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Music is a lot of things for me. It soothes my soul, it teaches me things, it helps me reflect. It helps me move forward and learn my lessons. It’s there whether I need to dance or vent. Sometimes it’s the lyrics, sometimes it’s the music itself that captures my attention.
I am a dreamer. I like to drift away from the real world and imagine myself in other places, hence the “Anywhere But Here” title of this personal soundtrack. Music helps me do that. I can see myself in foreign countries, having adventures daily. I can see myself reaching my dreams. I can see myself falling in love. Music allows me to see and feel plenty of things, both good and bad, or somewhere in the middle. It just depends on the song, and the situation at hand.
OK Go—“This Too Shall Pass”
“This Too Shall Pass” is something I listen to when the world starts to blend together. The people are rushing all around me, and yet in the background I remain stagnant. I’m not sure how or when this tradition of mine started, but whenever I feel overwhelmed and like everything is passing me by, I fall back and turn my playlist to this song, waiting for everything negative I feel to pass. It always does, and this song is a comforting reminder of that.
The Pointer Sisters—“I’m So Excited”
The Pointer Sisters may be singing about one thing, but this song is something I play for any occasion that I’m looking forward to. It might be a first day on the job, something to pump me up for the next article I’m working on, or simply just instigating an exciting feeling to face the day. It’s catchy, and I fell in love with this song when I was in college. I was totally hooked on Miami Vice at the time, and that’s where I first heard “I’m So Excited.”
I love 1980s music, though I wasn’t around yet to experience it in person. I think part of what makes The Pointer Sisters so great is because, for me, they reflect an infinite amount of girl power, and the music itself is just fun and easy to dance to.
Selena Gomez—“Come & Get It”
Selena Gomez was an up-and-coming artist when I was growing up, so I’d always followed her work. I was a big fan of Wizards of Waverly Place, so naturally I became obsessed with her music, too. “Come & Get It” is my favorite song of hers thus far. I love how her lyrics are intimidating but also honest, seemingly teasing with her frequent use of “na, na, na, na.” I love how she basically states that the ball is in the other person’s court regarding the status of their relationship, as she’s laid everything on the table. I appreciate how direct and honest she is about her feelings. With life being as short as it is, there’s no time for games, and according to this song, it looks like Selena agrees.
I always imagine myself dancing in a nightclub when I hear this song, but I have yet to fulfill that vision.
The Donnas—“Who Invited You”
It seemed that I was hearing The Donnas left and right in my childhood, as they had plenty of songs out and several of those said songs seemed to wind up in movies I watched, like What a Girl Wants in the case of “Who Invited You.” I loved them instantly. An all-girl rock band just seemed like the coolest thing ever to me, and I loved how their songs were more along the lines of happy rock than full-on aggressive rock. It’s a familiar song, and band, from my childhood that I listen to on a loop, especially when I’m feeling nostalgic.
“Who Invited You” is my jam, especially when, like the lyrics profess, someone uninvited shows up to cause destruction in some aspect of my life. Anytime that happens, I’m tempted to blast this song so they can hear the lyrics. Nonetheless, most of the time I just play air guitar and sing along.
Green Day—“Give Me Novacaine/She’s A Rebel”
I recently rediscovered this gem while I was scrolling through YouTube. Green Day was always playing in my house growing up, as my mom bought every new album and played it for all to hear. It was always background music to whatever we were doing, whether we were hanging out or driving somewhere. Green Day is another of my nostalgic bands that I lean on for a 2000s flashback.
“Give Me Novacaine/She’s A Rebel” means something to me out of the other Green Day songs for a couple reasons. The first half of the song is basically talking about how Billie Joe Armstrong is overwhelmed and he just needs a break from feeling what he’s feeling. It was soothing to me when I heard it at the time, because it’s nice to be reminded that you’re not the only person dealing with something or feeling like you need to get away. The second half of the song calls out to my rebellious side that likes to change things for the better and isn’t afraid to go against the grain to do it. Whenever I listen to this song, I feel like Green Day gets me in a way few others can.
