Songbook – The Soundtrack of My Life

For centuries, music has filled our ears with laughter and tears. It has provided the back drop for events that have shaped and transpired over the course of world history. Without a soundtrack, the sheer impact would be lost and so music provides the essence of drama, romance and comedy. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the soundtrack of my life. These songs, some commercially popular and some not played a critical role in the chapters of my life and continue to reflect in my memories. I think each of us have our own soundtrack and hopefully we can all sit back soon and think about the songs that are part of your soundtrack of life.

Cum on Feel the Noize – Quiet Riot

The quintessential 80’s metal song. Suggestive lyrics, asylum feel of pure mayhem and the true rock and roll lifestyle of women, drugs and heavy heart pounding music. None of that meant anything to me with I was nine years old. I grew up surrounded by music, specifically the sounds of folk, lyrically pop, and culturally aware music of the 60’s and 70’s. Having older siblings contributed in large part. When I came upon my first 45 RPM records, I had my first sense of ownership in this thing called music. I had a piece of the action. I didn’t care what it was or what it was worth but to me they were priceless. My first 45 RPM single was Quiet Riot’s Cum On Feel the Noize. It was loud, it was rebellious, it was apparently even sexual, but I loved it because it was mine. I was officially a record collector. I now belonged to the family. I may not have that pile of vinyl anymore or that record player that sat on the gossip table in the upstairs living room, but I will always remember the moment, I was inaugurated into the family as a music lover.

Tears are Not Enough – Northern Lights / Bryan Adams

England had Band-Aid (Do They Know It’s Christmas) and the United States had USA for Africa (We are the World) and the world, thanks to Bob Geldof had Live-Aid. July, 1985 was a day that brought the entire world together, not through Facebook or Twitter but though televisions and radio stations around the globe sharing the message of love to raise money and awareness to global poverty. This was a day, not without violence or death (that would be impossible) but a day of world unity. As the day, came near, we all had our favorite artists or songs we looked forward to. How could you not with the thought of The Police, Genesis, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Hall & Oates, Queen and so so many more taking the stage. This was the day that Generation X would forever remember as its Woodstock. Yet even better than Woodstock, it took place on two continents.

Going into this lifetime event of music, culture and charity there were a few songs that I truly looked forward to hearing performed live and the one high on the list was “Tears are Not Enough”. I am not sure why. Maybe because it was Canada’s version of “We are the World” and England’s “Do They Know Its Christmas” and thus the underdog or the fact that not many really knew the song. During the 18 hour broadcast, there was a 4 minute lost of transmission and that was during Bryan Adams rendition of this song. The audio could be heard but no video. I was heartbroken and forever remind of Live Aid by that song and that moment of broadcast blackout.

Away from the Sun – Three Doors Down

My mother passed away in 2002 and without too much detail it was a very difficult adjustment for me. Very few things put my life in perspective during the next year and a half but one song provided me with a constant reminder of the sorrow and gave me a vocal shoulder to lean on. The unlikely artist was Three Doors Down and the song “Away from the Sun”. With such poignant lyrics and heart moving instrumental, each time I heard the song, it brought all the memories rushing back. When I saw them perform the song live at the Minnesota State Fair, it may have been one of the most internalized emotional moments of my life.

What a Feeling – Irene Cara

There was a generation gap between my two eldest siblings and my brother and I and thus always a different look on life. My oldest brother and sister were almost another set of parents whom I admired and looked up to. My eldest was a top dog at a movie theater when I was a child or at least to me he was and one evening he took me up to the projection booth to see how all the magic worked. I was in awe. The film projectors everywhere, lights shining bright and conversations shooting from every window. Movie magic and I was behind the scenes. He decided to show me the view from the top. He lifted his younger brother up to the viewing window next to the project and then before I could say “Yippy Skippy” he pulled me back down before I could ever get a peak of the film. That moment, of all moments was the sex scene in Flashdance. Had he not been quick to the draw, it may have opened up many more questions at this young and impressionable age. When I hear the Irene Cara song gleeming from the radio, I cannot helped but be reminded of the moment my brother showed me the inner workings of Hollywood or at least the projection room of an AMC Theater.

