What is the Music of Your Life?

by Kelly on April 28, 2008 · 24 comments

in Film. TV. Books. Music,Life. People. News

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This past week was a lousy one for me. I’ve had severe PMS, which took a fiercer than normal hold this month, probably because I’m currently one big ball of frustration.

Lucky for me, one of my blogging friends, Charlie Gilkey, wrote a fantastic piece this week on 21 Ways to Quickly Short-Circuit A Funk and it reminded me of all the actions I should be taking (or NOT taking – as in canceling my blog, which I wanted to do all weekend) to get through what my rational mind knows is a temporary slump.

One of the items on Charlie’s list, and one of my great loves is music. I do not play an instrument, but I was raised in a musical household and music is one of the few ways I can circumvent a complete emotional meltdown. In fact, it is probably quite telling that in the real low points of my adult life, when I could barely drag myself out of bed, I had stopped listening to music.

To me, music is as essential as the air I breathe and the food I eat. Music adds a warm glow to life. It heightens the passion, cushions the falls, and adds meaning to the events and relationships that have defined my 36 years.

Here is my life in music:

Childhood

Let It Be, The Beatles, 1970

Both my parents are passionate about music, and my dad, his guitar and our musician friends were an intrinsic element of my early childhood. The Beatles were always on our record player, but Let it Be sticks in my mind because we once lived in an old house in New Zealand which came with an ancient, lumbering organ. I decided that I may not be able to stick with guitar lessons, but goddamn it I was going to master one instrument. This was the one and only song I learned to play.

Mama Mia, Abba, 1976

When I was little I always fancied I could grow up and be Agnetha with her beautiful straight blond hair and groovy fashions. Considering I was a freckled faced brunette with wavy curls this was always unlikely.

Woman in Love, Barbara Streisand and Barry Gibb, 1980

My mum loved this album when it came out and I remember this song being played A LOT. I’m not sure if she was a fan of Barbara or Barry and his tight jeans.

We Are the Champions, Queen, 1977

Freddie was a God in our house and I still bow to his genius today, as does my little sister who was born probably around the time he died. Goes to show that brilliance will always live on.

I Was Made for Loving You, Kiss, 1979

The very start of my music obsession. I used to dance my butt off to this song and was lucky enough to go to the Wellington concert with my parents. There are definite perks to being a kid in a musical family.

My First Song Obsession

Counting the Beat, The Swingers, 1981

Outside of Australia and New Zealand I’m not sure if anyone knows this song, but it was HUGE down under and I taped it from the radio and used to play the tape over and over again. I couldn’t get enough of it, and it still gets a lot of airplay on my iPod now.

Goodbye Happy Families

Come on Eileen, Dexys Midnight Runners, 1982

This song was out when my parents were getting divorced and I was leaving town with no idea where I would live next.The enormity of it all was too much to cope with so I retreated into the world created by this song where the guy will do anything to keep his girl. The song played at the end of year school fete and all I remember is hugging my best friend and wishing I could stop time. It was like I already sensed my carefree childhood was over.

Changing from Girl into Woman

Pleasure and Pain, The Divinyls, 1985

The Divinyls were one of the absolute best Australian bands in the 80s. Chrissy Amphlett was everything I aspired to be: powerful and in-your-face, a true rock chick and sexy as hell. She became my proof that a normal Australian woman could become more than someone’s wife and mother. That there were other options, women who went out there and grabbed life by the throat and defied all expectations. That’s what I wanted to do, and I thought she was bold and beautiful and fabulous. I still do.

Memorable Teenage Crush

With or Without You, U2, 1987

T was a gorgeous, shaggy haired Surfing God and he had both myself and my best friend head over heels. He went to camp for a week and we pined over this song. We were both good friends with him and part of his beach/surfing posse, but other than that, I’m not sure he even noticed we were female.

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Hitting the Clubs

Male Stripper, Man 2 Man, 1987

Such a tacky song, but so much fun, and my girlfriends and I used to have a ball vamping it up on the dance floor when it came on.

