What’s a soundtrack to life then? Well it’s quite easy, it’s a selection of songs. Not just those that I like, but those that actually mean something to me. They may remind me of a place, a time in my life or for the most part, a person.
In compiling the first songs to go into this list I was surprised just how much it touched me, and the memories that came flooding back when I started writing some of these down. For the most part they’ve been good memories, and I think that’s the real reason I’m writing this.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s the Soundtrack to My Life.
Kenny Loggins – I’m Alright (Theme from Caddyshack)
This is quite an odd one really, it’s not connected with anyone in particular, or any real event. I just remember watching Caddyshack and laughing my head off at the bizarre relationship between the gardener and the gopher…and all I remember to this day (apart from the chocolate bar in the pool gag, or the throwing up through the Porsche sun roof, or…) is the opening. The music begins to play, the shots of the golf course, the camera turns to a tunnel of earth speeding towards it and the tunnel stops in front of the camera. The music starts through the intro and as it gets funky up pops the gopher full screen. It checks left and right and begins to dance to the music..and that always sticks in my mind, I hear the intro and all I can see is that gopher cuddly toy popping it’s head up through the golf course grass and starting to dance!
ELO – Don’t Bring Me Down \ Mr Blue Sky \ Turn to Stone
Stu. That’s pretty much all these songs. It reminds me of the great times that my mate Stu and I had while at college. There’s one particular, and I think it’s Turn to Stone, that reminds me of driving past the harbour coming from the back roads from Cove, I was sitting in the back of the car with the camera, and Stu was driving. I’m sure someone else was up front but my memory is failing on that one. The songs blaring, we’re singing, and for some reason I was filming it all…strange days, but fantastic times. Stu was probably the best friend I’ve ever had, and we had some amazing times up in Aberdeen during college and life just after. ELO always reminds me of him.
Genesis – Turn it on again
Here’s a specific song that reminds me of a certain event with Stu. We were driving back to his parents one night to indulge in beer, food and guitars. This meant driving some back roads that he knew very well but were narrow and more often than not blind, adding to that this particular night the fog was thicker than I’ve ever seen, I think we could only see some four or five feet ahead of the car. So we drove back quite slowly to the house, and during all the songs that played on that trip for some reason we stopped the music and began singing this song without any music at all. Acapella.
Rocky Horror Picture Show – Sweet Transvestite
There are some moments in life you look back on and cringe, this is probably one if I were anyone else, but me being me I love it! When we would go to the Student Union Bar for Robert Gordons Institute of Technology (when it was still RGIT and not RGU as it’s now known) we would usually get totally blasted. It wasn’t really an upbeat posh kind of place, it was dark, black paint everywhere, smelly, sticky, but it was cheap and great fun. The DJ there, and I use the term losely, always wore a Dennis the Menace jumper, that really does stand out in my head, and he would be hounded night after night by completely pissed students asking for the same old crap…
Like Time Warp, and Sweet Transvestite, which would just about always go on…and fill the dance floor too. Sad thing is I would be up there, singing all the words and doing some of the most bizarre dances known to man or creature. Oh dear, I can remember the times now. In fact I’m convinced there was one time I did the whole song standing on a table in-front of everyone in the place. Oh lord. See, even as I write this there are a dozen other memories coming pouring back…fantastic!
Eric Clapton – Knocking on Heavens Door
Ah, this is easy. The first real song I played on the guitar. I remember Eddie, Stu and I playing it quite a bit, an old favourite and something I always go back to playing now and again. It’s weird because there is definitely a stock list of songs you’ll learn when you start playing the guitar, and I can’t really play any of them. I have to be different. This is a big part of my life though because I love playing the guitar, and I have never really stopped, paused yes, but never stopped.
Stu again crops up heavily here, because he was\is a fantastic guitarist and gave me the bug to learn how to play and carry out some amazing things. Like playing for sixty people at the Staff Xmas party with Eddie singing, busking on Union Street, and playing at Dave’s wedding. Never mind the great joy it’s given me to just pick them up and play, and the ladies who have been impressed by it…oh the days!
Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower
Oh lord, while we’re talking about guitar tunes, this is an amazing one that we continually played acoustically. I loved it and patented a very nice slow style to the first verse picking up to a fast paced solo section and back for a storming closing on the twelve string. This would usually result in me sweating by the end of the song! I particularly remember this song when Eddie and I were playing for the crowd at Texas Homecare at the Christmas bash, boy were we nervous. I was especially nervous when Eddie stops being the frontman and singing and just walks away to let me go mental on the guitar! What a feeling. As I type this I can turn to my right and see the very playlist from that evening framed on the wall. Good man Eddie. Miss you a lot.
Erasure – Little Respect
Ooh, flying back to college for a moment to remember driving through the darkened streets of Aberdeen. In fact I remember we were driving over Union Street from Market Street and I think Iain was driving. Iain with his big spikey hair and looking like one of the Erasure band members. That was playing on the stereo and I was leaning out the window screaming\singing as we drove…I have no more idea where we were going or why, but that sticks in my head.
MN8 – I Got a Little Something For You
Oh dear. This takes me back to the days of dancing in Charlies and then heading to the Sinistry of…no, that was the other name for it, I mean the Ministry of Sin. There’s one big thing I’m proud of from that place, and that’s being instrumental in getting a dancing podium built! Just next to the dance floor there were the huge five foot high speakers, they sat on wheels and lined an inset in the wall, when we were drunk and the music was going wild we would leap up on them and start dancing. You had to be careful though, they were on wheels and if you weren’t careful the bouncers would drag you off. Perhaps it was just the way we did it that didn’t seem too unassuming.