Theme to Fraggle Rock – Dennis Lee and Philip Balsam

Nothing summed up my childhood like baseball, wiffle ball, swimming, scavenger hunts, The Game of Life and Fraggle Rock. Every Monday at 7:30 PM on HBO was a new episode of Fraggle Rock. Never missed it. Typically it interrupted my weekly neighborhood baseball game at the corner field, but no worries, I left, watched my 25 minutes of singing, dancing and zany antics and then returned before they could sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” for the 7th inning stretch. There are some shows the forever are a part of your life and this one will always remain.

Shaddup You Face – Joe Dolce

This one is a little more difficult to explain because it involved mischievous behavior and to some degree, theft. My brother had quite an extensive collection of vinyl. Such a collection that the thought of rummaging through his room was like going into a candy store and not being able to eat anything. During an extended trip to the west coast, my other brother and I found our way into the Narnia of Vinyl. We took one album out to listen and promptly returned it as a few spins on the record player. Several weeks later he returned and within 24 hours, he knew that that album had been moved. We put it back where it was. How could he have known! He had thousands! The mystery was never solved but our life of crime ended that day. At least in his room.

The Way it Is – Bruce Hornsby and the Range

I have been to an abundance of live concerts from Radiohead to Billy Ray Cyrus but you never forget your first. It is like your first love. It is never great and many times awkward, but always a special part of your life. My first concert was with my two brothers at Alumni Hall on the campus of St. Johns University. Being a big fan of the St. Johns Redmen Basketball team, it made my night just to walk into the halls where basketball magic was made. On this night, I saw Bruce Hornsby and the Range perform all of their hits and even a verse of “You Can’t Touch This”. It was a night of brotherhood, a trip to the illustrious island of Manhattan and a night where I lost my live music virginity. Unless you count temple.

Love Comes Walking in – Van Halen

I had my first crush in third grade. Jennifer. Never kissed. Never held hands. Never even told her, but yet we are Facebook friends. My how times have changed. The summer after third grade, the whole family went to California on a trip for the ages. From San Francisco to San Diego and everything in between. With my Walkman keeping me company in the back seat, I repeatedly played “Love Comes Walking In” over and over and over again. It is hard to imagine a fantasy when you are 8 or 9, but I had a visual of her in that nightgown as Sammy Hager belted the line. With all the memories of that trip including seeing Alan Hunter and the MTV van, I was always hold that song as the ambassador to my first crush.

This is the Time – Billy Joel

I think many will connect this song with high school graduation. Whether the song was just released or twenty years later, Billy Joel created an anthem for embracing a moment in time. He wrote about life changes and holding on to events that brought love and happiness. This is a song about moving forward but not letting go of behind. It is about savoring critical life changes with ambition and subtly. Most important it is about taking chances. During Project Graduation as we swam, laughed, and shared stories, we all knew the night would end and many of us would be going on to bigger and better things. We didn’t need a song to bring an emotional outburst, but we got it. We got Billy Joel to take us into the night and guide us to our future as we said goodbye to the memories of childhood.

Misty – Johnny Mathis

My mother knew Johnny Mathis in Brooklyn. Friends and malt buddies. She always had a respect for him as a man and musician. Maybe a little soft and overly romantic for my tastes, but still a man that transcended time and used his beautiful voice and amazing songwriting skills to charm several generations of music lovers. Since childhood and until my last breath, there are many things that will remind me of my mother, but this song most of all will have the stamp of her spirit following me if I hear it out loud. Not to rule out the importance and connection I make between the Bee Gees and my mother. Johnny Mathis is still the top.

Think of Laura – Christopher Cross

Though admitting it may shed some light on the disturbing nature of my childhood, my mother used her mystery sense of persuasion to get me to watch General Hospital. For those that believe in the romantic power of Romeo and Juliet or Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan or any Nick Sparks book, the ultimate couple was Luke and Laura. You couldn’t discuss the world of soap operas or even celebrity on screen couples without the names Luke and Laura coming up. During one of the many adventures on screen, Laura disappeared and was presumed dead for many years. Christopher Cross lend his songwriting skills to “Think of Laura”, a song that would become the anthem of Luke and Laura and most importantly Luke’s unconditional love for Laura. Though may songs were debuted on General Hospital and many singers including Jack Wagner and Rick Springfield, this song will always be mother and son sharing in the continuous adventures of Luke and Laura.