I Want Your Love, Transvision Vamp,1988

Another sassy blond I wanted to be. Wendy James was the girl’s pink marshmallow version of Debbie Harry. Punky, but softer around the edges. Not that I don’t love Ms Harry – she is the original Punk/Pop Priestess after all.

Express Yourself, Madonna, 1989

Madonna was my first icon and she taught me all I needed to know about Girl-Power. She may have had some errors of judgment (SEX book anyone – ick!), but she showed a whole generation of girls that we didn’t have to sit on the sidelines waiting for Prince Charming to come along and marry us. The lyrics to this song should be mandatory study for every teenage girl. It’s a shame the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton copy Madonna’s blatant sexuality without actually taking on the empowerment and self respect that has always gone with it.

Push It, Salt N Pepa, 1987

Another couple of in-your-face girls with a rockin’ song. This track still gets me up and shaking my booty at a party.

Teenage Rebellion

Sweet Child of Mine, Guns N Roses, 1987

This is probably still my favorite song of all time. Nothing else makes me stop whatever I’m doing like this track, and when I listen to it I am 17 again. I also used to love the way Axel Rose moved, which probably led to me falling for my first serious boyfriend because he danced the exact same way. Sex on legs.

Falling in Love for the First Time

Patience, by Guns N Roses, 1989

Like I said, my first love, J was also a Gunners fan and this song encapsulates this period of my life. Love, sex, panel vans and dying to grow up and be free.

Teardrops on the Dance floor, Womack and Womack, 1988

The most played song in the night clubs when I started going on a regular basis, and I still think it’s a cool track. I was under age, but I could always slide myself into some stockings, put on a teeny tiny skirt and sky high heels and take on the world. Big 80s hair and a tiny skirt. I think that’s what J fell in love with.

University Years

Groove is in the Heart, Dee Lite, 1990

In Australia, dance music was just starting to become popular in 1990 and this song was the biggest hit of that era. My girls and I would throw our handbags into a pile in the middle of the floor and dance in a circle around it. Everybody else just get out of the way. You couldn’t do this now because clubs are never big enough for the crowds, but back then and in Newcastle where I went to university, Leroy’s was one of the first multi-leveled night clubs and we’d dance on one floor then go downstairs and drink Illusion cocktails by the jug until we ran out of money or were too drunk to dance.

Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana, 1991

No one screams like Kurt. This is actually not my favorite Nirvana song, but it was the one that got me excited about the band and made me grunge obsessed.

Vogue, Madonna, 1990

Blue Sky Mine, Midnight Oil, 1990

Australia’s own “Rocker with A Conscience” was Peter Garrett and his band, Midnight Oil. These guys are an Australian institution. Talented. Fierce. Passionate. Political. My dad was a huge fan, so I was raised on the Oils and their unique combination of music and social activism. Peter is a politician these days and like many fans I find myself hoping he doesn’t destroy the faith and respect he garnered over the two decades of his musical career.

Death and Loss

Nothing Else Matters, Metallica, 1991

I loved this band in my rebellious teen years, as did my brother and stepbrother, D. When we lost D, the boys all wore Metallica t-shirts to his funeral in honor of a beautiful boy who died before he could become a man. After 16 years, I still can’t listen to this song without crying.

First Heartbreak

Too Many Fish in the Sea, The Marvelettes, 1964

“Don’t waste your time on a fella who doesn’t love you”. Or in my version: “Don’t waste your time on a fella who HITS you”. Need I say more. The perfect song to help you see sense after a messy break-up.

Life is a Highway, Tom Cochrane, 1991

This song and the road tripping video clip reminded me that there was a whole world out there to get excited about. I may have been single but that meant I was FREE!

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First Full-Time Job / Flat mates / Being a Grown-up

Mr Jones, Counting Crows, 1993

This song has only good memories for me. New friends. New home. A proper paycheck. Endless possibility.

Miss World, Hole, 1994

Another ballsy rock chick. A penchant for drugs that I unfortunately shared. I guess it’s obvious why I used to like Courtney Love.

Heart Shaped Box, Nirvana, 1993

I was devastated at the death of Kurt Cobain and I must have played this song and the entire In Utero album 10 times a day, every day for a year.

