These are the songs that shaped my 2017, at least according to Spotify. They are the played, probably overplayed, and now deeply ingrained into my brain. They are the foundation and the framework, that held me together, gave me direction, and anchored me to myself. I could (and maybe should) write entire posts about some of these but let’s see if I can get through a quick and dirty version.

1) The Chainsmokers + Halsey :: Closer ( Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD )
Like far too many, I was obsessed with this song for half the year. I played it incessantly. It became a staple on weekly Rock Band sessions with my brother. Something about the hook, something about Halsey, something about the tattoo, Boulder, and the Jeep Rover. They were touch points to things I brushed past briefly in my history though I’ve never experienced the exact circumstances. I don’t have an ex this applies to in its entirety. But that first line…

“Hey, I was doing just fine before I met you–“

That applied so many times. It’s funny the people we hold close, the people who to twist us up, the people we allow to matter. I could say that line about several people I’d met and crushed on over the last two years. Funny coincidence, I had the opportunity to see the band live at a work event of all things in January, with someone I had eyed from afar but never really pursued. That ended up being the night I met his girlfriend. C’est la vie.

2) Green Day :: Still Breathing ( Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD )
This. This creature. This thing. This song. 2016 year was fraught with surgery and recovery, stress and heartbreak. 2017 seemed to be about getting over all of it. So many of these lines were already part of my running mental dialogue:

“Am I bleeding, am I bleeding from the storm?”
“… barely keeping it together.”
“Are you scared to death to live?”
“I’ve been running all my life just to find a home…”

It was everything. If I could pick one song (out of several) that reminded me I had to keep going in my darker moments, this was it. And of course, the chorus and that eventually prophetic last line:

“‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way, away
My way to you.”

Little did I know, the end of the year would show me a path away from the more destructive one I was courting, to a better, brighter future, with a fellow traveler.

3) Linkin Park :: One More Light ( Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD )
I almost didn’t include this in the countdown as it rightfully deserves a post of its own. I’m not sure I could do it justice however, even after months of listening, of healing, of rising above. I admit, my love for Linkin Park has waned over the last few years. Their songs were a fixture in my past however, during a period in my life I’m slowly letting slip from memory. That doesn’t mean it hit me any less when I heard the news of Chester’s passing. He had been there, a contemporary, not quite as unreachable as Bowie or Prince. We were of the same generation. His words anchored countless sleepless nights and saw me through just as many days. Like Dir en grey, who I credit with getting me through my marriage, Linkin Park screamed for me when I couldn’t. Cried with me when I wouldn’t. Held me when I didn’t think I was worthy of much of anything.

“Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well, I do…”

Two weeks ago, I attended a winter solstice celebration. It was a lovely gathering with wonderful people, that culminated in a group trek to a nearby lake with candles. In the dark, we lit them, and shared something we wanted to let go of, and something we wanted to invite into our lives. Afterwards, they blew out the candles but I wanted to hold on to mine. I didn’t want another light to go out.

Eventually, I let it go and blew. A prayer, a wish, a benediction. A change, a hope, a new light.

4) The Chainsmokers :: Something Just Like This ( Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD )
Which leads us to this. Manifestation. Do I believe in it? I don’t know how the universe works but I’m not about to discount the fact that I hung onto this song the first time I heard it. The lyrics are simple: “I want something just like this…” but it was what I wanted. Something beyond the tears, the frustration, the endless chasing of romance into rabbit holes that eventually ended up dead ends.

I no longer wanted a superhero. I was well on my way to saving myself.

I wanted someone to kiss, to miss, to share my life with.

And in the end, that person entered my life at the height of my listening obsessively to this song, sending the call out to the universe. Call it what you want– fate, coincidence, chance, luck– but being clear about what you want, and asking the universe for it couldn’t have hurt.

5) Flo Rida, Sage the Gemini :: Game Time ( Amazon: MP3 )
It’s kind of funny that this song made it to the list, to the top 5 even. It caught me at the height of said romantic frustration. All I wanted to do was scream and yell and get attention. Maybe for the wrong reasons. I was sick of meeting people who couldn’t decide if they wanted me in the friend zone- or in the bed zone for that matter. I remember cranking this up and screaming along with it down the freeway, trudging through traffic, even in the quieter streets in Beverly Hills. It’s game time. It was. That’s what dating in LA is. Or seems to be more than half the time. A game. I wasn’t happy. But I could still play. Besides, I do love a good pun.

Rounding out the Top 10:

6) The Karma Killers :: Domino ( Amazon: MP3 | Album )
Which I already posted about: here.

7) Charlene Soraia :: Wherever You Will Go ( Amazon: MP3 | Album )
Largely on repeat because I was trying to learn it. I had a vague notion to record my own version and send it out to someone I fancied from a distance. The reason to send it has passed but I still want to record it.

8) Rise Against :: Tragedy + Time ( Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD )
Like “Still Breathing,” this one reminded me that there will always be something on the horizon. Could be better or worse but life moves on regardless.

“There will be a time to crack another smile
Maybe not today or for awhile
But we’re holding on to laugh again some day
To laugh again some day.”

9) Cage the Elephant :: Cigarette Daydreams (Amazon : MP3 | Album | CD )
I don’t remember the first time I heard this (possibly live at KROQ Acoustic Christmas) but I do remember the first time it meant something. I was standing in the kitchen of a man I’d just met. He’d put Pandora on because we couldn’t decide what to listen to. From the first guitar strum, I remember melting a little. This was familiar. It felt like home. I initially attributed it to the man, not the song, however…

A little over a year later, I found myself in another kitchen, of another man I’d met maybe a month prior. I was sitting on the counter he’d built, his scuttling pup at my feet. He put his iTunes on shuffle. Same song, different kitchen. We sang it together, laughing at the higher bits. It was then that I realized, I wanted someone who made me feel like this. I thought maybe it could be him, but no. It was me. Something about this song was embedded in my psyche. That feeling of home was something I could take with me. So I did.

10) King Washington :: Evelyn ( Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD )
Which I also already posted about: here. Though what I didn’t know back then was yes, I can love again. And not just in dreams.

And that’s it. A year of heartache, frustration, determination, discovery, love, and finally, healing. 2017– you were a hell of a year. Thank you for the tears shed, the lessons learned, and the everlasting love that is the cornerstone of my existence– from friends, from family, now from someone I see myself walking alongside for the foreseeable future. And for the first time, from an unexpected source, one this year has encouraged me to finally learn to recognize and accept: myself.

Here’s to 2018.



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