Thank you, Nancy Kho of Midlife Mixtape for inviting me to weigh in with my choices too.
These are the Songs That Made ME.
1) Heart of Glass by Blondie
My friend Michelle and I used to put this 45 on her record player and dance around her frilly room with the door closed - it's one of the earliest memories I have of playdates with my friends independent of my parents. To this day, Michelle and I are still friends, but we don’t dance when we get together anymore. We may have to change that.
2) Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meat Loaf
The house that built me (nod to Miranda Lambert) is in northern Indiana, in a mid-size house in a mid-size town. There is a screened-in porch in that house, still, and every summer, I go back for a visit. It as if nothing has changed except for the furniture and the updated turf carpeting. However, one major change has been made: there is no longer an 8-track player emitting the sounds of Michael Lee Aday (better known as Meat Loaf) singing about getting hot and heavy in his car. As a kid, I had no idea what I was singing about, but I knew every word of it.
3) Take it Easy by The Eagles
I remember when my dad brought home a big blue panel van and converted it, with shag carpet and a bench seat in the back that converted to a flat bed; my sister and I had many road trips in that van, comfortably playing with our Barbies sans seatbelts. This song reminds me of watching my dad work on that van, sitting at his workbench in the garage.
4) Let’s go Crazy by Prince
My 7th-grade year was a transforming one; I opted to be bused across town for a special program, away from most of the people I knew, I ditched my glasses for contact lenses, and chopped my hair from waist-length to a short, feathered helmet. I was a cheerleader that year and started hanging out with a whole new group of kids. We jumped on the trampoline in Carrie’s back yard on the river and went crazy with the Purple One.
Link to original MTV video
5) Can You Stand the Rain by New Edition
My first love made me a mixtape, of course, and this was my favorite song. Right after we graduated from high school, we went to a baseball game and he gave me a sapphire ring. I knew I was moving five hours away to go to college, and we had some deep discussions about what was going to be realistic when I left. I wanted to be free, and he let me go gracefully. I'm friends with his beautiful wife today, and they are a beautiful family with two boys... it's the life he always wanted, and he is happy, and it makes me happy.
6) Firewoman by The Cult
When I moved into Siddall Hall at the University of Cincinnati, I knew exactly no one and the sounds of Squeeze and Bon Jovi filled the hallways. I had recently joined Columbia’s CD club and ordered myself a whole batch of new CDs, and The Cult’s Firewoman album was one of my favorites. When I hear the opening riffs, I am taken back to that first year of independence, when I could live with the door to my dorm room open and peek my head into the hall to find a new friend.
7) Black by Pearl Jam
In Mt. Lookout, just outside of Cincinnati, there was a tiny bar called Muz’s. I don’t know what possessed me to apply for a job as a bartender, but I did, and I loved it for a summer. The place was as narrow as a bowling alley, with a wall-mounted jukebox next to the cash register; as soon as I walked in to start my shift, I punched the buttons to start this song. I was fearless then, closing down the bar by myself at 3 AM and carrying the money to a drop box, then heading home to my apartment on the edge of the most dangerous part of town. My poor worried mother, in those years.
8) With or Without You by U2
U2 made me fall in love with them with “New Year’s Day” and cemented my adoration at “With or Without You”. It reminds me of sunset at Warren Dunes State Park and all of the girlfriends in my life through high school. I can still feel the breeze at the lake and the sand growing cooler as the sun went down. Later, when I went through my divorce in 2004, this song was a favorite of the first guy I dated that summer. He and I would drive around and play this song and sing together; we entered into our dating relationship with no strings attached, and he was the balm I needed to get through the first, worst part of being single again. We stopped seeing each other easily, with no malice or drama, and this song reminds me of him and the gift he gave to me: getting my groove back.
9) Believe by Cher
In 1999, I moved to Atlanta by myself, reeling from a punch to the jaw and an unsure future in a volatile relationship. I was working for a Belgian company and did quite a bit of traveling overseas, which satisfied my wanderlust and helped me escape, temporarily, from my life. Europe had a version of MTV that wasn’t quite the same, but it was close enough for me in the late hours when I was alone in my hotel room. “Believe” reached the Top 40 in early 1999, and I listened to the lyrics and cried, knowing I was in the wrong relationship, but not knowing how to get out. I knew that I was the one who wasn’t strong enough, at the time, but when I finally made it through, I was ready to make this my anthem.
10) Time to Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
My first niece was born in 1999, and on her first Christmas, we danced in my Grandmother's living room to this song, gliding along to the haunting refrain. At the time, it was just a song we loved, my grandmother, my mother, my sister, and I. It was the last Christmas we would spend with my beloved grandmother, who passed away at age 83 in her sleep in January of 2000. It seemed that this song followed me everywhere; the memories were bittersweet. I still miss her more than ever when I hear the gorgeous chorus.
11) You’ll Think of Me by Keith Urban
When I met my now-husband, Will, I was a mess. I was in the process of a divorce that, while it didn’t break me, bent me in half. But this Texan saw something in me, and he stuck by me, introducing me to some of his favorite country songs along the way. When I first heard this breakup song, I cried in Will’s arms for the relationship I was still grieving, and he let me feel it all without judgement, waiting patiently for me to come around and see what was ahead.
"Take your records, take your freedom, take your memories, I don't need them..."
12) Dream Big by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband
Finally, I was ready for my happily ever after. Will and I were married in October of 2006, and this was our wedding song.
“And when you dream, dream big,
As big as the ocean, blue.
'Cause when you dream it might come true.
But when you dream, dream big.”
And thanks to Nancy, there are several other bloggers who weighed in on their songs, too. Check them out: