1. Samba Pa Ti, Carlos Santana was scene-change music for a play I saw in college. A play I saw, I wasn’t even in it! But as soon as I heard those vaguely familiar guitar strains, I was obsessed. This song will play at my funeral. Or my wedding. Whichever comes first.
2. Inna Gadda Da Vida, Iron Butterfly when I was a little girl, maybe 13, my dad dragged me down to the basement, sat me on the ping-pong table and for 17 and a half minutes, he forced me to listen to this song. THIS SONG. The next day I got in trouble for rifling through his record collection. Dad, I owe you my sense of humour, and my taste in music.
3. Paradise By The Dashboard Light, Meatloaf once upon a time I was shy. I was painfully, introvertedly shy. Yeah, me! But I loved to dance. Not well, mind. Mostly around my bedroom to whatever music I happened to be into. My inner dance demon came out at my cousin’s wedding. All of a sudden, surrounded by relatives, I felt free to cut loose and just jump, jive AND wail. I danced to every song that DJ played – I don’t think my butt touched the my seat after the beats started up! I threw all my soul into dancing to this song at my cousin’s wedding – of course, I was like eleven and didn’t have clue what it was about, but I loved the driving rock melody and the fact that it went on and on. Later on that night, I danced with one of my cousin’s new in-laws to the old classic “Misty.” This older gent kept it clean, mind! He said he’d seen me dancing and how much I enjoyed it. I mentioned a school dance coming up that I’d debated going to, but for the ticket price of $2. Inflation, I tells ya! At the end of the dance, he gave me two rumpled dollars and told me to enjoy myself at that dance. Anything you love is worth doing. Even if you have no rhythm!
4. Wig in a Box, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is actually tattoed on my arm. When I saw this movie my freshman year of college, my brain exploded. Coming as I did from a “Wicked Little Town,” I was dazzled and upended by the glamour and colour. This video doesn’t do the vibrance of the picture justice. But suffice it to say, it changed my life. I got a small tattoo from the movie a year later. Still wish I could pull off that hair. I think I’m almost nailing this look, though:
5. Maria, West Side Story another story about Dad and me: one night when I was in seventh grade, my mom was working a closing shift at the library and shortly after eating dinner together, I fell ill. I remember lying feverish on the couch in the den with my dad, watching West Side Story air on television – something he’d brought up at dinner and I was quite disinterested in. Yeah, you read that right: had I but the strength, I would have pitched a fit about having to watch West Side Story on TV! But for the illness, that is. So there I was, helpless on the sofa, and five minutes in (after the opening balletic sequence) I was hooked. So hooked. The dance at the gym, the costumes, the setting. West Side Story is probably the main reason I felt compelled to move to New York City!
Even thinking about this song brings tears to my eyes. I checked the libretto out of the local library and renewed it (thanks Mom!) for probably an entire year. That means I carried it in my backpack for most of seventh grade.
Years later, I happened to go to a library book sale in a totally different town when something beautifully familiar caught my eye:
It was “my” book! More than ten years had passed, and my dream of moving to the city had been fulfilled! Twenty-five cents made her mine forever and I brought her back to the city with me to enjoy living in my West Side apartment.
So there you have it. These songs actually changed my life. This was probably my favourite prompt of all – I can’t wait to see what other songs people
come up with!