My Life's Music Soundtrack

I'm borrowing this post idea from Janet, of Words That Can Only Be Your Own, who set out some great "life soundtrack" questions for herself and it inspired me to have a go. I need to start seeking out more blog prompts otherwise I will just rattle on endlessly about pretty boys on t.v. and the weather!

Music is something that like many people I fear has become slightly less intrinsic in my life than in my youth. I guess it's what happens, but it doesn't mean I don't love the new things I do find any less, there's just less of them. I'm more inclined to stick to things I love. 

But music was on my mind today anyway. I woke up this morning after having a strange dream, I was in New York and stumbled upon a musician playing a free show. My heart leapt because from a distance he looked and sounded like Paul Westerberg, but when I got closer it was just some dude I'd never heard of. But then he started playing a song I knew, and I was convinced it was a real song even when I woke up, but a Google search has returned nothing. I had the melody and the lyric in my head and everything, so maybe I am some sort of untapped musical genius?? Ha, anyway, here's a peek inside my musical closet. I went a bit nuts, sorry I'm from the mix tape generation,I have no self control.

I've linked to my song choices so click along and have a little interactive blog mix tape experience if you like!

Song (s) you listen to when you're happy? 

I'm a weirdo, sometimes I like kind of moody music even when I'm happy. 

Like Elliott Smith's Waltz No.2, it's got sadly haunting lyrics but the most absurdly cheerful waltz underneath it. It was the first song that got me into him, so it makes me happy. But most of his songs make me weep. 

Semisonic, Closing Time. I'm so 90's, but this song always makes me feel sunshiney and reminds me of college in a good way. I don't seek it out so much anymore, but if I hear it I must bop around.

The Smiths, This Charming Man. I defy anyone to hear this song and not spin around the room in happiness.

Paul Westerberg/The Replacements. Mr. W's gravelly tones and intensely personal lyrics make me happy, from the 'Mats to his solo stuff, it all has its merits imho. Runaway Wind from his first solo album is just an inspiring tune I've always loved.

Song(s) you listen to when you're sad?

The Velvet Underground, Pale Blue Eyes. You have to listen to it at least five times in a row though to get the full depth of woe.

Bob Dylan, Standing in the Doorway. This song is like 8 minutes of recent heartbreak, summed up from beginning to end: "Last night I danced with a stranger, she just reminded me you were the one. You left me standing in the doorway crying in the dark light of the sun." 

Elliott Smith, No Name #1. For anyone who has ever been in a room full of people and felt alone/out of place. "Leave alone 'cause you know you don't belong here."

Nick Drake, Which Will. This song is perfect. 

The Replacements, Unsatisfied: Young angry Westerberg is hard to beat.

Aimee Mann, The 4th of July: Aimee Mann writes so many beautiful songs like this early one. I love her gutsy stuff too, but she does heartbreak with clarity and bite and style. She deserves worldwide adoration as far as I'm concerned.

What song will you have at your wedding? 

We didn't have a wedding dance, but it would probably have been something by Paul Westerberg or Ryan Adams as we're both pretty equally fond of them. 

I love Kindness by Adams, it's just a sweetly adoring ballad, a rare moment of contentment in the Adams catalogue. "Kindness don't ask for much but an open mind, kindness can cure a broken heart, honey are you feeling kind? you believe in love?". I think it's a lovely refrain for entering into marriage. Kindness is important.

What song(s) do you dance around the house to? 

Hm, I'm always partial to disco divas and 90's (or any good) pop music.

Diana Ross, I'm Coming Out:  It's just kind of groovy and low key and makes me shimmy. 

CeCe Peniston, Finally. Tell me half the songs in the charts right now aren't blatant rip offs of this classic tune! Will forever remind me of teenage dance sessions with my b.f.f.'s Autumn and Kelly.

La Roux, Bulletproof: And now I will be listening to this all. day. long

Song(S) you play on your headphones when out and about? 

hmm I don't really do that anymore.

Song(s) you listen to when you're angry?

This isn't really my m.o., I guess I've mellowed, but in my younger years:

N.I.N. (yeah can't do the N backwards sorry Trent), Head Like A Hole. Thank god this album existed when I was a teenager. 

Aimee Mann, I Should've Known. Aimee Mann wraps up "F--- You" in a cheerfully bitter pop song. It's perfect: "I don't know what else you hear but it's not me weeping! I should've known that it was coming down to this...." Go. listen. 

Liz Phair, Divorce Song. I was 20 years old when I first heard this song. It's aged well. It's just so so sad and bitter and regretful but weirdly understated in tone: "But when you said that I wasn't worth talking to, I had to take your word on that". This whole album is a great angry album (Exile in Guyville).

Iggy Pop, I Wanna Be Your Dog. Not angry, maybe more like grrr I'm in a mood.

Song(s) you'd have at your funeral?

Ok so I had cancer, and one day I was listening to the most unlikely of tunes and immediately thought "THIS! This is what I want at my funeral!" It hit me like a ton of bricks. Best. funeral song. ever. The Smiths "How Soon is Now?"  "I am the sun and air, and nothing in particular" - too esoteric? I like it anyway, it's my funeral, my tune!

And then because I'm evil and want to make everyone cry:
Johnny Cash, Hurt. Ok I wouldn't actually play this because it makes most grown men weep, which is never pretty. It's so so beautiful and sad though, The video. God.

And then, actually I will torment everyone with my guilty pleasure musician of all time: 

John Denver, Sunshine On My Shoulders. This song makes me cry, I don't know why. It brings to mind babbling brooks in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and moments of perfect peace I've felt in nature in my life. His voice, it just gives me the wobbles. Sniff. "Sunshine almost always makes me hiiiiiigh"

Song(s) that makes you lose your shit at a party?

Party? What's a party? It used to be anything by James Brown, the Jackson Five or similarly 70's funk-tastic. 

Jackson Five, I Want You Back

Beyonce, Crazy in Love Irresistible vintage Bey. Yeah I said Bey, I'm hip like that.

New Order, Bizarre Love Triangle: Goes without saying for my generation? I can't hear it and not dance.

And the ultimate, we know it, we love it, always and forever if we were 18 years old when it charted. Dee Lite, Groove is in the Heart: Eskimo!

The last song you listened to? 

Whatever I've been linking to!

Your karaoke song?

I'm generally too shy for karaoke but once, slightly wasted on cheap drink in a Knights of Columbus type/one of those old men's pubs that serve college students cheap drink, decided that Lola by the Kinks was a faaabulesh choice for karaoke. Seriously. I'm still mortified. At least it did have a singalong bit though, I can't imagine singing a ballad at karaoke.

What song do you work out/exercise to? 

I used to just put on Kick by INXS when I was younger and cycle til it was done. Or R.E.M. Eponymous. Hundreds of times. So I can't hear "Don't Go Back to Rockville" without feeling like I should be cycling, a bit bizarre! I need a new mix to motivate me to just jump around the living room like a maniac. I never understand why the music on exercise dvd's is so bad.

Song(s) with the most memories attached?

Hard to pick a particular one. So many songs bring back various memories. I remember putting on Husker Du and The Replacements on the jukebox at a Brooklyn pub the first time my husband and I hung out and that led to long talks about mutual musical loves. 

Husker Du, She Floated Away (I don't honestly know if this is the one I played but I always preferred the Grant Hart poppier ditties even though I love Bob Mould's solo stuff.)

And weirdly I played this next one on a jukebox another night when we first met totally randomly, it's not even like I was that familiar with them. I just sort of randomly played it, not knowing the singer lives in a small Scottish town near the husband's hometown (he's not a huge fan).

The Waterboys, Whole Of The Moon. So weirdly this song now reminds me of meeting my husband, but he doesn't really like it!

Song(s) that makes you cry?

Joni Mitchell, A Case Of You, (entire Blue album...) 

So many Elliott Smith songs, but for some reason his covers really get to me sometimes. 
His cover of Big Star's Thirteen is perfect.

Katherine William's cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah . So understated compared to some of the more bombastic versions in recent years. I just think she gives it such a pure, different feel. 

Song(s) you hate the most?

Hm. I mean I don't enjoy thrash metal or raps that say mean things about women and other non fun stuff. But hate is a strong word. I don't understand a lot of the novelty acts that I see on old Top Of The Pops that were big in Britain in the 70's and 80's. I mean, we had our own tacky stuff too in America I guess but the sheer volume of complete DROSS (I'm thinking of last night's episode, which involved Dollar butchering a Beatle's song and The Nolan Sisters) amazes me. Not to mention the flat out dreadful one hit wonder speaking- not singing things by comedians and footballers and whatnot. Who was BUYING these records?!

I will say that I am not a huge fan of the ubiquitous song Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon, which seemingly everyone LOVES. It's just a stupid song with a stupid chorus. It's not deep, people. Or any of these bland rock bands (The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs) that just kind of build to a big dumb empty faux epic chorus are not really my bag. 

Oh and while I'm digging myself in I also rather dislike Mumford and Sons (Peep Show's Super Hans is my spirit animal!). What are they mumbling about? How can anyone understand them? They sound whiny and underwater and tinny and every single song sounds the bloody same. If you want good alt country listen to Gillian Welch or Emmylou Harris or The Civil Wars, not a bunch of posh boys from England wearing suspenders. Rant over!

Your favourite song(s) of all time? 

Well gosh that's hard. I've gone a bit overboard with the rest of this thing so I can hardly be expected to just pick one....

Roy Orbison, Only the Lonely. His voice is like velvet that whips you and makes you cry. I don't honestly have a favourite song by him, but I know if I want to feel all of the feelings I can put on his records. I remember the first time I noticed him was actually during his stint in The Travelling Wilbury's, anytime he sang I just thought "Who is this person that is making me want to weep?!" 

The Carpenters, Superstar. They're so underrated. This song is just devastatingly good. I also love the quivery whispery version by Sonic Youth .Thurston, you gorgeous man you. 

The Magnetic Fields, The Book Of Love . I love this band, I wish they would make more music. 

Bright Eyes: The First Day of My Life: Ok it's been in commercials so maybe people are sick of it but it's still a great song. "I think I was blind before I met you."

Ok sorry I did jabber on a bit... and as the point of these prompts I think is to be concise, I need help! Thanks for reading anyway, I enjoyed trying to think up my favourites and am sure I will have missed out many that will hit me later! I'd love to hear some of your favourites, in comment or blog form! Thank you to Janet for the post inspiration, go and read hers it's much less babbly than mine!

Random concert photo (I think it's Julian Cope at Belladrum many moons ago...I rarely get good shots at my favourite artist's concerts as am too busy jumping up and down! I like the green light.

I just liked the joyful hands in this shot.


  1. This was so fun to read - a lot of amazing tunes here! Excuse me, gotta go and listen to Sonic Youth, Bright Eyes and Elliott Smith now... (also YES to disco for dancing around the house - I'm Coming Out is my jam)

    1. Oh thank you for reading, and for the inspiration - I got a bit carried away! I'm Coming Out is so good, as is anything by Chic, etc. I love disco and I'm not ashamed! ;-)

  2. This was really interesting - someday I might use this idea if that's okay. :)