Soundtrack To My Life - Katie Vyktoriah
The privilege of the first Soundtrack To My Life of a new year goes to Katie V (I like that... she sounds like a pop star). As she mentions in her fifth track choice, she has recently moved back to the US after eleven years in the UK and I know it's been a bit of a culture shock for her. Also, Katie mentions about finding music properly once she'd grown up and that really resonates with me. I can share a type YouTube link with someone and take them by surprise but it's all about discovery and appreciation. And on that note (pun intended...), it's over to Katie.
This is a song that my dad and I used to sing when I was a child. It's about a father being firm when its called for, but gentle most of the time. My dad used to work as a Federal Agent in the US Border Patrol, and we never knew from one day to the next whether he'd come home or not - his job was dangerous.
When I was around 7 years old, he made me promise that when he died, I would sing this song at his funeral. It was quite a big promise to make, as it made me consider at a very young age that I might lose my dad.
Luckily for everyone, my dad put in his 20 years and was able to retire to a quiet life in the country in 2008. He now sports the ZZ-Top-esque beard he'd been denied for all those years (federal agents could have a small moustache but no other facial hair). He spends most of his time in a backyard hammock, lazing in the sun or pottering around his workshop building furniture for my mother.
My parents were from completely different musical backgrounds. My dad taught us to love and appreciate classic country music, bluegrass and the occasional doo wop hit. My mother loved classic rock and roll and anything with a lot of bass.
The song I loved the most as a kid was The Night Chicago Died. It told a great story of a shoot-out between the Chicago Police and Al Capone's gang. It was an anthem about a wife and child waiting at home for news of the man of the house - not knowing whether he'd survive and the absolute relief when he walks through the door. The ticking of the clock is one of the most tense moments in any song I've ever heard.
It manages to stay upbeat and fun despite the really serious subject matter, and of all the great songs my mother used to play when I was a kid, this one sticks out as a definite favourite.
In fact, when I was 17, I saw an advert for a CD collection of oldies, and it included this son. I spent nearly all of my savings to buy the collection, even though it was only the one song I wanted. I don't regret it.
Once I'd grown up and started finding music on my own, I found that I never had a particular genre which stood out to me. I LOVED music. I needed it. I didn't discriminate. Rock, pop, country, rap, metal - I found something to love in all of it. But one band stood out for me as the one I would ALWAYS love, and who epitomised all I ever loved about music.
Pearl Jam, as anyone who knows me will attest, is MY band. Since I first found them in the early 90s, I have loved them. I used to skip school on the first day of a new album's release so that I could get their new tunes before anyone else. I would listen to them over and over, alone in my room. Whatever lyrics I couldn't decipher on my own, I would find online and print out so that I could memorise them. I committed them to memory and devoted myself to knowing every fact about them.
At 19 years old, I went to a tattoo parlour. I didn't know what I wanted to get, but I wanted something. After several hours searching tattoo flash, I finally went to my car, grabbed the single for Alive and asked to be tattooed with the "Alive Guy" logo. I imagined a small version on my ankle. But the artist didn't really listen and instead made it full size on my left calf. Have you ever seen a person tattooed with a giant stick figure? Well look no further!
This song is my favourite PJ song. The studio version is great, but I'm a sucker for the live versions. In fact, ANY PJ song is better live, which is not something I can say about many bands.
This is my go-to karaoke song. It reminds me of the summer after I first got my driver's license, and I played chauffeur to my little brother, taking him to visit his girlfriend out in the middle of nowhere. We would crank up my copy of Styx Greatest Hits and sing at the tops of our voices.
Years later, we would go bar hopping together, and I'd get up on stage, three sheets to the wind and belt it out to all the drunken patrons. Bits of the song are call and answer, and my bro would be out in the audience doing his bit to cheer me along, making sure the crowd got involved so that I could feel like a rock star.
A beautiful and poignant song which will always make me cry, no matter what. Invariably when I think of my adult life, moving from the USA to the UK, getting married, getting divorced, meeting my new partner, having a baby and moving back to the US after 11 years, I will play this song as my soundtrack.
It is the perfect accompaniment when you wonder if you're in the right place, doing the right thing, with the right person...
The present like I've never seen it before
Is this the right place to stay
Please my wings, fly me away.
It gives me strength and allows me to feel hopeful about the future.
Katie blogs at Her Pretty where she blogs about wearing baby vomit as a fashion statement, alongside her pregnancy diary and family updates. She tweets as @snuggle_bubby and runs the Google+ Mommy Bloggers community and helps to moderate a Google+ Project 365 photo community.
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