I grew up in a musical family. Three of my four parents (counting bios and steps) worked in radio and had their own bands throughout my childhood years. There was always someone plunking or strumming or tapping or humming. Someone was always parsing the hidden meanings of lyrics and album liner notes. And since I came of age when radio DJs still pulled their playlists from actual record libraries — an errand I was sent to do by the time I became old enough to know my ABCs and carefully carry albums — I know a thing or two about how the right song can set the mood, lift you up, or even set things right.
With that in mind, I was going to rant about this list of the 100 most Influential Albums, currently circulating around Facebook. I admit, I took the quiz. But as usual, I found the list to be a fairly sexist take on influential rock. While I don’t begrudge a nod to the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Johnny Cash, I found myself wondering where the ladies were at. I would have gladly traded Bon Iver (really, Bon Iver?) for Tori Amos. (Because honestly, do you think there’d be a Fiona Apple without Tori?) Yes, The Breeders were there, which I was pleasantly surprised by. But, no Pretenders? No Bikini Kill (easily as influential, if not more so, than The Breeders)? No Debbie Harry (whose collaboration with Fab Five Freddie was the very first rap song to ever chart, by the way)? … Lame.
But I digress. Because I could go on all day about that stuff. No, what I decided to do was channel my love of music in another direction. For reasons that don’t matter here, it has so happened that many of my loved ones are going through tough times right now. Not all together. As individuals, walking in their own shit-storms. I’m no stranger to getting kicked in the head by life. We all find ourselves there sometimes. While I do have a belief in a higher power, I also recognize the healing virtue (or catharsis or even just validating venting) of a well-played song.
So, here are some songs that have been my anthems, my comfort, and my release. I tend to veer toward the aspirational. I figure, what better way to get up after being kicked in the head by life than to flip it the bird and just dance. Cause fuck it. It can’t rain all the time!
- “Learnalilgivinanlovin” by Gotye
- “Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige
- “Don’t Give Up” by The Noisettes
- “Walk” by the Foo Fighters
- “Back in Black” by AC/DC
- “Fire with Fire” by Gossip
- “Not Ready to Make Nice” by The Dixie Chicks
- “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
- “Storms Never Come to Stay” by Marc Scibilia
- “I Want to Break Free” by Queen
- “Shake it Out” by Florence + the Machine
- “That’s Not My Name” by The Ting Tings
- “Fuck You” by Lilly Allen
- “Warning” by Green Day
- “Uprising” by Muse
- “Walk On” by U2
- “Gone” by Bouncing Souls
- “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers
- “Little Earthquakes” by Tori Amos
- “She’s a B**ch” by Missy Elliot
- “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” by Eve, featuring Gwen Stefani
- “Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle” by Cake
- “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett
- “Canned Heat” by Jamiroqui
- “Amazing” by Seal
And — why not? — how about some badass blues to round it out? Take it away Ruth Brown: