So, these are my favorite songs. I make a playlist of my favorite songs every month now, but these have stood the test of time. These are songs that have been in my life for some time and I know (in my gut) that they’re permanent (it’s a good feeling when you can feel permanence toward something).
I don’t know what makes some people like certain things or what makes other people love and hate others. I know that I love things that make me feel. I left a few songs off this list, but they’re in my heart. This is the playlist I can put on any day and I’d be happy with any of the songs. This is my go-to. If my life was a record collection, this would be Carmen: The Essentials.
Was that corny?
Let me be corny then.
YOU WONT – WHO KNEW
On my 24th birthday, Emily sent me this song. From the moment I heard it, I knew it was my song. That day, I bought a red velvet cupcake from the small bakery in my town (fav place), and I ate it in the kitchen. I kept saying I’ll watch Back to the Future, but I have yet to. I will.
I’ll never forget certain days. My 24th birthday is one of those days, because this was the best gift I could have received.
Years ago, I used to have a composition book where I wrote my thoughts down (I had several—they’re somewhere around here). I remember being upset one night. I was angry at the way my life had unfolded (at the time–adolescence, it happens). I wrote, “I just feel like my timing is off. People I met way too soon were supposed to be met later. I should’ve met others sooner—some not at all. This is all wrong—-If I could just rearrange the chapters in my book…”
This song deeply resonates with me. I’m incredibly thankful for the people in my life (regardless of the amount of time it took us to find each other [some of you longer than others…!]), but there have been (and occasionally are) times when I’ve shaken my head and felt that my timing was off. If only I could rip apart the binding and move a few things around, it would be right. “Right” being the optimal term here. This song means more to me than I can ever convey.
THE WATSON TWINS – U N ME
This is one of my all-time favorite songs. I first heard it in 2010 after my first serious breakup. I say serious, because it was a long-term relationship, but if we were to weigh my emotional investment in that, I’d have to give my first serious breakup award to a different time period.
This song struck a chord with me, but not because of the guy I just dumped—no. It struck a chord, because it didn’t (and never will) relate to anyone! It was (and is) a fantastic song about independence. It’s about you (me, that is)!
It’s about closing doors and locking them. It’s about throwing away the key. It’s about believing in yourself and not needing a single other soul to believe in you. I think that’s why I love it. I believe in me enough for the whole world to doubt me (not that the whole world knows of my existence [or cares], but you get my drift). Trust me when I say I belt this out every time it’s on.
RADIOHEAD – THINKING ABOUT YOU
This is my all-time favorite Radiohead song. I know that it’s a sad song, but it’s comfortable. I don’t know how to explain how I feel about this song. It’s not about anyone. I certainly never pined (nor will) over anyone with this song (sorry, tainting music is not my thing). It’s just a hauntingly beautiful song.
I love his voice, and I love the guitar. I wish I could tell you what it means to me, but it isn’t words. It just sits in my heart. I picture the bedroom in Vanilla Sky, some dentures, a glass half full of water, and Thom’s voice. Sometimes you just love things, because they’re beautiful. This is one of those things.
THE BIG BAND ORCHESTRA – IN THE MOOD
I heard this song on the fourth of July this year. I’ve heard it before, but never gave it much thought. The moment I heard it last month, however, my heart swelled to four times its size (not really, but it felt that way). I wanted to be in the presence of the orchestra.
To be completely honest, I was a bit unhappy at the beginning of that night. The song came on, and it was kind of a slap in the face. “Hey, you’re not the happiest of campers tonight, but I’m gonna play and I sound snazzy!” It came on twice that night. Two slaps!
Even still, I appreciated it and decided I had to have it on my personal playlist. I was talked out of approaching the DJ and asking who played it, but I found it at work one day (ha). I love how it sounds. Someday, I will hear this played live. I will wear an incredible looking dress, my hair will be perfect, and I will look smashing. So, here’s to that evening. 🙂 Dangly earrings will be worn.
THE LUMINEERS – HEY HO
The first time I heard this song was one night when I was driving Steven and Rick home from Six Flags a couple of years ago. I didn’t pay attention to it (if you suggest a song to me that’s on the radio, I probably won’t give it a chance, because the radio is filth—I’m working on my music snobbery; I apologize!)
Then I heard it again a few months later. I was sitting at a train crossing. I hate waiting for this particular train, but this song came on and warmed my heart.
I fell in love with it. Hard. So hard, in fact, that I am still in love with it. That’s right. I don’t just love it like you just love things after a while. I’m still in the honeymoon phase of this song (it’s been over a year. I hear that the 2 year mark is when you fall out of the honeymoon phase [some earlier, but who cares about those sad suckers?]. I’ll let you know if I ever do).
I think it’s a love song. I think it’s about knowing your person exists and maybe this guy screwed it up. Maybe he fixed it? I really don’t know what his end-game is or what he’s getting at, because I like my interpretation of the song more (of course).
I still like to think life is like a good book. My life is, anyway. I’m sorry if yours isn’t, but I guess that’s why I’m not you (or anyone else).
