Originally Published: May 12, 2020
Over ten years ago, I had this idea for a blog post called The Soundtrack of My Life. The idea is to look back at all the songs that have played an intricate part of my life then list and discuss them. It’s a sort of self-reflection that is going to take a lot of time and research not to mention some hard decision making. I love music and I have hundreds upon hundreds of songs that I love, so it’s daunting to think about sitting down and trying to list songs that actually affected my life or defined a moment of my life versus songs that I enjoy listening to.
While working on this list, I discovered a lot about what I listened to, how my musical tastes changed, and the role music plays in your life. Looking over this list, I see a handful of songs I listen to regularly, but a lot of this was just background noise during big changes in my lifetime. It’s a little wild how they sort of imprint on your mind, whether the experience are good or bad.
In order to create this list, I’ve placed the songs in chronological order in which they came into my life. This is NOT by the release year of the song. Some of the songs were several years removed from when they were first released. So when you see a date, just know that’s an estimate of when the song came into my life and made an impact.
1986 – Glory of Love – Peter Cetera
This is the first song I ever remember enjoying. The Karate Kid II came out in 1986, so I would have made me three or four years old when around the time that I heard it. I have a vivid memory of pulling up to my uncle’s house while The Glory of Love was playing on the radio and my dad turning our old Nissan Stanza fan off. I squealed out that we had to turn the car back on and my parents sat there in amazement as their tiny child demanded to listen to Peter Cetera. Yea… I was a weird kid.
1988 – Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
What do I remember about 1988? Well, I remember Spud MacKenzie, getting the USS Flagg for my birthday, and the music video for Don’t Worry, Be Happy. This song was another song that was played a lot on the radio and MTV, and I was fascinated by the minimalistic music video. It would fifteen years before I’d recognize Chevy Chase in the video.
1989 – Kokomo – The Beach Boys
I liked Glory of Love, but I LOVED Kokomo. Kokomo came out in 1988 and the song was all over the radio. The fun, tropical beat really appealed to me. One afternoon my parents were going through all their old LPs and I heard them say The Beach Boys. I lit up and told them I loved The Beach Boys. They were surprised that I knew who the Beach Boys were and immediately put the album on. As soon as a song would start I’d respond with, “That’s not The Beach Boys” and so they’d move the needle to the next track. This went on for the entire album and I stood by that it was not The Beach Boys.
1991 – 2 Legit 2 Quit – MC Hammer
MC Hammer burst onto the music scene with Can’t Touch This back in 1990, but it was his follow up hit, 2 Legit 2 Quit that caught my attention. 2 Legit 2 Quit felt epic and for this first grader, I was all over it. It led to me getting my first ever cassette tape and I can remember listening to it over and over on my parent’s stereo system while lying on their waterbed.
1992 – Jump – Kriss/Kross
MC Hammer opened my eyes to an emerging urban rap scene and being a child, there was no hotter group than child rap group Kriss/Kross. They inspired me to put my jacket on backwards while at school (it’s incredibly uncomfortable BTW) and they became the second cassette tape I ever owned. My parents divorced around this time and my Kriss/Kross tape accompanied me on awkward family vacations and provided music for my first of many school changes.
1992 – End of the Road – Boys II Men
In 1992, Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang came out. It was a raunchy sex comedy that somehow I managed to see. I fell in love with the film and the soundtrack and I just about wore out the cassette tape. The soundtrack was full of great artists like PM Dawn, Babyface, and A Tribe Called Quest, but it was Boys II Men that caught my ear. End of the Road is arguably still my favorite Boys II Men song.
1993 – Simply The Best – Tina Turner and Some Girls Do – Sawyer Brown
My parents divorced around 1993 and for around six or eight months I lived with my mom in a tiny duplex. I can’t be sure all of what my mom was feeling and going through, but she listened to these two songs on a loop on our massive stereo system. Of course, this was 1993, so when I saw on a loop, I mean she’d listen to the song the once it was over, she’d stop it, rewind the tape, and hit play again. I’m not kidding when I heard both of these songs played back-to-back a dozen or two times each time she felt like listening to music.
1995 – I Wish – Skee-Lo
In 1995, I moved to Orlando, Florida, and I’ll never forgetting listening to my Walkman and hearing I Wish for the first time while driving onto the base we were going to be living on. I Wish was a catchy song that got quite a bit of play that summer and I remember hearing it all over the base in places like The Exchange and the barber shop.
