She said “Sweets, Kenya is now my co-host for FTSF and this week’s is 10 songs/pieces of music that changed me. Do you want to cohost somehow??? I’d SOOO love for you to but get it if you’re past that.”
“What? Past that? NEVER!” My whole reason for writing again was to revive my Mixtapes, and it looks like the universe was conspiring not to let me slack off.
And so, I am tasked with a creating a list of music that somehow changed me. Of course that was easy.
But mine goes to 11.
(also, if there is too much mumbo jumbo for you, head to the bottom of the post for the Spotify playlist)
Let’s start from the beginning.
Rikki Don’t Lose That Number – Steely Dan
When I was 4-years-old, I fell in love with a girl named Rikki. Well not her, but her story. She was running away from something, and I so desperately wanted her to go back home. Thankfully she did, and my desire to hear her story played so magically beautiful and melancholy kindled my love for music.
(you have to turn it up if you want to hear the hypnotic intro)
Hurting Each Other – Carpenters
This song was released when I was 2, but didn’t become a staple in my life until much later. I remember driving to go skiing up north. We listened to the Carpenters non-stop on cassette in our car. I have a memory of singing Hurting Each Other as we drove past an old Victorian house in Richmond Illinois. Many years later (in my 30s) I would experience deja vous driving by that same house again for the first time in probably 25 years.
Karen Carpenter, single-handedly made me want to sing. Her voice was so beautiful, conveying emotion effortlessly. All of my playlists contain at least one Carpenters song, and when I hear her everything stops and I sing.
East Bound and Down – Jerry Reed
I may have wanted Karen Carpenter’s voice, but it was Jerry Reed that made me want to be a truck driver when I grew up. Did you ever see Smokey and the Bandit? Well I did, I saw it so many times when I was a kid that I felt like I lived it. And when I announced to my parents that I wanted to be a truck driver when I grew up, they said “how about a cowgirl?”
I would also like to point out that later in life I became very interested in Jerry Reed as a musician, if you have a chance, you can read this post I wrote about him.
This song has also become our anthem as my sister and I drive the kids to Hilton Head every year. We start our ride “East Bound and Down.”
The Girl From Ipanema – Antonio Carlos Jobim (Performed by Astrud Gilberto, Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz)
I was blessed with a musical family. While my mother’s side of the family were all classically trained musicians since the beginning of time; my father was self-taught with a love of all genres and instruments. I could go on about how he introduced me to Opera and Frank Sinatra and Bluegrass and Bruce Springsteen, what had the most impact on me was the music that stole his heart when he started traveling to Brazil.
My favorite Pandora Channel is named for this song: The Girl From Ipanema by Antonio Carlos Jobim (and this is my favorite version)
Rich Girl – Hall and Oates
When I was 7, my parents sent me to an 8 week sleep away camp. Before you *gasp*, as scary as day one was, Harand Camp, Theater in the Sun, became my second home, and the place I formed my closest friendships, even to this day.
I could go on about all the amazing musicals we performed, and all the songs that have lived in my heart ever since, but this song is special.
It came out a year before I left for camp, and was a pretty catchy tune. So most of us had it on our mixtapes that travelled with us to camp. It became our song. Our whole cabin would sing Rich Girl a capella every time we got on a bus to travel to one of our many field trips to the Sheboygan Skating Rink. And we would sing it on that bus for the next 11 years.
Baker Street – Jerry Rafferty
I think it was this next song that made me want to be a musician. I can’t even explain it. It received an award for being the best song in 1978 both musically and lyrically. It deserved it. Baker Street woke up the musician in me that was kindled by Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.
I wish I could explain it, but I can’t so you just listen.
Late in the Evening – Paul Simon
I don’t really know where this song belongs. So I’m gonna stick it here. That’s because Paul Simon influenced me in a lot of ways. I remember my parent’s best friends from across the street used to blast 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and in my mind I always saw this guy Gus getting off a school bus. And of course Me and Julio was another very visual song for me, and a lot of fun to sing. But it was Late in the Evening that really got me.
I always wanted to be the mom from the line “I remember there’s a radio, coming from the room next door, and my mother laughed the way some ladies do.”
Later in my life it would become the soundtrack to our parties in the summer of 1992.
Tempted – Squeeze
I was 11 when this song was released, but I wouldn’t hear it until I was 16. My boyfriend at the time, a very talented musician named William Steffey (go check him out) was listening to everything. I was listening to a lot of new wave (or as Sirius is calling it now First Wave) music and the Grateful Dead (I know).
