Soundtrack of my life, BK (Before Kids)

These are albums that I listened to on repeat at various times in my life all the way to 2003 when I had my first-born . These aren’t necessarily my favorite albums, but they did play a significant role in my life. They aren’t in any particular order.

  1. Frank Sinatra

    My dad loved Frank Sinatra. The highlight of many a party at our house was marked by him singing My Way. This album was on heavy rotation at our house in the 70s and 80s. Even now, I can’t listen to it without tearing up and missing him.

    He would look at us, his girls, and at mom, and sing “You will be my music You will be my song”

    Such a lovely, melancholy album. Nobody wins. Send in the Clowns. Let Me Try Again. And best of all, the hippy-ish, Noah that I loved: “We got to walk with the lions/ Soar with the eagles/ Sing with the nightingales/ And live in love and peace”

  2. Barry Manilow

    It’s 1976, I’m nine years old living in a far suburb of New York City near a lake with lots of trees. Mom put on Barry Manilow while we’re cleaning. We sing the songs at the top of our lungs, the poignancy of Weekend in New England and Looks Like We Made It gets me every time.

  3. Original Broadway Cast of A Chorus Line, Marvin Hamlisch

    When we weren’t dancing to Barry Manilow, we were dancing to the soundtrack of A Chorus Line. Lines like, “God I hope I get it” conveyed the excitement and drama of performing onstage in NYC. I lived the drama of their lives vicariously. I still remember Mom making us skip song 9 because they sung about t!ts and a$$, words forbidden in my childhood. The whole album felt exotic and daring to me.

  4. Various Artists

    I remember going to my Zizi Geri’s house in Yonkers, seeing my older cousins gathered around the TV watching this movie called Jesus Christ Superstar. As a good little Catholic girl, I thought the movie seemed a bit scandalous, but I was intrigued. The movie got under my skin and so did the soundtrack. For a music and religion course I took at New College many years later (yes, that New College, the one that’s become a political pawn in FL), I did an analysis of the characters and how the musical arrangements for each character differed. I still listen to the soundtrack from time to time during the Lenten season, marveling how we continue to misunderstand the message of this this peace-loving, anti-establishment Messiah.

  5. Various Artists

    My sister memorized this entire movie. She watched it so many times, multiple times a day, for a period of time in the late 70s. This was back in the day when we had VHS tapes. We would all sing and dance out the lyrics (or what we thought the interpretation of the lyrics was, not understanding the real meaning of greased lightning or other suggestive lyrics)

  6. Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, José Carreras

    We visited my Zizi Flo and cousin Nerisa at their home in Mt Vernon NY a lot in the 70s. My sisters and I would climb upstairs to my cousin’s huge bedroom overlooking the parkway and sing West Side Story together. Her half Puerto Rican lineage making the story even more compelling to us.

  7. Yes

    1. My first real boyfriend introduces me to Yes. We get lost in their music.

    Sister Bluebird, flying high above Shine your wings forward to the sun

    I have since had the privilege of meeting the band backstage and they are really cool people. Jon Anderson’s voice makes my heart soar.

  8. Echo & the Bunnymen

    It’s 1984. I have left high school early to go to college with my boyfriend who is a year older than me. Our relationship disintegrates as my newfound freedom makes me want to stretch my wings

    “First I want a kiss then I want it all.” This album brings back the early 80s is all their rough glory.

  9. Violent Femmes

    I used to play this album just a freak my mom out with the F word. By junior year of high school, I was rebelling against everything.

    I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record Oh yeah, well don’t get so distressed. Did I happen to mention that I’m impressed?

    This album was my release, and I listened to it loud, on repeat.

  10. Laurie Anderson

    “O Superman O Judge O Mom and Dad Mom and Dad Ah ha ha ha ha ha”

    As a new freshman at UCF staying in a roach-infested apartment called the Haystacks (and skipping my senior year of high school), I was drunk on my freedom. And music was a huge part of it. I don’t know how I discovered Laurie Anderson, but the minute I heard this album, I felt like I understood music in a whole different way. I saw that it could be powerful, transformative art one that subverted the traditional idea of a “song.” Plus, O Superman was great to annoy my roommate with since I was convinced she was stealing my underwear.

  11. I liked Kate Bush way before Stranger Things came out. 30+ years before. My pagan friends turned me on to Kate with the Kick Inside (another favorite album), and so I was eagerly awaiting Hounds of Love. It didn’t disappoint. I remember one cold January night at New College, running to the bay in shorts and a T-shirt, as I struggled to keep a grip on reality. Kate kept me grounded and reassured me that though the world can be frightening, there’s a way forward. And that it was perfectly ok to argue with God.

    “Do you wanna know that it doesn’t hurt me? Do you wanna hear about the deal I’m making?”

  12. R.E.M.

    I love so many of their albums, but this was the first. This is the album that made me fall in love with R.E.M. my freshman year at UCF, hanging out with the Tree People, listening to this on my Walkman. I was in love with the world, music, and my life.

  13. So many of U2 albums have played a key role in my life. This one in particular, though, was really helpful to me during a difficult time during my New College years. I was pretty lost for awhile, but this album keeps me grounded and fills me with a sense of truth and goodness in art

    1. I’m in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I hate men. I’m contemplating moving to a feminist separatist community down south. I spend my time waiting tables, going to poetry readings and open mike performances, and hanging out with artists and writers. I discover Ferron. I play this album and Testimony on repeat.
  14. Indigo Girls

    I’m in the thick of my feminist, separatist phase and Indio Girls serve as the soundtrack. I still think Kid Fears is an amazing song.

  15. Ani DiFranco

    Rediscovering who I am after a difficult relationship, and now head over heels in a new one, I cling to Ani’s music to remind me of the delicious joy of claiming one’s power as a woman in these late 90’s when we felt on the cusp of something wonderful

Soundtrack of my life, BK (Before Kids) is an album list curated by Michele Tierra.

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