1995 – Too Much Love Will Kill You – Queen
Both my mom and Wayne’s World introduced me to Queen in the 90’s, and they quickly became one of my all-time favorite bands. I listened to so much Queen in the 90’s, I rarely listen to Queen now because quite frankly, I think I’ve exhausted myself on their music. I remember sitting at the beauty salon with my grandmother in Orlando where I lived and being bored out of my mind. I decided to walk over to the next shopping center and visit a music store. This music store was like most music stores in the 90’s, it was full of cassettes and CDs and was really overpriced. It was one of those places that charged $17.99 for pretty much anything in the store.
I stumbled upon a new Queen album called Made in Heaven, which was the first and final Queen album released after Freddie Mercury’s death. On this album was a song originally recorded in 1988 but then re-recorded in 1995 called Too Much Love Will Kill You. It wasn’t a traditional Queen song, but it was a good song nonetheless. Once my grandma finished getting her hair cut, she swung by and bought me the single for Too Much Love Will Kill You.
1996 – Songbird – Kenny G
My dad loved this song. Not too unlike my mom a few years later, he’d listen to this song on a loop, luckily CDs were around by this point in time which made it a little less annoying.
1999 – Talk Dirty to Me – Poison
In 1999, VH1 aired Poison Behind the Music and I fell in love with the band. For five to six years, Poison was my favorite band of all-time. I’m not sure if it was the awesome story that VH1 told or finally putting faces to the great music that I liked, but something just clicked. I still like Poison, but I don’t listen to them nearly as much as I did. That Best of Poison 1986-1996 CD was probably the CD I listened to the most of during my entire life. This song and time period is what launched me into my interest in 80’s metal/hair bands and that dominated the music I listened to for years to come.
2001 – Heaven is a Half-Pipe – OPM
By the year 2000, it was already becoming difficult to find non pop music videos on MTV. Usually you’d have to watch sometime after midnight before any blocks of music videos would begin. I would set my VCR to record these blocks and find hidden gems, like Heaven is a Half-Pipe.
It was 2000, Tony Hawk video games were ruling the world and the X-Games were the hottest sport on TV, so skateboarding was everywhere. This simple, and even goofy song came out at a perfect time and it’s catchy chorus could keep you signing for hours. Even now I have a hard time getting the song out of my head, should it get in there. My brother and I would go around singing Heaven is a Half-Pipe all the time, and I even ripped the song of my Xbox hard drive so I could listen to it while playing Tony Hawk.
2001 – I Just Want You – Ozzy Osbourne
We all go through these awkward growing years where we develop a social life, relationships, and all that fun stuff. I didn’t really go through this in high school, but it did blossom once I finished high school and was working full-time. My love of 80’s metal had continued to evolve and I found myself listening to a lot of Ozzy at that time which was around 2001. Unlike today where you have YouTube and song previews, you had to go in blind when buying albums and I picked up The Ozzman Cometh and discovered all sorts of great Ozzy songs I’d never heard. One of the songs that really appealed to me the most was I Just Want You, and this CD was in my car during all my lunch dates, trips to the movies, and general hanging out. I developed my first real crush around this time and all that teenage angst and confusing feelings emerged and I had Ozzy there to channel my emotions and keep me company.
2001- Crash Into Me – Dave Matthews
I would never call myself a Dave Matthews fan, but I enjoy some of his songs. Crash Into Me is the one I remember most fondly, not because of its quality, but because it was played on a loop while working at Blockbuster. It was one of the many music video that played as part of our hour long video package, so I got used to hearing it quite a bit. Its cemented in my mind as one of the songs that immediately takes me back to the dusty shelves of Blockbuster and reminds me of my late teens/early twenties.
2002 – Ignition (Remix) – R. Kelly
After leaving Blockbuster, I worked for an IT company on the Navy base. It was a decent job where I met some really cool people, including one guy named Tom, who became a mentor to me. He was seven or eight years older than me and taught me tons about working out and women. He also introduced me to some new music that was outside of the mostly 80’s metal that I listened to. One of those songs was R. Kelly’s Ignition Remix. This song really defines my time working on base and the beginning few months of my first real relationship.
2003 – Superman – Eminem
In my eyes Eminem was at his peak in 2002, and Superman was one of those “Wow, I can’t believe he went there” songs. It was the type of song you’d listen to after a breakup or if you were truly angry with a girl. I had a mini-breakup with my then girlfriend and I’ll never forget going home and just listening to this on a loop. If there is one thing Eminem does well is channel anger for his listeners.
