I think it would be safe to say that music has been a part of my life since the day I was born. Before I’d even taken my first breath, my parents knew that my name would be Corey, which they had picked from a song called Corey’s Coming by ‘70’s singer-songwriter Harry Chapin.
But when I think of that song—the song that has played a part in who I am today—Harry Chapin’s voice isn’t what comes to mind. It is my father’s, softly singing the song as I lay curled up next to him, the vibration in his chest gently lulling me to sleep:
Corey’s coming, no more sad stories coming…
After my father would sing me to sleep, my mother would be there in the morning, waking me with her voice and whatever song she chose to start that particular day with. While I wasn’t blessed with their singing voices, I did join chorus in the fifth grade (though it was only because the other option was becoming a crossing guard, and I think the school feared for my and my classmates’ safety more than they feared my voice). I never played a musical instrument, other than a year of piano. And although I had a good ear when it came to learning the piano, I was more interested in tinkering with it than taking lessons.
So even though I’m not a musical person in the truest sense of the word, my life has always been—and continues to be—full of music. I listen to it while I work, and I listen to it while I write (as I type this, Dustin O’Halloran’s hauntingly beautiful Opus 37 is playing). My daughter lets me sing with her in the car and doesn’t seem to care that I won’t be auditioning for The Voice any time soon. I’ve even been known to fall asleep to music, and I often find myself wishing my life had a soundtrack, a list of perfectly curated songs for the moments of my days. For me, music is a part of who I am, and it has been that way since day one.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when the idea for this blog was being thrown around, one thing I knew it needed to include was music. Music of course gives rise to strong nostalgic feelings. The first few notes of a song can immediately transport you. Back to your youth. Back to a hot summer day. To a cold winter night. To a party. To a holiday. To a person. To a place. To a feeling. Music has a wonderful way of helping you remember who you were, who you wanted to be, and how you were going to get there. With those ideas in mind, Music Mondays emerged on The Nostalgia Diaries as a way to share with our readers stories, memories, thoughts, and passions—all driven by music.
* * *
Last Monday, after I shared a list of my daughter’s favorite songs (see, I’m passing down the love of music!), I posed the following question to our readers:
What song speaks to your soul?
My daughter Zoey had picked her current one – a catchy little country tune called Jet Black Pontiac. Continuing the country theme, one of our readers—Rob—let us know that the song that was speaking to him these days was Today by Brad Paisley as it reminded him of the memories he is making with his children. I ended the post with the promise that I would report back with my own soul-stirring song.
I’ve thought about this question a lot over the past seven days, because to me, the options seem endless. I could pick something from my childhood, a selection from the sun-drenched songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s that were constantly playing on the record player. I could pick something from my awkward pre-teen—and, well, let’s face it, teenage—years (and how appropriate is it that some of the best angst-ridden music was made in the ‘90s, where Nirvana and Pearl Jam were at the height of their careers). I could pick something from my college days, when the rise of singer-songwriters were coming back again, and John Mayer was stuck on repeat on my 1 pound first generation iPod.
But because we like to mix the past with the present here at The Nostalgia Diaries, I decided to pick a song that sings to my soul that is popular today. (Confession: I stole it from Zoey’s list. I told you she had good taste.)
I remember the first time I heard Brand New earlier this year. I’ve always loved Ben Rector’s music, but this song really spoke to me. At the time I heard it, my life was changing, and this song made me feel hopeful. It made me believe that I could begin again and that things one day would be brand new for me.
Today, this song still speaks to my soul. It makes me happy. It fills me up. It makes me want to be driving somewhere to begin an unknown adventure, with my arm stretched out through an open window, feeling the air pass through my fingers. And like Ben sings, it makes me want to close my eyes and not even care if anyone sees me dancing.
Because I’ll dance for hope any day.
* * *
And so, my fellow nostalgia seekers, that brings us to this week’s mix, which is filled with 10 songs about starting over. We hope they offer up some inspiration as you move forward in the next chapter of your life, whatever it may be. As for me, this blog is part of my next chapter, and I’m so glad you’re here to share in this new adventure. If we missed any of your favorite starting over songs, let us know in the comments!
Harry Chapin photo by Cindy Funk licensed under CC by 2.0.