I truly love this song. I love it, because I love that someone felt this way. I love that someone has—not only felt this way but—shared it with the world and was able to convey it. It might be my favorite song. I love that people have good endings. Maybe (in real life) the guy is single, actually miserable and pining over The One That Got Away (he probably screwed up. Sorry guy). I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. Even if I listen to it as a “that didn’t work out,” I still love it. It’s full of passion. I love it.
FUN. – SOME NIGHTS
I only recently fell for this song. I hated this song and the band from the moment they came out. I don’t really know why. I guess I just hated the hype and the fact that it was always on.
Well, one day (last month), I heard it, and decided I love the song (I’m throwing the L word around a lot this evening—hey, at least I mean it). I have no idea what this song means to this guy, but I’m glad he wrote it. I know all the words (I think), but they don’t resonate in the way I think he meant for them to (sorry, sir. At least you have a permanent place in my heart with this hit [and several of your other songs]).
To me, it’s just about your life. Recognizing that: this is your life. Don’t blame anyone for your trials or triumphs. Try to be the best you can be. Sure, you probably screwed up a few times (we’ve all done it, and I can admit I’m genuinely sorry for some of the things I’ve done). That’s the thing though: things happen. Things don’t happen.
It’s for the best. It’s for the best things did and didn’t happen. I realize this every day.
My heart literally just did a small dive right now. I felt something in my chest take a turn south (yes, my heart swings. I’m an emotional little being, what can I say? Some music does that to me). This song means a lot to me. It will always mean to go through life without regrets. It means that you’ll have a lot of “oh wells,” but no “what ifs” if you’re true to yourself.
That’s always me.
THE LUMINEERS – STUBBORN LOVE
This song has a special place in my heart. I’ve always really loved this song, but I heard it one evening when I really needed to hear it. I was driving home, and I kept it on repeat about 8 times (I’m being modest. I think it was more like 14, but I don’t want to come across as a liar). I even learned to play this on guitar (I don’t do the song any justice, but I like that I can play and sing it).
I love the words to this song. “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all.” I kind of interpreted that as “then there’s hope” you know? I don’t think that’s what he means. I think it ties to the rest of the song. So, you feel pain about something, but at least you’re capable of feeling, period. Some people can’t or don’t. That’s the sad truth. I’d rather feel anything than nothing. What a crappy existence you must lead if you feel nothing.
I pity you.
“Keep your head up, my loooooove.” I think good people are increasingly difficult to come by, and when someone fools you, it’s easy to turn into some cold, unfeeling jerk, but I don’t think you should. I don’t think The Lumineers want you to. I think they’re saying, “keep your head up. Good people are out there. People with feelings, people with hearts, decent human beings are out there. You may feel sad now, but good days are ahead. You shouldn’t let the bad seeds devastate you and ruin you for everyone. I mean, if you’re going to do that, then you deserve to take up residency on Beat Street. Good riddance.
People can be slimy (and they’re out there, and they’re surprisingly adept at blending in), but never forget that’s a reflection of their character and not yours.”
Stay a good person. Keep your head up. I love this one.
BOB DYLAN – DON’T THINK TWICE IT’S ALL RIGHT
This is my favorite Bob Dylan song. This is the one song where what he sings is what I take from it. So, just because someone put up with you for X amount of time, is no longer in your life, and doesn’t actively wish death on you and your incompetent parents (actually, your parents aren’t incompetent. You’re just a bad human being), doesn’t mean it’s all right. You still wasted their time. It’s just that some of us are mature enough to listen to good music, and take our wasted time with you as a lesson learned (I think we’ve all related to it at some point in our lives).
I’ve always wanted to play this at a coffee house. I love Amy Millan’s cover of it. I could never top it, but this song has been one of my favorites for years.
THE CLASH – TRAIN IN VAIN
AHHH this is actually my favorite song. I begin to dance just when I hear the beginning—that’s how amazing this is. Okay, so an old friend, Andrew, told me about this song. Actually, he quoted one line, “so alone I keep the wolves at bay” and I was sold (back in like 2003 or 2002?). This has been my favorite Clash song, favorite running song, favorite driving song—favorite everything song.
This is the ultimate, feel-good song for me. If you see me dancing in my car (even in traffic today!) singing this—I can tell you that I’m in a good mood. The worst thing ever could happen, and this song would cheer me up. So, why do I love it or what does it mean to me?
Once again: independence. I think that’s a running theme in my music selection. As a person fluent in the art of spending time alone (and thoroughly enjoying it), I like songs that embody that. Occasionally, some people have weaseled their way into my life and (more or less) been a predictable disappointment, but this song has been around since I was a little babe.
All the lines in this song. ermergerd. Love this song so much.
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE – SHAKE IT OUT
I really hated all of this band’s songs for the longest time (years), because I had no idea what she was saying, and I thought she was whining (I’m a jerk, I really hate whiners).
I heard it on my drive to work one morning, and it sucker punched me.
