So, a year ago, I posted a writeup about something I do, and now here’s my second part. What I do is, I keep playlists of my favorite songs over my life, what I call my Personal Playlists, that help remind me of who I am, who I was, and the times that were had.
BTW, There’s currently 13 of these, I’m working on #14. Din’t know if I’ll do them all.
The first one was my favorite songs of all time, the things that define me overall. #2, however, is the first one where it’s all about a part of my life. In my case, it’s about High School and after college. I won’t say high school was the best time of my life, but my Senior year and first year of college were definitely the most impactful period of years on my life I’ve ever had.
So here are the rules: each playlist is under 80 minutes, the length of the CD-R. Why? Because I started doing this in the age of CDs. Stop hating. I try to name these after a lyric in the songs, but there are exceptions. This one ended up taking a title of one of the songs, which is appropriate: being a friend is an incredibly contentious thing at times between men and women, especially when one wants more. This wasn’t the period that was my best in life, but it did shape me.
What are you going to find here? A lot of 1990’s music, to start. After all, that’s when all this happened. There’s a few sugary pop songs, a couple of things that you’ve heard, and a couple of things you might not have. If you grew up in the 1990’s, there’s probably a couple of songs you haven’t heard in a while. And Disney.
This playlist really exemplifies my love of soundtracks. Five songs come from soundtracks (as opposed to ones that may have ended up on them eventually). Not only were soundtracks a different, bigger deal during this time, but I loved that you could get one and get a taste test of so many different bands and singers.
So, enjoy. Maybe I won’t wait a year to get to #3.
And I won’t let you down
I’ll be everything you taught me
And all that I know is I’ll wait
Patiently to see you in heaven
Straight from one rather depressing song to another, going from the last song of Playlist #1 to the start of this one. The grief in this song is overwhelming, and far too real for me, but it struck a chord with me, even in high school before I really knew how or why it could. This particular version is hard to find, as it was an alternate version on the CD single for this song, but I find it far more affecting than the regular one. With artists like Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey, how could it not be?
They all said “she’s just another groupie slut”
And I said I thought you were anything but
Think again, sometimes reputations outlive their applications
You may not recognize the name of this song, but if you grew up in the 1990’s, you probably heard this. This is the song played at the end of Empire Records, on top of the record store marquee. The soundtrack version doesn’t have Renee Zellweger’s vocals, which isn’t the worst thing, but it is missing a little something. This song, particularly its first lines, remind me of how reputations mean nothing, especially in high school. They are thrown around with little regard to reality…but then, that’s not just true in high school.
Fun fact: The singer, Coyote Shivers, was actually in the movie. These days, he’s best known as the ex-husband (accused of being abusive) of Pauley Perrette, Abby from NCIS.
You’re the reason I live
You’re the reason I die
You’re the reason I give
When I break down and cry
Don’t need no reason why
Oh, Aerosmith. The truth is, as I explore these personal playlists, I’m surprised this band isn’t around in more places on it. But this classic song is here for one reason, and if you’ve read “To Hell With Fate”, I pretty much stole this one from real life for the book. A girl I cared for quite a bit tended to sing it to herself. And because of that, it’s hard to not remember fondly.
In the bone colored dawn, me and Gypsy Scotty are singin’
The radio is playin, she left her shoes out in the back
He tells me a story about some girl he knows in Kentucky
He just made that story up, there ain’t no girl like that
This is one of those songs that the moment it comes on, there’s a mood delivered right in that moment. The lyrics are all about South Florida, but the beat is something more real. It’s a night out, it’s relaxing, it’s fun. The lyrics are evocative and beautiful. But within the song, it feels like how I felt throughout much of high school: the girl I liked, with someone else, and the evocative nature of those feelings lock this song in, here.
‘Cause how could you give your love to someone else
And share your dreams with me
Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for
Is the one thing you can’t see
Just look at those lyrics. Isn’t that the early definition of a friendzone? I know that the Friendzone thing is not a good thing to stick yourself into and represents a lot of bad attitudes, but this was the song that first made me wonder those very thoughts. However, its place in my life is a moment that was a bit more heartbreaking, a moment where I let an opportunity slip through my fingers. If I ever have to list regrets in my life, that’ll be a big one. It may be a very generic love ballad, but sometimes, those are the ones that hit you.
I’ll let you touch it if you’d
Like to go down
I’ll let you go further
If you take the southern route
TLC…I was lucky enough to see one of their last live concerts before Lisa Left Eye Lopez passed away, though this song was long before that day. This is the second song (and not the last) with some overt sexual references, but I’ll always remember one friend smiling at me in a car, looking back at me and saying “You know what they’re talking about, don’t you?” I did, but I knew it ever more after that.
There is one way to ask her
It don’t take a word
Not a single word
Go on and kiss the girl
#8 – Kiss The Girl – Jodi Benson – The Little Mermaid Soundtrack
Wish I could be
Part of that world
I’m combining songs 8 and 9 because they really are part of one memory in my life. For one semester of high school, I did “Technical Theater”, which was signing and dancing. There was a dearth of male singers, and no one wanted to do a solo, so I volunteered, and being an unabashed Disney fan after the recent new classic films, I offered to do “Kiss the Girl.” What I didn’t expect was that a girl I had a crush on also wanting to sing, and they turned it into a Little Mermaid medley between us two. Nerve-wracking, and I completely sucked on stage, but…I did it.
