Five Songs That Changed My Life

Today I’m over at Press Play talking about Five Songs That Changed My Life. Go take a look!

Writing a list of five songs that changed my life was hard. Not just hard, maybe even impossible, because I still feel like I’m leaving too many off. I’ve rearranged, I’ve added and subtracted, but I’m confident that every song on this last has changed my life in some way. Just know there are many, many more out there.

What I find particularly interesting is that, of the five songs on this list, four of them are songs I discovered while in college – and I’ve been out six years! It’s not that no songs have impacted me since, but that these are some of the strongest.

1. Do It Again – Nada Surf

This is one of those songs that truly altered the framework of my life. I discovered it in 2009 when I referenced lyrics to another of their songs (Always Love), and someone said “They also say maybe this weight was a gift, like I had to see what I could lift,” I immediately had to find it and hear for myself.

It became the song I sang along to while driving home from a horrible, nightmare-inducing job. It’s the song I had going through my head as I prepared for a preventative mastectomy. Not only does hearing this song bring me back to a tumultuous time in my life that I’m glad to have escaped, it reminds me that sometimes things suck – but that it’s usually worth it in the end to prove your own strength and come out even more bad-ass.

2. Xanax – Maria Taylor

I first heard this song when I was finally admitting to the world at large that I had an anxiety problem. I’d hid it for years, worrying that I’d be seen as “crazy” or that my family would worry. I heard this song and felt like I wasn’t alone, like someone else out there, somewhere, got the crazy things I felt every day – my fear of loss, my fear of love, my fear of everything. And while I know the ultimate point of the song is about love, it was never about just that for me.

Afraid when the phone rings another breath of life has ceased. It seems it’s just lost so easily. Afraid of my heart that beats too slow, or that I died and just didn’t know, or of a fate I will have to choose. And I’m afraid of how much I love you.

3. All Is Full of Love – Bjork

This is another song I first discovered in college – on a mix CD from another friend – but that’s not what makes it important. It’s the lyrics and the meaning behind them that get me.

You’ll be given love. You’ll be taken care of. You’ll be given love. You have to trust it. Maybe not from the sources you have poured yours. Maybe not from the directions you are staring at. Twist your head around. It’s all around you. 

It sounds so simple, but the idea that you are loved – even if certain relationships aren’t giving what you’re putting in – was huge to me. And it’s a good reminder for everything in life, I think. All is full of love.

4. Dear Chicago – Ryan Adams

A friend put this on a mix CD for me early on in college. By the time I really <I>heard</i> this song, I was in the midst of a dramatic, drawn-out breakup that was entirely my fault. I had no idea how to feel or what to do, and suddenly every word of this song was exactly right. That, and it led me to numerous other Ryan Adams songs that changed my life in their own way.

Since then, although I’m not perpetually suffering through traumatic breakups, it’s a perfect song for those times when you’re a little sad… and maybe just a little hopeful.

5. The First Night – The Hold Steady

I couldn’t get into The Hold Steady when I first tried… until one day I put my iTunes on shuffle and The First Night came on. It was one of those songs that grab you; you can’t help but stop what you’re doing to hear it.

I was twenty-one and living abroad, the first time I’d been out of the United States. My study-abroad experience wasn’t shaping up to be the amazing thing I’d hoped for and, to top it off, I was dealing with quintessential dramatic relationship issues. And this song – it made me feel sad and nostalgic and hopeful all at once, the perfect song that brings to mind drunken nights and broken hearts. And that last part, don’t bother talking to the guys with the hot, soft eyes. You know they’re already taken. I’d walk down Roman streets with that line coursing through my earbuds, and now whenever I listen to it I can smell Rome, can see the cobblestone streets, and it will always make me miss being twenty-one and a little lost.


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