I don’t wanna brag, but I have epically bad taste in music.
Well, maybe not quite that terrible. But … close.
Honestly, some of what I love is downright awful. But I’m alright with that. The thing is music moves me. Inspires me. Punches me in the gut when I need to be emotional and kicks me in the ass when I need some motivation. Add to that I LOVE to sing, so yeah, I’m a music lover with shitty taste in music.
Why do I think that? Well, I do have some music aficionado friends and anytime they post a list of their all-time favorite bands, about half of them I have to google. The other half I’ve heard of but just never took the time to listen to.
There are no Smiths on my iTunes playlist, no Cure, no Strokes, only one Stones song …. but there is an embarrassing amount of Taylor Swift and Britney Spears.
And I’ll confess this right here, right now – I know only a handful of Beatles songs.
Now music appreciation is subjective, but the truth is I don’t get into bands that way. Well, with the exception of the Dave Matthews Band and YES, I can hear you groaning with disgust from here (I’m groaning a little myself). But it’s not entirely my fault – I was raised southern baptist in a small town in East Texas so for the longest time the only music I listened to was gospel or country. And when I started listening to (gasp) ‘secular’ music, it was mostly what I could listen to on the radio.
I choose my music based on gut feelings. I get into a particular song in a particular moment and it will move me and then that’s that. I love the band and I don’t care if it’s shameful or childish or auto-tuned or universally considered the worst song (or band) in the world. If it moves me, makes me wanna dance, makes me wanna cry or leaves me thinking about my life in a new way, I love it and will belt it out proudly.
2018 was a good but tough year in some ways. There was a lot of growth mixed with a lot of joy and some considerable pain. Ash and I recently dedicated our year 2019 to the word ‘Fuck’. It’s our mantra, our anthem, our battle cry and quite frankly, a big part of our belief system. Instead of resolutions, we set our intention for this year – the year of ‘fuck this’ and ‘fuck that’.
In addition, I recently decided I want to set a playlist for 2019. Something I will add to as I run across songs that seem to fit. Basically, I want a set of songs that move me, inspire me, make me wanna dance or sing or shout. Songs that fit ME and songs that help me set a clear vision for what I want this year. You know, kinda like your workout playlist … only with slightly fewer rap songs or AC/DC.
The music to motivate me – creatively, physically, emotionally – when I’m not feeling very motivated at all.
So here’s my work-in-progress, very brief 2019 playlist, in no particular order.
Blood in the Cut – K. Flay
I had the pleasure of seeing this badass perform live last year. I’d never heard her before but a friend had a free ticket, so I joined and I was blown away. Her stage presence, her sound. She is truly incredible.
This song in particular is amazing. When I go for a run this is one of the first songs I play. It’s sultry with a heavy beat, and that perfect kinda song that starts out easy then picks up with a vengeance. And the lyrics …
“The boy I love’s got another girl;
he might be fucking her right now …”
Well. If this ain’t my song, I don’t know what is.
“Guess I’m contagious, it’d be safest if you ran.
Fuck that’s what they all just end up doing in the end.”
Same, girl. Same. And then the chorus, heavy, hard and angry. My favorite kind.
“I need noise, I need the buzz of a sub;
Need the crack of a whip, need some blood in the cut.”
Needless to say, this song gets me moving. I don’t know if its the bass or the sound of an angry, heart-broken woman screaming for distraction, but whatever it is, I kick my ass into high gear whenever it comes on. It’s def on my workout playlist and when I hear her raspy, cool voice, I run faster, lift heavier and generally just push myself as hard as I can.
This is my superhero theme and it would absolutely be my walkout/fight song. It makes me want to achieve all my fucking dreams. It helps me take my hurt and frustration over my losses and turn it into pure fuel for my future.
Go your own way – Fleetwood Mac
First off, Fleetwood Mac. Second, this song is epic and I love to sing it at karaoke.
Isn’t the right thing to do”
I relate to this so hard.
“How can I ever change things
That I feel”
At the same time, just because something ends or you walk away, just because you know it might not be quite right, feelings don’t just evaporate. You have to actively choose better for yourself and my god, that’s a process. In my case, quite a long process.
“If I could
Baby I’d give you my world
How can I
When you won’t take it from me”
I’ve learned you can’t love someone enough to make up for their doubts. People are either certain of you and what they want, or they’re not. And if they’re uncertain of you or themselves or what they want, for whatever reason, the best thing you can ever do is let them go their own way.
