Jan. 3: Just this side of Muzak (tm)

If you haven't seen this video for "Here it Goes Again" (OK Go), take three minutes and watch it now. I first saw it a few months ago and I'm not really surprised it's still big talk. These guys are talented and must have lots of time on their hands.

Watching this made me think of some of the really popular videos in the early age of MTV. Then this morning I heard a song on the radio that made me smile for a good half hour afterward. I love when that happens. This all got me to thinking about my own personal collection of important/memorable songs from over the years. If someone were to make a movie of my life (lord help us), this is the music that would probably have to be in it:

  1. When I was really young, I pretty much liked whatever my big sister liked. Donny Osmond? You betcha. Bobby Sherman? Right on. The Jackson Five? Gotta love 'em. But the two songs that definitely stand out in my memory are "Puppy Love" (Donny) and "Jennifer" (Bobby). I've looked all over the 'net for an mp3 of "Jennifer" but I can't find it. Maybe if I help with the lyrics? "Jennifer... Jennifer... and now (something something something something)... Jennifer..."
  2. We got hold of our mom's collection of 45s and played them on Kathy's paper denim record player. My favorite was "I Enjoy Being a Girl." Please don't ask who sang it, that stuff just wasn't important to me then.
  3. Our mother sang in the car a lot (don't worry, Mom, I've forgiven you). I don't remember listening to the radio much, but we'd take one of those big cassette players and put it on the front seat between us and listen to tapes we'd made by putting that big cassette player on "record" right next to the stereo. What lives large in my memory are many soundtracks. Fiddler on the Roof, Brigadoon, The Sound of Music, Dr. Dolittle, and some Disney things. (I found out Vic's family listened to a lot of those same things. Poor Katie and Jack... they have no hope for a normal life with us as parents.)
  4. In grade school I started listening to the Music Machine records: Sir Oliver's Song, The Birthday Party, Bullfrogs & Butterflies, etc. It's scary when something triggers a memory of those songs and I can still sing every word.
  5. Middle school. Ah, middle school. The years of Air Supply, David Gates & Bread (the song they used in The Hardy Boys when Shaun Cassidy's girlfriend was killed still get me), the Grease soundtrack, Hall & Oates, Blondie. Yikes.
  6. Finally, high school brought some musical interests that I need not be embarrassed by! The Footloose soundtrack, especially "Almost Paradise," of course--I was a teenage girl, after all. I listened to a lot of the top-40 stuff of Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Van Halen (just 1984, really), Amy Grant and Lionel Richie. Deanna had more unusual tastes in alternative/new wave/obscure bands and I adopted some of those as my own. The Thompson Twins were my absolute favorite. Does anyone not get chills when they hear "If You Were Here" at the end of Sixteen Candles??? I don't hear it much anymore, but "Don't Mess with Doctor Dream" still reminds me of a trip to the beach in a school van, trading headphones back and forth to hear that first part: "oo oo oo oo ow, oo oo oo-ow" over and over and over. Depeche Mode's "Blasphemous Rumors" was my favorite single, among many good ones, on the Catching Up With Depeche Mode album. (Yes, as in record album.) And when I hear these, I turn the radio way up: "If You Leave" (O.M.D.), "Don't You (Forget About Me)" (Simple Minds), "Sunglasses at Night" (Corey Hart), "You Spin Me Round" (Dead or Alive), "No One is to Blame" (Howard Jones), "Beats So Lonely" (Charlie Sexton), "Take on Me" (a-ha), "Forever Young" (Alphaville), "Walk Away From Love" (Yaz), "Perfect Way" (Scritti Politti), "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," "Two Divided By Zero" (Pet Shop Boys), "Obsession" (Animotion--the memories this song triggers are of five rather stupid stalker girls, and more than a little frightening).
  7. In college I stepped away from a lot of the moody music and started listening to cheerier tunes. Sorta. I was still a big Howard Jones fan, still bought everything new by Depeche Mode and Thompson Twins. But the Walla Walla radio stations were a bit less progressive and more top-40 so we sometimes missed out on the NEW new wave stuff. I began to listen to jazz artists like Dave Grusin, David Benoit, Yellowjackets, Basia, etc. I also got interested in Michael W. Smith, Sandy Patty, Steven Curtis Chapman, Take 6 and Prism, some contemporary Christian artists. There aren't very many songs from this era that stand out as memorable (big surprise). However, George Michael's Faith album was pretty huge. Karen got it our sophomore year and everyone on our hall borrowed it to record for themselves. For months, it was just about the only music you could hear if you walked around third floor! I still love the whole CD. It reminds me of Vic and his friends throwing rocks at our windows to get us to come out and walk in the snow with them. It also makes me think of my roommate Marilee, who I've since lost touch with, and her huge bright yellow boombox.
  8. After graduation from WWC I moved back to Portland and had access to decent radio stations again. Karen, Vic and I went to a few clubs, many concerts and collected a gazillion CDs. During this time I apparently lost all my senses, because I started listening to a LOT of country music. The songs that stand out when I think about this era are "Shut Up and Kiss Me" and "Passionate Kisses" (Mary Chapin Carpenter), "The Dance" (Garth Brooks), "That Was a River" (Collin Raye), "She's in Love With the Boy" and "The Song Remembers When" (Trisha Yearwood), "Whenever You Come Around" (Vince Gill) and "Don't Take the Girl" (Tim McGraw). Instead of pitying me for a lapse in good judgment, try admiring me for being so honest about my dark past, mmkay?
  9. I got out of the country $#!+ phase easily, because suddenly Garth Brooks started singing like James Taylor, who I already liked anyway. It reminded me of normal music and I gladly transitioned to a lighter side of the Force. Late 90s = Billy Joel, Sting, James Taylor, Bette Midler, and lots of books on tape because I spent so much time in traffic on I-205.
  10. At the beginning of the 21st century, we became parents and things changed yet again. Now if the kids are in the car we listen to Radio Disney or CDs of Disney music; I don't love it but I want to know the kind of stuff they're into. We also listen to a lot of Broadway musical soundtracks, and lately (now that Christmas music has been put away for a few months) not much else. A little Jack Johnson here and there. Some Josh Groban. Elvis. Barenaked Ladies. Five for Fighting. My secret shame is that new Justin Timberlake CD. He's just a li'l bit dreamy.

So, these are some of my favorite albums of all time, in no particular order:

  • The Grease soundtrack
  • The Footloose soundtrack
  • Here's to Future Days (Thompson Twins)
  • Catching Up With Depeche Mode (Depeche Mode)
  • The Bridge (Billy Joel)
  • New Moon Shine (James Taylor)
  • Faith (George Michael)
  • The Producers (2001 original Broadway cast)
  • Wicked (2003 original Broadway cast)

Although my musical tastes could easily be described as "eclectic," I am under no illusions that they are "eclectic" in the fashionable sense. I know I'm a dork when it comes to music. But as for a list of possible songs for the soundtrack from a movie of my life, this is it.

P.S. Here's a site that helps you create a list of your own personal theme music for everyday activities: Soundtrack to Your Life Survey

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