After reading this article about Elton John’s choice of the 20 songs he’s written that’ve doubled as the soundtrack to his journey here on Earth, I thought I’d do something similar. I could choose all Elton songs (the guy has played a massive role in my life musically) but I thought I’d branch out a bit.
So, here are my “lucky 13” (20 seemed like a lot!) songs and what they mean to me. What songs have meant the most to you over the course of your life? What memories do you associate with a certain melody or lyric? Man I love music…
- All My Exes Live in Texas (George Strait)
This is the first song I remember being aware of – other than nursery rhymes. George Strait was a king of country music while I was growing up, but it was this song that resonated with me from a young age. I remember being 4 years old at the Del Mar Fair, sitting on my Dad’s shoulders, singing along at my first concert. Yep, Texas is the place I’d dearly love to be…
- The Simple Life (Elton John)
This song saved my life once. It did. And now, every time I hear it I am transported back to a time and place where desolation, fear, and overwhelming sadness gave way to hope, sunshine, laughter and a lighter, hope-filled soul. Elton John has played a big role in creating the soundtrack to my life – but it was this song, played in the right place at the right time, that saved a drowning soul. And I won’t break, and I won’t bend until someday soon we’ll sail away to innocence, and the bitter end. And I won’t break, and I won’t bend and with the last breath we ever take, we’re gonna get back to the Simple Life again…
- Young (Kenny Chesney)
This song is the song of my high school years. Teenaged, tanned, and playing sports while studying to get into college – life was about the beach, our best friends , and making plans. There was sunshine, fast cars, boys, summertime tan-lines and the we had the rest of our lives ahead of us. I can’t help but smile and sing along whenever I hear Kenny’s dulcet tones singing out the lines “We were wild, we were crazy, we were mostly…young”
- The Cowboy in Me (Tim McGraw)
This song resonated with me from the very first time I heard it. A song about wondering why it is we’re our own worst enemies. Why we push boundaries and jump over lines drawn in the sand. Why we act the way we do – even when we don’t want to. And, it’s about how important it is knowing that someone out there understands us and loves us irregardless. We’ve all got sides to us that aren’t all that pretty, and we can just blame the cowboy in us all. I don’t know why I act the way I do, like I ain’t got a single thing to lose, sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. I guess it’s just the cowboy in me…
- Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus)
This song makes me want to laugh, smile, and dance all at once. The memory I have of this song is shared with the closest person I ever had as a little sister – Stacia. On a random afternoon in Southern California we put this song on ‘repeat’ and danced our hearts out in the front room of my parents’ home. We were in our late teens and didn’t give a fig about our awesome (ahem, crazy) dance moves…we just moved. And laughed. We laughed until we cried. Then we danced some more. I always think about innocence here. And friendship. What a memory! I feel like mold, it’s prom night and I am lonely. Low and behold, she’s walking over to me…
- Little by Little (Oasis)
What an epic song by a hit-and-miss band. This song to me is London in 2002. It’s a cold winter wind. A crowded, warm pub. It’s one too many cocktails. And it’s new love. My memory of this song is grey and chilly outdoors, yet warm and surrounded indoors. The entire album that wraps around this tune makes for an amazing group of memories that I’ll hold dear and rock out to forever and ever. True perfection has to be imperfect, I know that that sounds foolish but it’s true. The day has come and now you’ll have to accept, the life inside your head I give to you…
- Tiny Dancer (Elton John)
Tiny Dancer is “my song”. It’s that one song that plays – and no matter where, when or with whom – my friends and family all think about me. I’ve had some amazing texts, phone calls, e-mails and photos sent of people dancing to this song, singing to it, quoting it…all letting me know they’re listening to Uncle Elton sing Tiny Dancer and that they’re thinking of me. I couldn’t hope for a better song to claim as my own. What a beauty this is. It was my wedding song. It is the song of my heart. Blue jean baby, LA lady, seamstress for the band. Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man. Ballerina you must’ve seen her, dancing in the sand. Now she’s in me, always with me, Tiny Dancer in my hand…
- The entire Truth About Love album (P!nk)
I tried to pick just one song from this album, but I can’t. Each song on this album makes me smile. Or cry. Or laugh. Or prance. Or dance. What a wonderful tapestry of melody and lyric. I run to this album. When everything else hurts, when I’m ready to give up – P!nk’s rippling abs and voice from the gods keeps me going. Thanks, chick.
