The other day I heard a radio presenter say it’s a shame that life doesn’t come with a soundtrack. This perplexed me on so many levels. Especially as it came from someone who chooses and plays music for an audience every day.
What on earth were they talking about? Had they never made a mix tape or had one made for them? Had they never heard a song that transported them back to one sweet memory of their yesteryear? Had they never created a playlist for a single moment of bliss, a week of indulgence, a month of anguish or a year of loneliness? Had they never memorised the lyrics to Girl You Know It’s True because they believed in Milli Vanilli despite those distressing lip-syncing allegations?
Surely everyone has a soundtrack?! Even if you haven’t officially started compiling it, it is there. It exists somewhere in your memory bank. For me, a soundtrack would be made up of 2 types of songs:
- The songs of my past – the ones that make me feel nostalgic (these songs don’t change)
- The songs of today – the ones I have on repeat now (these songs change regularly until they are worthy of nostalgia and are then elevated to ‘songs of the past’).
The nostalgic ones can be happy or sad. Songs that attach themselves to a memory and hold on so tight that they eventually fuse into one, and you can no longer listen to that song without recalling the memory. Songs that make you stop in your tracks (ooh!) and smile wistfully or wretchedly, depending on whether it is Tone Loc or Sinead O’ Connor and how many tears were shed.
These songs link me back to the girl I was at 8, singing along with my sisters to Bob Marley and Tom Jones on long car journeys with my dad.
They remind me of a 10 year old’s obsession with the ‘American Top 100 Year End Countdown’ on the radio, when I recorded George Michael’s Faith (#1 in 1988) onto a cassette tape to play-pause-play to ensure accurate lyrics for singing into a hairbrush.
These songs are a nod to the romance-angst combo of the teenage years with so much Hootie and the Blowfish and a big, angry dose of Alanis Morrissette.
If Chris Martin wasn’t singing about Gwyneth, perhaps he was singing about music itself, and its power to comfort in Everglow: ‘And you’re with me wherever I go/ And you give me this feeling, this everglow.’ The beauty of recollection is that it allows me to relive the moment whenever I choose. Whilst the memory remains in the past, the song is here in the present moment to serve as a portal through which I can, at anytime, delve into the far recesses of my mind, my soul, and my ‘80s boombox.
I close my eyes, play What’s New, Pussycat and it is 1990. I am in my dad’s car, looking out of the window, thinking about what awaits me when I get home: homework, my grandma’s chicken curry and my mother’s smile. And then in an instant, it is 1998. I am at university, dancing to No Diggity and drinking Snakebite & Blacks. Blink again and it is 2007. I am on holiday in Australia, hearing Ben Lee’s Catch My Disease for the first time with the summer breeze messing up my hair, ‘and that’s the way I like it.’
What about the songs of today? These are the ones that enhance the present. They make you smile, laugh, cry, dance, unwind. They pump you up before a big moment or just keep you company with a glass of Red Red Wine.
I have many, many playlists on Google Play. They range from ‘Mellow’ and ‘Zen’ to ‘Dance’ and ‘Dance!’ A subtle difference for the level of body rolls required. There is one for my kids’ favourite tunes including Gangnam Style (the 3 year old randomly shouts out ‘Hey sexy lay-deh!’ in public), and one called ‘Karaoke’ for the hairbrush/ in-shower rehearsals which end in rapturous applause and certainly no booing from the entranced audience of…myself.
There are songs for the drive in to work, songs for a bus ride, songs before a dance class, songs for dancing in the kitchen with a wooden spoon. There are even songs to strut down the street to in the style of a Coldplay music video.
So if life doesn’t come with a soundtrack, perhaps it’s because you are the DJ, the curator, the director and the lead singer.
What’s on your soundtrack?
©2017 Seetha Dodd