Thursday, March 13, 2014

#6Songs: Hear and Remember / Remember and Hear

In January, NPR issued a challenge: "If you could tell your life story — chronologically, up to now — in six songs, what would they be?"

Here are some of the collections that NPR gathered from listeners.  Below are mine.  What would yours be?

1. Best of All Possible Worlds; Candide, Leonard Bernstein (libretto by Richard Wilbur)
Candide is one of the first performances of adult theater I remember attending - my father loved the soundtrack, and we wore the cassette tape to shreds from listening to it so much in the car.  This song in particular made an impression as I, in my childishness, began to understand that there were many different ways to see and interact with the world.

2. Laudamus Te (Gloria RV 589); Vivaldi
The majority of my time and energy was devoted to the National Cathedral when I was at school, and my spiritual explorations and musical education were moulded by my experiences there.  Beyond that, though, the camaraderie of having been a chorister alongside 20 other girls taught me invaluable lessons about friendship, loyalty, leadership, and discipline, all of which come flooding back when I hear this joyous soprano duet that I sang more than a decade ago.

3. Hey Girl; OAR
In my last three years or so of high school, I jumped headfirst into a social life I hadn't known before; I had friends outside of the choir, I dated boys who went to other schools, I tested my parents' boundaries, and I got a taste of what life in college might be like.  I can't remember the summer after graduation, the glorious crescendo of all of my carefree teenage dreams, without hearing this song in my mind and being transported back to late-night parties in someone's red solo cup-littered backyard.

4.  Put Your Records On; Corinne Bailey Rae
Corinne Bailey Rae's eponymous first album was released halfway through my college tenure, but every single track was in my top 25 most played on iTunes by the time I left Columbia.  Listening to Put Your Records On made me feel world-weary - a line in the refrain notes "the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same" - but optimistic at the same time, like I could make those years in New York into whatever I wanted.

5. Beyond the Sea; Bobby Darin
Jon and I have spent nearly 30 months all told since we started dating in October 2008 separated by the Atlantic (and by a lot of bureaucracy, but that's a different post).  We picked this song as our first dance at our wedding this past August and it's made me smile throughout our relationship no matter what waters we've been navigating: "I know beyond a doubt / my heart will lead me there soon..."

6. Moondance; Van Morrison
I've been listening to a lot of country/folk/classic rock-type stuff since I moved back to DC.  I think it makes me feel rooted in some sort of imagined Americana that I'd been missing in England and, though Van Morrison was born in Northern Ireland so shouldn't at all be included in this, Moondance (and Caravan, which I almost picked as my sixth song) always makes me feel like I'm home and I belong and I'm content.
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  1. I loved that you ended up doing a post on this. I it a really interesting view into someones past and how varied a person can be but still you can find some thread to connect to them.

  2. I love this! It's such a fun way to learn more about someone. I would have to think long and hard about mine, but two that would definitely make the cut would be a Beach Boys song and The Avett Brothers' Murder in the City. he Beach Boys were my first music love. I would probably choose Be True to Your School becasue it was always one of my favorites, and frankly, I've always had a LOT of school spirit. :) The Avett Brothers' are my favorite band and the only band I've really craved seeing live. Murder in the City is my favorite song, and the lyrics speak to me so much. I am very close to my family, and it perfectly describes how I feel about sharing my name with them as well as romantically describing how I feel about my husband and the family we hope to build ourselves. I'm kind of getting excited to do a post on this myself even though I never blog.

  3. I love this… I'd have to give a really good think on it but if I had to do it off the top of my head, I think it'd probably start with Roxette "How Do You Do" (road trips to the lake when I was a kid,) Jewel's "Foolish Games" (plenty of teenage heartbreak,) Ben Harper's "With My Own Two Hands" (University, growth, experimentation, passion, etc,) Bright Eyes "Landlocked Blues" (Making it on my own, finding myself, learning,) and Band of Horse's "Part One" (Joe, moving, exploring the world, making us a family.)
    I've always associated with music with memories - I could probably do several songs for every year all with very vivid memories. Joe and I also have all sorts of songs we call Gabon songs or Norway songs - almost like anthems to our time in those countries and most aren't even songs we like - just ones that were played so often in that country that when we hear it, we can't help but think of it.

  4. Awesome playlist! I'm going to have to give this some thought, but there's definitely going to be some Coldplay in there.

  5. oh, this is a fun idea! although I have absolutely no idea what songs I would choose...six is just such a limiting number.

  6. haha my selections are DEFINITELY wide-ranging.... but you're right, like me!

  7. oh JEWEL good call. Right Kind of Wrong - also a possibility for my late teens! haha

  8. THIS WAS SO HARD. but it's actually a good introspective exercise! let me know if you do try :)

  9. why thank you! I feel like I the playlist I had in college that had Coldplay also had a lot of The Fray and Garden State soundtrack stuff. man. that was my freshman year of college! totally brings me back.

  10. Georgia ChristakisMarch 13, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    OMG this is SO up my alley! I love that your first dance was beyond the sea; that's pretty much perfect. Great post, Betsy!

  11. LOVE this!
    1. pretty much the whole outfield album "voices of babylon" i listened to this tape AND vinyl record a LOT growing up... i still have the vinyl record and I cant help but smile and think of summers when I was younger.
    2. eleanor rigby-- the beatles -- i also listened to a lot of beatles growing up-- my mom always had "breakfast with the beatles" on the radio on sundays and I went to a beatle mania event with my aunt. this will always be my favorite.
    3. sunday morning by no doubt = high school
    4. clear blue sky by george strait -- when i finally admitted I liked country music (much to my dad and brothers joy).
    5. bluest light by bloc party --this song reminds me of college and the four wonderful years I spent with my best friends
    6. under cover of darkness by the strokes -- this is the song that my husband and i walked into our reception to -- a room full of people we love on one of our happiest days. it was perfect.

  12. I was freakin' OBSESSED with Jewel in 8th grade. Then I couldn't listen to any of her stuff for about 10 years out of pure over saturation... but now I don't skip it when it comes on random!

  13. I have songs that put my brain places, but more so I have songs that instantly make me think of specific people.
    As for picking just six?!?!? Too hard!! Now I'm gonna think on it, though…

    And "Beyond the Sea" is an excellent song. So simple, so lovely.

  14. I love this idea and I love the diversity in your music seem like a classy, fun lady :). I would need to ruminate to pick six (for a class assignment once I had to pick 15 for a typical CD soundtrack...) but I always think of "Don't Stop Believin" by Journey and "La Camisa Negra" by Juanes. Journey because I've always blasted that song to bring me out of a funk, and Juanes as that was my karaoke song during my study abroad time in Peru. :) I also have a host of other songs from countries I've been to, even if I don't like them, to remind me of my travels!

  15. It's hard to stick with only six, and it's HARD to come up with them cold! I hear songs that transport me back places, but it's hard to go the other way around and think of times in my life that match up to songs.

  16. I love Put Your Record On! I totally forgot about that one until just now. So good. I need to pull that back into my mix.

  17. As huge of a music fan as I am, you know I am totally all over this post! I'm totally going to do this too :)

    I also love how diverse these songs are. The fact that you can examine exactly how and why the song/lyrics speak to you is such an important thing. Nick gets onto me because I always just say how much I like songs "just because."


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