I haven’t done one of these in a while. I spent the better part of tonight writing this. I hit some tough topics on this one. A way to purge and look back on my life and remember. Memories, good and bad, they are what make us who we are.
Oasis, “Wonderwall”: This song reminds me of getting ready to move to Sweden. It took a lot of planning. The biggest thing was learning the language. I spent months before the big move studying. Every chance I could. By the time I got there I was a little fluent but my pronunciations of the words were pretty jacked up. I remember driving to work and hearing this song. I was working for Advanta at the time. The Winter of ’96. I would always stop at the post office and mail something to my girlfriend back in Sweden. It could have been a letter, a card, a little gift, or sometimes even a recording I would make on a mini-cassette recorder. The highlight of my day would be getting home from work and finding something in the mail from her. Young love! Nothing like it in the world!
Billy Joel, “You’re My Home”: I haven’t listened to Billy Joel in a long time. Something I need to remedy. This vintage Billy Joel song is one of the best, in my opinion. As someone who has lived many places in my life, I consider Delaware my home. I might not be in the same house I was for most of the time I lived here. I write about a ton of bad stuff in this state, but there is good here. You just need to find it. There are a lot of good people here. Something I need to remember.
Linkin Park, “Waiting For The End”: Sometimes you just know something is going to end. Sometimes it can take years to reach that point where you just say “Enough”. That was my deal for more years than I care to admit. “I know what it takes to move on. I know how it feels to lie. All I wanna do is trade this life for something new. Holding onto what I haven’t got.” I would be a liar if I said I haven’t been in this thought process a few times in my life. Sometimes you just have to let go and move on.
Squeeze, “Black Coffee In Bed”: In 1984, I went to the reservoir a couple of miles near my house. I went by myself. It was a hot June day. I stayed there for hours. I met some girl from the next town over (which was actually in Connecticut even though I lived in New York). We hung out and smoked cigarettes. I walked her back to her house which was really far from where I lived. We went into her house and listened to Squeeze’s “Singles, 45 and Under” album. It was fun. I saw her a couple years later working at a clothing store in her town. I was too chicken to ask if she remembered me.
New Order, “Turn My Way”: Whoever thought it was a good idea for Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins to sing back-up vocals on a New Order song is a genius. I remember being at work one day and they did a safety drill. We all had to go outside the building along Rancho Bernardo Rd. It wasn’t after 9/11. I was getting married in a couple weeks. So what was I thinking when a woman stared at me like that? Nothing I could act on. But I always remembered the look.
The Cure, “Push”: I’ve been a Cure fan since the 1980s. But it wasn’t until 2014 when I first heard this song. It kind of became my theme song when I first started blogging. My goal was to push the button as much as I could. No stone would be left unturned.
Modest Mouse, “Lampshades On Fire”: After I wrote an article about Rodel in November of 2014 and really started seeing the corruption in Delaware education, my eyes were wide open. This lead to a very crazy 2015 when the opt out bill exploded in the Delaware General Assembly. I was one of the biggest flag carriers for the bill and my name became synonymous with opt out. I would rally anyone to the cause that I could. For a time we were victorious and we caught people’s attention. There were times where it literally was the most important thing in my life. The bill had to pass. It did. But then the Governor vetoed it. My first angry reaction was to go off on Mark Murphy, weeks before he “resigned” as Secretary of Education, during a State Board of Education meeting. This was months after my “table gripping” public comment to the Senate Education Committee. I was angry and not afraid to let anyone know it. I calmed down over the years. It was definitely a learning curve.
U2, “Bad”: In the Summer of ’85, U2 released an EP called “Wide Awake In America”. This song reminds me of that whole summer. Working at Yesteryears (a comic store), going to the pool, getting ready for high school (which started in 10th grade in my school district), and trying to have fun. It was a fun summer. The best was the Flash #350 fight me and a co-worker had at the comic store. The owner ordered a ton of copies of that issue and they weren’t selling. He had other unique artifacts at the store, including a civil war sword. I remember Willie and I pitching copies of this comic and whoever had the sword would swing at it. It was crazy. It was fun. We were bad. Flash forward about eight years later. I found out what this song was really about: heroin addiction. We still struggle with this horrible addiction in Delaware and across America. It took on an extra meaning when I found this out. I was never into drugs. I thought they were stupid. I saw good friends become total burnouts, lost to everyone but their drug of choice. Until they get help, they just “fade away” as the song says.
