Category Archives: Music

Music: My Life Partner


Daily Prompt: Musical What role does music play in your life?

I’m not a musician. I can’t read sheet music to save my soul. I don’t have a huge record or CD collection, and my iTunes collection is rather pitiful. Still, I think music has always played an important role in my life.

As a child, music was solely a way to celebrate. There wasn’t a single family gathering where salsa and merengue were absent, along with plenty of dancing. Sad music was unacceptable to me. I couldn’t even watch the Muppets because of their inevitable mopey songs, usually sung by the sensitive Kermit. Even then, music affected me, but I did not always understand or enjoy its effects.

I grew up and grew out of that, of course, once I got to know the world and myself a little better. I came to appreciate and eventually love the way that music stirs me emotionally, whether it amplifies the positive feelings of love and joy, or offers me solace in times of sadness and grief; whether I’m singing my heart out at a karaoke bar, dancing my butt off at a party, or simply tuning out the world during my morning commute. Like a faithful friend, music is always present.

Life Soundtrack, Volume I

Create a mix tape of my life, huh? At first, this seemed like a daunting task, and I became overwhelmed thinking of songs that accurately represent what I was grappling with emotionally during specific times of my life, but then I realized something: All the work has already been done. My musical choices have always been connected to what I’m experiencing, so I simply need to think back, put it in order and narrow it down. Then I realized how awesome this type of playlist would actually be, and that I must recreate it on Spotify and listen to it in order, to see what kind of memories it brings up. Here is the very abbreviated version, along with reasons for why each song was chosen:

Admit it, you loved this song too!

  1. Agarrense De Las Manos, “El Puma” Jose Luis Rodriguez: Like most kids, much of the music I listened to as a young kid was my parents’, who only listened to Latin music. I remember dancing around the living room with my mom and sister to this song. This is a happy song about the whole world holding hands, but much of my parents’ music was stuffy ballads. I hated them as a kid but love them now.
  2. Like a Prayer, Madonna: This song was playing at a fifth grade dance. It was the last song of the night. I remember thinking this moment was special, but I wasn’t sure why. It was the last bit of innocent fun before puberty.
  3. Informer, Snow: I was obsessed with this song. I have no explanation.
  4. Dookie (album), Green Day: This entire album was awesome. It was fun and energetic, and sometimes inappropriate, just like a middle school kid. This album also introduced me to alt rock and rock music in general, which I hadn’t been exposed to much. Whoever stole my Dookie album, I want it back!
  5. Today, Smashing Pumpkins: This song brings up vivid memories of middle school, which I enjoyed more than high school and college put together, so I really felt the lyrics, “Today is the greatest day.” If I could travel back in time, I’d go back to middle school.
  6. Jagged Little Pill (album), Alanis Morrissette: My sister and I listened to this album until it wouldn’t play anymore. I still have it. It’s still good, and that’s not up for debate.
  7. Semi-charmed Life, Third Eye Blind: A happy song about drug use and sex. Yay! I heard this song in a deli recently and had to download it and listen to it a few times. Brings me back to high school and reminds me of my long lost innocence. I had no idea what they were talking about. Crystal meth, lines of coke? What?
  8. Any song by Nirvana: You weren’t cool unless you were listening to Nirvana. I studied Nirvana like I studied for a pre-calc exam, because I was not cool, but I really wanted to be.
  9. Pardon Me, Incubus: I’m skipping a huge chunk of time, it seems, and am now up to my early 20s. I was trying to figure out who I was, and this song expressed some of my dissatisfaction and frustrations.
  10. In Da Club, 50 Cent: Around 23, I discover the New York City night life, and like Mr. Cent, you could find me in “da club” pretty much any night of the week. There was a lot of drinking, a lot of men, and a lot of dancing on top of bars. I think I could’ve out-partied Paris Hilton.
  11. Seven Nation Army, White Stripes: I moved up in the world. I was partying at top clubs, hanging out with DJs, drinking Cristal in the Hamptons, rubbing elbows with the young and rich. I thought I was almost famous. As glamorous as it was, I was on a destructive downward spiral. This song reminds me of driving down to the Hamptons one night, before I got completely wasted and embarrassed myself.

    Killin' it behind the bar

    Killin’ it behind the bar

  12. Float On, Modest Mouse: I got sober, and it sucked. Thankfully, I had Modest Mouse to remind me over and over that I was going to be okay. And I was, eventually.
  13. All These Things I’ve Done, The Killers: I love the Killers. The have a great alt-pop sound, they play a good show, and they’re consistent. This song is my favorite, because it reminds me of the mistakes I’ve made as an adult, and of moments when my life seemed too much for me to handle.
  14. You Only Live Once, The Strokes: I had quit my first grown up job after five years. It was smack in the middle of the recession, and I was unemployed. I learned how to rock climb, which was so empowering, I became a bartender, I made myself over, and finally at almost 30, I was cool! This is the song I would play when I was alone setting up the bar on Sunday mornings.
  15. Home, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros: This is a really sweet song by a bunch of hippies that reminds me of my hemp necklace-wearing boyfriend and the wonderful life we share together. It always makes me feel happy.
  16. Zero, Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Just for fun, this is what I’m listening to right now. I think I’m on a feminist kick, because I’ve only been reading books by smart, funny, interesting women, and I’m listening to more female artists. The lead singer in this band has such a great, strong voice. I’m tempted to sing this song in karaoke, but I’m not sure I can do it justice.