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Here is a very abbreviated list of some of the songs that have impacted my life - most for the better.1. 'She Loves Me', The Beatles (1963). My parents were, without a doubt, the two most non-musical people on the earth. But my mom loved to listen to the radio, and periodically this song would come on, and my Mom would sing. After a while, I'd tell her to be quiet and let ME sing, since I was obviously a much better singer. We also had a coffee mug up at the cabin that portrayed a cartoon version of the Fab Four singing this song. Also from this time, I liked 'The Unicorn' by the Irish Rovers (1967) - but I think this one is reserved for Canadian tastes only...2. This next song on my list is from the 'for worse' category. When my Dad was mad, he would hum to himself, and if he was really mad, he would hum 'If I Were a Carpenter' (1966, Bobbi Darrin). Hearing this song still makes me nervous. Oddly enough, Dave and I were listening to a Mojo collection the other day - I think it was songs picked by Roger Daltry or something - and one of the songs on that compliation was by the writer of 'If I Were a Carpenter', Tim Hardin - a hard-living guy, by the sounds of it.3. 'Making Plans for Nigel', XTC (1979). This one started the music revolution that is still going on in my head.
4. 'No Mercy', The Stranglers (1977). I didn't hear this song until about ten years after it first came out, but by then it fit my life so well - just listen to the lyrics. That was my life.
5. 'Express Kundolini', Love and Rockets (1986). And for those moments when I wasn't "sweatin' buckets, hopin' that you'd get it right" (see #4, above), I was down at the Luv-A-Fair, dancing to Love and Rockets and the Express Kundolini. All aboard!6. At about the same time in my life, along came Echo and the Bunnymen, who provided me with the soundtrack for a whole decade. 'The Puppet' (1981), 'The Cutter' (1983), 'The Killing Moon' (1984), 'Bring on the Dancing Horses' (1985), and 'Villiers Terrace' (1980) still fill me with nostalgia for that beautiful lost decade. Sometimes I think I'm the only person in the world who liked the eighties. And I LOVED those Echo and the Bunnymen hairstyles. Baby!!7. Then along came the '90s, a musical wasteland. About the only thing that kept me going was Sloan, and more specifically, their fantastic lyrics - try 'Snowsuit Sound' (1994) if you've never heard them.8. The late '90s was saved by The Beta Band and their fantastic, multi-layered songs, such as 'Inner Meet Me' (1997). And nothing could beat their live show, either.9. I was saddened when the Beta Band called it a day, but soon another multi-talented, multi-layered band from Britain came along - but this one had different stripes. Sixties samples mixed with '80s chants, add some hip hop and some dance, and what do you have? The Go! Team. For the highest energy sound, listen to either 'Lady Flash' or 'Panther Dash' (2005) - both sound, to me, like pure, unadulterated happiness.10. 'John Wayne Gacy, Jr.' by Sufjan Stevens (2005) - How can someone write such a beautiful song about such a horrible topic? It's paradoxical. And that, I guess, is Sufjan Stevens in a nutshell. Image from musicclub.it/