The Official Soundtrack of My Life

By Jason Menard

Back when I was younger, the mixed tape was all the rage. It was your way to express your feelings through song, because you just couldn’t find the right words. I’m embarrassed to say in my past I may have given out a couple of them to certain people in my life.

Earlier today, in another spurt of time-killing and/or self-reflection, I started playing around with a song list on Grooveshark trying to define The Soundtrack of My Life. I asked others to share their songs, so I thought it only fair to put mine down in ‘print.’

Remember, these are not my favourite songs (though, some are), but rather songs that represent key moments in my life and/or songs that held a specific importance to myself and someone else.

It was fun. It was enlightening. And it mixed equal parts fromage and gravitas.

Here’s what I’ve discovered:

  • There are a lot of songs about how a woman’s affected me. But it’s not the woman I thought it should be. And I will remain pleasantly cryptic about that.
  • There’s a lot of hope in these songs. I thought it was a recent revelation for me about appreciating the here and now, but it appears that I’ve held fast to that “it’ll all work out” attitude, even during the most soul-crushing years;
  • There were some soul-crushing years;
  • I happily hold fast to a delusion that songs like The Theme from Shaft!, My Philosophy, and Super Bad (Parts 1 and 2) apply to me. I remain convinced that my inner funk-osity far exceeds what appears on the exterior;
  • There are a lot of songs that reference my romantic life; there are a lot of songs that represent confidence… and rarely the two meet;
  • There are some really stupid songs here… but I am frequently awkward and goofy, so it seems appropriate;
  • To wit, I have been known to act out the When Doves Cry video. No, I likely won’t do it for you!;
  • The first two songs are Elvis songs. If you knew me in high school, that is not a surprise;
  • My soundtrack really only starts in late high school. After all, the early years of MiniPops and Smurf music aren’t that interesting. Though I will say the first 45 I ever owned was given to me by a neighbour when I was eight. The Monks’ Drugs in My Pocket/Love in Stereo. It almost made the list, just for that reason;
  • Yes, I’m old enough to have had 45s; and
  • There is only one song that can make me cry on this list.

I don’t think I’ve ever shared this story with anyone. When my daughter, Juliana, was born, I was handed her by a nurse. In the hours that followed, Ju needed surgery for a lung issue and we could have lost her. But in those moments after she was born, I was able to take her outside the room. In the quiet of an empty delivery room, holding her in my arms, I made a promise to her that I would always love her, protect her, and be there for her. And, for some totally cheesy reason, I started whisper-singing “I’ll Be There.

So every time I hear that song, those memories and those feelings come flooding back.

Without further ado… in chronological order, The Soundtrack of Jay’s Life.

Young and Beautiful, Elvis Presley
Can’t Help Falling in Love, Elvis Presley
Lost Together, Blue Rodeo
Prettiest Eyes, The Beautiful South
Never Said, Liz Phair
Snowsuit Sound, Sloan
Catholic Girls, Frank Zappa
Hola Decadence, Les Respectables
Rock and Roll Suicide, David Bowie
Theme From Shaft, Isaac Hayes
Shake Your Tailfeather, Ray Charles
Truly, Madly, Deeply, Savage Garden
It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It), The Rolling Stones
When Doves Cry, Prince
The Last Supper, Jesus Christ Superstar (but really, only the Carl Anderson Judas version)
I’ll Be There, Jackson Five
Closing Time, Leonard Cohen
Gotta Get Away, The Rolling Stones
Positively 4th Street, Bob Dylan
Run’s House, Run-DMC
Express Yourself, Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band
My Philosophy, Boogie Down Productions
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, U2
Super Bad, Parts 1 & 2, James Brown

There you go… at the very least you have your Saturday Night Dance Party soundtrack. At best, maybe you learn a little bit more about me. Who knows?

And there are likely some lessons in there. Including this: The Beautiful South was right in its song Prettiest Eyes: “You can’t have too many good times, children. You can’t have too many lines…”

Feel free to share yours. Music is the soundtrack of our lives because one song can take you right back to a moment in time. It can make you feel something you haven’t for years. And, at the very least, it may make you smile and appreciate what you have in life.

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