All right, I will write on fame later on. I have a great story about Davy Jones and my Aunt Betsi, the “Monkee-Head”. But for now, I will answer the question before this most recent one:

“If there was a soundtrack to your life, what would be on it?”

Yesssssss. This is my kind of question.

  1. Barry Manilow: Copacabana. It is 1978 and I am entranced by the story of Lola (the washed-up showgirl) and Rico, who went a bit too far. She has a fantastic costume (yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there) and she is drinking and mourning her dead Tony. She is a former burlesque dancer in a bar that is now a disco. The story of love and glamour and loss is almost too much for me at seven. This is the first record I purchase. At K-Mart. With my allowance.
  2. The Village People: Y.M.C.A. I am seven still and I take roller disco lessons at the local rink. This song, Blondie and the theme from Rocky are my favorites. Me and my friend Kim lie on her really cool built-in bunk beds/loft and listen to the radio to hear this song. She’s cool. She has a poster of Farrah Fawcett Majors on her wall. Gay liberation, what? I just like their costumes–we don’t know what gay is.
  3. Human League: Don’t You Want Me? I am 12 and I am on the Red Bus to Potowatami Day Camp in Evanston, IL. The cool girls in the back are singing this song every day on the way home from the beach, the forest preserve, wherever we have been for the day. I have never heard the song, but I learn the lyrics from the cool girls’ incessant repeating of them every day. Similar to Copacabana, there is a story in the song of love and loss, but it’s slightly more acerbic. I finally hear it on the radio a few months later and discover pop music. As my fellow Beastwoman (a cast member in the women’s performance art show I am in presently) implies in a heartwarming piece about country music and divorce, it is a revelation to listen to music that is different from my parents. I set a goal to work as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I grow up.
  4. Duran Duran: Girls on Film. The idea of an unrated video that I cannot see excites me. This becomes my favorite Duran Duran song, because there is an element of titillation to it. I am a Duranie.
  5. Pachelbel’s Canon. My mom and dad get married and they process to this. I love it for the rest of my life because it embodies (at least to me, at that moment) doing marriage your own way.
  6. Madonna: Like a Virgin. She is decidedly not like a virgin, wiggling her way through Venice on gondolas in fantastic thrift store clothes. I stay home sick from school to watch the world premiere of the video. She is so cool I can hardly stand it. I watch the video every hour on the hour on MTV that day and brag to my sister about it when she gets home.
  7. New Order: Bizarre Love Triangle. Oh. New Order = Benji, my high school boyfriend. I love this song with the same violent fervor as I love Benji, the boy with eyeliner. I cut my hair short and people (from the back) think that we are gay boyfriends at high school. It is weird, but it does not give me too much pause.
  8. Mozart’s Hallelujah and From the Marriage of Figaro: Voi, Che Sapete. I get into Mozart’s choral music and opera choruses in high school choir. They are hard to sing and I win a solo in Hallelujah, but not for Senior Solos (singing Voi, Che Sapete). I still hum this in the shower.
  9. LL Cool J: Radio; Fishbone: Ma and Pa; Yaz: Diary. These three songs perfectly represent this time in my life. I am exploring new genres (rap, ska, and overly dramatic new wave (probably would be emo today)) and I love these three artists. They are my first three CDs–a new format that summer.
  10. King Missle, Sensitive Artist. My friends introduce me to this song in the dorms at Syracuse University. It is my theme song for more than ten years.
  11. Sinead O’Connor: Nothing Compares 2 U; Modern English: Melt With You; Extreme: More Than Words. Thanks to the girls in my dorm my sophomore year at U of I (I transferred), this is the soundtrack of my life for this year. They were a romantic bunch.
  12. Pink Floyd: Summer ’68. My boyfriend Carter loves this record. We listen to this (Atom Heart Mother) and the Beatles’ Rubber Soul and The Clash’s Sandinista! incessantly on vinyl as we go to sleep at night. I still rock out to this song in my car (as recently as last week).
  13. The Beatles: Let it Be. This becomes my Sunday AM ritual. I listen to it and meditate on the possibility of letting things go and living less stressfully on a weekly basis.
  14. Soul Asylum: Runaway Train; Nirvana: Heart-Shaped Box; James: Laid. These songs inform my move to San Francisco. My cousin Karen is particularly into Runaway Train. We listen to it on repeat over and over in her cute red Jeep as we cruise around the Bay Area. She takes me to a heavy metal bar. We get drunk and I sneak cigarettes in my car and tell her to not tell my auntie.
  15. Liz Phair; REM; Cake; Pavement; De La Soul; The Breeders. Thanks, Craig.
  16. Doria Roberts: Perfect. What a great song. My friend/momentary roommate Tammy/Khentse plays this on repeat a lot. We love it.
  17. Barbra Streisand: anything. Thanks to El, I have to now listen to what my parents liked.
  18. Jeff Buckley: Hallelujah; The Rolling Stones: Wild Horses; Marianne Faithfull: As Tears Go By; Lucinda Williams: I Lost It; Dolly Ranchers: Train Bridge and Scrapper’s Waltz. For this most recent period, country music appeals. I like the heartache and heartbreak. I’ve been through it a lot and I’m healing. There is a nostalgia for the pain (when you live with it so long, you kind of miss it when it’s not there) and country music fits this well.

Bonus Tracks:

  1. Pat Benatar: Heartbreaker. Badass. I loved this when I was ten.
  2. kd lang: Constant Craving. What better anthem for the not-yet-lesbian-but-constantly-craving-girl-action? The boyfriend I had at the time this came out said that this song would forever remind him of me. Uh, yeah.
  3. Billy Joel: You May Be Right. Me and my Sissy loved this, Donna Summer’s Bad Girls, and Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler with equal fervor. I also liked “Sleeping With The Television On” from Glass Houses.
  4. Barbra Streisand: Cabin Fever. Burgeoning feminist consciousness? Yes.

JT, 36, Chicago, USA