31 songs

After work today, I headed off to my local library in search of a copy of this book (which I borrowed, and ooh! I want to make almost ALL the designs) and grabbed a handful of other things to amuse me.  These items included a Wodehouse novel, sheet music books, CDs, and a copy of 31 Songs by Nick Hornby. [Penguin/Viking, London, England, 2003]  I’ve only read one of his novels (High Fidelity) and loved it, but I was drawn to this one, as he writes about his favourite songs and the stories behind what they mean to him.  (Bruce’s Thunder Road was #2, so I knew I had to bring this book home, here was a man after my own heart.)

So much goodness! Finding a way for me to express my relationship to a good song has been a struggle since I was about 9 or 10 and fell for the Beatles’ music. It’s also been on my mind since compiling my top10 songs for 62 Cherry’s swap back in February. All I ended up doing was attempting to write what albums meant to me, rather than discussing any of the songs. But Nick Hornby, he understands! I’d never put Macarena on any of my mixes-with-a-meaningful-purpose because it reminds me of a soulless job being a cheque proofing operator by night at a merchant bank (back when the song was on the radio every bloody hour!) or Marty Rowe’s 70’s hit  Denim and Lace because it reminds me of my kindergarten “boyfriends”…as both those songs are rather crappy and that’s not what making mixes are about.  As Nick (my new hero!) put it:

One can only presume that all the people who say that their very favourite record of all time reminds them of their honeymoon in Corsica, or of their family chihuahua, don’t actually like music very much.  I wanted mostly to write about what it was in these songs that made me love them, not what I brought to the songs. [page 5]

And that’s the bare bones of it.  Peter Allen’s I Go to Rio always reminds me of a rowdy housewarming party and my mother drunkenly using a lamb legbone as pseudo-maraccas, but honestly, I don’t need to hear the song ever again.

Nick Hornby goes on to describe the effect-on-self of music (and other forms or art or popular culture) precisely:

But sometimes, very occasionally, songs and books and films and pictures express who you are perfectly.  And they don’t do this in words or images, necessarily; the connection is a lot less direct and more complicated than that. [p 9]

If you love a song, love it enough for you to accompany you throughout the different stages of your life, than any specific memory is rubbed away by use. …What happened was that I heard [the song] and loved it and I’ve listened to it at (alarmingly) frequent intervals ever since .[p3]

There’s also a poem that one of my sister’s college mates wrote in Lit class, that has stayed with me for years and years.  I’ll have to dig it out of my paper junk pile (somewhere) and add it here.   I know it starts “I heard the song – I felt like stopping.”

The right song stops me, demands my attention and grabs my heart. And then you love it forever. So I decided to start a blogging project, set myself a challenge and define and write about the 31 songs I love, and why. Maybe you’ll feel like stopping too.

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1 Response to “31 songs”


  1. 1 Jenaveve Monday, April 7, 2008 at 9:22 am

    First…glad your review on The New Crewel was a goodie, I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this – or even order a kit online – for a little while.

    This post rocks (pun intended). I just loved High Fidelity, the book more-so than the film even though John Cusak is a legend. I have to go and find a copy right now.

    And it’s interesting how the emotional connection to a song can really change in an instance when it’s butchered by a horrible memory so your last quote got me thinking it’s possible to look further into the song itself rather than the memory associated. Looking forward to all 31 songs (what a brilliant project!)


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blog portion

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