On October 26th, 2018, I will be giving a TEDX Talk (What?!) at Loyola Marymount University (Yaay!). Now some of you may be thinking, what’s the difference between a TED Talk and a TEDX talk? Well, according to Forbes, “the former takes more of a global approach while the latter typically focuses on a local community that concentrates on local voices.” (Basically, we don’t have to solve climate change.) The theme of the afternoon is “Creating Conversation” and the title of my talk is “Mixtapes: The Intersection of Music and Identity.”
For those of you who end up listening to my talk, I wanted to share with you, my own personal, “My Life In A Playlist.” The premise of my talk goes a little something like this… If Hollywood were creating a movie of your life, what would be the accompanying soundtrack? These are my top 20 songs, in no particular order, with 2-3 sentences as to why they are important to me. I encourage you to click on the link of each song to give it a listen. Then go to your iTunes files and create your own “My Life In A Playlist.” As I say in my talk, your life consists of a series of events that led you to where you are now. If you’re unsettled with how your life has unfolded, I would encourage you to look back on your life and see if there was something you missed. Maybe a calling that went unanswered. After that, encourage your friends to do the same, then share them with one another. Create conversation. And appreciate the journey. Enjoy!
01. Iko Iko – The Belle Stars I was in a high school–community-show pop/jazz group in Salinas, CA called the Steinbeck Singers. It was where I was exposed to tons of music from classical to big band to show tunes. This song was our senior jam. We auditioned to perform the song at our annual concert, but failed to make the cut (I like to think its because we were too awesome, which is often the case.)
02. Bossa Nova Baby – Elvis Presley Hello! Johnny Bravo. Elvis. Sort of instrumental in my life. ☺ “Elvis’ Gold Records” was one of our family’s first LP’s. This newly produced version from the “Viva Elvis” show made one of my favorite Elvis tunes one of my... even favoriter!
03. Our Lips Are Sealed – Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s This song reminds me of my family’s annual treks to Disneyland in our tan station wagon. This particular version is fun also because it’s acoustic and I LOVE acoustic versions of songs!
04. An American Dream - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band & Linda Ronstadt This song reminds of me of my newspaper delivery days. Being driven around in a van by our district manager and being dropped off in the ghettos of Salinas to try and sell newspaper subscriptions door-to-door. It’s where I learned what the sign, “No soliciting” meant. But when we sold enough subscriptions, we got to go on a trip to Disneyland! So the ends justified the means. It’s also a great intro to the “Yacht Rock” genre of music if you’re not a convert already.
05. A Little Respect – Erasure As far as concerts go, I’ve seen Erasure four times and Yaz once. Their common link: Vince Clarke. He also founded Depeche Mode. We became friends when he married the twin sister of one of my old writing partners.
06. Cool Rider – Michelle Pfieffer I believe it was Drew Barrymore in “My Date With Drew” who said, “There are two types of people in the world. Those who love Grease 2 and those who hate it.” Eye heart G2. Which camp are you in?
07. All Shook Up – Suzi Quatro “Happy Days” was one of my favorite TV shows growing up. When I moved to Los Angeles, the first CD that I purchased at the Tower Records on Sunset Blvd was a Japanese import of Suzi Quatro’s Greatest Hits.
08. Time To Change - The Brady Bunch Season 5. Episode 1. Adios, Johnny Bravo. “Nuff said.
09. Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond Besides being the ultimate singalong karaoke selection, this song reminds me of my college days when I pretty much lived off of my father’s gas card and had to sell my CD’s for money.
10. Heavenly - Harry Connick, Jr. Being a romantic at heart, “When Harry Met Sally” became like a relationship guide to my romanticized Hollywood movie life (which, like Hollywood, was empty and based on non-realistic expectations). And with that, came my love and appreciation for the music of Harry Connick Jr. who did the soundtrack. During my choral years, I realized that I was not a soloist, but a blender. So, in college, I was in short-lived, 8 person acapella group so I could fulfill that dream.
11. Send In The Clowns - Frank Sinatra I saw Frank Sinatra sing at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts back in the early 90’s. This is one of the few songs he recorded with an introduction (the way he did with every song he performed at the concert) giving Frank’s interpretation and motivation for why he’s singing the song. I also remember walking into my apartment and seeing my roommate sitting on the couch, crying, listening to this song, after he broke up with his girlfriend.
12. Someone You Need - Howard Jones & Duncan Sheik My wife, Mary, has the same birthday as Howard Jones, so she has an affinity for his music. We went and saw his acoustic tour and this song stood out as one that we had never heard but instantly fell in love with.
13. Feels Like Home - Bonnie Raitt But wait! My life wasn’t always about being sad! This song opens up my wedding video. See! Happy! I love this song and the memories that it conjures up because it clearly describes the kind of emotions we felt on our wedding day. And now we work with Don Was, who produced the song!
14. We Three Kings - Spinal Tap Saw Spinal Tap play live at The Universal Amphitheater in the early 90’s. One of the highlights was watching Rob Reiner walk in from the back of the auditorium and joining the whole audience in chanting, “Meathead, Meathead...”
15. Seasons of Love – The Broadway Cast of “Rent” I grew up listening to movie versions of Broadway soundtracks because I lived in Salinas, CA and didn’t have access, or money, to see a Broadway show. When I got to college, I got a May Co. credit card because they had a little known Ticketmaster booth in the basement of the store. I would frequent there often to get tickets to everything I could run up my credit to see.
16. My Shot - Lin-Manuel Miranda Lin-Manuel Miranda is amazing. ‘Nuff said. Okay, I can say a little bit more. My daughter introduced me to the music of “Hamilton.” As my kids were growing up, I often tried to influence their musical tastes by curating the music in our car or at home. This was the first time the roles were reversed and I actually ended up LOOOOVING her recommendation.
17. Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing - Sufjan Stevens Besides being an awesome hymn, this song was used in one of my most favoritest TV shows of all time, “Friday Night Lights.” Season 4, Episode 1, at the end of a game (which they eventually forfeit) when Coach Taylor walks to each injured football player in the locker room. So good.
18. It's Such A Good Feeling - Mr. Rogers When I was in Kindergarten, school got out at 11:30 AM. After which, I would walk several blocks home alone, and wait on the front lawn until about 12 or 12:30 for my dad to come home and let me into the house to give me lunch. After we ate, he would sit me in front of the TV and he would go back to work. I was supposed to wait until my brothers got home around 3. But until then, I would watch PBS which consisted of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, Villa Allegre, and Reading Rainbow. When I was in college, I wrote a letter to Mr. Rogers thanking him for helping watch me after school during that time and he wrote me back a personal letter along with a signed photo that I have on my desk at work.
19. A Little Less Conversation (Live) - Mac Davis Mac Davis sang this song (which he wrote for Elvis) when he came in to record an episode of Johnny Bravo. This version contains the original lyrics that he wrote for Aretha Franklin.
20. Ripple - The Grateful Dead I consider the TV show “Freaks And Geeks” my number one most favorite TV show of all time. The producers used this song to end the entire series. The show inspires me to tell my most embarrassing stories because they’re one of the best ways to relate to others and connect.