Tag Archives: Alicia Keys

100 Loves

“We don’t need to have just one favorite. We keep adding favorites. Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have other favorites that give us what we most need at that particular time. But we never lose the old favorites. They’re always with us. We just sort of accumulate them.” –Alexander Lloyd

Hello friend,

Allow me to light up your day! Come along with me and play a game we will call “100 Loves”. The rules are simple. I will name a category, and all you have to do is quickly name ten of the things you love most in that category. There will be ten categories, so ten lists of ten. Hence, 100 Loves!

My one caveat/suggestion: Don’t try to get your list exactly right! In any of the categories, of course there will be many contenders to make your Top Ten. Don’t give in to the temptation to agonize over which ones get those last few spots and which get left off the list. Just write the first ten that come to you. [Secret from the game designer: no one is going to bust you for making your lists a bit longer. If longer feels better, go for it!] This is all about thinking of things that give you good memories, inspirations, warm fuzzies, giggles, and smiles. If you are feeling pressure to get your list right, you are playing the game wrong. And just because you are making a list from one to ten, this is not about dividing up your heart into exact amounts. As long as your answers make you feel good, anywhere on the list is wonderful. Don’t rank them! Got it? Good! Let’s play!!!

Category #1: Books

  1. Walden—by Henry David Thoreau (my all-time favorite piece of literature)
  2. Autobiography of a Yogi—Paramahansa Yogananda
  3. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway
  4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—Robert Pirsig
  5. Into the Wild—Jon Krakauer
  6. The War of Art—Steven Pressfield
  7. The Catcher in the Rye—J.D. Salinger
  8. Conversations With God (series)—Neale Donald Walsch
  9. On the Road—Jack Kerouac
  10. The Kite Runner—Khaled Hosseini

Category #2: Foods

  1. Monster Cookies (the ones my wife makes are divine and so naughty!)
  2. Garlic Bread
  3. Root Beer Floats (A&W preferred)
  4. Giant Burritos from Chipotle (I like them all!)
  5. Caramel Rolls (the ones my Mom makes are the best!)
  6. Grilled Halibut
  7. Dr. Pepper (I am not really a soda drinker, but when I indulge, the Doctor is in!)
  8. Pizza (I am not picky, but a simple pepperoni is lovely.)
  9. Smoothies (the one that my kids call “Mango Pineapple Pink” is delightful!)
  10. Chocolate Malt (made by my daughter after school—heavenly!)

Category #3: Inspirational Figures

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr.—Live your purpose. “The time is always ripe to do right.”
  2. Mohandas Gandhi—“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” He was.
  3. Henry David Thoreau—Be unapologetically you. Don’t just exist; LIVE!
  4. Ellen DeGeneres—Be you, be kind, and be generous. Oh yeah, and be silly.
  5. Mastin Kipp—Follow your heart. Stick with your biggest dream.
  6. Barack Obama—With the audacity of hope and lots of work, anything is possible.
  7. Dalai Lama—Spread positivity to every corner of the world. Be happy!
  8. Jimmy Carter—Spotlight or not, do good for all of the days of your life.
  9. Van Jones—In the most contentious of times, reach out across that chasm to find that we are rather more alike than we are different. Lead with love.
  10. My daughter, India—A contented soul makes the best company. Kindness first.

Category #4: Music Videos

  1. “Beat It”—Michael Jackson. Love that fight/dance scene!
  2. “Centerfold”—J. Geils Band. Those first bars were unmistakable and sent whoever was manning the family room TV into hysterics, yelling, “Centerfold’s on! Centerfold’s on!” so that the rest of the house would come running.
  3. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”—Cyndi Lauper. With Captain Lou Albano as her Dad, how could this not make the list? It really was fun!
  4. “Her Mercy”—Glen Hansard. One of the few from my adulthood. My spirit rises with it. So beautiful.
  5. “She’s A Beauty”—The Tubes. I can’t explain it; I just loved this from the start.
  6. “Parents Just Don’t Understand”—DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. There’s no need to argue.
  7. “Headphones”—Matt Nathanson. A documentary set to music. Makes me smile through my tears.
  8. “I Love Rock & Roll”—Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. This is everything about my childhood. The best anthem!
  9. “Brave”—Sara Bareilles. It is a masterpiece of inspiration and fun.
  10. “Thriller”—Michael Jackson. An absolute EVENT. Captivating!

Category #5: Actors

  1. Julianne Moore
  2. Don Cheadle
  3. Cate Blanchett
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis
  5. Emma Thompson
  6. Anthony Hopkins
  7. Kate Winslet
  8. George Clooney (man crush)
  9. Helena Bonham Carter
  10. Sean Penn

Category #6: Games

  1. Taboo—a highly amusing holiday tradition with my extended family!
  2. Ping Pong
  3. Mario Kart on Wii—I love this with my kids!
  4. Yahtzee—classic!
  5. Super Mario Brothers on Nintendo—my Mom bought one of the Classic Nintendo consoles at Christmas, and between my sister, brother-in-law, and my kids, that game was going continuously the entire holiday break. Ahh, nostalgia for the many hours wasted on that game in the old days….
  6. Foosball
  7. H-O-R-S-E (Basketball)
  8. Capture the Flag—My brother and I still get the kids going on this one at the lake every Summer. This was my backyard in the Summers of my youth. So much fun and so many memories!
  9. Rock Band on Wii—because, at one point or another, we all dreamed of being in a band, right?
  10. Scattergories—Great for a large group. Inevitably funny.

Category #7: People (Not immediate family to take the guilt out of it)

  1. Gabrielle
  2. Uncle Bob
  3. Aunt Caryl
  4. Ruby Red
  5. Karen a.k.a. lizzy
  6. Cousin Becca
  7. Aysun
  8. Phil
  9. Foley
  10. Uncle Lloyd

Category #8: Songs

  1. I Go To Work—Kool Moe Dee
  2. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters—Elton John
  3. Rochester—Mat Kearney
  4. No One—Alicia Keys
  5. Shame On You—Indigo Girls
  6. Walking In Memphis—Marc Cohn
  7. Let’s Get It On—Marvin Gaye
  8. Mrs. Potter’s Lullabye—Counting Crows
  9. Stand By Me—Ben E. King
  10. Seasons of Love—The Cast of “Rent”

Category #9: Activities

  1. Sledding
  2. Rollerblading
  3. Surfing
  4. Building a snowman
  5. Playing catch
  6. Hiking
  7. Kayaking
  8. Swimming
  9. Yoga
  10. Slip-n-Slide

Category #10: Movies

  1. Dead Poets Society
  2. The Thin Red Line
  3. Stand By Me
  4. Cinema Paradiso
  5. Slumdog Millionaire
  6. Almost Famous
  7. Home for the Holidays
  8. Beautiful Girls
  9. Moulin Rouge
  10. Life is Beautiful

Whew! We made it to 100! That was just a ton of fun! When I was making it up and deciding on categories, it seemed like fun, but it was so much more than that. It was nostalgic. It was emotional. It was deeply gratifying. Truly, that is what I take away from it: an astounding Gratitude for all of the wonderful blessings in my life, past and present. I am grateful, smiling, and inspired. Hooray!

How about you? What’s on your list of 100 Loves? Which categories were the most enjoyable to list? Which ones were hardest to keep to only ten items (I had a tough time keeping my Movies list at ten and made an extra-long list for that one on my paper). Which categories were the most emotional for you? Which brought you the most smiles and laughs? Did you break out any music, movies, or YouTube while you wrote? Which list had your most favorite memories? Were there some lists that just didn’t do much for you? If we were to make a second 100 Loves, which categories should we add (I toyed with bands, writers, locations, movie lines, even apps)? Was this as fun for you as it was for me? I hope you are smiling, anyway. Thanks for playing along! Leave me a reply and let me know: What are your 100 Loves?

Savor Life,

William

P.S. If this made you smile, please share it. We could all use more of those!

The Soundtrack of My Life

DSC_0029“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” –Plato

Hello friend,

This morning at my gym class, the instructor’s super-techno dance mix included a mash-up of Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ classic “I Love Rock ‘n Roll”. After getting over my initial disgust that they had butchered this all-time rock anthem with a computer-generated dance beat, I was instantly swept back in time to July 19, 1982. I was nine years old, and my parents—in a moment of highly questionable judgment—let me, my siblings, and my cousins go unsupervised to a rock concert at the North Dakota State Fair. It was none other than Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, and “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” had just blown up. I was mesmerized by the whole experience, but especially hearing her sing that song live. It was a night etched in my mind forever.

That is how it so often is with the signature moments in our lives: a song is attached. So, when we think back on our history, the telling of our lives emerges from our minds like a movie, complete with a soundtrack. The music playing while we hung out with our friends, stayed up late, kissed the girl, got dumped by the girl, won the game, rebelled, danced, roadtripped, celebrated, contemplated, got married, rocked the baby, and on and on. For most of us, the music tells the story for us. Play the soundtrack, and we could “set adrift on memory bliss.”

My life is no different. When I look through my piles of CDs or through my iPod, it is like my life is flashing in front of my eyes. So, in roughly chronological order, here is the Soundtrack of My Life:

  1. “Another One Bites The Dust”—Queen. This one starts the album, because I remember listening to the 45—yes, a record—of this in my room over and over with my brothers and neighbors. The other Queen anthems—“We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You”—absolutely belong on this playlist as well, but I will lump them into this one slot so I can sneak other songs in (IT IS SO HARD TO KEEP THIS ALBUM SHORT!!!)
  2. “Take It On The Run”—REO Speedwagon. This is another vinyl memory. I didn’t own it, but I remember staying up late at my (older) cousins’ cabin when I was a kid listening to this over and over, dancing around on the beds and feeling way older than my 8 years.
  3. “You May Be Right”—Billy Joel. This is my transition to 8-track. I could not get enough of the sound of that shattering glass followed immediately by the revved-up opening bars of this song to start the “Glass Houses” album. Instant adrenaline!
  4. “Greased Lightning”—Danny Zuko (John Travolta) & the T-Birds. I have seen “Grease” a thousand times and know all the songs, but this one sticks out so vividly because I remember my brothers and neighbor boys and I standing on our basement sofas performing this song—with all the dance moves, of course—like we were the T-Birds as we watched it repeatedly. (I wish that my parents had recorded more of our nonsense, because I would die to see this stuff now.) Go greased lightning!
  5. “Roll On”—Alabama. This was the signature roadtrip song for the crosscountry family misadventures (see my post “Roadtrip Down Memory Lane”), since my dear mother only ever brought one cassette for the entire trip. I didn’t know any better. Roll on!
  6. “I Love Rock ‘n Roll”—Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Enough said.
  7. “Cum On Feel The Noize”—Quiet Riot. I have to include this not just because it is one of those quintessential 1980’s rock anthems that got played at every school dance—and still charges me up to hear it—but because of how it fits with my Joan Jett story. You see, at that first concert for 9-year-old me, the warm-up band for Joan Jett was a totally unknown band named Quiet Riot, and they blew us away with all of the material from the “Metal Health” album that would become popular a year or so later. At nine years old, I reached the peak of my interest in metal—ha!
  8. “Beat It”—Michael Jackson. I am such a child of the early days of MTV, and I could easily produce a 50-song soundtrack of songs that influenced me from those early years of the network (you don’t know how it pains me to leave off this list The J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold”, which threw our whole house into a frenzy every time it got played). Michael Jackson’s brilliance as a performer was perfect for the music video medium, and I was totally captivated. Much like some of the others on this list, “Beat It” is my representative for all of the amazing stuff that Michael put out in those early years, including “Thriller”. When I hear the song now, the dance-off video leaps onto the screen of my mind.
  9. “Mony Mony”—Billy Idol. I can’t even really claim to like this song, but when I think of high school dances, this song is the first thing that comes to my mind. It was like we all had permission to shout the F-word, and what more does a teenager want? So we shouted!
  10. “You’re The Inspiration”—Chicago. Roadtripping with my best friend to tennis tournaments, to Chicago (where we actually saw the band Chicago play), and across the American Rockies. The “Greatest Hits 1982-1989” album logged a lot of miles. Lots of sappy love songs—right up my alley.
  11. “U Can’t Touch This”—MC Hammer. I remember riding in a school bus with a high school girls’ tennis team with this song blaring, and each time it would come to the right parts, we would all shout, “STOP! HAMMER TIME!!!” Pure, unadulterated fun.
  12. “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You”—Michael Bolton. I am probably supposed to be embarrassed that I was a huge Bolton fan in my late high school-early college years. I remember when my mom first got this cassette before we left for a long roadtrip to a tennis tournament. By the time we returned, I was sold. This song made it on many a mix tape.
  13. “Summertime”—DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. This was the Summer song for 1991, the year I graduated high school. I hear this and think of my buddies. That was our time together, and we soaked it up. After all of these years, I would still lay down in traffic for those guys.
  14. “Walking In Memphis”—Marc Cohn. My favorite. I also found this song in the Summer of ’91, and I include it not so much from one memory at that time but for how deeply it moved me—and moves me to this day. Though he is widely considered a one-hit wonder for this song, Cohn sunk deep into my soul with this entire album, and he has remained foremost in my heart ever since. Like some of the others, this spot on my list really represents a lot of songs, including “True Companion”, which played in my wedding. I have sung Marc’s songs to soothe my crying kids on their tough nights, and to soothe myself in the best and worst times of my life. This song, which is about a spiritual experience for him, has become a spiritual experience for me.
  15. “I Go To Work”—Kool Moe Dee. This was my “pump-up song” to get ready for intramural basketball games in college. I love this whole album, but this song completely brings it. This is good rap. Old school like the old school!
  16. “Jessie”—Joshua Kadison. This song–and all of the others from his “Painted Desert Serenade” album–is so much about singing my lungs out on solo roadtrips across the land. I love Kadison’s storytelling, and despite a short career, he has always been on my short list of favorites. A wonderful memory is seeing him play live at the House of Blues in Los Angeles.
  17. Round Here”—Counting Crows. Their debut song “Mr. Jones” was so overplayed that I didn’t want to get the “August and Everything After” album, but someone dear to me insisted. This is the first song, and I was completely shaken by it. I bought it in Washington, DC September of 1994, and it played in my Discman the entire Autumn and Winter I spent there and New York City. It has played on every roadtrip since, and never fails to move me. I love this song, this album, this band.
  18. “Mystery”—Indigo Girls. Someone randomly gave me this CD, “Swamp Ophelia”, in L.A.; she didn’t know why she had it and didn’t want it. This is the epitome of “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” I had never heard Indigo Girls before that, but they didn’t leave my CD player for months afterward. This song in particular captured my soul from the beginning, and it has become another roadtrip staple for me. This band is on my short list, and the song is amazing live.
  19. “The Promise”—Tracy Chapman. I walked down the aisle of my wedding to this song. Though she had put out a number of albums before “New Beginning”, this album is where I discovered Tracy on a camping trip to Montana. I played it nonstop, and this song always hit me right in the heart. It led to a huge collection of her music and eventually hearing the song live in concert while holding hands with my wife. A pretty cool relationship moment.
  20. “No One”—Alicia Keys. This one is for my daughter. When she was an infant and having a crying fit that could not be settled, this song always came to my rescue. I would put the iPod dock on REPEAT mode with “No One” and sway through the kitchen with her in my arms. It did the trick every time. I love the song anyway, but knowing that my little angel loved it, too, gave it an extra special place in my heart.

There you have it: the soundtrack of my life. As I said, I can think of dozens of songs that are deserving of a spot on the playlist, and it pains me to leave them off. But this list seems right for my journey.

How about your journey? What is on the playlist of your life? Get out your journal and your CDs/cassettes/albums/iPod. Let yourself be swept away. What images come up with the songs? Do you remember the good and the bad times equally? How many images are about love? Who do the songs make you miss the most? Which is your favorite? Do you have, like me, such clear images of the songs of childhood, but fewer standouts from more recent years? I hope you have as much fun dancing through your memories as I did in making my list. Leave me a reply and let me know: what’s on the soundtrack of your life?

Sing out loud & dance like nobody’s watching,

William