With doubt the vicious circle
Turn and burns
Without you I cannot live
Forgive, the yearning burning
I believe it’s time, too real to feel
So touch me now, touch me now, touch me now
Because the night belongs to lovers
Talk about a catchy song. The Unplugged version of 10,000 Maniacs was spectacular, but nothing more than this song, a rocking, version with strings and piano and Natalie Merchant singing the hell out of it. I remember listening to it over and over in Arizona, visiting family, making me feel like a borderline relevant teen. I still crave listening to this song.
Will you make me some magic with your own two hands?
Will you build and emerald city with these grains of sand?
Can you give me something I can take home?
I can do that
I can do that
Will you cater to every fantasy I got?
Will you hose me down with holy water, if I get too hot?
Will you take me places I’ve never known?
Oh, Meat Loaf. Another artist who had a really huge influence on me as a creative person. The long songs, the fluid lyrics. He was an unlikely guy to get hot as a pop star, but he did. So many lyrics to choose from, as well… This song was one I got to bond over with one of those high school crushes. One memorable night singing after a date, in the car. Not the last girl I’d break out into song with.
She was a fast machine she kept her motor clean
She was the best damn woman that I ever seen
She had the sightless eyes telling me no lies
Knocking me out with those American thighs
This song had been out for a long while when I started in high school, but those guitar licks made my high school class scream with excitement whenever it came on. From small dances in our school’s courtyard to grad night, this song made it fun to be on the dance floor.
You take up my time
Like some cheap magazine
When I could have been learning something
Oh well, you know what I mean
Here’s a song that, if you read the lyrics, just sounds cruel. But the song, to hear it, is amazing. It starts off as a quiet, alt-rock sorrowfest, but the second half bursts into an amazing piece of hyper shade-throwing. Also, it comes in an amazing burst of creativity in one of my favorite cult films of high school, Great Expectations. But it’s the song of a man who is fed up with his trying to be everything he believes he is supposed to be, and cannot understand why the person he wants to see it doesn’t.
Yes, the friendzone rearing its ugly head. Does sharing that I had these emotions reflect well on me? No. But it is a lot of who I was when I was young. Not saying it was right to be it, but it absolutely influenced me.
If you need a friend
Don’t look to a stranger
You know in the end, I’ll always be there
But when you’re in doubt
And when you’re in danger
Take a look all around, and I’ll be there
Another song that had a lot to do with someone I cared about enjoying it. While “Angel” up above did a lot to change how I thought I was supposed to see the girl I loved, this song told me a lot about who I was supposed to be. There’s that f-word again, of course. No matter how jaded I got as I got older, this song is still there, the promise that I made to a girl…and I failed her. I’ve tried to live up to the promise better as I’ve gotten older. I think I’ve done better, but…I don’t know.
Why didn’t I say the things I needed to say
How could I let my angel get away
Now my world is just a-tumblin’ down
I can say it so clearly but you’re nowhere around
While this song hit right when a girl I cared about was out of town, it reflected a lot of my youth, counting on my actions to say what I felt, rather than using words. In a lot of parts of life, I do feel that actions are more important than words, but words are pretty damned important as well. The sadness in this song made me have a pretty solid love for Tony Rich’s music.
I should have seen it coming when roses died
Should have seen the end of summer in your eyes
I should have listened when you said good night
You really meant good bye
Baby, ain’t it funny, how you never ever learn to fall
You’re really on your knees, when you think you’re standing tall
But only fools are “know-it-alls” and I played that fool for you
I wasn’t in love when the moments that this song evokes happened, I just loved the girl, but regardless, this song hits me for one particular moment, when a girl I’d spent far too long not telling I cared about decided to stop letting me hang around. I fully earned that decision, and I don’t blame her, but that was a kick in the gut that took a long time to recover from emotionally.
And when you’re feeling open I’ll still be here
But not without a certain degree of fear
Of what will be with you and me
I still can see things hopefully
Oh, this song came when I felt so bitter about what had happened. When I did start to blame her. I was looking for anger, and I couldn’t process a lot of the pain, so I turned it on others. That was a mistake. But even in all that pain and bitterness, there was this hope that things might yet turn back the way I hoped. It was a futile hope, but it was there.
I was not your woman, I was not your friend,
But you gave me something to remember.
No other man said love yourself
Nobody else can.
We weren’t meant to be,
At least not in this lifetime,
But you gave me something to remember.
I hear you still say, “Love yourself”.
Once again, Madonna closes out my playlist, with another sad-sounding song, one of the classics to come out of the Dick Tracy-inspired album. After all that happened in high school, the fruitless crushes, this song isn’t about what I feel, or I felt. Instead, it’s the song that is all about how I hope the girls I so foolishly fell for and who shaped my life feel about me after it all. It was never going to happen, but I hope they knew that I truly felt emotion for them, not lust, and wanted them to be everything they wanted to be. I wasn’t close to being the man I wanted to be, but I hope I helped them, even if for a little while, know what they thought of themselves.