Recently I was fortunate to have my contribution selected for a musical retrospective on Vermont Public Radio . The prompt was to choose a song that represented a moment, experience or mood from 2016. I easily chose my song to contribute, but I felt so many other songs rattling around in my head that I wanted to share and I knew there were songs that meant a lot to Mike this year too. Music is incredibly important to us and is something that we are looking forward to share with Frances. We often talk about how excited we are to introduce her to all of the incredible music that this world has to offer. Sitting down together to share our songs with each other, and with whoever chooses to read this, has provided us with another opportunity to reflect on and share about our year. These are the songs that inspired us, comforted us, and delighted us this year.
(Note: These songs are not from the year 2016, rather they are songs that we listened to over and over again this year.)
Stars by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
This was an important song for Vermonters this year. Sung by our incredible Grace Potter and shared by so many who lost loved ones this year, it perfectly captures the devastating wonder that accompanies grief.
What is Life by George Harrison
This song gives me hope. It never fails to put a smile on my face and no matter where I am, it always makes me feel like dancing. Frances also dances whenever I play this song for her and I can’t wait for her to hear it outside of the womb. I’m sure the sound quality will be vastly improved.
“I just love the exuberance of it.”-Mike
For my birthday, Mike and I went to see Brandi Carlile perform on the green at the Shelburne Museum. Brandi’s music had been such a comfort to me following Dorothy’s death and I was looking forward to hearing her music and feeling the power she brings to it. This concert was an incredible life moment for me and The Eye is a song I return to regularly. I love the message that in order to embrace the joy in life, you have to immerse yourself in the mess and the chaos that it brings.
“I don’t think I’d ever heard this song before I heard it at her concert. I found it to be really moving.”-Mike
Sweet Virginia by The Rolling Stones
Exile on Main Street, for whatever reason, has been in heavy rotation in our house this year. It’s an album that we’ve listened to many times through and we just don’t seem to tire of it. Sweet Virginia is a mutual favorite and one that always gets sung along with.
“I find myself playing The Shins a lot in my classroom. Partly because they don’t swear a lot and I also enjoy them. It’s music that the kids haven’t really heard before and I really enjoy listening to it.”-Mike
“Well, you know I’m a big fan of the Taylor Swift album, 1989 and I just love the way Ryan Adams approaches this song. It’s kind of like an escapist fantasy.”-Mike
For the record, we are both big fans of Taylor Swift’s 1989 and Ryan Adam’s album gave us another way to appreciate Taylor’s songs all over again. Also, for me, Taylor’s version of the album got me through my miscarriage during July of 2015, so it seems fitting that her songs (with Ryan’s spin) would help me through another time of loss.
God Only Knows by The Beach Boys
We spent a lot of this year immersed in documentaries. There’s been something very comforting about letting yourself escape your own reality by entering someone else’s. One of our favorite documentaries was The Wrecking Crew which told the story of the session musicians hired to play on various albums through the 60’s and 70’s. We were fascinated to learn more about the incredible genius that went into creating Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys.
“Everything was in Brian Wilson’s head and it was just about getting these incredibly talented people make what he heard, in his head, happen. I think it’s amazing to have the level of vision and talent.” -Mike
I also think this is one of the most ridiculously romantic songs that there ever was. This year was a year that I fell even more in love with Mike and I think of him every time I hear those opening notes.
When You’re Gone by The Cranberries
I love the Cranberries. They smack of nostalgia for me and I am always in the mood to hear their music. Dolores O’Riordan’s voice is hauntingly beautiful and is perfect for belting out in your most angst-ridden moments and I definitely had plenty of those this year. I highly recommend it for shower singing.
This is the song I sang to Dorothy after she was born. I have no idea where it came from and I have no idea where the strength to sing came from. (I cannot begin to describe the exhaustion I was feeling at that moment.) We didn’t have much time together, but I love that being with Dorothy inspired music.
“It just brings me right back. It was the saddest and most beautiful moment.”-Mike
2016 is coming to an end and while I am definitely ready for it to be over, I am grateful for the opportunity to give this year a soundtrack. I love that these songs have our joy, our pain, and our experiences all wrapped up inside of them. I look forward to what 2017 will bring our way and to hear what music accompanies us.
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