The Police—“Walking On The Moon”
The Police was one of the first bands I ever listened to. My mom handed me her copy of Every Breath You Take: The Singles and I listened to it almost every day for years. Something about their music was so different from anything else I’d ever heard that I became entranced, and in many ways, it was the soundtrack of my elementary school years. The CD played my favorite songs over and over, including “Walking On The Moon,” out of the stereo on my nightstand. I’d lie on my bed and look out my window, watching my neighbors and my backyard. For some reason I remember listening to this song and hearing one of our neighbors mowing the lawn in the background. It’s strange, the little details that come to mind.
I suppose “Walking On The Moon” could be considered my first “reflection” song. The music was relaxing and provided a good background for my thoughts as I reflected on friendships, family, life, or just a particular day at school. It was my background song as I wrote in my journal or drew pictures. I felt out of place at school, my creativity not quite unleashed because I hadn’t yet discovered all I could do. The Police were part of my journey to self-discovery, as well as a special shared connection to my mom and aunt, and for that, they’ll always be special to me, especially with their song “Walking On The Moon.” In many ways, I felt like I was walking on the moon, somewhat a part of this world, but always exploring another.
Molly McQueen—“No Sleep 2Nite”
I first heard this song when I watched She’s the Man, and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s one of those feel-good songs about getting real. It’s about pursuing a relationship and making clear your feelings for the other person. Like everyone else, I’ve had crushes and the like, so that’s my connection to this song. Even when I’m crush-free, I still love listening to this song at the highest volume, practicing my dancing skills and trying to get my friends just as into it as I am.
If it’s not obvious already, I’m clearly a big fan of 2000s music. This is one of my favorites, a part of the soundtrack of my childhood, and quite possibly, one of the few songs I have a whole dance routine for.
Passenger—“Let Her Go”
The lyrics for this song, first of all, are just intricately beautiful. It’s sad, the way the singer talks about letting go of the person he loved, but that’s the way life goes sometimes. You don’t always understand in the moment, so you hope to understand at some point in the future.
Strangely enough, that’s not what I necessarily focus on when I listen to this song. Something about the words “let her go,” accompanied with the music, make me feel as though I need to let go a part of myself. The part that’s holding me back, hurting me, etcetera. Whatever part of me I need to let go, I need to let go of her, if that makes sense. When I think about it that way, it’s freeing, and the more I listen to this song, the more I feel free, as though whatever’s holding me back is gradually melting away.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive—“Takin’ Care Of Business”
I remember listening to “Takin’ Care Of Business” in the car, as part of the Daddy Day Care soundtrack. My brother and I requested it over and over, dancing in the backseat as we made our way through traffic. I think it’s sentimental for that reason, because it’s something my brother and I loved to listen to, and believe me, our musical tastes are wildly different, so if there’s a song we both like, it’s special.
My mom would join in with us, and because we were always out doing something, it just seemed fitting that this would be “our song.” It reminds me of my mom and my brother, but it’s also a good way to kickstart the day and tackle everything you need to get done, or not. Because hey, sometimes “we love to work at nothing all day.”
Ernest Ellis—“Want For Anything”
I first heard this song in high school, when I was watching an episode of one of my favorite shows, Hawaii Five-0. It played as a couple of the characters drove away, with another one watching them go. Something about this song is compelling to me, partially because of that scene.
Each time I hear it, the song reminds me of high school and Hawaii Five-0. I think of driving away, but it’s more than that. Something about watching the characters drive away while this song played means new beginnings and new opportunities in my mind. I often close my eyes and listen to this song, envisioning something new, imagining things developing that will get me closer to the path I’m seeking. It’s one of my favorite songs, because it blends my love of TV, music and new beginnings (not to mention I love the music and am intrigued by the lyrics), and no matter what, “Want For Anything” always makes me smile.