In a recent article, NPR asked its listeners to create a chronological list of consisting of only six songs that best represent their lives thus far. Intrigued, I clicked through and quickly became engrossed in the personal soundtracks to people around the world, all the while puzzling over what my own songs would be, and later, asking friends and family to contribute to the conversation. It soon became clear to me that it was almost impossible to even begin to remember each of the songs that have impacted me throughout my life, let alone narrow down a representation of the past 29 years.
Throughout my searching I stumbled upon a similar project by The Guardian, asking readers to choose songs in six personal categories, ranging from the first music you ever purchased, to what song you’d want played at your funeral. Pondering on their categories, I found myself surprised that the songs represented weren’t necessarily all my favorite songs, or even ones that you’d think of on a regular basis, but a fascinating representation of what our musical choices say about who we are. It’s my new favorite cocktail chatter. Expanding on that original list from The Guardian, I’ve listed the nine questions below with my answers. I’d love for y’all to play along and send me your own lists, I’ll be posting some of my favorite reader and friend lists throughout the year.
What song takes you back to your childhood?
When I was about nine years old, my parents took me to my first concert for one of their favorite bands, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, at the Ozark Rodeo. Near the end of their show, the band played one of my mom’s favorite songs; It’ll Shine When It Shines. Standing in the dirt near the back of the crowd I can remember seeing a flicker of lighters, one by one fill the stadium as the crowd sang along to the words, It’ll Shine when it shines, you might think I’m wasting time, But I’m just a good old boy, who’s learned to wait. It’s the first memory I have of a moment in music giving me the goosebumps, and a feeling (a groups collective love through a piece of music,) that I’ll never forget.
What was the first song/album you ever bought?
The first actual memory I have of receiving a piece of music was when I was maybe 6 or 7 and I received the Billy Ray Cyrus Achey Breaky Heart tape for Christmas. It’s regrettable, I know. However, the first album I actually bought for myself was TLC’s CrazySexyCool. (Tell me that album wasn’t awesome as a teenager and I will call you a liar.) I was about 10 years old and CD’s had just come out, so my family only had a CD player in the living room, and as I’m listening to the album and doing homework, Red Light Special came on, causing my mom to have a minor panic attack and promptly take the CD away. (I recovered it a couple of years later when I found it stuffed in a drawer.) I still blush a little when I hear that song.
What song always gets you dancing?
I am caught hardcore car dancing nearly every day. Thank god for tinted windows or I’d really look like a fool. But the song that will ALWAYS get me moving? Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it Up. That’s my jam.
What song is your perfect love song?
This was by far the hardest pick for me, only for the fact that I have a LIBRARY of my favorite love songs catalogued on Spotify and my hard drive prepped for that perfect romantic moment. I was super close to choosing something beautiful and dreamy, but realizing that the question is asking what YOUR perfect love song is, I had to go with something perfectly me. Upbeat, deliriously happy, and all about loving the shit out of someone. You Are the Best Thing by Ray Lamontange fits me to a T.
What song always makes you cry?
Get me in a room with most artists and I will straight up weep. Live music gets me so hard. Get me in a room with Sam Beam when he plays Trapeze Singer and I will sob uncontrollably. It’s easily the most beautiful song in the world.
What album changed the way you look at music?
I never understood Jazz music growing up. I tend to like things that follow the rules, that have a beginning, middle, and end, and jazz just didn’t do that. A couple of years ago, a friend bought me a copy of Miles Davis’Kind of Blue. It sat among my records unopened for months, until one rainy Saturday morning, I unsheathed the record, dropped the needle and grabbed a mop to start my cleaning routine. Half an hour later the record signaled time to flip and I hadn’t budged from the floor next to the record player. It’s now one of my favorite ways to unwind. Everyone should own that album.
What song would you want at your funeral?
Is it creepy that I’ve thought a lot about this, and have a lot of opinions of what will happen at my funeral? It’s probably the control freak in me that even in death I want to make sure that my party isn’t lame. I’ve always wanted to ensure that THAT specific event wasn’t a sad and somber affair, (because it’s rare that I am sad and somber,) but instead a celebration of my life, and really, what better song to celebrate with than Snoop Dogg’s Beautiful, Favorite Girl?
What is one song that makes you, you?
Growing up, I'd always imagined myself being a world traveler, moving from city to city and living a cosmopolitan life. After living in Boston for three years, I really struggled with leaving the city and wanting to move closer to my family. After settling back in Springfield, it soon became so apparent how easily I fell back into the rhythm of life here, and really find myself loving it more and more every day. Hurray For The Riff Raff's is all about finding you place and being comfortable with your life as it is, a theme that's really spoken to me over the past year.