Music has been a vital survival tool throughout most of my life. No matter what was going on, I could always find meaning in music. I wasn’t gifted with actual musical talent – that pretty much ended as soon as my first failed piano lesson started. However, I am so skilled at Name That Tune that I nearly drank free for a semester in college. But I digress.
My parents listened to the classics. I grew up surrounded by the sounds of Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs, Dan Fogleberg, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Journey, The Moody Blues, Billy Joel, and The Beatles. Around age ten, I remember singing along to every word of a Fleetwood Mac TV special, and my dad saying “Huh. Guess she’s been paying attention after all.”
Recently, I started thinking, what would the soundtrack of my life be?
Could I give my kids some insight as to who I was as a person, before I was just their mom? What music am I sharing with my kids now that they’ll remember forever? Could I even find a way to connect with then during the teen years? That last one is a pipe dream, people, I know this.
If I started really early, I’d have some Amy Grant and other embarrassing things I don’t believe need to be passed along, so we’ll skip that stuff. There was a country phase, and my favorite from that one was Tracy Lawrence’s “Time Marches On.” Soon, I caught on to the Seattle sound, finding camaraderie with the angsty grunge singers that played over the airwaves of 106.7 The End. I found rap music once I left catholic elementary school and moved on to Ben Franklin. There will always be a special place in my heart for DJ Jubilee and the memories it brings back. Who knew this white girl had a hint of rhythm?
Nelly’s Country Grammar came out right when I was finally given freedom to drive the city in my dad’s car senior year. To this day, I associate that CD with feeling carefree and excited for the future. Sublime’s “Doin Time” and Outkast’s “B.O.B.” brought out my fun side.
During college I found myself lost in John Mayer’s “3×5,” Sister Hazel’s “Champagne High,” and Dave Matthews Band’s “#41.” The times I struggled with depression are laced with slow music and deep lyrics, like Sarah McLachlan’s entire second album, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, and a song by the Pat McGee Band called “I Know.”
After Katrina, I was drawn to songs about New Orleans and water. Jimmy Buffett’s “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On” and Cowboy Mouth’s “The Avenue” still bring me to my knees. U2 and Green Day singing “The Saints Are Coming” gives me the same chills it did that night I saw it live in the Superdome.
I know what song was playing when I ran up to my sorority house lawn on bid day, the only song I ever danced to with my first real love, and the request I made at the piano bar of Pat O’s at my bachelorette party. I know the songs that were playing over the loudspeakers of the operating room for the births of my kids. We attended a wedding a few weeks after we found out we were pregnant with our son, and the entire venue of wedding guests danced and belted out Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” and now, whenever I hear it, I’m overcome with palpable joy.
Additionally, I’d include songs that might just have one line of connectivity in them – Taylor Swift’s “Ours” with the lyrics don’t you worry your pretty little mind/people throw rocks at things that shine…that’s a lyric like that would have been mind-blowing in my awkward phase.
If I could put all of these things on a device that won’t be obsolete by the time my kids can use it, I know it would tell them a pretty great story. I hope that after only a few track skips, they’d find something that connected with them, therefore connecting them with me. Maybe I’ll live long enough that my children will share what music they come to love, and perhaps, define their lives.