Anyway, I’m digressing, we have to go back to Charlies and the Becks Bar (before delinquents took them over and started fighting to agree their penis sizes – small or extra small) where we would dance all night, there was a small bunch of us, Craig, Iain, Debs, and I’m embarassingly forgetting who else, but these were definitely the regulars. We would dance to about anything, but this was my song, so much so that I was presented with the…get this…Tape single! We used to do the most embarassing synchronised dancing, but everytime we’d do it people would join in, they just couldn’t help it.
The Wannadies – You and Me
Couples are always under pressure from other people to get married, to have kids, to do something other than just have fun and enjoy each other, but this is something that I always think of and wonder if there’s a bit of pressure to have one. An “Our Song”. This is the song that defines myself and my girlfriend (now wife). I can remember we were having a conversation about not having a song, as we were thinking what her friend was going to play at her wedding, and for some reason we ended up with this song. She thinks we went through lists of songs and chose it, but I seem to remember it just happened to play and we said “that’s it!”.
Soul Asylum – Runaway Train
Stu again, what a musical influence he’s been in my life! I remember we used to play this song again and again, a real favourite for us. I also, and I might be wrong on this, remember going to Glasgow with Eddie to watch Soul Asylum play live…they were fantastic and probably one of the best live performances I’ve been to in my life.
Anything in this vein reminds me of being at home when I was younger. My Mum and Dad would play music on a Sunday, I don’t think Saturday ’cause that was get up early, collect logs for the wood burning stove, and then return to watch Swap Shop (01 811 8055). On Sunday’s though the sounds of Manilow, Carpenters, Clayderman, et al would issue from the almost antique stereo! Luckily I survived those early nightmares…my MP3 collection still carries the scars though, in the form of Ultimate Manilow and Neil Diamond, Love on the Rocks!
The Platters – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Ah yes, a double barrelled one for me, and not all that happy memories. I first heard this as the soundtrack to a film by Stephen Spielberg, Always, along with Stu, Julie and Julie’s friend whose name escapes me right now. It was a very sad film, but a happy sad one, and I remember crying a tiny bit (very sensitive soul you see). Afterwards we went down to Aberdeen beach and had a little walk, while I sat with Stu and had a serious chat while I bawled my eyes out. I remember Stu telling me a long time after those days that he worried about me a lot as I was very up and down.
Then there’s the first real girlfriend, and this was our song. I remember sitting up late with her after the parents had gone to bed, just cuddling and dozing, and being really happy and carefree as you only can be when you have no pressures in life like a house, career, etc. and playing her parents Platters album again and again. I even remember the poem I wrote her to woo her (and it worked), and the trip to Slains Castle and our first kiss, she wore a white Arran jumper as I remember. However memories are always sweeter than life, and these memories are nothing compared to the love and happiness I feel now with the lady I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. (That’s not just in-case she’s reading, although she will!)
INXS – Never Tear Us Apart
This one is really about me, although it reminds me of Stu and I busking, the overriding memory is the trumpet solo. How the hell do you do that when there’s two of you on guitar? Well, cue my trumpet impersonation. That was great fun, and get a few drinks in me, hand me the guitar and that will come out without too much of a nudge.
REM – The End of the World
Here’s another Stu and I busking song, and another challenge, trying to remember all the words to the song and sing them while playing the guitar. No problem, this was definitely another party piece for us, and we always got a few positive remarks about this one…and cash! Ninety nine pounds on our best night, and I think just four on our worst
There’s a wee update to this song now. At my job at TSB there’s a group that like to go to Karaoke on drunken nights out, the only way to perform at Karaoke! I remember belting this one out to everyone’s surprise, mainly because I knew all the words and didn’t have to stare at the screen!
David Gray – Babylon
Wow, here’s a moment and a half. Dave, a very good friend, asked me to play at his wedding. Just me, the guitar, and my Guinness\Whisky assisted voice. I was so nervous, during the break for the two piece band I was to play three songs, one of which they requested specifically and the other two I chose. Well they asked for Babylon and I had to learn it from scratch, plus it was out of my range!
Still, I managed to learn it then never play it again for months until a week before the wedding when I started panicking and went hell for leather trying to get it right. Finally I did, and I think I did it quite well, playing to the top table and being surprisingly miked up by the band without warning! I remember the embarrassment of continually opening my legs to hold the guitar properly…I was wearing a kilt and flashing the entire front table. They never asked for that additional moment! Add in Hootie and the Blowfish Only Wanna Be With You which we often sang at his house late of night, and Oasis Talk Tonight, and I think it went down well.
Queen – Who Wants to Live Forever?
My mother passed away on September the 24th 2008, and one of her requests was to have this song played at her ceremony. It was one thing thinking about playing the song for so long, but actually hearing it was something else entirely. Every time I hear this song I think about her now, and her love for life.
Dean Martin – Nobody Till Somebody Loves You
This was the first dance at our wedding, chosen mainly because we love swing music and we had a real live swing singer to perform it. He was fantastic, and I lost my voice by singing just about every word to every song he performed, but this one was the best moment and something that I’ll remember forever. It’s also great that my mother managed to see the first dance for our wedding before having to head home due to her illness.
Scouting for Girls – She’s So Lovely
This is one song that my wife demanded was played at some point during the wedding, and I totally agree – why not? She is lovely! This and Dean Martin take me right back to the wedding day and remind me of all the pre-midnight memories. After that I’m afraid I don’t remember a thing!
Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines – Il Postino Soundtrack
An unusual choice from the fantastic film Il Postino. I’ve always loved poetry, but there’s no poem that has captured my emotions as much as this one by Pablo Neruda. It’s haunting, soul breaking, and to me perhaps the most perfect poem I’ve ever read. Coupled with the haunting music of the film, and the wonderful tone of Andy Garcia reading, it’s just amazing.