Michelle Branch, “Home”: I remember first hearing this song in the late 2000s at the end of a tv show. I just sat there listening to the lyrics and thinking “Why don’t I have this?” Like an earlier song on here, I sensed an end. There were a lot of songs like this during those years. Meaningful lyrics but an empty heart.
Theodore Shapiro, “The Bridge”: One of my favorite movies in recent years wasn’t a blockbuster. But I thought it was excellent. “Collateral Beauty”. The main story was about a father (Will Smith) whose daughter died. The movie had quite a few twists to it but the message was clear. It was about dealing with a loss that destroys who you are, body and soul. I was going through a reawakening of my own at the same time. The blinders were off and I saw many things for how they really were. It took me a long time to see those things. It was painful but necessary.
Blink 182, “All The Small Things”: In the Winter of 2000, we got a bit of snow in Horsham, PA. I remember listening to this song on a snowy night and just dancing around my apartment. I might have had a few beers. I don’t remember. It was a Friday. I just got back from a trip to NY to see my niece who was in the hospital. I needed a good release and Blink 182 provided it.
Genesis, “Invisible Touch”: The beginning of the Summer of ’86 was crazy! Totally reminds me of the whole “But hey, that’s life” days. Only one person in this world would totally know what that means. Maybe she will read this. I kind of doubt it! Such is life. It was weird but fun!
Grouplove, “Spinning”: Ever have one of those songs that gives a promise for a future day? This song is one of those for me. The beginning of an awakening from an emotional coma that lasted a long time. I’ll be the first to admit I used this blog to fill the void in that emotional coma. It was around the time this song came out that I stopped using the blog to complete me. I had to get a life.
Dave Matthews Band, “Crash Into Me”: When I moved back to America from Sweden, everything was new again. This song was big on the radio during that hot and humid summer of ’97. I had to rebuild everything again, from scratch. It took a while but I did it. I remember hanging out with some friends at a pool party one night. We were having fun and just partying for hours on end. I remember it was the first time since I landed back in America that I thought “I’m back”.
Collective Soul, “AYTA”: AYTA stands for “Are You The Answer”. I’ve listened to this song a lot since it came out in September of 2015. I spent so much time looking for the answers to things that I forgot about the journey. I always felt like the answers to what makes Delaware tick were right in front of me. I would find them. There is no answer. We are a corrupt little state underneath the shiny veneer of being “The Small Wonder”. Once you get a peek behind the curtain it is hard to ignore it. But in it’s weird little way, I do love this state. I love that we have so many people who will peek behind the curtain and fight for what’s right.
The Housemartins, “Sheep”: Ask many people in America if they have ever heard of The Housemartins and they will look at you with a strange look. In 1986 and 1987, they came out with two great albums. It is total British 80s music. One listen to this song will tell you why. But it was great to jam to.
Cranberries, “You And Me”: I left Sweden in May of 1997. I went back for a visit two years after I left. I never saw the person I left behind when I moved back to America during that trip. It was like going to see an old house you used to live in. I saw friends I made when I lived there and we had a great time. But it felt weird and empty. I moved there for one reason so going back was bizarre knowing I wouldn’t see that person. I picked up the new Cranberries CD during that trip. I remember walking around one night in a suburb of Stockholm. The sun was setting and this song came on. I heard the lyrics to this song and thought of her. It was hard and difficult.
Kelly Clarkson, “Piece By Piece”: When I was running for the Capital School Board back in 2016 I took off work one day. I marched in the Dover Days parade and spent the rest of the day putting signs up all over the greater Dover area. As I was putting signs up at Dover High School I saw tons of cars there. I had never been in the building. There was a Spring choir concert going on so I thought I would check it out. Years before I had been a paraprofessional at Campus Community. One of the students in the math class I was a para in was doing a solo at this concert. It brought me to tears hearing her sing this song. Her rendition of this song, along with the entire program, led me to write this: The Sound Of Angels
Paul Carrack, “Eyes Of Blue”: This song reminds me of my son. I first heard it when he was two. The song had been out for years before that, but I never heart it before then. I was at work up at Discover and it came on. I just sat there, in the dead of night when we barely got any calls. I thought about his future and what he would be like. And how I would view him. His disabilities changed that perception of his future over the years. I had no clue he had these exceptionalities locked into his genetic code at that age. But they are just something he has. They aren’t what make him him. The first thing I always see are his eyes of blue.
Van Morrison, “So Quiet In Here”: Back in the early 90s, when I lived in Newtown, PA, I would sometimes take drives up River Road. I would drive all the way from Yardley all the way up the river to where River Road ends at Route 611. Sometimes I would drive over to the New Jersey side and ride down on that side. I remember doing that one morning. The sun had just come up and a slight fog came up from the Delaware River. There were hardly any cars. It was just quiet and still.