2003 – Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming – Deep Purple
I have a love/hate relationship with this song. I love the title and I love how the song begins, but once it shifts into a heavier rock song I begin to dislike it. Still, I listened to this song because of the title. I think it’s one of those things we can all relate to. But lyrically and everything else about the song relate to me in absolutely no way. Despite all this, I listened to this song a bunch in 2002-2003 and it was one of the songs that accompanied me on my drive to the Navy College where I took classes. Anytime I hear it, I instantly think back to driving on the road right in front of the new Navy College building in Millington, Tennessee.
2003 – Cherry Pie – Warrant
Okay, this is by far the most cringe entry on this list. In 2003, I was nineteen or twenty and just gotten my 1994 Mazda Miata. It was red with white racing stripes and I loved that little car. I also thought I was the shit in it. I lost a ton of weight and was living my best life, which usually consisted with the top being down and blasting my favorite music which a lot of times included Cherry Pie by Warrant.
2004 – The End Has Come – Ben Moody featuring Jason Miller and Jason “Gong” Jones
In the early 2000’s, I’d gotten back into comics in a big way. We were on a cusp of some big time comic book movies with X-Men and Spider-man leading the way. I was all about any and all comic book movies, and the upcoming Punisher adaptation was one of my most anticipated films of 2004. It wasn’t the most faithful adaptation but it was a damn good movie, and I really enjoyed the soundtrack. I discovered one song called The End Has Come that really connected with me and I listened to that track hundreds of times over the years. I was going through a lot around this time. My father had begun heavy drinking, I got booted out of my house, and I was hanging on by a thread. This song played through those late night drives to clear my mind that I so often took.
2005 – Cells – The Servant
In late 2004/early 2005, the first trailer was released for Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City. It featured an amazing instrumental song that I discovered online was sampled from a song called Cells by a small British band named The Servant. I quickly sought out their album and then every other piece of music by them that I could find. I fell in love with The Servant hard and looking back they are probably one of my all-time favorite bands. I don’t think I heard a song that I didn’t like by them, and for years I listened to their music almost on a loop. Like some of the other music on this list, I might have overplayed it a little and rarely listen to it now.
Still, when I think back to going to college and my final days in Memphis, I can’t help but think about listening to The Servant. I even brought a song in to have my Music Appreciation class listen to.
2006 – Something to Say – Kane
2005-2005 is when I discovered Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I went all in on learning everything I could about the show and its spin-off Angel. One of the things I learned as that Christian Kane, who portrayed Lindsay on Angel, had a band called Kane. I searched for their songs online and found a great song called Carolina Rain. It was a nice country song that I digged. But then I downloaded a handful of rock songs that were obviously not by his band. There is also a Dutch band named Kane and they had a song called Something to Say I absolutely loved. It became one of those songs I just about wore out I listened to it so much.
This song really defines the time that I worked at GameStop. I was nerding out about Buffy most days and listening to Kane on my hour long drive to the mall.
2009 – A Favor House Atlantic – Coheed and Cambria
I still don’t know if I like Coheed and Cambria. They were an indie group that had a few hits around 2008 and then fizzled away. I remember discovering two songs of theirs I liked, A Favor Hour Atlantic and Feathers, but I really couldn’t stand any of their other music. I was listening to this song quite a lot in May of 2008 which was during a very difficult time. The movie theater I worked had just been purchased by Regal Entertainment and everything went to hell overnight. Mismanagement and utter incompetency reigned and we were left working crazy hours into the early morning trying to keep the building up and running the opening weekend of Iron Man. Coheed and Cambria was my soundtrack to this chaos and now it’s one of those songs that doesn’t really bring back good memories.
2009 – Gold Digger, Take a Bow, Alone, No Air – Glee
In 2009, I decided to give Hulu a try. I signed up for a free trial and was disappointed with their selection of TV shows. I noticed a new show called Glee on there which had just aired its fourth episode. I decided to turn it on for a few minutes and see what it was all about. Four episodes later, I was obsessed and I had to walk into work the next day and admit that I had just watched the least masculine show I could think of to my music lover boss, who I knew if he gave the show a chance he’d love. After some jokes, he did give Glee a shot and fell in love with the show like me, which lasted all of the first season and then the show went to hell. It was hard to pick just one song, so I decided to list several, because these song were in endless rotation on my mp3 player at that time.
