5 songs that mean something to me and why

I was thinking about how I miss the old days where conveying one’s inner-most self was done almost exclusively through the quotation of pop lyrics.

When I was in high school and even in early college years, quoting the lyrics to favorite songs was considered a perfectly acceptable and absolutely creative way to express one’s deepest, most passive aggressive emotions (remember AIM profiles? I used to take that little box so seriously!). But the older I’ve gotten, the more superficial and generic popular song lyrics have become, seemingly catering to little more than the lowest denominator of those who’ve had their hearts broken and are on a journey toward self-discovery (blahblahblah, whinewhinewhine, it’s my life dammit ad nauseum etc. etc.). As someone who aspires to be at least a decent writer, to articulate myself at my age through the reproduction of words uttered by some mainstream singer or another, unoriginal to begin with, would be seen as unimaginative, boring, and not very useful.

With that said… fuck it, it’s fun, ok??

Here are some songs that for various reasons (of which the most important, I will try to explain) hold meaning to me. I do not necessarily consider all of them, if any, my “favorite” songs; nor would all, if any, make the cut to the official soundtrack of my life (yes, there will officially be one, one day). They just happen to be the first songs that came to mind without having to think very hard when I had this idea in the shower today. If you think I have terrible taste in music, save your judgments and just do me the favor of buying me an iTunes gift card, please.

PS. I’ve taken the adolescent approach to self-expression through pop music a step further and, in addition to the lyrics, have actually posted links to the songs themselves! Technology is awesome. Clicky clicky, people.

PSS. I dedicate this post to my super-cool older sister Kim, who reviews music semi-professionally and is a much better writer than me. Find her blog on music here.

    1.  All I Want, by The Offspring

I like to put this song on my running playlists, especially as the last to come on as I approach the finish line of a competitive race. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s angry in that popular-punk-rock/fuck-the-world-I’m-a-badass way but, who cares? Admit it, we all went through our Offspring phase. It also hella reminds me of spending hours at my friend Sara’s house during the summer in high school playing Crazy Taxi on Sega Dreamcast. That game was amazing… and what the hell happened to the Dreamcast console, anyway?

Favorite lyric/s: I’m sick of not living to stay alive.

Full lyrics: here

Link to song: here

    2.   Mouthwash, by Kate Nash

Kate Nash, part of the clan of female artists with power-driven lyrics to emerge from England a few years ago, was introduced to me by my friend Mike in early 2008 when he spotted me an extra ticket to see her at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Early on I was drawn mostly only to her popular hit Merry Happy, but as recently as this year I’ve been listening to the album Made of Bricks more often, and it turns out this song really grooves with me. Not only do I share with Miss Nash a healthy kick of spunkiness, an affinity for tea and a wonderful first name, but also her contradictory, teeter-tottering co-existance of qualified self-assurance and exasperating insecurity. However, I am unlike her in that I actually despise mouthwash, and floss every day.

Favorite lyric/s: And I’m singing ‘uh-oh’ on a Friday night
And I hope everything’s gonna be all right

Full lyrics: here (wow, this song really IS about me!)

Link to song: here

    3.  Something, by The Beatles

As I’m sure many people do, I come from a family of Beatles fans. It is hard to choose a favorite, but this song for sure makes it to at least the top 3. I saw the Cirque de Soleil production, LOVE, in Las Vegas a few years ago, and their rendition of Something was so beautiful it brought me to tears (as do many things–I’m definitely a crier–so maybe this should come as no big surprise). I’m an incredible sap, and yes, if you must know the truth I have fantasized about the love of my life singing this to me on his guitar. Recently, I re-read my one of my favorite books, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and the young protagonist mentions how one day, when he meets the most beautiful girl in his life that he hopes to marry, he’ll play this song for her, from the vinyl record single he inherited from his mother. I have no idea if reading this back in high school influenced my hopelessly romantic dream to be serenaded in the style of George Harrison (probably). But even if so, it makes me love this song that much more.

Favorite lyric/s: All of them

Full lyrics: here

Link to song: here

    4.  Take the Box, by Amy Winehouse

I don’t care how freaking psycho she is–I LOVE AMY WINEHOUSE. I did a kick-ass imitation of her for my Halloween costume in 2007, and she is my favorite of the neo-soul female British singers. I’m a much bigger fan of her first album Frank than I am of the better-known Back to Black. Every good woman needs a signature break-up anthem album… if you’re looking for one, I suggest this, and said song in particular. Incidentally, I did briefly date a Frank a few years back. He sucked.

Favorite lyric/s: Mr. False Pretense, you don’t make sense
I just don’t know you
But you made me cry, where’s my kiss goodbye?
I think I love you…

Full lyrics: here

Link to song: here

    5.  In my Life, by Keali`i Reichel

I know that the Beatles sang this originally (I swear this strange pattern in my song selection was completely unintentional, at least I think it was…), but it’s this version by the famous Hawaiian artist that really gets to me. Again, SAP MOMENT, but I really hope this song plays at my wedding. It’s about someone who’s thinking back on all the memories of loved ones and favorite places in his life, and though he’ll never forget any of them, it’s the love of his life that matters the most. It can also be interpreted just fine if you scratch the latter part and simply focus on remembering all the awesome people and places throughout your life. It is the second track off of Kawaipunahele, Reichel‘s first recorded album and the one to make him one of the most influential contemporary Hawaiian musical artists of all time. If you’re looking to introduce yourself to the genre, I too highly recommend you start with this one!

Favorite lyric/s: There are places I remember all my life,
though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some are gone, and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

Full lyrics: here

Link to song: here


5 thoughts on “5 songs that mean something to me and why

    • Nice! The Beatles version is quite cheery compared to the one I like, which has a sadder sound to it. I’m really not kidding about my sappiness factor. I take any and every opportunity I can to cry, I swear.

  1. “And, this is my brain
    It’s torturous analytical thoughts
    Make me go insane.”

    LOVE Kate Nash! I’m seeing her next month at Bottom of the Hill. :)

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