Do you remember when Smash Hits magazine used to print all the lyrics of chart hits? I'd spend hours reading and learning the words of my favourite songs, and ever since then have always paid close attention to song lyrics, not just the great melodies. There's a space in my brain which I'm sure should be used for nuclear physics, but instead I use it to store thousands of lyrics, just in case I need to singalong to them, alone in a car.
There is music which crosses your path, and totally changes the direction you take. Maybe it was playing at the moment you took a certain fork in the road, like a soundtrack to your life, or maybe they were the motivation for the decision. I have ten such songs. These are far from my favourite songs, they are simply songs that happened to me. There's a big difference between the music that I like to listen to and choose on my ipod or car stereo, to sing to, dance to, cry to, jump into the air to (not in the car!) - and music that has genuinely changed my life. For instance, my all-time favourite track is probably The Killers, Mr Brightside, in terms of sheer exhilarating joy, it's pretty hard to beat. It's been the soundtrack I've chosen to many a car journey or party. It isn't one of my ten, asit isn't really compiled from my favourite songs, but ones that have literally changed my life.
I made a list of the ten songs that contained some of the best advice I've ever been given, these certainly aren't my favourites, in fact mostly far from it. I wonder what would be on your list?
1) Maybe, Sick Puppies . Without this song I doubt I'd have moved to Los Angeles, where I now live. In my first week here, I went to a Sick Puppies gig at the Roxy and told the lead singer of the band this nugget, in what was for me an incredible synergy. What I didn't know is that it's the only track they've done which is mildly suitable for radio play, they are a full on metal band, who knew? That was a good night - me and a load of LA metal heads moshing the night away.
2) A-Ha - Take On Me. Not my favourite A-Ha song, and utterly overplayed - in many ways I dislike this song as it paints A-Ha as an 80s one-hit wonder band and they were anything but. However, it was the song that made me notice them 30 years ago, and love them for a lifetime. When they played their last gigs in Oslo a couple of years ago, snow had closed Gatwick airport, our flight to Norway was cancelled and we were stranded at the airport as the motorways and rail-lines also were blocked by now. It was like a "Challenge Anneka" task to get out of there and to the (just) still open Heathrow airport, where we bagged the last two seats to Oslo and made it to the gig. Morten Harket is in his 50s now and still has the purest voice and the most beautiful face.
3) Closer Than Close - Rosie Gains. This was the first song I played on my own show on Capital FM MANY years ago. I am so proud to have been part of that radio station, it is a very special place indeed.
4) Queen of Starting Over - Beverley Knight . An awesome songwriter with the best female vocals in the business, I could listen to Beverley Knight sing nursery rhymes and still think it was the best damn thing I'd ever heard. However, Queen of Starting Over has a defiance and strength to it, that has got me through heartbreak and the fear of change, it embraces change as a good thing. Thank you Beverly.
5) The Gambler - Kenny Rogers Another song about change, simple and good words, as change is scary, right? "You gotta know when to hold 'em...know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run". What better advice in life is there than that?
6) Better get to Livin' - Dolly Parton. Yeeeah-ha. It's gone a little bit country in the middle here. I guess cos Country songs often have a story and I love a story. I heard a country song playing on the radio once which the lyrics were, "Sweet-talk made me love you, Prozac made me stay". That's a wonderful vignette right there, what more do you need to know about that relationship that isn't explained? I digress. Firstly, don't ever underestimate Dolly Parton. She's a smart woman, an incredible musician and song-writer and a hard-working huge success. Better Get To Livin' is all about getting on with life and seizing the joy from life, it's about forgiveness and not sweating the small stuff. I also love that whilst giving this advice she adds, "I'm not the Dalai Lama but I'll try..."
7) Coldplay - Viva La Vida. After the most incredible trip to South America in 2008, I had this song on repeat on my headphones on the flight back while I tried to get adjusted to the thought of going back to the newsroom the next day. The more I played it, the more clarity I had in a decision I made to buy a property in Rio De Janeiro. Everyone thought I was crazy, until the City was awarded the Olympic Games a few months later. It's also the song I had play us back down the aisle on our wedding day as we were showered with confetti, I can't remember feeling happier ever than I did as I heard those chords strike up, as we made our first little journey together as husband and wife in front of all our cheering friends and family, and those chords always take me back to that moment.
8) Baz Luhrmann - Sunscreen. Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '99. Wear Sunscreen. Like all great moments, I can tell you exactly where I was when I first heard this song played on Capital FM in 1999. Driving southbound on Regent Street. I almost had to pull the car over, I'd never heard anything like it. Every line contains amazing advice and I'd suggest listening to it every so often for some life affirmation. If I'm ever tempted to start stressing or worrying about things, I remember the line, "Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve a algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday"
9) Defying Gravity from Wicked/Idina Menzel. This is a song about integrity and commitment to your beliefs, and overcoming challenges to be the best you can be. In the final weeks when I was training for running the London Marathon I listened to it constantly on my training runs and found it hugely motivational at times when I felt utterly daunted by it. In the end, I defied both gravity AND my knee doctor and ran it in 4'40.
10) Adele - One and Only. The first dance at our wedding. It has amazing lyrics, Adele's great voice and was certainly the soundtrack to an occasion that changed my life.
Which ten songs changed yours?