Music has always played a large role in my life. When I was growing up I took piano lessons and I was in orchestra from the time I was in 5th grade until I graduated high school, admittedly, I was not the best at performing but I loved playing with a group. It’s not just my playing of music that made an impact on me, but I grew up in a house where music was constantly playing. At every family meal, one person would select a CD to listen to while we ate. Every time we got in the car someone got to choose music and I have great memories of Sunday afternoons being filled with music from brunch to dinner. These beginnings of music exposure lead me to a very full and diverse love of music into my adult life. I am always seeking out new music with a new favorite band taking over my life every few weeks but there will always be the classics. The music that saw me through some pretty happy and pretty sad times.
In this post, I am going to share with you the soundtrack of my life. The ‘Greatest Hits’ if you will. My friend Rachel of Do What You Love did a post like this a little while ago and I thought it would be fun to look back at my own musical life. Only the most influential music of my life will be featured. In a HUGE and very difficult effort I am going to try to keep this as brief as possible (I could literally go on and on like one of those Time-Life 4 disc compilation sets), but I am going to try to restrain myself.
Let’s start when I was quite young, shall we?
1. ‘Sussudio’ Phil Collins: As I said earlier, family meals were always accompanied by music. We heard a lot from The Beatles, Moody Blues, Neil Diamond, Mannheim Steamroller, Barry Manilow (I was a total ‘Fan-i-low’) and Phil Collins especially the album ‘No Jacket Required’. The song ‘Sussudio’ is so special because I remember dancing to this with my brother, mom and dad in the living room after we ate. Mostly we just spun in circles holding hands laughing a lot. It was the best.
2. ‘Dancing Queen’ ABBA: This song! When I was very young I was convinced that this song was written about me. My mom always referred to it as ‘Abby’s song’. I was quite the little dancer and ABBA’s disco vibe always got me dancing.
3. ‘Peg’ Steely Dan: The greatest hits of Steely Dan was another album that was in heavy rotation at our house. I always think of my dad when I hear that album. ‘Peg’ was one of my favorites from the CD we had. Now, I pretty much love them all and know pretty much all of the lyrics to each song (huge fan right here).
4. ‘Cherish’ Madonna: Can’t have a childhood in the 90′s without some Madonna, right? Well one of my very best friends and I would spend lots of time listening to her Madonna cassette tape (that’s right, CASSETTE), lip syncing and dancing around. Her favorite song was ‘Cherish’ so we heard it a lot. Then we would go pop in her VHS tape of ‘Newsies’ and drink cans of Surge. That’s one heck of a 90′s filled memory, for ya!
5. ‘Waterfalls’ TLC: In 1995 I declared my first favorite song and ‘Waterfalls’ was it! The album CrazySexyCool was the very first album I purchased (with the help of my allowance). I remember being very worried that my parents would be mad at me because the word ‘sexy’ was in the title. haha!
6. ‘Für Elise‘ Beethoven: This was the song that made me want to play the piano. I was in 2nd grade when I started taking lessons and because of some chance hearing of this song I was hooked. I even played it during a recital some years later. I didn’t even know what it was called when I first heard it and because of the lack of modern internet and apps like Shazam I was kind of stuck until I (poorly) hummed it to my piano teacher and she figured out what the heck I was searching for.
7. ‘Stay’ Lisa Loeb: Typical 90′s song, right? Well if you ask me, my brother, and two older cousins and we will beg to differ. The summer it hit the radio waves it hit hard. We were all vacationing together at our cottage and in the space of one weekend we all memorized it and sang it constantly. The local radio stations were also in love with this song so we heard it a lot and drove our parents into pure insanity. I still know every word of this song, I don’t even need to music and I’m pretty sure my brother doesn’t either
8. ‘Mission Impossible‘ Theme: The link I have posted is of a string orchestra playing this song because this is how I heard it in 5th grade. That is what made me want to play a string instrument. I remember being really impressed that we could play modern music with classic instruments. I played the viola from that time until I graduated from high school.
9. ‘If It Makes You Happy’ Sheryl Crow: Sheryl Crow’s self titled album helped usher me into adolescence. I played this album in my fancy new boom box and sang every song into a broken microphone. ‘If It Makes You Happy’ was my very favorite song and I would try to belt it out just like she did. With that album and Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette I remember not really understanding half of it but knowing that one day I would.
10. ‘Three Little Birds’ Bob Marley: 9th grade english was one of my favorite classes at that time. One project we did involved finding poetry in songs. I picked a Sheryl Crow song (of course) and one of my classmates shared ‘Three Little Birds’. I thought it was one of the happiest songs I had ever heard and I couldn’t get enough of it.
11. ‘The Way I Am’ Eminem: Much like my friend Rachel, I also fell for the Marshall Mathers LP and knew every single song and lyric by heart. I even won a rather hilarious talent show because of my rapping skillz. Hilarious because IIIII won for THAT. haha! I remember being particularly fond of ‘The Way I Am’ and somehow feeling like I really understood Eminem as a person. I was THAT fan…
12. ‘Losing Grip’ Avril Lavigne: Shameful? Sure. But at the same time, not really… I was angsty and just coming off of a break-up with my high school sweetheart. I felt like Avril was singing the songs of my life in those days with the album ‘Let Go’. It still brings back good/sad memories. Anyway, it was a really great way to just scream out the hurt of the teen years.