“You can go your own way
Go your own way
You can call it
Another lonely day”
Sleep on the floor – the Lumineers
This one is my wanderlust song. My wild spaces and big risks and reach for the impossible song. It gets me in the feels every. single. time. It’s the one that I listen on repeat while dreaming of my next big adventure.
“Pack yourself a toothbrush dear
Pack yourself a favorite blouse
Take a withdrawal slip
Take all of your savings out
‘Cause if we don’t leave this town
We might never make it out”
But it’s so much more than just a travel song. It moves me to think outside the box. I’m lucky I have a corporate job I do like. And it’s in a location I have longed to work. And my boss is super reasonable with my schedule. I have the things, but still … still I long for more. Ache for it, really. And there is more.
“How do you pay the rent; Is it your parents
Or is hard work dear; Holding the atmosphere
I don’t wanna live like that, yeah”
This song … man … when it comes on, all I want is to see blue skies and empty roads in front of me. All I want is a pen and paper in my hand, the clothes on my back and the wind in my hair. It’s like Mark Twain and Henry Thoreau and F. Scott Fitzgerald and hell, even JD Salinger are calling.
Do the thing. Write the words. Go for it.
“Will you lay yourself down and dig your grave
Or will you rail against your dying day”
This is about taking chances. It’s about knowing that the risk is worth it. It’s the ‘say yes, when conventional wisdom is telling you to say no’ song. Take a leap. Do the unexpected. Nothing is a mistake. Live it all to the fullest.
“Cause if we don’t leave this town, we might never make it out.”
Oof. The feels.
She used to be mine – Sara Bareilles
So … where to begin? This … is probably one of my most favorite songs ever written. I sing it at karaoke all the time and it’s honestly one where I usually end up crying at the end. The lyrics are so beautiful and I fell in love with it a few years ago without realizing it was from a musical (Waitress) that Sara Bareilles scored. I was listening to Pandora and heard the piano come in … and within the first few notes I just knew I was gonna weep.
“It’s not simple to say
That most days I don’t recognize me….
It’s not easy to know
I’m not anything like I used be, although it’s true
I was never attention’s sweet center
I still remember that girl”
Quite frankly I think every single woman can relate to this song. And, honestly, every man. Remembering the person you used to be before life took you down a different path. Maybe it’s a path you chose, maybe it’s one you didn’t, but whatever it was … it changed you.
“Sometimes life just slips in through a back door
And carves out a person and makes you believe it’s all true…
If I’m honest, I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over and rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew”
The first time I heard this song I thought of my ex-husband. The lyrics reminded me about the girl I was … or rather, the girl I hoped I was and the girl I hoped I would become … before I entered that very toxic (for me at least) relationship. I spent 8 years constantly feeling (and oftentimes being told) that who I was wasn’t good enough or worthy enough. I was too fat, too messy, not talented enough. No matter how hard I tried, I felt I could never become his ‘perfect’ girl.
“Who’ll be reckless, just enough
Who’ll get hurt, but who learns how to toughen up
When she’s bruised and gets used by a man who can’t love
And then she’ll get stuck
And be scared of the life that’s inside her
Growing stronger each day ’til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little, to bring back the fire in her eyes
That’s been gone, but used to be mine”
Then .. many years later, my heart was once again crushed. The funny thing is, it was simply the same wound repeating itself. Choosing to be in a relationship with someone who didn’t think I was worthy enough or good enough to really love wholeheartedly. This time it didn’t take 8 years to figure out … but this time it crippled me when it ended.
Both of these failed relationships aren’t solely the fault of the men involved. I certainly wasn’t perfect and we teach people how to love us, right? And that starts with loving ourselves first and foremost. Which, quite frankly, it has taken a failed marriage and a broken heart to finally, finally start loving myself in the way I deserve. Loving all the things my ex-husband couldn’t tolerate .. and all the things that made A doubt if he really wanted to be with me.
I am finally loving the girl I’ve always been and the girl I’m meant to be.
“She’s imperfect, but she tries
She is good, but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy, but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine”
America’s Sweetheart – Elle King
I heard this song recently, even though it’s been out for a while. And the lyrics make me smile. This is my hell yeah song.
