will ensure that something INappropriate transpires shortly thereafter.
Wishing Well-Terence Trent D'Arby
"Kissing like a bandit stealing time...underneath a sycamore tree" Ahhhh, "Wishing Well" was THE summer song at the municipal swimming pool and all you fuckers from B-town know it. This song will transport me straight back to the late 80's every time I hear it. I go right back to the wet concrete that was still so hot that you had to run to the bathroom or concession stand to get your Skittles, Twix and pop. Everything was $0.50. I'm right back to the high dive that only the really brave kids...usually the boys...would dare jump off. Right back to when the world was right and easy and fun...when work and war were foreign concepts to me.
Dreamin' My Dreams With You-Alison Krauss
My first massive break up came at a time when I was ill equipped to cope with it. Jim and I had been together for a few years at this point and things were starting to get rocky. We decided to split for awhile, for him to move out. He moved out alright...and in with his ex college sweetheart. Of course I found out and was crushed; but, I moved quickly forward and began dating someone else the same week. Yeah, I didn't let grass grow back then. "The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else" was my motto and needless to say, things went TOO quickly. Let this be a lesson to you fools who wanna fuck around post split...BAD IDEA! By the time Jim's ex had cheated on him a few months later and he was calling ready to come home, I'd just discovered I was pregnant. We were both devastated and shocked at what had happened to us in just a few months time. I blamed him and he blamed him and that's about all we could agree on for a long time. I played this song over and over again until I couldn't listen anymore. This is the first time in 5 years I've actually listened to it. "Someday I'll get over you. I'll live to see it all through. But I'll always miss dreaming my dreams with you." I think everyone has had and lost someone that they thought they'd be with forever...that they shared their dreams with...their first love. I don't miss dreaming my dreams with him anymore because I'm fortunate to have found new dreams to dream and new people to dream them with.
Ahhhhh, Van Halen. I'm talkin' Van Halen circa David Lee Roth...not Haggard Hagar era. Blech! (if my Father read this, he'd be so disappointed) I remember when I found my Dad's stash of rock albums (and I do mean albums as in vinyl) in the attic above our garage when I was about9 years old. I busted out the old record player that was up there with them, took them to my room, locked the door and got lost in 1984. It had this angel baby on the sleeve smoking a cigarette and the boys in the band on the back. Oh how I loved David Lee Roth. You remember it! No? Here...
I can distinctly recall playing "Jump" over and over and over, banging my head and playing air guitar while jumping on my bed, falling on my butt and jumping back up again. "I get up, and nothing gets me down. You got it tough? I've seen the toughest around. And I know baby just how you feel but you've got to roll with the punches to get to what's real."
It was love upon first listen for Ray and I. There's such an understated strength in his voice and music. He's so phenomenal. This song gets to me on multiple levels and while there's not any one particular story connected to it, it reminds me of a time and a place and a person from my past who was home to me for a long time. "All of this around us can fall over. I'll tell you what were gonna do...hey, you will shelter me my love and I will shelter you." Now THAT my friends is the definition of love...to protect and shelter...it can't get any deeper than that. That's grown up love and I'm grateful for having felt that and I still can when I listen to this song. I also have a pretty kick ass, albeit vague as hell, memory of Shanna, Casey, Nathan and I seeing Mr. Lamontagne in Deep Ellum too.Shanna and I sang it with Ray like we were getting paid for it...so great.
I'm a Senior in High School every single time I hear this song. I'm driving to school in the morning, around the lake, with the windows cracked so I won't completely stink of nicotine when I get to first hour. I'm young and carefree and taking myself very seriously in my 1984 PURPLE Camaro Z28. Hahahahahaha!!! "There are many things that I would like to say to you but I don't know how. Maybe you're gonna be the one that saves me "