THE SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE

  1. My earliest memory of music is Huey Lewis and the News, "Hip to Be Square."
    My dad would play records--records!--in the living room after dinner, and the whole family would dance. Well, he, my mom, and I would dance, and my little sister, who was probably only 2 or 3 at the time, would gallop in joyful circles around the coffee table.
  2. When I was in elementary school, the oldies were everything.
    It was the 80s, so oldies meant music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. We drove to school, ran errands, and cleaned the house to doo wop, Motown, The Beach Boys, and Three Dog Night. My dad taught me the entire Aerosmith catalog.
  3. Family tradition dictates that roadtrips begin with "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."
    I don't know how it started. I assume my parents (rightly) assume we'd have no idea the song was about sex. On sunny days, I roll the windows down and sing with Meatloaf at the top of my lungs. Before we go any further, do you love me?
  4. At 12, I got my own stereo. The first CD I bought was Hootie and the Blowfish, "Cracked Rear View."
    By then, I was listening to the pop and alternative stations, trying to keep up with what was cool. In college, my boyfriend and I took a roadtrip and forgot to pack CDs. Hootie was in the car. We listened to it on repeat. I still know all the words.
  5. I've listened to "Semi-Charmed Life" thousands of times.
    But it only carries one memory. I am 13, sitting in the passenger seat of my mom's wood-paneled minivan. My friends are packed into the back seats. My mom wants to be cool and wants me to be cool. She cranks the volume and we all sing along. It is perfect.
  6. At 14, I discovered ska and punk and lived in the Mighty Mighty Bosstones' catalog.
    Went to Warped Tour. Learned to mosh and skank and wear crop tops with my pipe jeans. Once caught Dicky Barrett's tie at a concert.
  7. I owe the best musical experiences of my high school life to a boy.
    I wish it weren't true. I wish I had come to my musical taste on my own. But he wrote music reviews for the teen section of the city's paper and got free CDs and tickets to great concerts.
  8. Lauryn Hill, Saves the Day, and Dashboard Confessional defined me.
    How you gon' win when you ain't right within?
  9. Then I fell for a boy who loved Counting Crows.
    "Sullivan Street" is driving home from seeing him in the wee hours. "Omaha" is a lazy Sunday morning in bed. "Rain King" is so many sunlit afternoons. "Up All Night" is what I walked down the aisle to.
  10. In my late 20s, I learned to cook. Aretha Franklin kept me company.
    She was joined by Willie Nelson, Mahalia Jackson, and Sharon Jones, whose "100 Days" album is exactly how long it takes me to prep a chicken and veggies for roasting.
  11. When I want to cause a little trouble, it's Amy Winehouse, "Back to Black."
    But I can't tell you what happens next.
  12. The beach house is OAR live at Red Rocks.
    I can't resist a meandering reggae-ish jam band. I love how I feel wearing a maxi dress and dancing to these songs.
  13. Peggy Lee's "Fever" is everything.
    It's the question and the answer.
  14. The rest is an open question.
    There's nothing I like more.