“I think I’m pretty with these old boots on
I think its funny when I drink too much, hey…
You try and change me you can go to hell
‘Cause I don’t want to be nobody else”
I have lived a colorful, messy life. Especially in the last few years. It could’ve been even more colorful I suppose – I could be addicted to meth or heroine, maybe living life as a high-priced escort. But no, no .. just the basic things. Like alcohol and karaoke and messy affairs and men. And bar bannings and altercations and bailing friends out of jail in New Orleans.
And that’s the thing – I’ve felt great regret and great remorse at these things. At those losses. At the public spectacle of it all. At my own chaos. And yet, this song is all about embracing the glorious, beautiful mess that I am.
“Well they say I’m too loud for this town
So I lit a match and burned it down
What do you want from me, I’m not America’s sweetheart”
May the bridges that I burn light the way, eh?
Ironically this is absolutely 100% the OPPOSITE of the kind of person I was raised to be and the kind of person I’ve wanted to be. A good girl, loving wife, white picket fence.
But life is unexpected … and it sometimes takes you down the wildest paths so you can find your true self.
“My kind of medicine is whiskey straight
I got a mouth to put you in your place, and they
They said I’ll never be the poster type
But they don’t make posters of my kind of life”
This. Although I’d exchange whiskey for vodka.
Sometimes I still feel … like I should conform .. like I should be someone else. I’m a nice girl, but I’m certainly rough around the edges. I drink too much. I eat too much. I fall for the wrong men. I’m 36, divorced, not presently dating but ok with that. Sometimes … sometimes I feel like I should just … find a decent person and make babies and have a yard that’s fenced in and wear more sensible shoes.
But … I know in my heart, that would be a form of settling and it would be half-life. It wouldn’t be me. I’m still seeking magic and big love and even bigger dreams. And maybe that means my life doesn’t quite look like what I thought it might look like by this age.
But … this is my journey and even though it’s not picture perfect, I wouldn’t change a damn thing.
“What do you want from me, I’m not America’s sweetheart
But you love me anyway”
Yep. Well, at the very least I love me anyway.
Cleopatra – the Lumineers
Ahhh the Lumineers again. This song, along with few others on their album by the same name, make up the Ballad of Cleopatra, which was inspired by a real-life encounter. ‘Cleopatra’ tells the true life story of an elderly female taxi driver that guitarist and lead vocalist Wes Schultz met during a trip to the Republic of Georgia between Europe and Asia.
“I was Cleopatra, I was young and an actress
When you knelt by my mattress, and asked for my hand
But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress
With my father in a casket, I had no plans, yeah”
When she was 16 she unexpectedly lost her father. In the midst of that loss, her boyfriend who she was madly in love with, asked her to marry him. But she was still reeling and numb from the death of her father that she refused to give him an answer.
“And I left the footprints, the mud stained on the carpet
And it hardened like my heart did when you left town”
Her boyfriend, after hearing no answer to his marriage proposal, left their small town rejected, never to return again. The day he had proposed it had been raining, and he had tracked in muddy footprints onto the carpet. She refused to wash these footprints off and always felt that he was the great love of her life.
“But I must admit it, that I would marry you in an instant
Damn your wife, I’d be your mistress just to have you around”
There is nothing sadder to me than the idea of unrequited love. Or the idea that someone spends their life and days wondering … ‘what if?’ I spent the bulk of my life up until 31 playing it ‘safe’ … and the past five years have been ones of big risks … and some big failures. But my god, I’d rather have taken the risk and failed, then spent my life always wondering … what if?
“But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time”
It’s an incredibly beautiful song and it’s one that always reminds me to live in the moment and listen to my gut. To not be afraid to say yes to scary things … and to live each day as if my time is running out. Because it is. For all of us.
So that’s it. Not a long list, some really sappy songs in there (but no Dave Matthews huzzah) and I’m sure throughout the year, I’ll keep adding to it. These are the songs that right now are giving me life, reminding me of who I am and where I’ve been, pumping me up and keeping my creative juices flowing.
2018 was a rough but good year filled with a lot of highs and some crazy lows. But I’m ready to dust myself off and tackle the rest of this year and these songs are gonna be part of my soundtrack.
In the wise, peppy words of Taylor Swift, “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate … baby, I’m just shake, shake, shake, shake it off.”
Let us all shake it off in 2019.
*Do you have your own playlist? Or a song that makes you feel like you can take on the world? What gets you moving?