This week’s Rolling Stone has a cover story called “The Songs That Made Me” in which artists share six or eight songs that had influence in their lives. They’re not always what you’d expect, but when the answers given were honest ones versus choices made to impress, it's a beautiful peek into what someone is like.
When Nancy of midlife mixtape invited me to join in on a “The Music That Made Me” blog hop, it took all of two seconds for me to say yes.
I mean, music? Me and music? My thought bubbles are lyrics. All day long it's “We Got the Beat” as I run around getting everyone out in the morning, and then if I happen to be driving through anxiety-inducing heavy rain it's “Climb Every Mountain!” When I try on shorts for summer, I can't stop myself from humming “Impossible! For a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage!”
But when I sat down to whip out what I thought would be ten minutes of song titles, morphed into a tortured afternoon of hair-pulling crises: The question posed is “Songs that MADE me” not “Songs I LIKE.”
That pondering right there, is worth six pages of journal writing.
Songs that made me requires me to look a long ways back. Like through a tunnel of time that has me running past Merlin and George Washington and Attila the Hun.
Growing up with three older siblings means I was around music very early, the in kind. There was a hot beat always on the car radio or on the record player going in the basement. So, even if I'm not a fan of certain types of music, they may still be a large part of my life, because of their presence.
This is what forces me to say that anything by the Beatles is part of The Music That Made Me. Especially from the Rubber Soul album.
1. “Michelle,” The BeatlesI was so young when I first heard this, but the power of feeling moved by music was something that made me ache. So beautiful, so classic, so easy to sing to. Self-soothing and cured whatever addled my poor psyche. This is an important feature, when you've always been a nervous lap dog.
2. "Ground Control to Major Tom,” David Bowie
First released in 1969, I didn't hear it until I began to, as my therapist said, “individuate myself from my family of origin.” So, it was the beginning of my teen years and while up late one night watching Don Kershner's Midnight Special, that I saw him. David Bowie. I fell in heavy crush love with all of him, and this song, with its storytelling fed me with the just what I love parts of drama, story, anguish, loss, of love, of BOWIE. Then, then, THEN, the rising of Bowie's voice after the lift off sound effects? Kill me now. I must have played that over 100 times every dang night in my room. David remains my forever crush.
3. "Paint it Black,” The Rolling Stones
I wanna see it painted, painted blackBlack as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black
4. "Bang the Gong,” TRex
5. "Radar Love,” Golden Earring
6. "The Zoo,” The Scorpions
7. “Private Idaho,” B-52s
8. “Lose Yourself,” Eminem
9. “Somewhere Down the Crazy River,” Robbie RobertsonAh, how this works: poetry and a sultry beat. The combination here started a summer that I remember as saying screw what everyone else is doing. I am not them. This song kept me company. I was the one floating down the crazy river, no destination, but I knew I'd get somewhere, someday. This is one of the sexiest, most intriguing pieces of music you'll ever hear. This is one of the best songs you'll ever hear. And that man's voice? Makes it 100 degrees out in March, "too hot to sleep." Oh, I hear you, Robbie. No way I can ever keep my hands from swirling up over my head when I pull this one out.
10. “In Your Eyes,” Peter Gabriel
11. "The Flame,” Cheap TrickI began with ballads, and I'm circling back to them. Music will always center me and calm me, and this is the boss ballad of them all. The end of the 80s were a particularly introspective time for me. Love had been had, and lost, and I felt the pressure to adult. The summer of 1988 was when I had to make a decision about someone I had been seeing for over five years. I still dream about him. Life, preservation, survival, happiness, at times means we have to do what is the best for us, even when we don't want to. Is it torture to listen to it now as I write this? Only if deep memories kill you.
*BONUS: “Feel so Different,” Sinead O'Connor
Was this fun to do? In a bittersweet way.Was it more like stirring up old ghosts? Absolutely.
It was sweet, in a twingey prickly pain sort of way, to remember who I've been.
For more “The Music That Made Me” be sure to hop over to:
The Flying Chalupa
Elleroy Was Here
Up Popped a Fox
When Did I Get Like This?
I Miss You When I Blink
My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog