So if my previous post was about the songs I was listening to when just starting university and dealing with being away from home for the first time, the tracks I am detailing this time very much defined the end of my student days, and my transition to the ‘real world’ of working and responsibilities. (Oh, the horror!) An equally confusing and testing time, as I’m sure many can attest. I had finally accepted myself as being gay as I left university as well, so once again it was a period of major change and facing the unknown.
I live life on shuffle
With no set order
To choice or action,
Seeking a shake-up
Of the same old songs –
An exciting remix
Of an overplayed routine –
I scan through my selection
To prepare a new playlist
Pleasing to my peculiarity,
Far removed from reality.
I wish to move like the music,
Floating through life mysteriously
Light-headed and fancy-free.
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So I have previously posted a selection of my favourite songs that I would put within my ‘Feel Good/Writing’ playlist, (see Vol. 1 here and Vol. 2 here) as I find having music to listen to while writing really helps get my creative juices flowing, and the songs are also ones I like to listen to when I need a bit of cheering up after a rough day – basically, they give me positive and/or creative vibes all round. While working on the next post on this subject, which concerned songs released in the period of 2004-2007, I instantly found myself taken back in time to those years, which for me was when I had just finished sixth form (college) and then went on to study at university. This was a time of a lot of change and transition for me, given that I would also be moving away from my hometown (only an hour away, but still), and also that I turned 18 in 2005 – I was becoming an adult, my childhood slowly slipping away from me, both mentally and geographically. Therefore they were quite uncertain times; on top of that, while at uni I was still figuring out my sexuality – coming to a head in my second year when I finally realised and accepted that I was gay. In short, I was really figuring out who I was at the time, which has obviously shaped the person that I am now, some 12 to 13 years later. As I said, the songs that I have in my Media Player library from this time instantly transported me back there, to simpler (yet somehow complicated) times, and I became very wistful and contemplative about everything. Just goes to show the power that music can have, and how it frames certain periods of your life!
At any rate; the first of these tracks was ‘Breakaway’ by Kelly Clarkson. Now, a singer like her, an American Idol winner, is not someone who would usually be to my taste (not to sound snobby or anything), but I was drawn to her music for some reason, and one of my favourite tracks ended up becoming ‘Breakaway’ – and again, given that it was recorded specifically to be part of the soundtrack for The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (shudder), I guess that this song would count as a guilty pleasure of mine. But it really did speak to me at the time, being a song about change and getting away and moving on – from the mention of ‘growing up in a small town’ to the regret suggested in ‘wanting to belong here’; this was something I struggled a lot with in my school years, sincerely valuing the few friends that I did have. At the time I was hopeful that university would bring a positive change in my life and with it, new friends, and I suppose this song was a comfort to me at the time, while I waited to see if this would come to fruition. Apologies if this comes off as overly sappy and sickening, but this really is what this song does to me! Quite brave of me to admit to over the internet, you may well argue…
Continuing the theme of talented female artists, another song I listened to a lot at the time was KT Tunstall’s ‘Another Place to Fall’. A bit different from Clarkson’s offering, this one has quite a relentless angry energy to it (‘Are you blind? Blind to me trying to be kind?’) . I think at the time it was my outlet and (private) release of aggression about the more negative people in my life, just one of those great ‘fuck you’ songs that is always satisfying to listen to.
As you’ll have seen in my previous posts, I am a big fan of Coldplay – well, to be specific, what they were producing at this specific time; I am not the biggest fan of their latter works. At any rate, X&Y was, and still is, one of my favourite albums of theirs, in particular the tracks ‘White Shadows’ and ‘Fix You’. The former just has that haunting, yet exhilarating sound that characterised a lot of their early offerings. It’s a song I found (and still do) find reassuring, somehow – it emphasises how we are all ‘part of a system’ and a plan, that there is a bigger picture out there beyond our often petty human concerns (I’m sure we all have our moments of being ‘tired of the human race’). Also as I’m still in the process of figuring out my life and what I want, somewhat, I find the lyric ‘Maybe you’ll get what you wanted/Maybe you’ll stumble upon it’ both reassuring, but also perhaps dripping a little bit with sarcasm – given the title of the song I suppose it’s appropriate it has that contradictory feeling to it…
The song segues seamlessly into ‘Fix You’, obviously one of the band’s more famous tracks. Again it’s one of those songs that manages to evoke depression and reassurance at the same time, and I can very much relate to ‘feeling so tired but you can’t sleep’ and being ‘stuck in reverse’. We all have those moments where we feel stuck or on autopilot and desperately trying to figure things out, and this song assures us that this something that everyone goes through. After all, those ‘lights will guide you home’ eventually.
Finally, ‘Tender’ from Feeder, another band you will have seen me gush about in previous posts, was a song I’d often find myself listen to while I was daydreaming of one day finding ‘the one’, my true love (after I’d figured out that yes, I did indeed prefer men). It’s just so hopeful and eerily sad at the same time, all coming to a crescendo with the chorus line, ‘The loneliness has gone’. Again, call me a sentimental idiot if you must, but this song always gave me hope after each and every relationship or almost-relationship that didn’t work out, that one day I would find the right one. Happily I can now say with confidence, that I finally have, and will take those new roads together with him. Yeah, yeah I know, I’m sure even he will be reaching for the sick bag after reading that. At any rate, these are the songs that I feel characterise the wide-eyed, often naïve and foolish, but well-meaning, me that was beginning to enter adulthood. Even now at the ripe old age of 30, I still feel like I’m mostly pretending and ‘winging it’ with the whole adult-ing thing, but I’m sure experience and music will show me the way like it always has.
Anyone else have songs that take them back to certain times in their life, evoke memories good or bad? Let me know what makes up the soundtrack of your life 🙂
Check out my debut poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!
So here we are with the next selection of tracks within my writing/feel good playlist, songs to cheer me up or lift that dreaded writer’s block. Anyone else out there have their own writing playlists? Feel free to link me or share 🙂
Happy – The Lighthouse Family – ‘Who says you can’t be happy all the time?’ – well, exactly. A nice little reminder to just relax and let life float by sometimes.
Imitation of Life – R.E.M. – Mellow yet upbeat at the same time, a fun one to sing along to, even if you don’t entirely understand the lyrics (a running theme with these guys I think…)
Clocks – Coldplay – Powerful with quite an eerie, haunting feeling, this is one I constantly listen to. Have imagined this as an opening theme to a TV adaptation of a book series I’ve been working on for years, so should I ever finish writing the damn thing…
Words – Doves – You might question a writer liking a song where the lyrics include ‘Words, they mean nothing’, but here it is in the context of not letting hurtful ones stop you in your tracks. A nice listen if someone’s pissed you off that day, I can assure you…
Pounding – Doves – Another one from the same album, this has such an energy and reassurance to it – but perhaps a reminder time is limited as well…
Love Pollution – Feeder – Again, I couldn’t just pick one from this album. A certain period in my life comes to mind whenever I listen to this – when I stopped fixating on the past and focused on who was right there in front of me…
So I’m currently attempting to put a writing/’feel-good’ playlist together, i.e. songs that always lift my mood and get my creative juices flowing. Does anyone else have to have some sort of soundtrack while writing? Would be interesting to know what my fellow creatives listen to 🙂
So here’s the first selection, with a few short words on each track.
(Currently these are in chronological order of release, but I may mess with the order a bit in future!)
Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi – I can’t not sing/roar along every time I hear this. (and yeah, Gina, sometimes I dream of running away too, I feel ya girl)
I Am the Resurrection – The Stone Roses – The lyrics are so deliciously venomous in this one – ‘You’re a no-one nowhere washed-up baby who’d look better dead’ is particularly satisfying. I consider this song what I’d wish to say to a particularly toxic person from my past, if I ever saw them again. (instrumental at the end is nice too)
Driftwood – Travis – For similar reasons as #7, I suppose. Drifting under bridges, never with the flow, indeed…
Yellow – Coldplay -During their glory days, they don’t quite capture lightning like this these days, sadly…
Buck Rogers – Feeder – I’m instantly a teenager in 2001 again when I hear this. I must admit, I thought it was ‘Drink cider from eleven‘ for the longest time (it’s actually ‘from a lemon’ – I guess the idea of drinking from 11am onwards seemed perfectly rational to me…)
That’s it for Vol. 1! Stay tuned for Vol. 2 to come very soon…
Check out my debut poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!