12 songs from my life

A few days ago, Kristin challenged her friends to summarize the soundtrack of their lives in 12 songs.

Next to the people and Odies I love — and maybe garage sales — music is my very favourite thing. I have several thousand CDs, 13,000 songs on my iPod, dozens of classical piano books, a musician father, and a long history of attending concerts.

Narrowing the huge pool of wonderful things my ears have experienced down to 12 measly songs was a daunting task. So with a nudge from my friend Elaine, I decided to pick songs that have been important to me over the years — not necessarily my favourite songs today — and post them in chronological order.

1. Simon and Garfunkel, Cecelia – age 6

When we first moved to our brand new house in Perkinsfield, the floors were so glossy and smooth that Alicia and I would sprint and slide across the dining room in our wool socks – inside out, for extra speed. For some reason, the game only worked with this song.

2. The Cranberries, Ode to my family – age 10ish

The first album I ever bought for myself was The Cranberries’ No Need to Argue. It was the year Santa gave me a ghetto blaster for Christmas. I would lie on my bedroom carpet, stare moodily at the ceiling, and listen to this on repeat.

3. Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, HCQ Strut – age 12ish

Suddenly, I loved jazz. None of that newfangled modern stuff with chords that hurt my ears. Just the greats. And this particular ditty always sent me to a happy place.

4. Chet Baker, I get along without you very well – age 13ish

This man. I think I was in love with him. I dreamed of going back in time and saving him from his addictions. Then we’d buy a cottage in the mountains where he would play and sing for me all day long. I may still be in love with him! Sigh. Perfect music to dream to.

5. Beck, Nicotine and Gravy – age 15ish

I’d heard Odelay, but Midnight Vultures blew my mind. It’s still one of my “if you lived on a deserted island” albums. And this song, with its fantastic layers, was a favourite. A Beck show is still on the bucket list. To Kanye, I say suck it.

6. Radiohead, No Surprises – age 17ish

When I was at my very lowest, I started my relationship with Radiohead. I’m not sure they contributed positively to my mental health, but they made music better.

7. The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1 – age 19

In my first year of university, I stayed with my aunt Fina and uncle Andy for a few days because I was dying of the flu. Fina made me soup. Andy cranked the Flaming Lips. And I got better. Every once in awhile, I still dust this song off and take it for a spin.

8. Wilco, Jesus, etc. – age 20

In my second year of university, JF – lover of mopey cowboy music – stepped into my life again. He made me a mixed CD with Bright Eyes, Antony and the Johnsons, Les Cowboys Fringants, Joanna Newsom, and this song. Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky show in Toronto is one of the best concerts I’ve been to. We love them still.

9. Elliott Brood, Only at home – age 23ish

For some reason, this is still one of my very favourite driving songs. I know all the words (or sounds? Pretty tough to tell what he’s saying) and always scream at the end.

10. Vampire Weekend, M79 – age 25ish

When this album came out, my ears were delighted. Harpsichord AND synthesizer AND xylophone, all in one sound? Amazing. I remember listening to this song in JF’s tiny little bachelor apartment at Avenue and Eglinton and making fried eggs.

11. Megafaun, The Longest Day – age 27ish

These guys opened for the Mountain Goats at the Opera House and this was the most lovely moment of the evening. We held hands. The rest of their set was lackluster.

12. La Roux, Sexotheqe – present

Lately, I’ve needed a dose of musical sunshine. Here’s a song that makes me bop around on the drive to work.


What’s your soundtrack?