The Four Tops, “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)”: Nobody sang it like the singers of the Motown era. I wish I was alive when these songs came out. They sang with a soul and passion that is missing from a lot of the music we hear nowadays. It was a time when new voices rose up and said “You won’t keep us down, we will sing what we feel”. And they did with a power that helped to change a nation.
The Killers, “All These Things That I’ve Done”: In the early years of my son’s life, I didn’t have a lot of time to listen to the radio unless I was driving to work. And at that time, there were no alternative stations you could hear in Dover. So I missed a lot of good music when it first came out. This song was no exception. I first heard it in the Winter of 2009. I had just joined Facebook a few months before so I was reconnecting with all these people from my life I didn’t talk to for many years. It makes you take a second look at your life when you are all of a sudden surrounded by all these people you haven’t seen in years. I still remember that first year of Facebook. Getting and sending friend requests to people you never thought you would talk to in your life.
Live, “They Stood Up For Love”: Sometimes a song can’t accurately be described unless you just put down some lyrics cause they are what it’s about. “We spend all of our lives goin’ out of our minds, looking back to our birth forward to our demise. Even scientists say everything is just light, not created, destroyed, but eternally bright. Masters in every time, lord in every place. Those who stood up for love down in spite of the hate, in spite of the hate.”
The Cure, “Inbetween Days”: Everyone deserves a second chance sometimes. This song reminds me of one I got once. It was awesome. Forgiveness is a powerful thing if used right. Sometimes, when you are able to get past the pain and hurt, you can build something bigger than what it was before. I will always treasure the forgiveness I got from this person once upon a time. They might not know it, but it made a huge difference!
Phantom Planet, “California”: Before it became the theme song to the television show “The O.C.” (don’t even get me started on that!), this song was around for a while. And I just so happened to be living north of San Diego when it came out. I had a long commute to and from work. I still remember those drives fondly, even if I was stuck in traffic for what seemed like forever. Mountains all around once I got out of San Diego. Up through Fallbrook, past Temecula, Murrietta, and then to Menifee. You could see for miles. You don’t get that in Delaware. Not like that.
Andre Bocelli and Celine Dion, “The Prayer”: I first heard this song on the one-year anniversary of 9/11. Back in those days, 9/11 still brought tears to my eyes. Especially during the anniversaries. Like so many of us, we wanted revenge and we didn’t care what it took. If we invaded Iraq, so be it. I remember thirsting for us to go in there and take Saddam Hussein out. Even though he had nothing to do with 9/11, he was a symbol of our thirst for war. I always remembered the victims of 9/11 though. I still remember watching the jumpers on tv. That always stuck with me, that fateful choice, burn or jump. I’ve changed a lot of my views in the years since.
Better Than Ezra, “Beautiful Mistake”: The lyrics to this song haunt me. It never applied to me. But it belongs to all those children who were abandoned by a parent. I can’t imagine what that feels like. Being a parent is a responsibility and one that should never be taken lightly. You should never abandon your kid. Period. If you are going to be adult enough to do the act that makes kids than you better be prepared to do what you have to do if it brings a life into this world. If you are a mess, you clean yourself up and do what you have to do.
Secondhand Serenade, “Don’t Look Down”: Sometimes love bites. It stings like nothing you ever felt before. The pain of losing someone seems like it will swallow you whole. You want to scream “Don’t Give Up!” but it falls on deaf ears. Love is a complicated beast. It can bring you to the top of the world and leave you stumbling down a hole you don’t think you will ever get out of.
Morning Parade, “Headlights”: There was a brief moment of time, before my Mom passed, before my fight for my son’s special education kicked in, before I started blogging, where I felt somewhat content with my life. I wasn’t involved. I was just a Dad, going to work, going home, spending time with my family. Swimming in the pool and mowing the lawn in the summer. Shoveling the driveway in the Winter. Just your average American dad. Some seeds were planted back then but it took a while for them to bloom.
Michael W. Smith, “I Will Be Here For You”: While this is a love song, for me it reminds me of when a friend from high school died. It was an incredibly painful time. A lot of the songs that came out around that time remind me of his death. Just hearing them brings those memories back. I wrote about him a few years ago, in a really long article. He deserved that length.