13. ‘Say it Ain’t So’ Weezer: Two words. Art. Class. My sophomore year of high school is when I took my first art class and within that first month during independent working on projects a classmate put in the Blue album by Weezer and I remember thinking that this music was perfect and like nothing I had ever heard before. ‘Say it Ain’t So’ was (and still is) my favorite.
14. ‘Pink Moon’ Nick Drake: It started with being obsessed with those VW commercials. Then when I realized that this man had so much beautiful music to his name I was in love. It started my love for others such as Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley and Death Cab for Cutie.
15. ‘Under Pressure’ David Bowie & Queen: Finally! I got my drivers license and a car. All I needed then was some sweet music to play in my discman and tape deck adapter. I went to a used music and movie store and got some albums that I am still very close to today. One of those was of David Bowie greatest hits. I played it to death! I always played ‘Under Pressure’ at least two times in a row.
16. ‘So Damn Lucky’ Dave Matthews: This, my friends, started the obsession. The spell that I am still under and do not expect to be released from ever. At the same time I bought my beloved David Bowie CD is when I bought the Dave Matthews solo album ‘Some Devil’. Playing the song ‘So Damn Lucky’ on repeat until I thought it should break was the start of a feverish need to listen to all Dave Matthews Band albums and to see them live (which I’ve done 6 times in total). I love so many of their songs for so many powerful reasons. The feelings I would get from listening to this music is the closest I’ve came to a religious-type overpowering experience. I still get chills when I listen to some DMB songs. Maybe this music came to me at a time in my life when I really needed it and that’s why I can’t let any of it go. I mean, I was a freshman in college and pretty scattered. But, when it gets right down to it I still think the music is exceptional in all ways that music should be. I know I sound loony to most people but I don’t care. I wear this badge proudly. Great music. Great lyrics. *Gets off soap box*
17. ‘Life in a Glass House’ Radiohead: More life changing music. Also, I was in college, which is a pretty life changing time. I am pretty sure (like DMB) Radiohead and college are perfect for each other. I remember sitting in my college dorm with my roommate and we would listen to Radiohead’s music and pretty much just talk about how awesome it was. My favorite album at that time was Amnesiac, especially ‘Life in a Glass House’ I listened to it a lot when I was driving at night holding hands with a boy.
18. ‘Believe In What You Want’ Jimmy Eat World: More music that I listened to a lot at night. Specifically driving home from Grand Rapids after very long and very awesome summer nights of hanging out with friends. The album ‘Clarity’ is still my favorite from Jimmy Eat World and I would always crank the volume when ‘Believe In What You Want’ came on.
19. ‘Since U Been Gone’ Kelly Clarkson: This song has such special and silly meaning to me. Between my freshman and sophomore years of college I lived at home with my mom. My best pal, Luke and our friend Lindsey and I would hang-out like every day and drive through downtown blaring this song with the windows rolled down. We also sang it, loudly. We were nuts.
20. ‘Fidelity’ Regina Spektor: Around the time this song came out is around the time I started dating the man who is now my husband. It was perfect timing. Regina’s voice was so perfect and refreshing which was made even better by her singing about reluctantly falling in love. This song and her album ‘Begin To Hope’ was all I listened to for a while.
21. ‘Brand New Key’ Melanie Safka: My former roommates are some of the best people I know. After living with them for 3 years we all started to love a wide range of music. ‘Brand New Key’ is a song that we all pretty much fell for as well as Melanie Safka. One of my roommates and I even sang that song in karaoke.
22. ‘It Had to Be You’ Frank Sinatra: The first movie that my husband and I ever watched together was ‘When Harry Met Sally’. This was both our favorite movie well before we met. After we discovered this we thought it would be fun to watch it together (with zero expectations of a relationship, seriously). And now we’re married, didn’t seem to work very well, huh? This man and this women could not just be friends. During the end of this movie the song ‘It Had to Be You’ plays and that is the song we had our first dance to as man and wife. Cute, right?
23. ‘Gloria’ Patti Smith: When I think about graphic designing music Patti Smith is one of the first artists I think of. I listened to her album ‘Horses’ all the time during school. It gave me the perfect amount of musical motivation to keep chugging away. While I was on my internship and while I freelance she somehow always makes an appearance. ‘Gloria’ is the first song on the album and after a song like that, I’m hooked.
24. ‘Stronger’ Kanye West: The ‘Graduation’ album by Kanye West was my most listened to album during my last semester of college. I couldn’t get enough of it. Especially ‘Stronger’ because it pumped me up and it had the addition of Daft Punk of which I also listened to their album ‘Discovery’ to death.
24. ‘Dancing On My Own’ Robyn: After graduating college and struggling with the job hunt I found or RE-found Robyn. I have always been a dancin’ fool and her dance club sound was like magic to me. Perfect to dance to and sing along with. To this day, when I hear her music from her ‘Body Talk’ albums I feel free and like anything is possible.
And there you have it! So it might be a little bit longer than your traditional CD in length, but let’s just pretend that it’s one of those mp3 cds that you can put like 70 songs on and all of a sudden it looks quite modest, ok?
What’s the soundtrack to your life? If you decide to share yours, let me know!