A Small Victory, Faith No More, 1992

Mike Patton has such a distinctive voice and Faith No More were one of my favorite bands back then. I also like this clip because Patton is too sexy for words and my flatmate and I used to replay it over and over again so we could swoon.

Zombie, The Cranberries, 1994

A huge hit and an epic song that squeezes your heart and makes you feel the dread and anguish that life must have been like in Northern Ireland before the truce. One of my all-time favorites tracks. Make sure you check out the video clip, it’s amazing.

Meeting and Falling in Love with My Husband

Glycerine, Bush, 1996

It’s probably not surprising that I grew up to marry a musician and composer. I met my husband, Music Man, when I moved into his share house in Balmain, a harbourside suburb of Sydney. This area was traditionally inhabited by dockers, other tradesmen and their families and like all good working class suburbs it had a pub on every corner. My local (pub) had a few musicians and wannabe musicians and they all loved this song, so we couldn’t get it off the juke box.

Fire, Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1967

I’ve always liked Hendrix, but Music Man LOVES him and plays this song and many others on piano. My husband was the first and only person I have ever heard play a rock song with heavy bass on a grand piano. He rocks out and it sounds awesome. How could I not marry him?

Riders on the Storm, The Doors, 1971

The Doors are another of Music Man’s big musical influences. This song is hauntingly beautiful when he plays it, and I love to kick back and listen to it with my eyes closed.

My Wedding Song

Girl from Ipanema, Astrud Gilberto, 1963

Music Man has eclectic taste in music and he introduced this song to me. We chose it for our wedding because we wanted something different and it was the one song we would always slow dance to.

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Travelling

Rockafella Skank, Fat Boy Slim, 1998

When I went to Europe in 1998, I could not escape this song and so I was introduced to the music of Fatboy Slim. When I hear this on the radio it makes me think of Beer Halls in Munich, getting stoned in Amsterdam and way too many bus rides.

Without You, Eminem, 2002

I liked this song when it first came out, but now it makes me want to scream. Even so, it was very popular with the young, posturing males in Mexico who liked to drive around playing it full blast with the windows rolled down. So despite how annoying I find it, it does make me smile and remember a really great time in my life – my first solo trip to Latin America.

Chop Suey, System of a Down, 2001

A favorite on my iPod, and a friend on many long and lonely bus rides through foreign lands.

Mr Bobby, Manu Chao, 2002

Manu Chao seemed to be THE ONLY choice in music for backpacking bums in Guatemala and Mexico. It played in every hostel, in beach huts on the lower Pacific Coast of Mexico and was the track that I downed a double shot of rum to right after I got held up at gun point in Antigua, Guatemala.

Motherhood

This is the music I used to cope with the challenges of being a new mother, while I wondered what I had got myself into and despaired of the world my son would grow up in.

American Idiot, Green Day, 2004

Amazing album. Great song for venting your rage and frustration.

Times They Are A Changing, Bob Dylan, 1964

Bob Dylan was another artist from my childhood, but I really grew to love his music when I discovered my baby son stopped crying whenever I put it on. I bought a cd of his greatest hits and kept it in my baby’s bag with the other essentials, like wipes and nappies (diapers).

The Pusher, Blind Melon, 1996

This is a cover on Nico, a little known album from Blind Melon, an under-rated band. This song is one of my favorite songs for driving and it was played a lot in my first year of motherhood as I drove to soothe my nerves and put my son to sleep.

The Best of You, Foo Fighters, 2005

I love Dave Grohl and I couldn’t do a music list without the Foo Fighters on it. Great song.

Current Favorites

Well Thought Out Twinkles, Silversun Pickups, 2007

I discovered these guys through my husband at the end of last year and this is the track I am currently wearing out on my iPod, though their other songs are great too.

This has been my music. My life. But I know I’m not the only person who can chart their life with the magic of song. What is the music that means something to you? Share your favorites with me and maybe we’ll find we have more in common than we thought.