Ramin Djawadi, “Winterfell”: One of the reasons I love Game of Thrones so much is because, when you strip away all the battles and incessant violence, it is about family and honor. The core family is the Starks of Winterfell. They are the “good guys”. When I hear people say they have never watched the show and bash it, they are missing the whole point of it.
Hans Zimmer, “Dream Is Collapsing”: You ever have one of those epic dreams, so big you remember everything? I’ve had quite a few of those in my life. I’ve even had dreams in a dream, like in the movie “Inception”. They are very rare. They stick with you for days on end. I love dreaming. Wish I did it more these days, whether they are good or bad. I always believe they have their purpose.
Tears For Fears, Mad World: The angst and torment of being a teenager. I listened to this song a lot in high school. Not one of their bigger songs, this anthem for teenagers makes me laugh now.
Nick Drake, “Northern Sky”: I never really got the love for Nick Drake until the early 2000s. I heard some of his songs in the very awesome movie, “Garden State”. So I sought out more of his stuff. This is my favorite. “I never felt magic crazy as this. I never saw moons knew the meaning of the sea. I never held emotion in the palm of my hand. Or felt sweet breezes in the top of a tree. But now you’re here, brighten my northern sky.”
Cat Stevens, “The Wind”: This song has easily catapulted to my top ten of all-time. That list changes a lot. But this song always brings peace to my soul, no matter what. “I let my music take me where my heart wants to go”. I do these shuffles from time to time. It is a way for me to release. To write about my life. To expose myself in ways I wouldn’t normally do. Such is the joy of music. It is the soundtrack of our lives.
Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide”: Another one of my all-time faves. I first heard this song half of my lifetime ago. When I was 24. The Smashing Pumpkins came out with a cover version of it. Someone told me Fleetwood Mac did it first. I found it immediately. The version I’m listening to now is from their 1997 live album, “The Dance”. It’s about getting older and looking back on our lives. Did it have meaning? Did we have love? Did we rise or fall?
Yaz, “Only You”: One of those songs that comes in and out of my life. Usually when I fall in love with someone. I was talking to someone about love not that long ago. I told that person we fall in and out of love all the time. With many people. It is when we make that connection that it becomes something bigger. “Wonder if you’ll understand it’s just the touch of your hand.”
Biffy Clyro, “Many Of Horror”: Child abuse ticks me off. A lot. No one should lay a hand on their child. “When we collide we come together. If we don’t we’ll always be apart. I’ll take a bruise I know you’re worth it. When you hit me, hit me hard.” For some kids, this is all they know. They become so used to pain and physical abuse it becomes a part of them. I hear some parents nowadays wishing things were like that. They put up memes or Facebook posts saying sometimes a kid just needs a good smack or a good hit. I won’t comment on those posts because I’m afraid of what I’d say. It wouldn’t be nice. I’ve met people who have been abused like that. You can see it in their eyes sometimes. They carry it with them.
Rick James, “Super Freak Part 1”: I can’t dance. I’ll be the first to admit it. It is probably a painful thing to watch, especially if I have a few in me. But whenever I hear this song I can feel my body swaying and my head going back and forth. I’m doing it right now. No one can see me doing it.
Lissie, “Meet Me In The Mystery”: One day I’m going to die. Not anytime soon I hope. But it will happen. It happens to all of us. The one thing we can be sure of. I’m looking forward to it. I believe in the afterlife. I believe in Heaven. I believe in God. I believe that anything we experience in this life is nothing compared to what awaits us when we go to the next place.
Billy Joel, “Only The Good Die Young”: When I lived in Sweden, not many people knew who Billy Joel was. I asked if they were serious. They were. I played this song for some friends at a party one night. They thought it was great stuff! Billy Joel sings about an America we don’t hear enough of these days. He tells stories. “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” One of those songs I will blast in my car and sing as loud as I can from start to finish. Always!
Blondie, “Dreaming”: This is one of those classic songs that reminds me of when I lived in Roanoke, Virginia. A nine year-old, with the whole world as my plaything. Starting to realize the world doesn’t revolve around me. Starting to look at girls in a different way. Wanting to belong and be accepted. Things like roller-skating being really cool. Wondering if playing with Star Wars figures are something other kids my age are still doing. Going outside and playing for hours without a care in the world. Yeah, I loved nine!
Mumford & Sons, “Guiding Light”: Easily my favorite song to come out this year, bar none. When it came out in September, I was on a sort of high. Things were going good. Then they weren’t. I had some lessons to learn. Now they are back on the upswing again. This season has been a time of growth. Taking stock. Relearning lessons I should have learned a long time ago. Learning to see again when I was blindsided. It’s called life.