My favorite songs

I finally put together a sharable playlist of my favorite music from the past few years. No particular theme or criteria; but at some point I went completely nuts for each of these songs. To paraphrase the Dos Equis spokesman, “I don’t always listen to music, but when I do, I listen to a single song on repeat for days at a time.”

Here’s the list of my favorites, mostly in alphabetical order by artist but leading off with Mr. Blue Sky, my latest obsession:

The only ones missing (from Grooveshark, the service I used) are “The Three Of Us” by Ben Harper and “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel.

Looking over all of these, it’s interesting to remember where and when I listened to them. Many of them I heard for the first time, or loved for the first time, when they were used in movies (Good Will Hunting, Once, Big Fish, Garden State, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and amazingly American Wedding were some of the most influential); there’s something about music when combined with storytelling and video that is especially powerful. Some I learned about from friends on the cutting edge of new music, and some were simply popular radio songs I overheard and later Googled.

While I still enjoy most of the music, it’s clear that some of the charm is from memories of the situation where I first heard them. Listening again brings back the feelings I had at the time and makes me feel like I’m back in that context. The strongest example of this for me is Nirvana, where listening to Nevermind (and especially “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) puts me right back in 8th grade, on the bus headed to a field trip, where a friend handed over his Walkman and the music blew my mind. I have to be careful listening to music, because certain songs will put me in such a nostalgic state that I’m lost for the rest of the day.

I don’t know if everyone has the same reaction to music, or where exactly mine came from, but I love the ability of music to transform my mood and my outlook. Powerful stuff.