For someone who is good at reading maps, has a keen sense of direction, and likes to stay on the move, I sure do get lost a lot in my own head. Perhaps, this is why I’ve been writing a bunch but posting less because I need a new compass and pay attention to certain signs. Music is like a neon billboard telling me, “over here, dummy!” My current pop culture addiction is the reality show The Amazing Race, where teams of two travel around the world and eventually win a million dollars. It’s all about teamwork, people skills, and the extreme sport of surviving airports. When my fellow music freak friend Nancy of Midlife Mixtape asked me to link a post of about ten “songs that made me the person I am” it was like getting an Amazing Race ticket and then I needed to pay attention to my map and partner; my writing. I’ve revealed a lot about myself over the past 5 years of this blog (My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog turns half a decade next week), through music. Each post is usually a song title and a Tube Of You video accompanies. Selecting only 10 songs was difficult. I didn’t list any songs by my favorite band, The Clash. Despite my love and admiration for female artists, there are no selections from Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, Ani DiFranco. Liz Phair or Lucinda Williams. Narrowing down only 1 Nirvana, 1 Radiohead, and 1 Verve choice was like picking my favorite daughter. So I chose ones that didn’t ask for money from me, today. This is linked to my friend Nancy’s blog. You will find some pretty kick ass, super smart, audiophiles over there. I implore you to read them all and them slink into a corner ashamed you don’t have our tastes in music. Here are the songs that made me….so far. Billy Joel – My Life and Elton John – Take Me To The Pilot. When I was very young, Billy Joel and Elton John were my classical music. I was born in 1970, so the first 10 years of my life saw the peaks of Billy and Elton’s careers. I lumped these two together because these days, they are joined at their old failing hips in concerts and general consensus thinking. The songs I picked are angry, frustrated pieces of rebellion and acknowledgement that adulthood is grabbing them. As a kid, these guys were like cool Uncles to me. Billy Joel was my first concert in 1982, and My Life was his best song of the night. https://youtu.be/h3JFEfdK_Ls https://youtu.be/Fi0xN499IXE So Far Away – Carole King. I don’t care what anyone else thinks, the Tapestry album by Carole King is one of the best records ever made. In 1971, a woman writing and producing her own tunes was about as rebellious and controversial as you could get. So Far Away is that song, I, a young kid growing up in suburban Atlanta, Georgia would play to express my alienation of my surroundings and want to leave. It’s singer-songwriter perfection. https://youtu.be/1GAaWz4X4nU Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan. Uncle Bob wrote music’s greatest composition and everyone else is playing for second. If you’re a writer and you don’t worship this tune, then you’re not a writer. Dylan made rock and roll literate, pop culture matter, and set the template for what artists should be doing with their talent. “How does it feel, to be without a home, like a complete unknown?” If you can’t relate to that, I can’t help you. It’s six minutes that changed my life the first time I heard it as a little kid and it’s six minutes that changes my life every time I listen to it, now. And all those words, those beautiful damn words. https://youtu.be/syNLBJ_Lq9E “Ever Fallen In Love With Someone (You Shouldn’t’ve Fallen In Love With)?” The first few relationships I had were unrequited. I was always “the friend”, the one the girl came to bitch about their boyfriend, the guy she treated like a brother or whatever. What punk legends The Buzzcocks did in less than 3 minutes was enter my heart and mind, take out every word I’d ever thought or written down and then chainsaw truth. The opening lines of this song are “You spurn my natural emotions, you make me feel I’m dirt, and I’m hurt and if I start a commotion I run the risk of losing you and that’s worse”. They were dropping the mic a long time before Chris Rock was taking a comedy stage. Don’t tell me punk rock can’t be brilliantly deep. https://youtu.be/51OB2YoC4sg Blank Generation – Richard Hell and the Voidoids. This should have been the rock anthem of all rock anthems but instead it’s an underrated piece of punk history and the ringtone on my phone. Richard Hell was way ahead of his time. As much as I love Kurt Cobain and the other grunge rock superstars of the early 1990s, Hell said it all first, 15 years earlier. This song got me through college and keeps me young today. I’m just now saving up money so I can do this – “I was sayin let me out of here before I was even born.” I may safety-pin my shirt together today just to keep myself on track. https://youtu.be/TP3x-VdOb44 High And Dry – Radiohead. Look, they’re my second favorite band after The Clash so every song by Radiohead made me the man I am, today. I picked High and Dry because it makes me happy and sad at the same time. I use it to remember those I’ve lost. I use it to appreciate those I have with me. Mostly, I just use it to hear my innermost thoughts conveyed by Thom Yorke’s gorgeous wail. https://youtu.be/BciOfJsqh7M One – U2. Before they started molesting my iphone, U2 did a lot of things right. I almost listed I Will Follow but One is like a religious hymn to me. It has the single greatest lyric I’ve ever heard, “Have you come here for forgiveness, have you come to raise the dead, have you come here to play Jesus, to the lepers in your head?” I’m a Christian and mentally ill. This song means a lot to me. https://youtu.be/ftjEcrrf7r0 Strange Currencies – R.E.M. Growing up in Georgia, any R.E.M. song is eligible. Currencies didn’t come along until the neighborhood band from down the road from my house had become international rock stars. But the lyrics, it’s overall feel and message, and the way R.E.M. spoke to the freak in all of us, makes this song special. “You know with love come strange currencies,” is too incredible to ever expound upon. https://youtu.be/XMazs2N1CQ0 You Know You’re Right – Nirvana. This song wasn’t released until 8 years after Kurt died. But it crystallizes all of the things that made me relate to him and love his band. I listen to it almost every day and use it in many different ways. If anything, it helped me “get over” the 1990s and my youth and grow up a little bit. It also strengthens my resolve when people tell me I’m wrong and I know otherwise. https://youtu.be/qv96yJYhk3M Lucky Man – The Verve. Bittersweet Symphony is the ultimate Verve tune and the album Urban Hymns stays in my car and in my heart every day. But Lucky Man is the song that encapsulates my adulthood and the second life I received when I got remarried expanded my family to 3 daughters. I’m not the most positive person by nature but Lucky Man keeps me grounded and the lyrics are really everything I look forward to each and every day. https://youtu.be/MH6TJU0qWoY Here’s the other great posts.
The Songs That Made Us: