Last week, London’s Guardian newspaper created a new web project called “6 Songs of Me,” encouraging participants to write their musical memoir in six songs in specific categories. The good folks at NPR Music picked up the story and in the last week it’s become a bit of a fad. Like the 6-word memoirs popularized by Smith Magazine several years ago, these 6-song bios can be both revealing and beguiling – like one person’s list included “The Lonely Goatherd” from The Sound of Music, choral music by Eric Whitacre, and a Radiohead finale (I’ll let you figure out what that all means). In the spirit of good fun, I’ve added my own list to this Dewar’s Profile-esque project here.
1. First song I ever bought: “All For You” – Sister Hazel
Does it count if it was bought with money from my Grandma? I’m still considering it a major moment because it was the first time I picked out a CD myself. Up until that point, every song I wanted was something my older brother already had. Here’s to the first step in asserting my musical independence. I got it at the long-defunct Encore Books in the Princeton Shopping Center. It definitely has a Counting Crows-ish vibe, but nearly as annoying. That point when all the instruments drop out at the bridge is pretty cool too.
2. Song that always gets me dancing: “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder
I mean, come on. This is a no brainer. There has never been a fatter groove ever committed to tape.¹ When I represented Barack Obama in a school-wide mock presidential debate in high school, I walked into the auditorium to this. It’s got swag to last another couple millenia.
3. Song that reminds me of childhood: “One Week” – Barenaked Ladies
I was so into this song in elementary school. I even lip-synched it in front of my 3rd grade class. I apparently was convincing enough that they thought I knew all of the words (confession: I still don’t). Listening back to it now, I’m very impressed by the slick production on it, and the fact that the Barenaked Ladies had not one but two really good distinctive singers. It’s not all that much of a stretch that they were on the same record label as Wilco at that time.²
4. Perfect love song (tie): “I Carry Your Heart With Me” – Kate McGarry & “The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)” – The Decemberists
The first is a poem by e.e. cummings that expresses quite possibly the most beautiful sentiment a human being can have for another, set with swirling counterpoint reminiscent of Marc Chagalls floating, intertwined lovers. The second may be a bit of a downer (the lovers drown after all), but giving up one’s life for another is quite possibly the most beautiful thing a human being can do for another.
5. Song played at my funeral: “Requiem – Introitus” – Manuel Cardoso
The opening gambit of this Portuguese, Renaissance-era requiem is quite possibly the most gorgeous 23 seconds of music ever composed.
6. Song that makes me, well, me – “A Blessing” – John Hollenbeck
A sentiment that I try to take with me every day. To whom much is given, much is expected. Pay it forward.
But doing this list is only so much fun alone. So I have also gathered my sister’s list.
1. First song bought: “See You Again” – Miley Cyrus
Can’t say it’s any worse than “All for You”
2. Dancing song: “Gangsta” – tUnE-yArDs
She’s way too cool for me.
3. Song of childhood: “Katie” – Tom Paxton
A staple of long car rides.
4. Perfect love song: “You Are Mine” – David Haas
Who says that these gotta be eros songs. She goes all agape here.
5. Song at funeral: “In My Life” – The Beatles
No argument. Actually, can I add that to my funeral set list too?
6. Song that makes her, her: “Powerhouse” – Raymond Scott, as performed by Don Byron
The inside of a young person’s brain, instrumental-fied.
1. Noted musical psychologist Daniel Levitin said this is true, so it is. Scientifically.
2. Okay. Maybe it is.