To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before – Julio Iglesias

My father loves AM radio. He lives for talk shows and the news. I believe he has owned tapes and CD’s (not many) but rarely ever played them. Unless of course it was in the privacy of his car as he commuted to and from work. Strangely, excluding the war songs that he still continues to sing whenever I am around, he has a love for Anne Murray and Julio Iglesias. I don’t quite understand myself where his musical tastes lie. Julio and my father are a pair in my world. Maybe it is the hopeless romantic in him or a passion for the Latin spirit. Either way, the music of Julio Iglesias is a part of my continued connection and bond with my father.

I Will Remember You – Sarah McLaughlin

For those of you that know me, I am a bit of a writer though I would never call myself one. Edward Burns did a little low budget film for about $25,000 on several maxed out credit cards call “The Brothers McMullan” This song by Sarah McLaughlin was a featured song, whose popularity took years to develop, but was close to my heart from the start. The importance of this movie and song is the reason I am writing this blog right now. After that movie, whose main character is a writer, I decided to attach a pen to my hand write. Five screenplays, twelve songs, four journals, two books and a blog later, I can trace my literary beginnings to this low budget movie about three Irish brothers in New York. It is strange how the simplest things can change your life forever.

Angel – Aerosmith

My first relationship was the only time I ever had a couple song and I have Aerosmith to thank. I suppose I have Heather to thank as well. “Angel” and Heather helped me become a man. Enough said.

Seasons of Love – Johnathan Larson

I cannot say enough about how important “Rent” has been in my life. I have seen the show eight times which does not even give me amateur Rent Head status, but one that has deeply affected how I view life, friendships and love. From the very beginning to the last musical note, this emotional roller coaster of a musical, which was born out of tragedy, has given me a reason to believe in the power of life even when I have hit my darkest moments. The other thing that made this show so important is that I was able to share almost every performance with one of my best friends in the world, Sonni who has given me so much to be thankful for.

Without a Trace – Soul Asylum

Whether the band name was Catbutt or Celebrated London Biscuits they were OUR college band. Hearing “Pain Lies by the Riverside” and “Without a Trace” more times than I can remember was the music that accompanied my college friendships and experiences. They weren’t the best band at Rutgers or the worst, but every time they played, it brought the gang together. Rutgers and all other colleges will have bands now and in the future but for us, we have a Soul Asylum cover and a lot of amazing memories.

All You Need is Love – Lynden David Hall (Love Actually Cover)

Summer, 2004 was the European Vacation! (Not the Griswolds) Sonni and Mark, five countries, 3600 miles, a near accident with a cow, angels on bikes, backpackers, Tuscany, The Vatican, Jazz in the Piazza, fresh pasta, the market, and a lifetime of memories. We packed everything. Ok, Sonni packed 150 pounds of luggage and I did about a third of that. We had it all planned except entertainment. We had a computer but only three DVD’s. We watched Love Actually quite a bit as well as Finding Nemo . One of the special things about Love Actually and all Richard Curtis movies is that you feel a connection with his characters and their pursuit of true and unconditional love. Every time I heard this cover of the Beatles or the Beach Boys play, I remember the late nights watching this with Sonni in Italy, Paris, Amsterdam and Venice.

Can’t We Try – Dan Hill

Raquel and I were spiritual soul mates in college. We didn’t date, but we were always by each others side. We had an unspoken support system whether we were next door or a hundred miles apart. It is a bond that cannot properly be put into words or explained over wine, but one that neither of us could have made it through college without. We had hiatus for a number of years and fortunately found our way back to each other. Through the years, we had some rough road to overcome but in our stubbornness we found wisdom. It was in that wisdom that we realized we were meant to forever be a part of each other’s lives. She introduced me to Dan Hill and his ability to reach into your heart and express true deep feelings.

Honorable Mention – Oh Sherrie – Steve Perry

The first song to ever debut at #1 on the VH1 Top 20 Countdown. This was the days when MTV and VH1 spent most of their broadcasting hours showing videos!

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