The truth about love is it’s nasty and salty
It’s the regret in the morning, it’s the smelling of armpits
It’s wings, and songs
And trees, and birds
It’s all the poetry that you ever heard
Terror coup d’etat, life line forget-me-nots
It’s the hunt and the kill
The schemes and the plots…
- Come Pick Me Up (Ryan Adams)
Listen to this song. Really, really listen. The pain, the dark humor. The innocence and loss of it. I love the music Ryan Adams makes and have seen him perform live all across the globe. The this about THIS song that always gets me is that there’s a small tinge of hope hidden somewhere in the hurt he sings about. Stripped back and simply complex, Ryan’s chord progressions and lyrics meld together in a perfect marriage of sunny melancholy. What a songwriter! Come pick me up, take me out, f*ck me up, steal my records. Screw all my friends, behind my back, with a smile on your face, and then do it again. I wish you would…
- Born in the USA/I’m On Fire (The Boss)
The Boss. This guy can do no wrong musically. He’s been consistently churning out heart wrenching, chart topping, dance worth songs since he first started recording. But it’s ‘Born in the USA’ and ‘I’m on Fire’ that really mean something to my journey. Being an American living abroad for a decade now, it’s the first song mentioned above that makes me proud of my home every time I hear the opening chords of a Vietnam era story of war, loss, and veteran affairs. The chorus is my ringtone. It’s my anthem abroad. How can my heart not swell with pride hearing someone singing almost painfully about the love (and loss) of and for his homeland even in the shadow of a political system that failed him? The latter of the two songs above reminds me of night. Sultry, frightening, unrequited love-filled nights. This guy is everywhere – and it makes me feel like I am, too. His voice sounds like a safe haven. Booooooooooooorn in the USA! I was boooooooooooooooorn in the USA!
- The Greatest Man I Never Knew (Reba McEntire)
This song reminds of my Dad’s father, Grandpa Bobbie. Grandpa died when I was 13-years-old, and I never got to know him as anything more than someone I saw infrequently and who I loved without bounds. I remember listening to this song after Grandpa died and my Dad telling me that the song reminded him of his dad, too. Grandpa wasn’t the most demonstrative man. In post WII America, he worked long hours selling steel. He wasn’t home very often. Didn’t play outside with the kids. Wasn’t around for a lot of the little things that meant the most to his kids. Irregardless, his children – especially my Dad – idolized Grandpa. Even as an adult, Dad loved to impress his father. This song, is an homage to a great man…that not many of us got to know as well as we’d have liked. The greatest man I never knew, lived just down the hall. And everyday we said ‘hello’ but never touched at all. He was in his paper. I was in my room. How was I to know he thought I hung the moon? The greatest man I never knew, came home late every night. He never had too much to say, too much was on his mind. I never really knew him, and now it seems so sad. Everything he gave to us took all he had…
- Rhythm of My Heart (Rod Stewart)
This is my “power song”, it’s that one song that, no matter where I am when I hear it, it gets blasted on high volume. I sing. I dance. I feel every word. Every chorus. Every refrain. I’m not sure how this happened to tell you the truth – Rod Stewart in stonewashed jeans, wild hair flowing in the wind…it’s not really something I openly admit all of the time. But if I’m being honest, this song talks to my soul. All of the time. And, when it comes on while I’m running there’s no doubt the loony bin will be called! Singing, running…feeling so free! The rhythm of my heart is beating like a drum, with the words ‘I love you’ rolling off my tongue, never shall I roam for I know my place is home, where the ocean meets the sky I’ll be sailing…
- Home Again (Elton John)
This is my favorite song right now. It’s right where I am, and want to be. So far from home. From my family and the friends I grew up with. In another place with a different culture – and quite often longing to go back, even though I know it will never be the same as it was ‘way back when’. Elton and Bernie created magic with this song.
If I could go back home, if I could go back home
If I’d never left, I’d never have known
We all dream of leaving, but wind up in the end
Spending all our time trying to get back home again
So there you have it, the 13 songs that’ve played a big role in becoming the playlist to my adventures so far. I could probably list thousands of songs, of moments, of memories…but we’d be here forever recounting times gone by. Here’s to the future. To the next melody that brings our souls back to life!