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Six Songs of Me

August 17, 2012

The Guardian recently launched a project called Six Songs of Me, in which people name the significant songs that have soundtracked their lives in six different categories. Here’s my list. I’d be interested in seeing yours.

Here’s the back story behind my choices.

1. What was the first song you ever bought?
Stray Cat Strut,” by Stray Cats

This was the signature song on the first album I ever owned, Built for Speed. Technically I didn’t buy it — it was a Christmas gift, I think, when I was in fifth or sixth grade, along with a Walkman cassette player. The second album I ever owned was also a gift — a K-Tel compilation called Radio Active. I don’t remember for certain the first album I ever bought with my own money. It might have been Private Eyes by Hall and Oates, or I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, or American Fool by John Mellencamp (then known as John Cougar). Anyway, it’s cliche to say it, but I probably listened to all of those albums until the cassettes wore out.

2. What song always gets you dancing?
I Want You Back,” by the Jackson 5

Does this one even need a back story? Someday I will teach myself these dance moves, and make an unsuspecting karaoke crowd feel a combination of disturbed and aroused.

3. What song takes you back to your childhood?
Sixteen Tons,” by Tennessee Ernie Ford

This is the earliest song I remember liking. I probably first heard it on KRVN in a pickup truck in a pasture.

4. What is your perfect love song?
Apeman,” by The Kinks

This song is bouncy, unserious, fun, humble, and above all, a celebration of escapism. That’s also what love feels like, or ought to feel like. (Also, there are references to taking off clothes, and “eating bananas.”)

5. What song would you want at your funeral?
Starálfur,” by Sigur Rós

This song, sung in Icelandic, accompanies the beautiful climactic scene of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, in which Steve and his crew witness the jaguar shark from their minisub, and Steve mourns the deaths of two loved ones. I don’t know what the song is about. It doesn’t matter.

6. Time for the encore. One last song that makes you, you.
My Back Pages,” by Bob Dylan

Over and over in my life, experience has forced me to revise some naively passionate, serious belief of my past, and replace it with a more realistic one. Sometimes this means I go from idealistic to jaded, but sometimes it’s the other way around. This song is the basic anthem of that process: “Ah, but I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.” The original song is fantastic, of course, but I’m also enthusiastic about the 1992 performance in which Dylan joins forces with five other iconic rockers: Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison.


From → Culture, Music, Personal

  1. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for sharing the Six Songs of You. You’ve inspired me to create my own…here’s the link:


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  1. Six Songs of Me « The O'Doyle Rules

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