My Brain is Mostly Song Lyrics

A Life Story in 6 Songs

January 27, 2016 | 10 comments


“Music. It’s been there with us from the beginning — sometimes in the background, sometimes centerstage. We listen. We sing. We play along. We compose. We remember. . . . Everybody has a playlist — songs you carry in your head and in your heart that remind you of sometime or someplace or someone. You hear the song; you remember. You remember; you hear the song. Like an optical illusion, two memories braided together in your soul. If you could tell your life story — chronologically, up to now — in six songs, what would they be?”

The above, written by Linton Weeks, is the start to one of my favourite NPR stories. In the beginning of 2014 they did a three part series called A Life Story In 6 Songs. The first part of the story came with a handy dandy form to fill out with the 6 songs (and motivation) that made up your own personal soundtrack. Although I love filling out forms and surveys, I didn’t actually fill it out (mostly because narrowing down the selection to only 6 songs seemed like an impossible task), but hundreds of others did. In March and April, the second and third parts of the story showcased some of the most popular songs, as well as three of the submitted “lifelists”.

Ever since, I’ve been trying to narrow down my selection to 6 songs that would make up my ‘lifelist’. It wasn’t easy, but here they are, in a semi-chronological order:

Heaven is a Place on Earth – Belinda Carlisle
This is one of the first songs I remember being completely obsessed with. I would sit for hours in front of our little red radio with a cassette tape ready to push the record button when it started playing. I was singing along to this one long before I knew enough English to understand what it was about. Every time I hear it, I have flashbacks to dancing around in our living room singing at the top of my lungs “oh baaabyyy, heaven is a plaaaaace on earth”

Burnin’ – Cue
This ballad was pretty much the theme song for me and my 3 best friends when we were about 14. We would sing “burning, burning, burning, because of youuuuuuuu”. The singer in Cue was also just the right amount of mysterious/dangerous to have us all swooning. Corny as it might sound, this song always makes me think of the girls we were then, the adventures we embarked on together, and the women we have turned into.

Out of My Hands – Jennifer Rush
I’m cheating a little bit with this one, because it is actually an entire album. Out of My Hands is the first album I remember being completely, absolutely, utterly consumed by. For me, it was this special treasure. I loved this album and played it over and over (and over again). The lyrics and melodies of every single song spoke to me in a way I had never experienced before. I spent hours just sitting in my room, playing the album on maximum volume, just soaking it all in. The cd was constantly moved between the stereo in my room and my cd-player that I always carried around. It was the soundtrack for countless long road trips. I picked a random song and played it on repeat for hours (or days). I knew every word. I listened to it when I was happy. I listened to it when I was sad. Some days, these songs were the perfect medicine for whatever silly thing I was upset about. Some days, just listening to it made me cry for no apparent reason. I guess this album was (and still is) the ultimate symbol for my life long love affair with music.

Video – India Arie
This song got me through some though times in high school. The lyrics is one long manifesto about how your individuality is what makes you perfect, and how not to compare yourself to others, especially not to unrealistic ideals imposed by the fashion industry. I think it is something that most teenagers need to hear, and that I still need to be reminded of from times to times.

Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) – Phil Collins
One of my greatest concert memories is Phil Collins performing Against All Odds at the Finally, the First Farewell Tour in Stockholm, June 2004. It wasn’t my first concert, but it was the first time I realized that hearing a song played live by amazing musicians can transcend that song and make it into something more (and make you feel something more) than listening to a studio recording. It was also the first time I considered someone not just a singer but a true artist. I spent the rest of the concert in complete awe.

Everything – Lifehouse
This is probably my all-time favourite song. It’s played more often than any other song on my ipod. My music preferences change all the time, but I never get tired of hearing this song and no matter what mood I’m in, hearing it will always remind me why I love it so much. I’ve heard it played live twice; first at the Pipeline Cafe in Honolulu in April 2008, and then at the Roundhouse in London in February 2011. Both concerts were amazing, and both times, hearing it live was magical.

These are not necessary what I consider the 6 best songs ever (with the exception of the last one, obviously), but each of them will, without fail, bring me back to a specific point in my life every single time I hear them. I guess that was the point of this exercise.

I’m curious. Which songs brings up memories from important events or periods of your life? Which 6 songs would make up the soundtrack of your life?