My Nostalgic Playlist – The Extended Version

After writing about music and memories for The Red Dress Club’s RemembeRED memoir prompt, I started thinking about it.

A lot.

I was disappointed in what I wrote, mainly because it was so scattered. And there wasn’t even a point. It read as if I didn’t even try.

And then, I started thinking about what I should have written. You know. An actual playlist. Or rather, a list of the songs that I connect with specific memories.

So that’s what this is. These are some of the songs that I have connected with certain memories. Some of them I love to be surprised by, and some I can’t jump up fast enough to skip over them (although, for some reason, I can’t bring myself to remove them from iTunes).

(This post includes affiliate links. Pretty much because I fail at YouTubeand couldn’t find videos for them all. And got a little lazy.)



Roxanne by The Police. Because what kind of playlist about my life would this be if I didn’t include this song? At my last job, there was a client who would sing it to me over the phone every time he called. And that was sometimes numerous times a day. And yet. I still never really get tired of it. Certain people in my life sing it in certain ways that makes it their own little song to me (or that’s how I hear it). I am also madly in love with the version from Moulin Rouge. That version was almost ruined for me by a certain former male acquaintance that I promise you don’t know, but I refused to let that happen. I love Ewan Mcgregor singing loudly: Roxaaaaaaaaaaaannnnne!

A Broken Wing by Martina McBride. And pretty much anything else she sang in the early 90s. I adopted my mother’s love for country music at a young age. I wanted to be a country singer. I remember nights spent in front of my tape player, listening to the cassette repeatedly, clutching the liner notes, memorizing the lyrics so I would have every single word correct. I can even remember singing Be That Way over the phone to a male friend I had a bit of a crush on. I can’t even remember why I was singing to him, but I chose that song because I liked the way it sounded – not the words themselves but the attitude she had when she sang them. Oh Edgar, were you laughing at me as much as I’m laughing about myself now?

Lil Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham & the Pharaoh’s Blackwell. I didn’t know this was a “real” song until I was in my late teens. My dad sang this all the time. “Hey there Little Red Riding Hood / You sure are looking good / You’re everything that a Big Bad Wolf could want / HOWL!” Typing that out makes it sound creepy that my dad would sing it to me. But it totally wasn’t. It was just one in a whole repertoire of songs from the 50s and 60s that my dad would sing and I would be older before I’d realize that they were “real” songs, and that he hadn’t made them up. I still love walking into a convenience store, or other unlikely place, and suddenly hearing one of these songs. Automatically my thoughts go to my dad and how much I loved to listen to him sing. One of those songs has even become the tune I sing to wake up the kiddo in the morning. “Rise and shine / reach for the stars / there goes Jupiter / here comes Mars.” (Okay, that one is a nursery rhyme not a song, but same idea. It’s my dad.)

Why Haven’t I Heard From You? by Reba McEntire. I still love this song. And I still love Reba (I was even mildly entertained by her TV show back when I was doing the SAHM thing). This song is my mom and I in the car, driving to the mall for a Cinnabon and maybe some new clothes. She’d turn the volume down so she could hear me sing.

I Just Can’t Wait to be King from The Lion King. I love pretty much all of the classic Disney movies. I have all of the lyrics from all of the songs memorized (well, most of them). But this song…this is me and my best friend (three years old through high school). Running around my front yard, playing this song on her new CD player. Making up a choreographed dance and performing for my little sister and some of the other younger kids from the neighborhood.

Building a Mystery by Sarah McLachlan. My brother bought the album Surfacing for my 14th birthday (I’m guessing, based on the year the album was released). He left notes for me to follow, ending at the ultimate treasure of this album. He kept telling me that he was “creating an enigma”. That was my hint. And I didn’t get it. But it’s still one of the best memories I have of my older brother.

My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion. Well who doesn’t think of Titanic when this song comes on? Who didn’t see it in theaters but had to wait until the TWO-TAPE VHS came out? Who was squished on a huge couch with three 13-15 year old boys the first time they watched it? Who grew beet red at the scene where a naked Kate Winslet is drawn by the very cute Leonardo DiCaprio because one of those boys was her cousin and another was the boy she was “madly in love with”? No, I don’t skip this when it comes on. I close my eyes and remember Michael, summers spent in Arizona with my aunt and her kids, and playing basketball at night because it’s the only time cool enough to play outside.

Blue (Da Ba De) by Eiffel 65. This is me and my two best friends in high school, dancing on rollerblades in the cul-de-sac my friend lived on. Blue and the lyrics I never really paid any attention to, blasting on her truck’s stereo. This is walking into her bedroom, techno blaring, and spontaneous dance parties until her mother tells us to turn it down. So we hop in the truck and drive around like maniacs. Not a care.

Spiderwebs by No Doubt. My friend Katie from junior high and high school. She was a major No Doubt fan. Probably still is. I’m pretty sure this was on her answering machine for a while there. Although I’m sure that happened a lot. “Leave a message and I’ll call you back…a likely story but leave a message and I’ll call you back.”

