Last week (or I guess the week before, I’m always behind) Rolling Stone Magazine had a cover story called “The Music That Made Me” in which musicians wrote about the songs had the biggest influence on their lives. A super cool blogger I follow named Nancy Davis Kho who writes about music and life in her blog Midlife Mixtape wrote her own list and asked other bloggers to link up and do the same.
I love music and feel happiest when I’m listening to it and when I think of the music of my life, the songs that made me, these are the ones that come to mind.
1. Crocodile Rock by Elton John
I grew up listening to Elton John and Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player was on heavy rotation at our house. (I was fascinated by the name of that album.) Oh how I loved to place the needle on the groove for “Crocodile Rock” and do the twist in my living room while singing, “I remember when rock was young. Me and Suzie had so much fun…” My mother’s name is Susan and my dad called her Suzie – and hearing your mom’s name in a song when you’re seven years old? What’s cooler than that?
2. Lyin’ Eyes by The Eagles
This is really something I probably shouldn’t admit, but as we discuss often in my writing group, if you want your writing to be good it has to be honest. Raw. And I don’t know what’s more honest or raw (or totally embarrassing) than me admitting that when I was in 7th grade I would listen to this song over and over again, acting out the lyrics and imaging myself performing it on The New Mickey Mouse Club with Todd Turquand who was a new mouseketeer and the object of my tween crush. What? You didn’t act out songs about adultery in your living room with obscure celebrities when you were eleven years old? That’s weird.
3. Rumors by Fleetwood Mac
I’m totally cheating here by choosing an album and not a song, but it’s my list and I’ll cheat if I want to. Fleetwood Mac was the first band I ever saw in concert. (I was eleven years old.) My sister is named Rhiannon. I chose “Landslide” as the song for the father-daughter dance at my wedding. The fact that neither of those songs was on this album is irrelevant, it just goes to show you how important Fleetwood Mac is to the background music of my life. This is a desert island album for sure and I won’t Sophie’s Choice one song. I refuse.
4. Vacation by The Go Go’s
I worshiped the Go Go’s when I was in high school. Belinda, Jane, Charlotte, Gina and Kathy were the coolest of the cool girls. “Vacation” came out the summer before my senior year. I like songs that tell a story. And what better story for a girl entering young adulthood than a summer romance and a broken heart?
5. Burn for You by INXS
Anyone who knows even the bare minimum about me knows that INXS is my all-time favorite band of ever. They changed my life. Literally and for the better. Michael Hutchence was the ultimate rock god and has spent more time in my fantasy life than all others combined. (Sorry Bradley.) Most casual INXS fans would probably pick “Don’t Change” or “Need You Tonight” or “Disappear,” but I’m sticking with “Burn for You” simply because it makes me feel good.
6. Slave to Love by Bryan Ferry
My friend Simmah and I backpacked through Europe during the summer of 1986. We stayed on a boatel (no that’s not a typo, that’s a hotel on a docked boat) in Amsterdam for five nights. Every morning at breakfast they played the same mix tape, but the only song I remember was “Slave to Love.” Every time I hear this melodic masterpiece I am immediately brought back to that boat and to the best summer of my life.
7. One Tree Hill by U2
I suppose I could say any song on The Joshua Tree, which might possibly be my most favorite album of all time, but I have always been particularly drawn to “One Tree Hill.” When I heard it was written about their friend Greg Carroll who was killed in a motorcycle accident in July 1986 I was haunted. When Simmah and I left for that trip to Europe, a girl that we worked with from New Zealand named Kim gave us the address and phone number of her friend Greg Carroll, a fellow New Zealander who was living in London and working as a roadie for U2. I still have his information in my scrapbook. We were in London in June and I think we tried to call, I really can’t remember, but we didn’t end up getting in touch with him. Still, the song makes me feel oddly connected to him even though we never met. Sort of in the way I felt connected to the people on Pan Am 103 that crashed in Lockerbie less than I week after I returned home from a semester in London. There were students on the plane on a similar semester abroad. One night a boy from that program flirted with me at a bar. I’ve always wondered if he was on that plane. I think my friend Harvey who went to London with me was supposed to be on that plane. Or how all of us feel connected to the people who died on 9/11. Not just because it was an attack on our country, but because we all know someone who lost someone or knows someone who was there. A brother. A cousin. A friend of a friend. “One Tree Hill” makes me feel connected to someone I almost knew but didn’t in that way. In a way that makes you feel that we’re all just hanging on by a thread that can be snipped so easily. That feeling is what makes me try to live my best life by recognizing the simple joy of ordinary moments in ordinary days. Savoring the smell of jasmine as I pass it on a run. Dancing in the kitchen to my current favorite song when I make dinner. Basking in the calmness of night turning into day as I sit at my laptop and type.
8. Thank You by Dido
Dido’s love song about how the crappiest day can be the very best day when spent with someone you love always brings me back to my very best day (which was not crappy at all). I do not seek this song out or listen to if often, but when I hear it on the radio it always makes me smile.
9. Have I Told You Lately by Van Morrison
I really didn’t start listening to Van Morrison much until I met my husband. Introducing me to Van the Man might just be the reason I agreed to marry him. Well, that and he makes me laugh every day. Still. This was the first song we danced to together at our wedding. Enough said.
10. I Don’t Want This Night To End by Luke Bryan
I know, I know. One of these things is not like the other. Two years ago my friend Trixie (you’ve all figured out I don’t use my friends’ real names right?) invited Simmah and I to join her at the Stagecoach Music Festival to celebrate Simmah’s birthday. I wasn’t a country music fan (at all) but Trixie was working for the company that put on the festival and it was a free trip to Palm Desert. (If it’s free, it’s for me!) I started listening to country music before the trip so I would be somewhat familiar and found myself singing along to this song the first time I heard it. I knew is was kind of hokey, and possibly even bad, but it was catchy. A guilty pleasure. And I loved it. (By the way, this is not the first bad song that I have loved.) It was my gateway to country music. I’ve been to Stagecoach three times now and hit the Go Country 105 button every day. I guess you could say I have this song to thank for that.
Now that you know how truly weird I am, I’d love to know what songs made you. Let me know in the comment section. And check out the songs that made other bloggers in the links below.
The Songs That Made: