I’ve mentioned before that I do not listen to music while I write fiction (although Amanda gave some great tips on that!). However, I hope that has not given you all the impression that I don’t like music. In fact, I love music. The reason I cannot write to it is because it distracts me; I enjoy listening to it too much to focus on much else at the same time.
Music is a wondrous art form. It is, arguably, the art form that brings up the most emotions and memories instantly upon contact. While I love books, reading a certain passage never quite strikes me the same way as hearing that perfect lyric or that gorgeous guitar chord. So today, I want to share with you ten songs I love. However, these are not just songs I enjoy, these are songs that carry specific, personal meaning for me. If my life were to have a soundtrack, these would make up Side A.
1. Helena by My Chemical Romance
Confession time: My Chemical Romance is my band. I can’t describe it to outsiders. Gerard Way’s lyrics speak to me in a way that no other verbal art ever has — books included. I feel the music in my blood. The first song I heard by them was “Helena,” which is also one of their most well-known songs. I was thirteen, and I learned the lyrics from a friend while we swam in the Lake of the Ozarks before I even heard the band perform it. I listened to it on repeat for the three hour drive home. It was love at first listen.
2. Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas
This may be my favorite song of all time. I’ve always loved it, but it first grew meaning for me as the season finale theme to the TV show Supernatural. As a teenager, I grew a bit away from my dad, as girls are wont to do. But Supernatural brought us back together and bonded us stronger than ever (which is a feat, because I’ve always been a daddy’s girl). Now, we have matching Supernatural tattoos, and we danced to this song at my wedding.
3. American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Every summer, my parents and I drive down to Stockton Lake. It’s our favorite relaxation spot. When the Kansas City radio stations begin to crackle out, we put in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’s Greatest Hits. This is the first track and my favorite. It always takes me back to those lake trips and that feeling of being young and not quite sure how to grasp life yet (which I still experience as a young woman).
4. Second Chance by Shinedown
When I was seventeen, we had to put down my first horse. I had lost pets (which I consider siblings) before, but I had never witnessed the process of putting an animal down. After it was over, I had to move my car to a different spot in our driveway. This song had just started. The lyrics are strangely fitting, and now it always makes me think of that day. Luckily, it has also extended to remind me of all the happy memories I shared with my horse.
5. Kids by MGMT
Once upon a time in middle school, the “cool” thing to do was wander around this one subdivision late at night with friends. One night, we all went back to someone’s house and had a “rave” in the basement. This song brings me back to wandering the streets and feeling absolutely free with my friends. For this freedom connection, it is also the song I listen to when I need help getting in the right mindset to write.
6. Kerosene by Miranda Lambert
I’ve been told that everyone has a break up song. This was mine in high school. It’s about a woman who is cheated on and burns the guy’s house down. If my MCR love and the plot of The Cogsmith’s Daughter didn’t clue you in, I love revenge tales.
7. Bastards at the Gate by The Architects
I can already tell you, when I move to Connecticut, this will be my homesick music. The Architects are a local band; I would argue the best in Kansas City. This song swells my KC pride and reminds me of the many KC and Lawrence adventures I’ve had with my best friend, Sam. I will always think of driving around with the windows down with her when I hear this band.
8. Homecoming Queen by Hinder
Hinder was my first “real” concert. I attended with my best friend, Jess. Hinder always makes me think of her. It was also my paper writing music in university. I don’t know what it is, but I can listen to music while writing academic papers, but only if it is Hinder. Listening to this song still makes my eyes strain and brings hints of late night Mountain Dews to my tongue.
9. Take Me for a Ride by Bad City
Incidentally, Bad City was the supporting band for my first concert. Jess and I are the only people I know who have heard of this now-gone gem, so again, it reminds me of her. However, more strikingly, it reminds me of driving home from university. First semester freshman year, I hated my roommate and always went home on the weekends. I drove home eating a green apple and listening to this album. This is the song that came on as I reached the city limits of my university’s town.
10. Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips
Daniel and I have many songs — a whole album’s worth. But, if we are being honest, this is probably our song. In late November 2013, we were stuck on a bridge due to an accident. It was the holiday season where the PS4 and XBOX One were both coming out. The radio DJ was on an idealistic rant about how maybe his wife would buy him one (or both!) for Christmas. Whenever he did, he played the “I would do it for yoooou!” lyric. Daniel and I thought this was hilarious, and it has been our “true” song ever since.
What are your favorite songs and/or artists? What songs will always carry special meaning for you? Music lovers unite in the comments!