#1: Elvis Presley – In the Ghetto
When I was a small child, I loved to put on headphones and play records on my Dad’s turntable. I vividly remember listening to this when I was about 5, and crying my eyes out. So, this is here because it’s the first song that I recall making me feel such intense emotion. It still brings a lump to the throat now.
#2: Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
I was born and bred listening to this next band. This song has always been my favourite. It’s timeless, despite now being over 30 years old. I won’t waffle on – this band and particularly this song hold a special place in my heart.
#3 E.L.O.- The Diary of Horace Wimp
This next band have always been one of the few bands who make me feel genuine happiness every time I listen to them. This song in particular was one I heard throughout my childhood, and I simply loved it. My brother and I used to sing along to it and laugh uncontrollably – I’m not even sure it was that funny, but we thought it was at the time!
#4: Queen – The Show Must Go On
This next song is by another band who I was brought up with. A staple in my musical diet, one might say. This particular song is very poignant to me as it was released when the singer was extremely ill, yet pushed himself beyond his limit and carried on regardless. An inspiration to me always. This was also around the time that a close family member went through some extremely difficult circumstances, and this album was around at the same time so it’s all intrinsically linked in my mind.
#5: Take That – A Million Love Songs
I think most people know by now that I don’t care what anyone thinks of my musical taste. This next band were a huge part of my life in my early teens, and people laugh, but I’m so far from ashamed of that fact. This tune made me cry on first listen, and the writer was a mere 15 years of age so in my formative years that was pretty amazing to me! I was a hormone ridden teenager obsessed with a boy band, and I loved every moment of it, so it’s firmly on this list, and there it will stay.
#6: Nina Simone – Feeling Good
This is one of the most powerful songs by one of the most incredible female vocalists I’ve ever heard. The 16 year old me discovered this song, and listened to her Greatest Hits album over and over again, and was frequently met with blank looks when I spoke about her music to my peers. In essence, this evokes such an energy within me and transports me to a very happy place. Every single time.
#7: R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
My Mum loves the next band, and this is the first song I remember hearing by them. This was ingrained on my subconscious, and most likely had a huge part to play in me becoming something of an indie chick in my teens. I loved the feeling that they spoke of dreams and consciousness as if they were one. Superb.
#8: Nirvana – Lithium
Take one teenage girl with depressive tendencies and one grunge rock band whose music spoke to her, and what do you get other than more disastrous thoughts? A perfect combination, that’s what. The first time I heard this song, I felt like he was singing my deepest darkest thoughts, and that scared me, because… well, because I didn’t think anyone else in the world understood, you know?
#9: Garbage – Only Happy When It Rains
Continuing the depression “theme”, another song that resonated deeply with me is up next. I was never happy about anything. Ever. I felt like being sad was the only thing I knew, and looking back I probably went searching for more things that made me feel sad. I committed self torture in various ways, not least by listening to songs that exacerbated my feelings. Never a good idea, but part of me all the same.
#10: Enigma – Return to Innocence
I did, however, find some music that brought about relaxation and even joy. This song instantly made me relaxed, and the album it is from was played until it met its sad demise – it was on tape, after all! I’ve never got around to replacing it, as it served its purpose to an extent, but listening to it now I’m surprised to find it still has the same effect so maybe I should buy it again after all these years…
#11: Ash – Kung Fu
Remember I mentioned an indie chick? Well, this was about the time that really kicked in for me. I was 17, got my hair cut like Louise Wener and as far as I was concerned this band were top of the indie list, despite actually being quite punk in places. Their first EP hit the spot as soon as I heard it, but this song is what I remember putting on repeat for about 3 months – in fact, the whole album got a pretty decent airing!
#12: Underworld – Born Slippy
Next is a tune that was something of a departure for me, but the film that it was so famously used in was a favourite, and this tune was always played on Friday and Saturday nights when my friends and I descended upon our small town in search of a good time. Hilarious and stupid memories were made to this! Lager, lager, lager…
#13: Jethro Tull – Too Old to Rock And Roll, Too Young to Die
Next up is a song by a band that I recall detesting in my youth. I thought they were inane and bordering on the ridiculous. Realistically, I was rebelling against my parents by claiming I disliked something they loved. I was the ridiculous one, methinks! As time went on and I learned how to listen to music, and lyrics, properly, I started to love it. Whatever I think of the song and band, though, they will always be meaningful because of my Dad, as they mean a lot to him.
#14: The White Stripes – Hotel Yorba
One day, I happened upon a completely unique band who somehow I had managed to overlook over the past couple of years. I heard this noisy, quirky, upbeat tune and was immediately hooked. I proceeded to embark on my second obsessive love for a band in my life, which seemed to be considerably more socially acceptable than the first. When I saw them live, I felt like the singer’s eyes were locked on mine. The person I went with later said the same thing. This song and band felt like they belonged to me. I’m sure that makes sense to you in some way.
#15: Rilo Kiley – I Never
Call me soppy, call me whatever you like, but I’m a sucker for a love song. This appears to be quite cute and romantic on the surface, but is actually quite sad and can be interpreted in a few different ways. I found this band on Yahoo radio when I was still with my ex husband, and I knew exactly how I interpreted this song, but won’t go into that. Nothing can take away just how good they were, or that this is one of those songs that transports me back to a moment in time – difficult though it was.
#16: The Magnetic Fields – The Book of Love
When I first heard this song, it was performed by a band called The Airborne Toxic Event, who covered it when they toured. Shockingly, I was unaware of who originally wrote it, so was very late to the party as far as this band were concerned. I found the album that this song was from and played it to death. I was single but enjoying life, and loved the humorous cynicism in this song – I completely got it.
#17: Edith Piaf – Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
Originally dedicated to the French Foreign Legion, many people myself included have made this song meaningful to them personally. When I first heard it with a concentrated listening ear, the lyric “With my memories I lit up the fire. My troubles, my pleasures; I don’t need them anymore!” resonated deeply with me as I had just come out of a tumultuous relationship and wanted to start afresh. This is now my go to mind reset song.
#18: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Ship Song
I didn’t really become aware of this next band until a long time after they started being successful, but they were always on the periphery. Once I really let them into my world, I grabbed them with both hands and haven’t let them go. This particular tune was one that feels like part of me – I can’t explain it any better than that. After a few failed attempts at seeing them live, I finally managed it last year and they played this song. I don’t think anyone could have stopped me from crying through it – it was one of those moments where the planets aligned and everything was perfect.
#19: John Grant – Queen of Denmark
Next up is one of the most beautifully painful songs of recent times. Maybe it was intensified by what I was going through at the time, but the moment I heard it, I felt like someone finally got me – at last, someone understood. The venom and bitterness in the lyrics coupled with the utterly sublime music was exactly what I needed to hear at that time. I’m finally seeing him live next month, and in all honesty I don’t know if I’ll get through it with all my emotions intact.
#20: Kate Tempest – The Truth
My last song on this list is also the most recent. I have always appreciated poetry, and lyrics have always been extremely important to me. If words aren’t meaningful, how can I begin to like the music? Well, I heard this person on 6 music in about September 2014, and she had such a profound effect on me that I didn’t hesitate to buy her album. I remember vividly her explosion onto the music scene, but soon realised she’d been doing her thing for years and that she was soon to hit another level in her life. I travelled alone to see her at The Plug in Sheffield on 8th November 2014, and she absolutely blew me away. I was front row and centre, so directly in front of her most of the time, but it felt like being next to her. She gave a speech about creativity that made me cry, and also performed this tune. That is on the list of my favourite nights ever.
Here’s the entire playlist: