“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” –Albert Einstein
I am no music buff; I cannot debate whether The Smiths were better or worse after leaving their independent record label for a major one. And I can’t say with certainty that Yoko Ono ruined The Beatles.
I can tell you that there are some songs I have listened to since I was a kid and for some reason, they continue to stick a chord inside of me, which keeps me coming back.
There are songs that once I hit play take me to a far away time and place, for the brief three minutes and 47 seconds that it lasts. There are songs that transform my mood and put a smile on my face. Songs that remind me who I used to be, what used to inspire me, and how much (or sometimes how little) I have changed.
I’ve been asked to pick out three songs that resonate inside of me, three songs that make me feel something, remind me of something. Three songs that mean something to me. Three songs that make up the Soundtrack To My Life.
My first song is “You Are My Sunshine”, although there have been many performers and endless recordings of this song, the singer that is most important to me is my mom.
You are my Sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You’ll never know dear how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
My name, Heulwen, actually means Sunshine in Welsh. So when I was younger and my mom sang me this song to go to sleep, or feel better, or any other excuse I could come up to hear it, this song was literally for me. It was something special that my mom was doing for me because I actually was her sunshine, and as I have grown I have come to learn that I never will know just how much she loves me.
My best friends are Gabby and Tiana. As soon as Gabby got her license her parents gave her their old Jeep. With the Jeep we had an all access pass to the road and in our eyes, the world. Wherever we wanted to go (near or far) the Jeep was our mode of transportation. For the longer trips, we relied on music and the license plate game to pass the time.
May of our senior year we took a trip up to Binghamton to visit my sister. To prepare for our journey we bought plenty of snacks, put on our comfiest clothes, and made a playlist.
While we were about to leave on this adventure, somebody pressed play and “Wild World” by Cat Stevens came on. We all sang along (the windows were probably down and our hair was blowing- very idealist). None of us could tell you what it was about this song but we suddenly felt a connection with it and more importantly that it could connect us. Perhaps it had something to do with the lyrics and the fact we’d be going our separate ways at, different colleges soon, or maybe it just had something to do with the excitement for our trip, and the pure bliss we felt together.
Baby I love you, but if you wanna leave take good care,
hope you make a lot of nice friends out there,
but just remember there’s a lot of bad,
and beware, beware,
Whatever it was, we all felt it, and Tiana suddenly proclaimed, “Aww, I think this is our song.” So now that we are away from each other at college, we can put it on and remember that time in the car, and remember each other.
And every road trip playlist since has had Wild World to kick it off.
The first concert I ever went to wasn’t until I was in the 8th grade. It was worth the wait though, because I got to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden. I live on Long Island and to get into the City we even booked a limo. It really was a classy evening.
I found out a week before the show that I would be going. I counted down the days until the next Friday and brushed up on all the Billy Joel songs I could find.
The night had finally come, we piled into the limo and arrived at the Garden with just enough time to take our seats. The rest is a blur. I can’t tell you who opened, how he made his entrance, or even how long the show lasted. I do remember when he left the stage and the lights came on. I was sure he had to come back, he needed to perform an encore. That couldn’t have been it.
I was right! He came back out to sing his upbeat song, “Only the Good Die Young” I had been waiting for it, and it had delivered. That wasn’t it though, he sat down at his piano and began playing the chords to “Piano Man”, the crowd went wild.
Suddenly they turned all of the lights off and the Garden was black. Gradually the entire crowd started singing, everyone in unison sang the entire song. If Billy Joel himself had stopped singing, we never would have known the difference. In the pitch dark the entire crowd joined together to enjoy what would be the last song of the evening.
One of the most beautiful scenes I have experienced, still to this day, was that night. A night where, surrounded by thousands and thousands of strangers, when we could see nothing, we all were connected by the one man, during this one song.
Well there you have it, I bared my soul to you in three songs.