Photo1 by xirrannisx, Photo2 by choupigloupi, Photo3 by oddsock, Photo 4 by destructor3521

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 PlanningQueen 04.29.08 at 1:13 am

I love music and can recall many moments by hearing a particular somg. It must have taken you ages to compile this! Being the same age as you, I had quite a few chuckles at some of the songs and what I was doing at that time.

PlanningQueen’s last blog post..10 Indicators of School Readiness

2 Vered - MomGrind 04.29.08 at 2:25 am

I am not a very musical person… I can chart my life with words, moments, photos – not so much with songs. But I really enjoyed reading this post, and most of all I want to ask you to NOT be so hard on yourself. Ups and downs, in blogs and in real life, are completely normal. It’s part of life. I just discovered this blog a few weeks ago and I LOVE it. My totally unasked for input: as long as you enjoy it, you should keep at it. Ride out the plateaus and the slumps and you will emerge even stronger.

Vered – MomGrind’s last blog post..Best Shot Monday: a Weekend in Mexico

3 Chris Austria 04.29.08 at 4:55 am

I hope you don’t cancel your blog! With or Without you is one of my faborites. We are the champions always reminds me of “The Revenge of the Nerds”…Like you, every aspect of my life is associated with music. I just can’t believe Air Supply didn’t make your list or Christopher Cross, being Aussie and all…LOL

Chris Austria’s last blog post..Sunday Morning Brunch With The Natives

4 Kelly 04.29.08 at 7:36 am

I’m not going to cancel my blog. Like I said, that was just coming from the PMS making a bit of frustration seem like the end of the world.

Vered – thanks for being so supportive. There’s just a lot happening in my life at the moment and I’m questioning some decisions I’ve made and feeling a bit stressed, and I think this has been flowing through to my feelings about my blog. I’ve approached SHE-POWER very intuitively, rather than with any particular plan for blog domination lol!) and my traffic has increased steadily, but not so much the comments, and I don’t get why that is. I’m such a people person I really envy bloggers who get an increasing band of faithful commenters, but I can’t necessarily see any rhyme or reason for why this happens. Anyway, I blog for myself so I’ll just do what I do and try to keep my problems in their distinct boxes rather than lumping them all together and feeling like shit.

Planning Queen – Glad I sent you down memory lane. That was my hope so I feel like I achieved what I set out to do. The post did take me ages, but music is important enough to me to be completely worth it!

Chris – Christopher Cross? I’m not 60 mate! And Air Supply is also before my time. There were lots of bands and songs I had to leave off of course, but these were the ones that really stand out, that really hold some vivid memories and evoke powerful feelings, mostly good ones.

:) Kelly

5 Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing 04.29.08 at 8:26 am

Kelly,
This is an awesome post, and I’d like to join in on the conversation and do something similar on my blog, but I’m afraid that by the time I get to it, the moment will be gone. Thanks for the link and for including me as one of your blogging friends. I was rather concerned when you mentioned canceling your blog – I’m glad you cleared that up before I started an email campaign to convince you not to do it. So, now to pester you: when should we be expecting some more fiction? Your readers want to know!

Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing’s last blog post..Link Travelogue (Vol. 2)

6 Cath Lawson 04.29.08 at 9:02 am

Hi Kelly – this is an amazing post. You like a lot of stuff I like – that Cranberries one is also one of my favourites.

The first song I ever remember hearing a lot on the radio was that Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep one.

Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Fab Quotes Of The Week: Week 3

7 Kelly 04.29.08 at 10:02 pm

Charlie – you play guitar, don’t you? I want to know what kind of music you listen to.

Cath – Chirpy Cheep Cheep? I have no idea what that song is…

Now, I’ve opened this door, I can’t close it. I keep thinking of more songs and bands I like, and looking at this list now I can’t believe The Reh Hot Chilli Peppers are not on it. They’re my favourite band – my great musical love! Obviously they’re a constant and I don’t have associations with any one particular song.

