Ten songs

Maren Morris’ “Song for Everything” got me thinking. For years I’ve tried to put together a soundtrack of my current stage in life, but I’ve never managed to pull it off. Probably because a soundtrack is more of an overarching score. It’s not defined by a moment, a month, a week, a year.

These ten songs provided the score to key points in my life. Not that they were the only significant songs to me; there were many, many others. But these helped shape who I was, who I have come to be.

Stay the Night: Chicago. The first song I obsessively listened to the radio to hear. The first 45 I bought myself. Before I bought the 45, I sat in front of the radio with a blank tape in the deck and two fingers on Record and Play so I could tape it — a position I would proceed to spend the next several years in. (Gen Xers know what I mean.) It hasn’t aged well, this song. But I couldn’t make a list of songs that were important to me and not include it. In many ways, this song was my introduction to music.

November Rain: It seemed like Guns ‘n’ Roses’ releases were perfectly timed to coincide with fights with my high school boyfriend…which in retrospect tells me all I need to know about that doomed little relationship. (It was a good year for GnR. Not so much for us.) This one was the end-all: the breakup. It still gives me a twinge.

Silent Legacy: Melissa Etheridge. I’ve talked about my suicide attempt, but what I’ve never really talked about is how worthless I felt after the fact. Selfish, weak, whiny, and completely unlovable. I know that’s not what this song is about, but it still made me feel seen. Gave me hope that someday, things could get a little bit better. (I would really like to go back and give teenaged me a hug. Poor kid.)

Beautiful Day: U2. This song was the first thing to make me smile after my first adult-relationship breakup. I listened to it on repeat until I believed it. The first few chords bring on a tidal wave of sensory memory from the furnitureless living room of my first apartment.

Normal Life: July for Kings. I first heard this song shortly before I got married (the first time around), and it embodied everything I hoped my life was about to become. Things didn’t work out that way, obviously. This song holds the distinction of becoming equally important at another point in my timeline: Shortly after the birth of my daughter. When I moved into the house next door to my parents and realized, suddenly and completely, the driving forces behind the life trajectories of most of the people I’ve known.

And Around: Tabitha’s Secret. My first husband was a Rob Gordon type, and he hooked me up with some pre-Matchbox Twenty Rob Thomas. This song was pretty much the soundtrack of our divorce from my perspective. (Plus a boatload of Sarah Maclachlan, which I listened to while washing dishes and crying and feeling like such a movie cliché.)

Wake Up: Joe Hedges. Every so often, the song you most need to hear comes along at precisely the right moment; this is one of those. This song kicked me out of the funk I found myself in when my post-divorce relationship blew up; it made me realize it was high time to start focusing on me. I found 43 Things, set some goals, took some classes, and set upon my current path of self-improvement. (At which point I met R. Of course.)

In the Blood: Better Than Ezra. This is the song that pulsed through my veins during my early pregnancy with Anya. The thrumming drum beat felt like the little pulse tapping away inside me; the song embodied my nervous excitement at finally getting and staying pregnant. The pace suits my energetic daughter, so I still say she chose it.

Ride: Cary Brothers. As “In the Blood” was Anya’s song, this is Kai’s. And much as the former suited her, this one suits my dreamy, stormy boy. I was so cold the whole time I was pregnant with him; my blood coursing through my veins felt like a cool stream. This song is the auditory equivalent of what it felt like.

The Book of Love: Peter Gabriel. This song will forever remind me of my husband, my partner-in-everything, the man who made me a mom and a wife long after I gave up on either of those things happening. Love didn’t end up working like I thought it would, but that’s not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

I’m beginning to see the world with new eyes. Older ones. Sympathetic ones, mostly. I’m not a “Youth is wasted on the wrong people” person. I’m more a “being young is hard and it’s a wonder any of us make it out alive” person. I don’t know when I stopped being a young person myself, exactly, but clearly I have; some of the people I consider young can vote. I’m cool with being older, though. Means I came out the other side.

I can’t wait to see which songs make my next ten songs list.

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