Play it Once, Sam

Each work day, I have a routine on the tram. As I sip my coffee, I’ll read a chapter of my book then listen to music on my iPod for the rest of the way. It’s the perfect distraction from the regular drug deals and too noisy school students on the colourful route 78.

When my iPod stopped working two weeks ago, I was beside myself. In what can easily be passed off as a #FirstWorldProblem, I was all of a sudden without my favourites. So, this got me thinking… what are my favourite songs of all time? Music plays such a big part of our lives; it evokes memories and emotions like nothing else can. A sentiment typified in the classic Casablanca:

Though As Time Goes By is not on my list, I present my favourite songs (in no particular order, and subject to expand), each accompanied by an explanation:

  • Unchained Melody – Righteous Brothers (1965)

This song is often number one on greatest songs of all time lists, and with perfect reason. It’s beautiful and it melts my cold, cold heart every time I hear it. Every time.

  • Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley (1961)

Withstanding his legendary status, Elvis had a reputation for corny and arguably terrible songs. This is not one of them. Featured in 1961’s Blue Hawaii it’s the most beautiful man in the world’s most beautiful song. (He also did a version of Unchained Melody… unfortunately, it’s not his best work).

  • No One – Alicia Keys (2007)

Alicia Keys is my favourite artist in the history of music. I have every one of her albums, am a fan club member, follow her on Instagram, like her on Facebook and have seen her each time she’s toured Australia. During her most recent concert, I actually cried when she performed this song, such is its power. I hope to feel this song one day.

  • You Make My Dreams (Come True) – Hall & Oates (1981)

My favourite song of all time. It’s everything I love about the 1980s; it’s my go-to pick me up. I feel pure joy listening it. I challenge anyone not to dance to this song!

  • Learnalilgivinanlovin – Gotye (2006)

I can say with total confidence that I was a genuine fan of Gotye before he became popular. This is the song that got me hooked. It’s happiness in a song.

  • Spoonful – Howlin’ Wolf (1960)

I was introduced to Howlin’ Wolf by the most handsome man I have ever met at a Beale Street record store (in 2011). I walked in with the intention of quickly finding a couple of Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Cash and Wilson Pickett’s CDs. Instead, I left after a 2 hour listening session, hosted by said handsome man, with Howlin’ Wolf’s His Best. Spoonful is raw, strong and totally bad ass.

  • Samson – Regina Spektor (2002)

If angels existed, they would have Spektor’s voice. Its heavenliness almost distracts from the forgiveness she’s begging for. It’s equally restrained as it is powerful.

  • Can’t Take My Eyes of Off You – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (1967)

I first heard this song as a 12 year old in 10 Things I Hate About You, in the scene where the late Heath Ledger’s Patrick sang to Julia Stiles’ Kat as a grand grovelling apology declaration of love. Embarrassingly, I only discovered who sung this song while seeing Jersey Boys on Broadway as a 23 year old. Better late than never, right?

  • Miss You Love – Silverchair (1999)

What is considered by many to be their last great album, this song transcended everything else on Neon Ballroom. A little teenage-angsty, a lot anguished love, it features my favourite lyric: “I love the way you love, but I hate the way I’m supposed to love you back”.

  • These Arms of Mine – Otis Redding (1964)

A wedding cliché and cheapened by Dirty Dancing (one of the worst movies ever), at only 2.29 minutes… its 2.29 minutes of pure and heartfelt magic.

  • Beautiful Girl – INXS (1992)

One of my great life regrets is not being old enough to attend INXS’ 1991 Wembley Stadium concert. Most people would think New Sensation or Need You Tonight when they think INXS, but I love Beautiful Girl because its Michael Hutchence stripped back. Michael died a few months after Princess Diana, and honestly I was far more upset in November 1997 than I was in August 1997.

  • Runaway – Kanye West (2010)

Kanye the artist is creative and unique. Kanye the man would probably tell you that himself, but who cares. This song is brilliant, and gives us all a glimpse into Kanye the man beyond the ego and performance.

  • Girl On Fire – Alicia Keys (2012)

There is a reason Alicia Keys is featured on this list twice. It’s the ultimate woman’s anthem and a reflection of someone who completely owns and believes in who she is. Magnificent.

  • MmmBop – Hanson (1996)

This song represents everything wonderful about my wonderful childhood. I’m immediately taken back to the mid-late 1990s – and my obsession with Hanson. My bedroom walls were covered in TV Hits and Smash Hits posters, I owned all the CDs (even the Christmas ones) and their documentary on VHS, and I cried hysterically when they only performed one concert in Sydney and I couldn’t go. I was even married to Taylor (the middle one) for a number of years, until he left my teenage dreams for a real woman. Maybe not a lyrical classic, but I will always love this song.

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7 thoughts on “Play it Once, Sam

  1. I felt sure there would be a Backstreet Boys favourite in there. Not because they are lyrical genius’ but I know that you would know all the dance moves and THAT would liven up the tram ride!

  2. Love your descriptions of Kanye. My favorite radio host (and now you) talks a lot about Hall and Oates, so I’ll give that song a listen this weekend!

    1. Thanks Bryan. Hall & Oates are the best/worst thing of the 1980s – Rich Girl, I Can’t Go For That, Man Eater, Private Eyes – so much fun!!

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