Somehow Squeeze never made it in to my repertoire. When I heard the album “Singles – 45 and Under,” I was hooked. The lyrics were genius and the music was so different, clean – I guess that means, not over produced. It was what it was. It was also my gateway drug to Crowded House and Elvis Costello for which I will be forever grateful.
Uncle John’s Band – The Grateful Dead
This is probably the right place to put Uncle John’s Band because, well the last paragraph. (however technically this came first)
I don’t know how to explain what happened. I had this boyfriend, he was totally punk rock. He listened to The Clash, and The Misfits and Suicidal Tendencies and all of those bands, back before any of it was cool. And we went to shows at The Metro in Chicago before I was even 16. We hung out with skinheads (which back then meant they were super cool but super scary) at the donut shop by Wrigley Field. It was surreal and a part of my life that is kinda blurry.
One day he said, let’s go see a Grateful Dead show, we’ll go camping it’ll be fun. And I was like, hmm…okay. And somehow my parents actually let me. Me and my best friend and some other people, I can’t even remember who, went to go see The Grateful Dead at Alpine Valley. We smoked a little, walked around from campfire to campfire, made a lot of new friends, fell asleep outside our tent and got brutally sunburned, only saw my boyfriend at the end and that was cool, because everything was cool. And that was it. The end.
Just kidding. I did become a Deadhead, in the true sense of the word. For the next 8 years I would see every show I could within a 300 mile radius of my home. I even moved to San Francisco for 6 months to follow them up and down the coast 6 months straight.
The cool thing about seeing The Grateful Dead so many times is that no two shows were ever the same. Even if a set was the same songs as a set from a few years ago, the way they played it was always different. There was nothing like the rush of recognizing they were doing a medley of two songs you loved just by hearing the first few notes. It was like a game that you always won.
I’m sharing Uncle John’s Band because while it was fairly mainstream, the lyrics always intrigued me so much. That and Jack Straw. But since that one is less known, I’ll share this.
Oh hey! I was at this show!! (I’ll follow with the studio version so you can cut to the chase if you want)
She’s Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To – Lyle Lovett
Now we get to me starting to be a grown up. I was 17 when Lyle Lovett came out with the album Pontiac, but probably 18 when I stole it from my brother’s room. Pretty sure it was the album, and not the CD…hmm…
I had never heard anything like it. The only country music I had heard up until that point in my life was Kenny Roger’s The Gambler, and some Dolly Parton from TV shows like The Muppets, and Donny and Marie.
But this, this wasn’t the country music I knew, or had imagined. This was a voice that you could swim in, and lyrics that made you listen.
People often comment on how Lyle Lovett looks, and they wonder how Julia Roberts ever could have married him. I know how. I totally fell for him on first listen.
While this song isn’t from Pontiac, and I could list 20 songs of his that I loved, this is the one I can’t help but turn up and sing every time I hear it.
Oh also, I love this play on words. The name of the album is Joshua Judges Ruth, if you know your bible, those 3 books are in a row. Cool huh?
Hot Rod Lincoln – His favorite version by Commander Cody
Now this one, number 11. It’s a necessity because this one is for my baby. I tried my darndest to get Isaiah to love music his whole life. He has been raised right (only the classics and Brazilian music), and music was always playing in our house.
But you know what he said all the time? “Can you turn that music off?” Well, Isaiah had sensory processing disorder and probably that music was too much commotion for him.
However, I diligently tried to discover what kind of music he liked by asking “Do you like this song?” “What about this song?” Never getting a definitive answer until one day.
One day he heard the song Hot Rod Lincoln and we were off. Turns out my son loves trucker music, who knew?? Convoy, Hot Rod Lincoln, Ring of Fire, pretty much anything that could fit in that genre made this boy happy. And since I loved all things trucker, we found our musical connection.
Since then I have discovered he also loves scores to movies. He plays the piano but exasperates his teacher, because he only wants to learn songs from movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Star Wars and we are currently working on the theme from Hogan’s Heroes. But I digress. Here it is:
And if you’re a Spotify listener, here’s my list. Feel free to follow me and listen to all my other playlists. There are definitely too many, but they are pretty awesome.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, in its new format where each week is a little different, old-school blogging style. This week is the listicle “10 songs/pieces of music that changed me.”
Me *takes a bow* Jen Kehl of JenKehl.com, resurrecting my Twisted Mixtapes (find me and my Corsican twin at the Stereo Sisters on Facebook).
The “original” cohost of Twisted Mixtape, Kristi Campbell of Finding Ninee
And my new/old blogging friend Kenya G. Johnson of Sporadically Yours