Music: the Soundtrack to My Life

Music has always been an integral part of my life.

From the moment I first heard it, it became part of me.

I am not a musician. I’ve dabbled with musical instruments. I strangled the violin. I rocked the recorder. My voice is passable, if keep it to the car, kitchen or shower. Still, music is at my core.

Discovering Music, Eighties Style

I was born in the 1970s. Seventies music isn’t my bag though. I guess I was too young to formulate memories around it.

I grew up knowing more of the sounds of the fifties and sixties, thanks to my dad. I still have a fondness for those tunes when I hear them. I love seeing his face when he listens to that music.

We connect when he asks me to guess the singer and is always surprised when I know. He forgets sometimes that he taught me.

That said, I am an eighties girl. My formative years were in the decade most people say taste forgot. Yes, there were some truly cheesy tunes. I love and hate them in equal measure.

We’ve all been to a family wedding and find ourselves embracing ‘Agadoo’ or a Wham song, as if our dancing shoes depend on it.

I am proud that I spent the eighties obsessed by music. I devoured everything the charts and beyond had to offer.

I love that I can play gems to others from that decade that they never heard. My heart was hungry for music back then. It still is.

Today, I am delighted when the lesser known tunes fall into my lap through a random social media post or a jogged memory. Every time they return to me I am transported to the decade that shaped me so much my novel is even set within it.

If you fancy reminiscing about the eighties, lived through them and were in the UK at the time, join my Facebook group: Living on a UK Estate in the 1980s You don’t need to have lived on a council estate, just have a nostalgic mind.

Owning My Music

Music - my named album
Spot the name (maiden name) in top right. Let’s not discuss the actual album.

My family were all fans of their own genres of music. We built up quite a collection of singles and albums. This sometimes could be problematic.

My older sister and I fought to own our music. We fought to own each other’s music.

Every record had our names written on it. She would write her name. I would cross it out and write mine, and vice versa. We fought a war of musical ownership.

I still see it as a badge of honour that I have the Grease movie soundtrack album in my possession. There’s a scribbled line with my childish scrawl underneath. Confession: it was her album first. Let’s keep this as our little secret.

My first record was ‘There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma’ by St. Winifred’s School Choir. Even my sister wouldn’t put her name on that one. Torture yourself and have a listen: There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma video

The first record I bought with my own money was ‘Borderline’ by Madonna. I slept with it under my pillow for a while. True story.

You must always own your music. I’ll share it with you now though: Borderline video

My Music Tribe

I thrive around those who love music. We don’t necessarily have to like the same genres; just knowing they appreciate the power of music is enough.

I loved sharing my music with my younger brother. We’d often listen to records together in my room. He loved a game I devised called ‘The Silly Dance’. It would entail dancing like fools to music and hitting each other with our elbows or pushing him off the bed. Young minds are easily entertained.

I enjoy discussing eighties music with my brother now. We connect through it. He knows the same obscure tunes that I do.

My husband was a DJ. He thrives on live music and is at home watching live gigs. We share some common favourites but mostly he loves Goth music. It’s not really my scene but since I’ve met him I have developed an appreciation for some of it. I’ve just been to an alternative night and found the camaraderie, made by music, amazing.

The Husband and I have enlarged each other’s musical horizons when we play music in our house although I don’t think he’s ready to embrace some of my more questionable tastes.

My best friend sings beautifully. She also loves musicals which is useful as The Husband isn’t a fan.

I love a good show tune. ‘Phantom of the Opera’ made the bestie and I bawl like babies afterwards. A bloke on the tube didn’t know whether or not to stage an intervention when he saw us howling. Warm up your vocal chords and try to sing along with this: The Phantom of the Opera

I’ve seen Wicked twice now. Neither time was disappointing. This song and what happens on stage give me goosebumps every time: Defying Gravity

My mum loved music. She introduced me to it. Every day she would have the radio on as she did jobs around the house. My fondest memories are of playing with a mound of Lego while Radio One was on in the background. The songs seeped into my soul.

Music shaped me.

Music and Dreaming

Music - dreaming musicAs a youngster I used to lie on my bed, turn out the light, and listen to music. Playing music in the dark meant I could focus solely on what was playing, without distraction. Sometimes I would fall asleep with my headphones on.

I recall lying there, focusing on lyrics that gave me hope for my future. I’d play songs that taught me what I wanted for myself. I heard tunes that sang of what I didn’t.

I recently heard a song that I played on a loop, lying in the dark. It transported me back there. I was that girl who wanted all those things. I am that woman who went out there and got them. I no longer have to live in the dark.

Music and Grieving

When loved ones die, we often have to choose funeral music.

My mum told me what she wanted to be played at her funeral before she died. Knowing that cancer would claim her soon made it easier for her to make the decision.

Her chosen song was played but I also added one of my own choices. It was not an entirely selfish act.

I married in 2016. My mum loved a Josh Groban song that played at our service. She would drive my dad and brother mad, playing it over and over.

It heartened me to know this song moved her. She told me how much she loved it because it reminded her of one of the best days of her life.

As my parting gift to her, I gave her that song to be played at the end of her funeral. The gift of music from my wedding made me feel close to her. Here is that song: I Believe When I fall in Love it Will Be Forever

For my brother’s funeral I didn’t know what to choose. He had loved music too. We were both part of the dance/rave generation and often played thumping beats in our house. My poor parents were subjected to a lot.

I seriously deliberated playing a dance tune at his funeral service. I guess etiquette won out.

Cheesy as it sounds, I remember feeling stirred by the use of The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ at the end of the film, ‘Cruel Intentions’. The soaring strings and melancholy lyrics grabbed me. The feeling of being set free was powerful. Here’s a clip: Cruel Intentions ending

My brother died as a result of suicide. His life was both wonderful and tortured. The lyrics of this song encapsulated how he lived and the road to his death.

To this day, I cannot easily listen to that song. The words pierce my heart and stir my memories. I will never regret choosing it though.

Music and Memories

Music - music and memoriesHearing is a powerful sense. Senses can evoke memories.

Have you ever caught a whiff or perfume and remembered a loved one who wore it?

Have you ever tasted a sweet from your childhood and been transported back there?

Have you ever heard a song and remembered exactly where you were and what you were doing when it first played?

I enjoy watching Top of the Pops 2. I bore my husband silly with constant tales of what I was doing back then when a particular song comes on.

The memories are writing gold. I’ve used them in my novel. They have swept me along paragraphs and chapters.

Lay back some time and stick on the songs of your past. I promise you will travel far without moving a muscle.

Music as My Foundation

Music defines me. It is as essential to me as reading. I live on music’s lyrics and construction.

I run to music. I could not make it through a run without it. Once, my battery died. It was the hardest run ever. I spend hours compiling running playlists. I need it.

I clean the house to music. I would lose the will to dust and hoover without it.

I play music when I’m sad. I am that sadist who makes torturous moody playlists for shitty times. There’s something fitting about hearing of others’ musical angst when I’m in the pits. I cannot listen to happy tunes when I’m struggling. They don’t ring true. I need to hear other people telling me they get it.

I listen to music when I’m happy. I bounce around and dance like a fool when life is going well. I make sure the curtains are closed.

Music punctuates every beat of my life.

Have You Got the Music in You?

Music - I love musicWhat kind of music do you like?

How does music feature in your life?

Do you use it in your writing or other aspects of your life?

Let me know about you and music in the comments.

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer. When she's not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, books, the cats, and the husband. Perhaps not in that order.

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