2010 – Coastline Journey – Mishka
Around 2009-2010, I decided a little change of pace in my life would be a good thing. I wanted things to slow down a bit and I started following Matthew McConaughey’s guide to life, just keep living (JK Livin). This led me into discovering a Canadian reggae artist named Mishka that Matthew McCaonughey had signed to his JK Livin record label. The relaxing Caribbean beats soothed my soul and gave me something new and different to listen to. I even went to a couple of Mishka’s concerts. Mishka was the backbone of a new relaxed version of myself, one that I desperately need to get back in touch with.
2012 – War – Poets of the Fall
My all-time favorite video game is Alan Wake. It’s the perfect combination of third person shooter, Stephen King, and The Twilight Zone. I love the atmosphere, the insanity, and the music. One of my favorite moments of the game occurs inside a shed when a radio is playing a song called War by Poets of the Fallen. It’s so unexpecting to hear music with lyrics, it’s almost as startling as when Jose Gonzalez’s Far Away begins in Red Dead Redemption.
Thanks to Alan Wake, I discovered Poets of the Fallen and enjoy a lot of their music. War is by far my favorite song of theirs, and it’s one of my go to “pick me ups” songs.
2013 – Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker
I was driving home from Tennessee the first time I heard Wagon Wheel. It was such a fun and upbeat song, it instantly stuck in my head. Little did I know all the radio stations, country and pop would play this song to death over the next six months. Still, it defined a moment in my life where I just listened to the hell out of it.
2013 – Oats in the Water – Ben Howard / Last Pale Light in the West – Ben Nichols
Both of these songs I heard while watching The Walking Dead, somewhere around the season with The Governor. They were simple folk songs that just spoke to me. I listened to both songs on a loop and eventually discovered other alternative country artists that I still listen to often.
2015 – Annabelle – The Duhks
Speaking of folk/alternative country artists, The Duhks did an amazing rendition of Annabelle for the tv show Hell on Wheels. The song was cut to a beautiful montage and I knew I had to find it. Annabelle is one of those songs I’ve yet to tire of and I listen to it at least monthly, if not several times a month on one of my western playlists.
2017 – Return to Innocence – Enigma
One of my favorite infomercials of the 90’s was for Pure Moods, a collection of new age music. The commercial was iconic and I loved a lot of the songs I heard on it but I never got my hands on the actual album until 2017 when I ran across it at a thrift store. I actually managed to find the second and third albums as well and I really enjoyed this time period where I listened to relaxing music and spent my weekends thrifting.
2018 – Writings on the Wall – Sam Smith
I hated this song. I hated it with a passion, but I still put it in my James Bond mix on Google Music and after a few listens, I started to appreciate it. Then that appreciation grew and I started to love it. I spent a lot of time driving and listening to this song in 2018. I was going through buying a house and then a divorce and I spent a lot of time driving between work, my mom’s, and a friend’s house while listening to this song.
2018 – Bridges Burn – Paul Otten
Bridges Burn is a song that I first heard playing on an episode of Longmire. It’s strange how some songs really connect with a person and Bridges Burn is one of those songs that I instantly loved. It’s probably in my top three songs of all-time and every time I hear it, it feels new and fresh which is shocking considering that I’ve listened to it at least a hundred times.
2019 – If Only – Maria Taylor, Conor Oberst
In January of 2019, I discovered the TV show This is Us and that first season had an amazing soundtrack. My favorite song from the first season was If Only and this became a song I jammed out to a lot. I remember driving and listening to it on a loop because for some reason iy just really spoke to me at that moment in my life.
2019 – The Comeback Kid – The Midnight
I heard this song in early 2019 and I swore it would be my anthem for the year and it was. The lyrics of this song really spoke to me as I was coming off a divorce, some awkward friendships, a weird living arrangement and so on. I knew I had to get my crap together and I’d end 2019 in a much better place than 2018 and I did. I found myself listening to this song quite often as I explored the subgenre of Outrun music and it still perks me up when I hear it.
2020 – Middle of Nowhere – Hot Hot Heat
This is a song I just recently discovered on a Spotify playlist made up of the songs featured in the TV show Psych. It’s catchy, fun, and reminds me of the mid 2000’s. It’s been my song of 2020 and whenever I’m in a mood it picks me up.
I know for a fact I’ll never be happy with this post. There will always be songs that I’ve forgotten about and that drives me nuts. But, I guess this is as good as its gonna get it. I’ve had this post in draft status for several years. I’m glad to see if finally, somewhat done.