Today I had had enough of the news, so I asked my Facebook people what song changed their lives.
The answers were fantastic. As much of a garbage can as social media comments can be, when they come from a group of pretty cool people like the Facebook friend community I have and have tried to cultivate, it can feel like the same gathering of smart, funny, alert people that you'd have if you got a bunch of your friends together in real life.
Also people really like to talk about music. It hits every single nerve, both good and bad, and the memories are always so interesting.
This is my list, specifically the high school and college edition:
- Bette Midler, The Rose, which I sang to try out for a high school musical. Our school was incredibly small, so I was cast. It was the first thing I did that I was terrified to do and really my first confident act as a teenager that had nothing to do with my grades. I encourage arts over AP for many kids for a reason.
- Duran Duran, New Religion. Learn how to pick out a great bass line and I’ll show you your life.
- Poison, Nothin But a Good Time. Hair metal taught me how to have fun and how to do my eyeliner.
- Metallica, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Taught me to grow my hair and use it as a prop...is probably why I have chronic back and neck pain now. Worth it.
- Tracy Chapman, all of Tracy Chapman. Freshman year of college. A record that’ll show you a combo of knowing and claiming yourself but also caring about the world beyond you. She was the first activist who showed me what that means.
- Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit and TOTD Hunger Strike. Breaks my heart now, blew it up then. Changed everything and everyone around me, it felt like...I just rolled with it.
I don't just appreciate these songs musically. They shifted my perceptions in some fundamental ways. They made me feel okay about parts of myself that I didn't before. They made me feel a part of a community. They helped me have fun.
I've had more life-changing songs beyond these formative years. Rocket Man by Elton John. Just One by Blind Pilot. A few Indigo Girls songs. And I really hope it never stops.