I could ramble on about music all day

Kelly

8 kailani 04.30.08 at 6:43 am

I’m not sure I can come up with a song for steps throughout my life but the one that I really relate to right now is Live Like You Were Dying. It just makes you realize that you don’t have all the time in the world to do what’s important to you so make every day count.

kailani’s last blog post..Giveaway: Subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

9 Richard 04.30.08 at 9:02 pm

thanks very much for the comment kelly, really appreciated you taking time to read my stuff and especially the advice, i get told i string out my sentences all the time, too many commas, not enough full stops!

Interesting what you said at the start of the post though, not being musically talented, that’s what got me properly into writing in the first place. all my friends were great at drums, or guitar, or whatever, i wasnt, so i decided to become a critique, that was at 14, by 21 i had my own music magazine. 😀

Richard’s last blog post..Painting a landscape, using words

10 Barbara Swafford 05.01.08 at 5:28 pm

This is a great post!

My favorite uplifting, can do it song, has always been Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”. It so upbeat and inspirational, you can’t stay down for long.

I hope your feeling better soon. PMS can be the pits.

Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Blogging – Year One – Lesson 4

11 Lisa Wilder 05.02.08 at 12:23 am

“To me, music is as essential as the air I breathe and the food I eat. Music adds a warm glow to life. It heightens the passion, cushions the falls, and adds meaning to the events and relationships that have defined my 36 years.”

Yes! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I cannot fathom what life would be like without music. It’s my therapy…it can re-energize me and lift me out of a funk, soothe my soul, and, like you, it carries powerful associations to every stage of my life and to the most deeply meaningful events of my life.

Great post, Kelly!

12 Rachel 05.02.08 at 11:34 am

Great post. I am surprised though that you don’t have any New Order. I’m not much younger than you and when I think of my teenage years I think of Madonna and New Order. But my big song from childhood was Cyndi Lauper’s GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN. I loved that song! And like someone else mentioned, I WILL SURVIVE is a memorable song for me. I listened to that after a bad break-up.

Rachel

13 Rachel 05.02.08 at 11:35 am

And I like the name for your husband MUSIC MAN. It’s sweet and very romantic I think.

Rachel

14 JB 05.07.08 at 1:22 pm

hey. i found you via stumble. this is an awesome post! just bloody brilliant. such a cool idea, and the links are just great. thanks!

JB’s last blog post..Free Social Site Decorations

15 JB 05.07.08 at 1:23 pm

woops, sorry about the comment luv link.. i did not actually know what that was. now i feel like i just spammed your blog. sorry.

16 Pat R 05.11.08 at 8:04 am

Thanks Kelly – loved listening to some of these old songs. You’re right. Music helps us to reconnect and find that beat of life again.

Pat R’s last blog post..Alone

17 Noa Rose Choose the Present 05.11.08 at 1:46 pm

Music is the poetry of our lives, and you did a great job linking the stages of your life with the music of that time. I now listen to my son’s original songs. He’s a singer/composer and it’s a real treat to listen to music created by someone I gave birth to! It’s a reward of motherhood I never expected, but it’s a joyful feeling indeed!

Noa Rose Choose the Present’s last blog post..The Purpose of Old Age

18 Bridget 05.21.08 at 4:11 pm

Hey Kelly
I loved reading this – being a similar age it really took me back! Particular iconic songs for me were Come on Eileen (number one in the UK the summer i finished primary school and left England for Kansas, USA); Groove is in the Heart Dee Lite – dancing to this at the freshers ball in my first week at uni wearing a black lycra cat suit; the other one that sticks out is Here With Me Dido – Listening to it for the first time on Top of the Pops (once essential viewing for any respectable English teen and twentysomething) when it reached number one and realising I had to end my first grown up relationship.
Love your blog :)
Bridge xx

19 shmulik 09.25.08 at 3:13 pm

nice :)

shmulik’s last blog post..Logic Pro 8 Quick Swipe Comping

20 Robin 11.08.08 at 10:10 pm

It’s so funny reading this – from before I knew any of you. Don’t you know Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep? ha ha

Ah… Chrissie Amphlett, Midnight Oil.. The Doors, Queen, Jimi

c u Kelly!

Robin’s last blog post..How To Find Happiness

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22 Angela Salmon 04.01.13 at 10:14 pm

Interesting article. Best to take things one step at a time I always feel.

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