NPR recently highlighted a project, Six Songs of Me, which is an invitation to select songs that matter to you based on a series of personal questions. The ultimate playlist reveals something special, a glimpse into the essential self. Go to the link; have fun. You’ll see what I mean.
When philosophic or ideologic differences create distance between people, knowing what is emotionally significant is a chance to understand someone better. It’s an opportunity to see people not as a disconnected other, but as just another person – not so unlike ourselves. Taking the time to share what is important to us makes us emotionally available to others, and is an invitation to connect. It’s a way to close the spaces between us.
Presidential elections are polarizing, so if you become stranded in the heat of a political
diatribe with no oasis in sight, redirect the conversation to music. It’ll cool the hostility. It may even take your mind off that other guy in the race.
- The first song I purchased was Seasons in the Sun (1974) by Terry Jacks. Why? you ask. I asked myself that same question, followed by a little research. I wanted to recall what attracted me to this seemingly uncool first song. I was surprised to learn poet Rod McKuen wrote the lyrics. Then, I discovered that Nirvana covered the song in the 90’s. Kurt Cobain said the lyrics made him cry; it was his first 45, too. So, maybe I’m not tragically unhip, after all.
- The song that always gets me dancing is September (1978) by Earth, Wind & Fire. The world is ripe with amazing dance tunes, but I so clearly remember hanging out before high school Physics class declaring this the greatest song ever. I heard it again not long ago on the radio during a program out of Philadelphia called Funky Friday, and it still makes me groove.
- The song that brings me back in time is Brandy (1972) by Looking Glass. Preadolescent girls love romance on the high seas. I remember listening to this song on my old blue and white plastic radio at night, propped up in bed reading teen novels, writing in my diary and locking it with a tiny key.
- My perfect love song is You Belong to Me (1952) by Dean Martin. Beautiful melody and oh! those lyrics. No clingy lovers in this song. It’s been covered many times, but I like Dean’s version best, perhaps because it reminds me of my parents and our old HiFi on Highland Court.
- The song I want played at my funeral is Moon River (1961) by Audrey Hepburn. I make Nelson sing this song to me from time to time. He has a terrific voice, by the way. It’s melancholy, yet beautiful and hopeful, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It seems well-suited to mark the beginning of the next journey.
- The song that makes me, me… is Losing my Religion (1991) by REM, and not because I’m a Catholic school survivor. It makes me think about growing away from the need to always fit in, and knowing that sometimes it is much better to be on the periphery, observing. I’m not certain what the lyrics really mean, though Michael Stipe said of it, “I’ve always felt the best kinds of songs are the ones where anybody can listen to it, put themselves in it and say, Yeah, that’s me.“