We all know that our choice of music has an effect on our subconscious but I realised this morning - listening to my new, lovingly-compiled playlist - that the exact opposite is also true. Our subconscious chooses our music.
A year ago I lost my job, felt sorry for myself for 48 hours and then got back on the bus and started my own phenomenally successful (almost) media consultancy. My latest playlist selection was, I thought, entirely random. But today I realised it's not - it's all about me. Or at least me and work - losing, winning and everything in between.
Songs about love are easy, as are those about death, loss, yearning, anger, growing up, letting go. Songs about redundancy in middle age, that somehow make you feel better about life (so that excludes fierce Clash-like diatribes such as Career Opportunities), are far more difficult.
So here, borrowed from my bizarrely-named 'Happy Days' playlist, are the Top 12 Songs To Lose Your Job To...
Wrecking Ball by Bruce Springsteen. Pretty much everything on this album is for the disaffected, disenfranchised and disillusioned but this is the track that really soars. OK, so I wasn't made by the mud, beer, blood and steel of the Jersey swamps but there comes a point in everyone's life where, defiantly, you get back on your feet and want to shout: 'Come on and take your best shot, let me see what you got.'
Lean On Me by Bill Withers. From anger to sentimentality but no less effective. 'If we are wise, we know that there's always tomorrow.' In times of crisis, friends come to the fore and swallowing pride becomes a reluctantly-learned skill. If you can, hunt down the live Carnegie Hall version, the crowd seem to know exactly what Bill is singing about.
The Old Main Drag by The Pogues. Light relief. Call me paranoid but we're all one step away from it. Plus I've been 'spat on and shat on'. Metaphorically obviously. So far.
Don't Give Up by Peter Gabriel. Obviously. Kate Bush has been my guardian angel or at least her voice is.
Under Pressure by Queen. There can't be many songs that deal with such dark psychological issues that make you feel better from singing along. 'It's the terror of knowing what this world is about.' But once you know what it's about, things suddenly become far easier.
Indian Queens by Nick Lowe. One of the greatest of all British pop song writers, Lowe has always had an unerringly positive attitude when things go awry. Useful attribute if you're a Brentford supporter. The miracle of this song is that you learn about a man's terrible series of misfortunes in just a few tight verses, lifted through it all by the knowledge that there's always somewhere to go back to, safety from the storm. Not necessarily in Cornwall.
Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday's Just As Bad) by T-Bone Walker. Cos Wednesday's worse and Thursday's oh so sad. Well last week it was anyway. Not all these songs need to make you feel good, you know.
Paralysed by Gang Of Four. Just before an interview, I dare you to listen to this at full volume: 'Blinking paralysed flat on my back/ They said our world is built in endeavour/ But every man is for himself.'
Workin' Man Blues by Merle Haggard. A personal favourite but really, 'I drink my beer at a tavern and cry a little bit of these working man blues.' Get the violin...
Brother Can You Spare A Dime by Bing Crosby. Oh bloody hell, are you kidding, I hear you say. But give it a go, for this is one of the greatest songs about friendship, loss, regret and life ever written. It's also unbelievably sad. Has popular music ever come closer to expressing desperation than in the final verse: 'Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal...'
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now by The Smiths. Well you would be after listening to Bing but at least Morrissey will put a spring in your step.
When I Paint My Masterpiece by Bob Dylan. It's good to finish on a high. Personally, it's taken me 20 years to figure out the lyrics to this one. When I was young and unburdened I thought everything was 'smooth like a rhapsody', now I realise it probably never will be but striving to make it so is what makes us better people. Our masterpieces are always just around the corner.
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