The Thanksgiving Advent Calendar, Day Twenty Two: Music That Mattered To Me

My day was thrown a little out of whack with errands and Anne McCaffrey’s death, so I’m bumping the Advent piece I had planned for today until tomorrow, when I have time to write it at greater length. Today, a baker’s dozen of music that mattered to me, in various times of my life — not the only music that mattered to me, to be sure, but music that I’m thinking of right now. I’m thankful for the musicians who made it, who didn’t know how their words and music affected me, but affect me it did. It’s after the cut to keep the front page from being cluttered. Enjoy.

26 Comments on “The Thanksgiving Advent Calendar, Day Twenty Two: Music That Mattered To Me”

  1. You wrote: “..a baker’s dozen of music that mattered to me, in various times of my life”

    There is something very intimate about knowing a person’s music choices. I’ve been very much appreciating this Thanksgiving Advent Calendar of yours, John Scalzi. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for sharing your personal playlist

    I don’t want to transgress into the failure mode of clever, but I have to say your playlist is nowhere near mine. Heck, I’ve never even hear of some of the bands you list. (Although, yes, I have *heard* of U2.) I guess I’m more of a top 40 guy.

  3. Very cool list. I clicked on the “more” idly hoping that one or more from your selections would also go on mine. Lo and behold, I got 4: With or Without You, February Stars (Most underrated song on a properly high-rated record), Today, and The District (I listened to almost nothing but Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and The Postal Service while going through chemo 7 years ago). Thanks!

  4. I’m kind of shocked at the overlap that exists between your music that matters and mine. Naive Melody is a song that’s saved my marriage, and I wrote a whole screenplay (probably two, actually) based on Maps. With You or Without You–yeah. Go Venn Diagram of taste!

  5. Rick:

    I was waiting to see how long it would be before someone brought up Journey. Please note I said the list was not a complete one.

  6. God that The La’s album is just a masterpiece. It’s amazing how the songs did well on the radio and charts but the band and that album hasn’t really garnered the kind of cult following I’d think it would (or that it probably deserves). It is pure genius pop-craft. Tehy out-Beatle the Beatles at times on that record. Magic. Need to go listen to that now.

  7. I loved Cyndi Lauper’s version of Time After Time when it first came out, but I’ve gotta agree, Tuck and Patti’s is probably the loveliest cover I’ve heard.

  8. Oi, oi, oi. Such a gaping chasm between the playlists of 42yo & 57yo. Yet your fiction sings to me. The wonder of words, I guess.

  9. No Radiohead?
    But nice list and some great tracks I’ve never heard before.

  10. Bravo! Many of my favorites here too. But have to say, when I need some energy, The Waterboys are my hands down pick! They do however, cause me to drive way too fast…

  11. jbwhelan – Perspex Island – J. B. Whelan is the last scion of a clan of itinerant rug-beaters, who squandered their vast fortune on soda pop and Missile Command.
    Jay W.

    Hi John, longtime reader, first time commenter here. Thanks for sharing these. It was gratifying to see “Fall At Your Feet” on the list as I’m a huge Crowded House fan, and of the Woodface album in particular. I always feel like they never got their due here in the States, so it’s nice to see someone else besides me is into them. Thanks for putting a smile on my morning.

  12. I’ve always wondered why I liked “Time After Time” so much better than everything else Cyndi Lauper ever did (and judging from the number of covers, I’m not alone in that opinion), so I looked it up on wiki…co-written by Roby Hyman of the Hooters. Yeah, that explains it.

  13. Try the Shawn Colvin cover of “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” — acoustic and sweet.
    And the Crowded House? Stellar. That whole album could be on a list like that (well, maybe not “I’m Still Here”)

  14. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me

    I have been on a huge Foo Fighter’s thing lately. It’s become my personal mission to meet Dave Grohl. And fawn over him like Sponge Bob does over Kevin. Sad, really.

  15. Hmm…”There she goes”, a song that I loved enough to seek out the Las album. At the time, I remember sampling the album and thinking it sounded more like a Country album than anything else. I just ran to youtube and found a short-clip of their attempt at a follow-up single. Not country…actually more like an early-Beatles riff, really. They disappeared real quick after that single hit, though.

  16. Emmylou’s version of Neil Young’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ is a classic. Up there with her rendition of Townes van Zandt’s ‘Pancho and Lefty’.

  17. Listening to the Ted Leo song, I was thinking, “I bet whoever likes this would like the Spinanes too.” Come to find out, there’s a reason I felt that way. Thanks for reminding me about them.

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