ESSAY | MUSIC | MEMORIES
Magical Music List
My top ten favorite songs with emotional attachments
When I saw 𝘋𝘪𝘢𝘯𝘢 𝘊.’s weekend prompt, Make a list of songs that elicit a strong emotional response for you and write openly about the memories associated with them, I thought oh, this should be easy. Was I ever wrong! I have such an eclectic taste in music that it was difficult to narrow down to ten of my favorites, those that move me, and speak to me on a deep emotional level.
These ten songs have helped me through some joyous and difficult times in my life. Some of them I love because I have an emotional attachment to the artists, others I love because they remind me of my teen and young adult years. Be sure to scroll all the way to the end because there you will find a bonus song that captured my heart as a very young girl. Let’s get on with it, shall we? These are not in any particular order of best to least because I truly love them all equally.
Let’s Go Crazy by Prince & The Revolution
I could list every single song Prince ever sang as a favorite because I love his music that much. However, this song holds a special place in my heart for the mere fact that my mother hated it (well, all of his music for that matter). She didn’t approve of her young daughter listening to someone as sexual as Prince, and she hated his screams and loud guitar riffs. This song has a bit of all of that. Anything I could do to piss off mother was a good thing back then. It was the only way I could get her attention. I was able to see Prince perform this live in Wilmington NC in 1998.
September Morn by Neil Diamond
Deep sigh* Neil Diamond will always be one of my favorite singer/songwriters. One of my aunts loved his voice and at the tender age of 11, she introduced me to him. She bought me an 8-track album with this song on it (yes, I am really that old *laughs*). I would listen to it over and over again and had to replace it with a vinyl, that would eventually be replaced with a cassette and later with a CD. Like with Prince, I could list all of Neil Diamond’s songs as favorites, but this song holds a special place in my heart. When I was 18, I rented my first apartment. It was two rooms with a shit, shower and shave bathroom. I had no furniture except a mattress on the floor, a kitchen table and one chair. My only entertainment was a cassette player and I would play this song over and over again. It kept the loneliness at bay to hear Neil’s voice echoing through my small apartment.
Holding Back the Years by Simply Red
Although I love music from a variety of decades, I am definitely an 80s child. The music from this decade is some of the best, in my opinion. There was so much experimentation, wild clothes, hair and makeup and I was exposed to a lot of voices from all over the world. Simply Red became one of my favorite groups immediately. The first time I heard Mick Hucknall’s voice, I was enchanted. I heard him on the radio first and loved his soulful sound. Imagine my surprise when I saw him on MTV and realized that he was a fiery redhead from Manchester, England! When this song came out, I had just left my brief, first marriage and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It became an anthem of sorts for me.
Kid Fears by Indigo Girls
This song really takes me back. Early 90s. First relationship with a female. Driving at night with her and singing Indigo Girls’ songs. I’d sing Amy’s vocals and she’d sing Emily’s vocals. We knew every word to every song on their first album by heart. The Indigo Girls gave me the freedom to be myself, a bisexual woman in a relationship with a lesbian. Kid Fears was my favorite of the songs on their debut album, Indigo Girls. These lines of the song touched me deep inside because I too had a secret hiding place as a child:
Secret staircase (secret staircase), running high (running high)
You had a hiding place
Secret staircase (secret staircase), running low (running low)
They all know, now you’re inside
Another reason I love this song so much is because of the harmony. It’s not just Amy and Emily singing in this song, but near the end, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. also joins them. It is pure magic!
Drops of Jupiter by Train
Mercy me! You cannot be depressed if you listen to anything by Train. And the fact that Pat Monahan, the lead vocalist, is so easy on the eyes helps too. The first time I heard this song my imagination took flight and I too was dancing along the Milky Way. It was a strange time in my life. I had been working for Allstate and just been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when this came out in 2001. I’d also just ended a two year relationship and had found my next on AOL — my current spouse. Any time depression tried to beat me down, I would get out Train’s CD and play this song. It was an instant pick-me-up.
She Talks To Angels by The Black Crowes
It’s 1997 and I’d just bought my first car, a 1976 Dodge Dart Swinger. I was going to Hollins in Roanoke VA and coming back to my small town on weekends to work at a convenience store. I was still with my female lover that I mentioned above, but our romance was dimming and I’d made some new friends. One of them introduced me to The Black Crowes and I fell in love with Chris Robinson’s voice. I would soon move to Roanoke, leaving my lover and those friends behind, but this song always reminds me of those fun times with my new friends, but also the bittersweet ending of my relationship.
Red Water by Type O Negative
This is another group that the friend I mentioned above introduced to me. I have been a bit of a Goth my entire life and when I heard this band, I knew I’d found my muse. I would play their album October Rust constantly while I wrote and it is still a go-to when I am writing something dark. This song is by far one of the best on the album. Peter Steele’s deep vocals and the background effects blow my mind. If you listen to this song, you must wear headphones because about two-thirds into the song, there is a crying and Christmas bulbs tinkling as they fall to the floor and crash. Gorgeous! Peter Steele passed away a few years back, but he will always be my muse.
Like a Stone by Audioslave
I discovered this song back in 2002 while listening to the radio on my way to work one evening. I have loved it ever since. I resonated with the darkness of the lyrics because I was becoming increasingly depressed and my marriage was a bit shaky at the time too. This song would take on an even deeper meaning when Chris Cornell took his own life. Although it saddens me now, I still listen to the song and mourn the loss of such a brilliant man.
The Sound of Silence by Disturbed
Disturbed is one of my favorite rock bands of this era. I love just about everything they’ve put out. The Sound of Silence was a favorite of mine as a child when Simon and Garfunkel sang it, but now that Disturbed has remade the song, it touches me deeply. David Draiman’s voice is raw and powerful. His rendition gives the song a darker feel to it, which appeals to me and my love of dark music. It’s also a befitting song in this darker version for what is going on in the world these days.
One More Light by Linkin Park
Linkin Park is another band that I love everything they’ve ever put out and many of their songs make the list of favorites. This song is especially moving for me because when it was released, it was a tribute to Chris Cornell after his death. Now it’s a mournful song for me because Chester Bennington also took his own life and the remaining band members did a video in tribute to Chester with this song. Linkin Park’s music has helped me deal with my own depression over the years because their music has put a spotlight on depression and suicide.
And now it’s time for that bonus song I mentioned. When I was a child, I had a music box that played this song and I have been enchanted by it my entire life. Most of my cherished memories are wrapped up in this song and any time I feel the need to remember the good times, I play this. This performance by Lang Lang has become my favorite.
A big thanks to 𝘋𝘪𝘢𝘯𝘢 𝘊. for this prompt. It has gifted me an afternoon spent with some of my favorite music and memories.
Lori Carlson writes Poetry, Fiction, Articles, Creative Non-Fiction and Personal Essays. Most of her topics are centered around Relationships, Spirituality, Nature, Life Lessons, Mental Health, Loss and Death, and the LGBTQ+ community.