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Sunday Reflections: The Songs that Saved TLT

What makes you feel most like you?

For me, the obvious answers are being with my family and being in the library. The less obvious answer is when I slap on a pair of headphones and just walk. I started doing this some time around middle school, which is in fact when most kids start to get really into music. At the time my headphones were connected to a Walkman that played a cassette mixtape and now its a smart phone with a playlist, but the idea is still the same. I feel most like myself when I’m able to listen to my favorite songs and just walk in the sunlight a few times a week.

When I lived in Ohio I would always start to feel a deepening sadness as the winter months dragged on and I found myself trapped inside the four walls of my home while snow and sleet and ice pounded the pavement I longed to feel beneath my feet. Each spring I would feel this all most spiritual like awakening as I would once again lace up my shoes and head outside to the the beat of the music. A few moments outside with music blaring in my ears and I start to feel more at peace.

Music makes me happy. It makes me feel in tune with myself. It makes me feel alive and centered. And like books, the words can speak to my soul in real and intimate ways.

I rocked The Tween to sleep while listening to Hem. Listening to Half Acre by Hem still reminds me to this day of the beauty and fear that came from holding this tiny new person in my arms and realizing what a tremendous amount of responsibility it is. I danced to Let it Be by the Beatles with Thing 2 on my hip, trying desperately to get her to stop crying for even a few moments as we tried to learn about the food issues that would plague her early years. I created a special play list for a memorial service for the baby I lost (which I can not listen to anymore, it just drips with my grief and longing). And Thing 2 had so many early life issues that a simple song wasn’t needed to rock her to sleep but an entire playlist (which I also can no longer listen to because it reminds me of the desperation of her medical issues and the postpartum depression issues that came up after her birth.)

Today my playlist consists mostly of Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons, Alabama Shakes and, of course, Foo Fighters.

This week we are celebrating music and talking about the songs that saved us, our teenage anthems and more. The posts are inspired in part by our participation in the THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE blog tour. It’s a book I love, so I jumped at the chance to participate. On Tuesday author Leila Sales will be sharing a song that saved her life. Today, TLTers will be sharing the songs that saved us.


I share one song as part of the blog tour and I will link back to it when it goes live, so I’m not going to mention it here. Instead, I want to talk about a second song that saved me.

Ordinary World by Duran Duran

It’s no secret that I am a Duran Duran fan. Ordinary World is a melancholy song that came out in the early nineties, at the time that The Mr. and I were dating. I have lots of memories of this song coming on the radio while the two of us were sitting or driving somewhere in our car (and sometimes making out). There was a time around our 4 year anniversary that it looked like our marriage wouldn’t make it. We were young, stupid, and really bad at everything including managing money and communicating. But every time this song comes on again it reminds me of those early days when we were together and I remember not to throw it all away. This year we will have been married 20 years (in May) and when this song comes on I’m still taken back to those moments. I feel like this song didn’t just save me, but it continues to save me again and again and again by just reminding me of who I was and to escape this ordinary world. It also reminds me that I listen to the most melancholy music. Seriously, I am a melancholy soul.


Two songs.
Come On Up To The House by Tom Waits

In a dark time, this song, the defiant, almost sloppy beat sounded like how I felt, and Tom’s ragged but powerful voice said what I needed to hear.
Love You Madly by Cake
Early in my parenting years, this was my anthem. Everything about it felt so true and perfectly described what it felt like to love this little person so much, so madly, even though it made me crazy. And I could sing it loud in the car and felt better when it was over. “All the dishes rattle in the cupboard when the elephants arrive” is how I felt every single day. Parenting an infant or young toddler makes about as much sense as their video.


Bikini Kill “Rebel Girl” (1993)

Music absolutely saved me during my teen years. Without punk and riot grrrl, I’m not sure what would have happened. As a burgeoning teen feminist, Bikini Kill and other girl-fronted bands were what I put on my stereo as I created zines, they’re who I went to go see live on school nights instead of doing my homework, and who I turned to to see that there was a bigger world than my tiny southern Minnesota town.
The Replacements “Bastards of Young” (1985)

In the early 1990s, I started listening to this show on the local college radio station in Mankato, Minnesota, called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children (yes, you’re right–Kirstin Cronn-Mills’ book by this same name was inspired from the show). Every week I could count on Sara and Johnny to give me a master class in punk rock. I’d call in with requests, send them my zines, and record songs from the show so I’d remember to go seek out artists that caught my attention. When I heard them play The Replacments, a legendary Minnesota band, I thought, WHOA. Why haven’t I been listening to them? I went out and bought all of their albums, bummed that by the time I started listening to them, they had just broken up. Imagine my delight, this past September, when I got to see them live, something I thought would never happen. As I jumped up and down and sang along, it was this song that rocketed me back to my teen years more than any other song that night. It made me think of adventures, excitement, and how it felt to first hear a band that made it feel like your world was cracking open.


Lost by Amanda Palmers
The only thing I can think of right now is Amanda Palmer’s Lost. It came out a the time when I was beginning to come out of the fog of losing my best friend – about 2 years after her death. The song deals with love and loss in a really positive and encouraging way. There is a bit at the end:
No one’s ever lost forever
They are caught inside your heart
If you garden them and water them
They make you what you are

I also just really like the tune. It’s almost jaunty. I listened to it so much; it was even my morning alarm music for several months.

How about you, what songs move you or saved you? Share with us in the comments. And join us all week as we talk about music, and how books and music can come together.

More Music at TLT:

Webinar: Putting More Music in Our Libraries

Bring the Power of Music into Your Library (by Mary Amato)

Top 10: Books About Music


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