Still Waiting by Sum 41. Oh goodness. My first year away from home at college and mom wanted a list of things I might like for my birthday or Christmas. I put “Sum 41 CD” on the list because I’d liked this song. She called me one day and told me she would not be buying a Sum 41 CD for me but that I could buy it for myself if I would like. I was confused. I went online and checked it out. I laughed. My mom was always pretty cool, but she would not buy Does This Look Infected? for me simply because it “looked gross.” So I bought it for myself. And she’d probably hate to hear this album reminds me of her.

Satellite by Dave Matthews Band. And anything else by DMB. My first boyfriend. I was 17 years old and it was my second month in college. He was my neighbor in the dorms, and also had become a very good friend. We dated for a month. He loved DMB. Still does. I know this because we hung out last year. To this day, even after our weird little reunion (about which I will probably never tell you more than I just told you), I still skip tracks or change the radio station if a DMB song comes on.

Bouncing Off the Walls by Sugarcult. Road trip. Bakersfield, CA to Miami, FL and back. Summer of 2002. Susannah popped a mix-CD in the player and I was hooked. She told me the band name and I scribbled it into a notebook as a reminder to buy the CD for myself. Except I heard her wrong. I wrote “Sugar Colt.” It didn’t take too long at Target to figure out my mistake. Despite driving through the humid Southern states in the middle of summer without a working air conditioner, the trip was fantastic. And this one little song reminds me of a diner in the middle of Texas, camping on the side of an old highway in New Mexico, kept awake at night by cicadas, almost getting killed by psychotic Florida drivers, a club in Miami, a sweet boy with a gas mask in Tennessee, and the first time I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

M!ssundaztood by P!nk (entire album). C’Lee and I. College. 2002-2004. Driving over Mount Rose from Tahoe to Reno for various reasons. Singing at the top of our lungs. Changing lyrics to fit current situations. “You can run over me with your 18 wheeler stupid Chevy truck but/ You can’t keep me down…” Silly almost choreographed car dancing ensuing. Then Try This came out and we had even more to entertain us on those drives. (see also The Young and the Hopeless by Good Charlotte)

Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks. No, this doesn’t remind me of my first time leaving home and celebrating my freedom. No, this reminds me of that Dixie Chick that said she was ashamed George Bush was from Texas and the world went crazy. I wrote an editorial about the idiocy in my college newspaper. So now all their songs make me think of that fun time I had writing for the paper. Except one…

Goodbye Earl by the Dixie Chicks. More car dancing, singing at the top of my lungs with my girl friends from college.

Flavor of the Week by American Hi-Fi. Oh goodness. The pot-smoking, video-game-playing, skipping-classes guy that was just too cute for me to avoid. We never really dated. We never had sex. But I spent a lot of time at his place, which was right across from the dorms I lived in, and spent many nights snuggled in bed with him watching Planet of the Apes (the remake, not the original) or other movies I thought were just ridiculous. Or hanging out in his living room, him and his friends smoking pot from a hookah with 4 pipes, and me tucked into a giant chair studying. It wasn’t even a relationship that made any sense. To anybody.

Takeoffs and Landings by The Ataris. I don’t know what really zeroed me in on this song in particular. My friend, Ali, brought a CD player in before Poetry one day and The Ataris were playing. I don’t even know which album. But Ali told me the band’s name and I went and bought the first two CDs I could find with their name on it. This song became my favorite (still is) from the band. And it always makes me think of Ali. And all the memories associated with her that maybe one day I’ll be able to write about.

I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry. I kissed a girl a long time before Katy came on the scene (I’m so cool, right?). But still this song now makes me think of the first time I kissed a girl. Tiffany. At the ice rink. Oliver filmed it. Then Tiffany worried she would lose her scholarship. I just remember thinking, “So there’s not really a difference between kissing a boy and kissing a girl.” Because there wasn’t for me.

Quit Your Life by MxPx. This was the song I first associated with my relationship with the kiddo’s dad (and my now ex-husband). Part of me wanted him to want me to “quit my life” and travel with him while he pursued his music career. When he joined a band after we moved to Nevada, I imagined traveling with the band. Raising the kid on a tour bus. Seeing the world and being a part of this “rock n roll” lifestyle. At my best friend’s wedding reception, she had the DJ play this song for us to dance to. That reception was the first and last time we ever danced together. I cry when this song comes on. Not because I missed out on the rock n roll lifestyle (that I’m actually pretty sure I would have hated…and not even sure it will happen – I’ll be honest here), but because it reminds me of the good times we had. And the time he cleaned out my car and left the CD queued up to play this song when I left for work the next morning.


This list alone took me the better part of a week to come up with.There are still so many more. But this was a lot of fun. I’m really glad I put this together and got to revel in these memories – even the more painful ones. It got me wondering, are there songs that my friends associate with  memories of me (besides ‘Roxanne’ by The Police – that’s so obvious)…?

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