The horse metaphor. The graceless heart. The darkest before the dawn.
This is well-written, beautifully sung, and thought out—so incredibly touching.
To me, this song is about being foolish, continuing to be foolish, having things blow up in your face, continuing on your foolish route (aka dead horse), and being unable to bury your dead horse (some of us are foolish troopers). She does bury the horse (thank God), and she also cuts out her graceless heart (I get it, Florence. Call me up, we can do a follow up to this).
The only way out is through. There are no short cuts. I think if you take short cuts in life, you’re never going to be truly happy. If you’re not aspiring for a great, genuine life, then by all means—short cut. This song means seeing things through to the end.
I think it’s about following your heart, even if it leads you to the darkest caves. At some point, you have to cut your losses, though. Strength isn’t about being foolish. It’s sometimes required to give up. Shake it off. You can’t be happy if you’re dragging around a dead horse.
After this song became my favorite thing ever, I heard it in an episode of HIMYM with Robin realizing her terrible news. I love that episode, and I love that they used this song at the end. This song means a lot to me. I think it’s just about realizing that you’re only human and you have to let go of things. You can’t be happy until you get rid of the useless clutter. Sometimes, the least expected things have to go, but you’re better off without them.
CHUMBAWUMBA – TUBTHUMPING
I heard this one morning on shuffle. I was on my way to work, and I thought, “holy canoli, this is epic.” You get knocked down, but you get up again. It’s such a simple concept, and yet, we forget this. This is one of those obvious mood lifters. I heard it when I was a kid (and actually had the CD), but it’s still great.
Some people stay unhappy for long periods of time. I can’t. I can’t, because there are too many good things to be happy about. Plus, getting knocked down is important. It teaches you how to deal with the punches, and it teaches you how to get back up.
ONEREPUBLIC – GOOD LIFE
I’ve heard this in many different friends’ cars, and I love when I have. I file it away under, “moments I’ll never forget with important people I love.” I’d rattle off a few people, but you probably remember it, too and I love you. Thanks.
MAN MAN – HEARD ON (HOLD ON TO YOUR HEART)
This is a perspective song for me. I think sometimes we can let our crazy thoughts get ahead of us. I like the message of this song. Always hold on to your heart. Guard that. It’s your world. There’s even a verse on it. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23
It means a lot to me, because your heart is huge. You should never let anyone screw with that.
So, hold on to your heart. You only have one.
BEN GIBBARD – YOU REMIND ME OF HOME
Okay, so this song is about a broken relationship. I know.
Not to me. Home is a feeling of comfort. Home is where I can lay my head down and not have to move. Home is love to me. So, even though it’s about an ending, losing, wasted relationship—to me, this song will always be about love. It’ll always be about loving someone with everything you have, because they’re home. My house isn’t the most glorious one on the block. The floors creak, the lock conveniently gets stuck when I’m carrying a thousand groceries, the windows can be drafty, and I don’t always like it.
But it’s home. If you remind me of home, I love you. As such, I love this song with every fiber of my being (and for the past ten + years).
THIRD EYE BLIND – MOTORCYCLE DRIVE BY
I don’t remember where I was when I first heard this, but I will never forget the hours I spent driving around to this song. I used to have this best friend that loved Third Eye Blind as much as I did (more, actually). He always drove, because I had a junky car. The windows were always down and we drove all over. My favorite was driving through the farm towns. We drove past dozens of them (ermergerd, breathtaking views). We drove up hills. We drove by lakes. We drove by fields. Gorgeous days. My hands were out the window, my hair blew in the wind, and we both sang this song at the top of our lungs. We were both out of key. Sometimes it was freezing, sometimes it rained, sometimes it snowed—but it was always my favorite.
We stopped at random shops for snacks, ate outside, and most times we just listened to 3EB. I’d tell him about some douchebag I wasted my time on (ha), and he’d always say I was wasting my time (I did). Then he’d tell me about some new douchebag he wasted time on, and I’d always tell him my thoughts (which were always spot on).
We saw this band together three times, and I’ve since seen them at least three other times.
Each time I’ve seen them, the audience goes absolutely crazy over this. I wish I could find the words to describe why I love this song, what it means to me, but I don’t have them. It has nothing to do with unrequited love (I know, I’m sorry Stephan Jenkins) for me. I’ve just always felt this one in my stomach and heart.
I may be forgetting a few songs, but if I remember, I’ll add them later.
Enrique Iglesias – Escape
I know what you’re thinking, “what the heck?” Let me explain. This song reminds me of that capital cities song. At first I listened to this escape song as a joke, but it is uplifting! I get that it’s about him saying this girl will return to him because he’s so great. We all think we are so great (don’t we, though?) and someone will come back to us (even if we’ve kicked them to the curb). I just love this song. I think you can escape and for good cause, but I love the feel-good sound to this and I always smile when I hear it now. 1. Because it’s Enrique and 2. Because it’s Enrique. This isn’t my type of music at all, but it’s so dang catchy and it’s on my permanent list. I can tell.