The Soundtrack To My Life – so far…..

May 18, 2009 at 12:07 pm 8 comments


Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the release of Bohemian Rhapsody. I just listened to it on the radio and my life just flashed before my eyes. This prompted me to update and earlier post – the Soundtrack to My Life (so far….)

I recently created a Playlist on my iPod of some of the songs that mean most to me. While the list is far from comprehensive, it was, nonetheless, an interesting and cathartic process. I have tried to select songs that reminded me of certain periods in my life. They are songs that, when heard, conjure up memories of people, places and feelings. They are not always good memories, but, memories that have helped to shape me into the man that I am today. The Playlist is as follows:

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)

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Fleetwood Mac – Oh Well! (1969)

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David Bowie – Space Oddity (1969)

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Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven (1971)

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Soft Cell – Tainted Love (1981)

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John Lennon – Imagine (1971)

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Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight  (1981)

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UB40 – One in Ten  (1981)

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Men at Work – Down Under  (1982)

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Billy Bragg – The World Turned Upside Down (1987)

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Frankie Goes To Holliwood – Two Tribes (1983)

The Jam – Eton Rifles (1979)

Marillion – Lavender (1985)

U2 – With Or Without You  (1987)

Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U  (1990)

Beautiful South – A Little Time  (1990)

Blur – Parklife  (1994)

Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger  (1995)

Urge Overkill – Girl, You’ll Be  a Woman Soon  (1994)

Badly Drawn Boy – The Shining   (2000)

Other than nursery rhymes, I think that Bohemian Rhapsody was the first song that I ever learnt end-to-end. I am tone-deaf and cannot sing to save my life (people still turn round to look at me on the rare occasions that I have to sing in church) but can still be found belting out Bohemian Rhapsody and banging my head in accompaniment while speeding down the M6 .

It was also one of the first videos I saw. And, it reminds me of my first days as a student at Oxford. On my first weekend I was taken to the cinema by a certain blonde girl that I had been drooling over, to watch the film of the live concert of 1975. Unfortunately, while easy on the eye, me and the blonde girl were not meant to be……

Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” shows how much I have been mentally scarred by my upbringing and my poor self-image. Only joking, mom. It was the lyrics that resonated with me. I felt that the line “I can’t help about the shape I’m in; I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin.” pretty much summed up how I felt about myself during those difficult teenage years. My wife tells me that I have filled out nicely though. But, I do need to stop now. “Oh Well” is my current ringtone for calls from my family.

David Bowie and Led Zeppelin were amongst the first songs that I recorded manually onto a cassette from my older cousins’ record collection. I was jealous of my cousins. They lived just a few doors up the street but the family was better off than mom and dad and they seemed to have every new toy and gadget going (and they also seemed to break all my new toys), including a record player. Both boys were a couple of years older than me so I was often in awe of them (until they started to wear makeup in the New Romantic era!) and I thought that their choice in music was (note the past tense – sorry Vince) cool. As well as an initial taste in music, the cousins also gave me their hand-me-down clothes. This also contributed to my poor self-image – see track 2 again.

Soft Cell reminds me of my first nightclub/disco experiences from the age of around 16 on. It is still one of the few tracks that will tempt me to the dance floor without complaint. I have happy memories of snogging and groping strange/mysterious girls (note GIRLS – it was the music I liked) in dingy places such as Peppermint Place and Faces in Birmingham. The extended version of the track gave you plenty of time to find a girl……

The assassination of John Lennon in 1980 struck me quite hard, even though I was never really a Beatles fan back then – hence the inclusion of Imagine which topped the chart following his death.

In The Air Tonight (the version without the gorilla) is a piece of music that resonated with me whenever I was romantically depressed. Throughout the whole of the 1980s therefore. While I shared Phil Collin’s general malaise, tracks 13 through 16 are girlfriend specific. The good times were good, if brief. But, you broke my heart. You know who you are.

Men at Work reminds me of the fantastic summer before going to university. I was working at Fort Dunlop during the industrial shut down. The work was hard but the camaraderie was great. We had the radio up loud and this was number one at the time.

Tracks UB40, Billy Bragg and Two Tribes reflect my political awakening which largely coincided with my time as a student at Oxford.

Eton Rifles reminds me of the best friends (still) in the world and student Sweaty Bops in the college beer cellar.

Blur and Oasis mark my transition from London/Nuneaton and being a bachelor to married life in South Manchester.

Urge Overkill reminds me of my wife. When she dances, she dances just like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, but twice as sexy.

The Shining? Well, it always takes me to happy place. This is my current ringtone for friends.

I know that my musical choice will not impress many of you. And, I am certain that many of you will interpret my choice in a myriad strange ways. But, I do not care. These are my memories. this is my life. And, if music be the food of love, play on!

Related Posts:

Food Memories

Happy Days

Childhood Memories


Entry filed under: Birmingham, childhood memories, middleman. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Ostrich Mentality Where do they find them?

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lores  |  May 20, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Great music choice and thanks for sharing your memories…its funny what different songs mean to different people.

    (Although I’m not sure about Men at Work or UB40)



    • 2. Middle Man  |  May 21, 2009 at 7:36 am

      Thanks Lores,

      UB40 reminds me of signing on for dole during the summer holidays when I was a student. I would generally work for a couple of weeks and then sign on.

      Men at Work trulu was a release from the hum drum of working at the Fort Dunlop factory in Birmingham. It was 10 hour shifts for 15 days straight cleaning oil sumps and stripping asbestos!


  • 3. Inga  |  June 9, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Nice list! Hard to create I am sure, I have great difficulties selecting only 10! I do notice a bit of a generation gap 🙂 and wonder where Kylie has gone?

    // from Houston


  • 5. thespiralscratch  |  May 12, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Interesting piece, you may want to check out my related post and review of Blur’s Parklife album.


  • 6. jollof  |  December 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I hope you don’t mind if I borrow/steal this post idea! We have no.7 in common. I love all Phil Collins’ albums, period. Oasis was during my A-Levels so I just might have given away my approximate age, yikes! Can’t imagine a world without music…


    • 7. Middle Man  |  December 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm

      I don’t mind at all. Indeed, I am flattered.


  • 8. Middle Man  |  October 30, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Reblogged this on Middle Man and commented:

    Bohemian Rhapsody is forty years old!?!



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