Category Archives: The-Music-Challenge

The Music Challenge #15: I Fail

So I am failing miserably at this whole 365 songs over 365 days thing. However, through this journey I’ve realized a few things about myself (that I probably already knew deep down in the depths of my musically challenged soul).

1. I know nothing about music. I like it a lot. I think things sound nice or cool or have a great beat, but apparently over the years I’ve rarely invested in music enough to care about song titles or the bands producing them.  This means if it’s not Madonna, CCR, Green Day or The Beatles, I likely have no earthly idea who is singing let alone what the song is titled, thus making compiling a list of 365 songs much more tedious than it should be.

2. My interest is short-lived.  Maybe it’s because I’m tone deaf, maybe it’s because I personally have no rhythm, or, just like a performance piece showcasing unintelligible visuals like poems being pulled from an artist’s vagina, maybe I simply don’t understand the art form being presented to me, whatever the reason, I struggle connecting a musician to their work and quickly move on to the next tune that’s for me. I like a song or I don’t. I like a genre or I don’t. I want to hear more or I don’t. Who sings what? Meh … whatever.

3. I was much more invested in television and movies as a kid. While friends were spending all of their allowance on that Matchbox Twenty concert in Deer Creek, I was watching reruns of the Kids in The Hall or hanging on to every Pacey and Joey moment Dawson’s Creek could provide. Again, I like music a lot. Bought a lot of soundtracks so one sound wouldn’t get stale. I took the History of Jazz as a college elective because not only do I like music, I appreciate an array of melodies. Unfortunately, wide-ranging admiration doesn’t recollecting-a-specific-song-or-musician make.

4. For whatever reason (see point #2), the struggle with matching a song to its creator is real. Example – The Goo Goo Dolls.

My roommate in college was a huge music fan. Music was her everything and she literally knew everything. She knew albums, release dates, awards and artists like no one I’ve ever met and would always share them with me. She was my Mr. Miagi when it came to music. She’d explain the finer points and the histories or the inspirations behind various songs or soloists or bands, teaching me these little nuggets of information that gave me a new perspective on each piece being played. We’d be in the tiny kitchen cooking dinner and a song would come on and I’d say, “I like this one. Who sings this?” (which I did a lot) and she’d rattle it off right away. No hesitation. It was one of the ways we bonded… till I asked about the same song for the 17th time. I remember the day like yesterday …

We had just gotten in her Saab. Seatbelts were being buckled, she turned the key in the ignition and that song came blasting across the radiowaves.

Me: Who sings this one?

Her: (looking at me with the most exasperated expression one could muster)

Me: (puzzled) What? Do you not like this one?

Her: (continuing to stare, exasperated expression turning ino a death glare)

Me: I like this one. Who sings it?

Her: (quietly) The Goo Goo Dolls.

Me: (smiling and nodding) Oh yeah! That’s right! The Goo Goo Dolls! Well I like this one.

Her: (still glaring, now eyebrow raised) So you said. Like every other time I told you who sings this song. At least 16 times, Libs. Seriously! Did you really not know this was the Goo Goo Dolls? Better yet, how did you not know this is the Goo Goo Dolls? IT. IS. THE. SAME. DAMN. SONG. EVERY. TIME.

Yep. Couldn’t identify the same Goo Goo Dolls song at all- apparently multiple times. The song was being overplayed like every thirty minutes on every rock channel around. My three year old nieces would have known who sang the song.  In my defense, one could argue that it sounded similar to all of their other songs and other 90s hits of the era, but let’s call a spade a spade. I’m a half-deaf idiot who can’t tell the Goo Goo Dolls from Collective Soul, or Third Eye Blind or Gin Blossoms or Smashing Pumpkins or Skid Row or Eminem or Yanni … Basically to beat a dead horse – I have the absolute inability to match a song to its creator.

There you have it – why I fail when it comes to coming up with 365 songs over 365 days. Will I reach my goal by year’s end? Doubtful, but we’ll see. That said, I give you several songs going into the holiday week that demonstrate why the struggle is real and the four examples that will never get mixed up in my mind.

Never to be confused with another musician or band, I give you Madonna, CCR, Green Day and The Beatles:

105. Madonna, Express Yourself (1988)

106. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bad Moon Rising (1969)

107. Green Day, Basket Case (1994)

108. Beatles, In My Life (1965)

And here is the one that made my roommate crack …

109. Goo Goo Dolls, Iris (1998)

And here is the one that sounds just like it.

110. Goo Goo Dolls, Slide (1998)

Wait! This one sounds just like it.

111. Goo Goo Dolls, Black Balloon (1998)

Can we just say maybe it isn’t me after all … perhaps we really have been presented the same song repeatedly just with a different music video and title to throw us off their scent?

112. Goo Goo Dolls, Name (1995)

Sounds like Goo Goo Dolls to me.

113. Matchbox Twenty, 3AM (1996)

Goo Goo Dolls, is that you?

116. Collective Soul, The World I Know (1995)

Hmmm … you’re starting to agree with me, aren’t you?

117. Gin Blossoms, Til I Hear It From You (1996)

So obviously not the Goo Goo Dolls but, c’mon, folks. You’ve got to be feeling me by this point…

118. Smashing Pumpkins, 1979 (1995)






The Music Challenge #14: The Wedding Weekend

Still celebrating the approach of 10 crazy years of marriage with the man I love. There was so much good music that weekend. Again, I went the cheap but smart route having little sis play DJ. As I mentioned before, some of these may be totally cliché, but it doesn’t make them less awesome or less appropriate for someone’s big day.

Adding to The Music Challenge …

Before every wedding there’s always a rehearsal dinner. For ours, we invited anyone that was in town back to the lodge for a lovely brai. People were mingling on every floor. I was with the younger adult crowd laughing and sharing on the lower level with the pool table and bar. THIS moment was one of the BEST moments of the entire weekend. My great friend, and wedding stylist extraordinaire, serenaded us with an acapella version of this little ditty. It was AMAZING.  Well, probably because HE is amazing. He blew everyone away. And I felt like it was this sweet little gift only he could give me for my wedding weekend.

90. Tim Curry, Sweet Transvestite (1975)

My brother made the wedding party announcements as we arrived back to the lodge. He introduced each bridesmaid and groomsman; then it was our turn. One of the few requests I gave my DJ. Clifford and I were going to walk into this one as a married couple so help me. Because, you know, it’s Billy Bloody Idol.

91. Billy Idol, White Wedding (1982)

My little sister had compiled a fantastic mix of genres. My sisters, Chelle, my Stylist Extraordinaire and myself sang and danced all night long. We were on the top floor literally shaking the house at times, but there was no stopping us. We crooned, we belted, we bopped and we boogied until the wee hours of the morning. Here are just a few that made my wedding reception the most incredible party it could have possibly been.

92. Fred Astaire, Just The Way You Look Tonight (1959)

93. Sister Sledge, We Are Family (1979)

94. The Cure, It’s Friday I’m In Love (1992)

95. The Temptations, My Girl (1965)

96.  Journey, Don’t Stop Believin’ (1981)

97. The Chiffons, One Fine Day (1963)

98. Blue Swede, Hooked On A Feeling (1974)

99. The Reflections, (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet (1964)

100. Billy Joel, Uptown Girl (1983)

101. The Tokens, The Lion Sleeps Tonight (1961)

102. John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, You’re The One That I Want (1978)

103. Louis Armstrong, What A Wonderful World (1969)

104. Ben E. King, Stand By Me (1962)




The Music Challenge: Elementary School

So I haven’t added to The Music Challenge and if I don’t continue to do so, I’ll never reach 365 songs by December 31st. The first song for today popped into my head literally out of nowhere this last week and I can’t get it out of my mind.

It took me back to Elementary School. I had to have been in Kindergarten or 1st grade. There was a talent show, I believe. The details surrounding the event are a little hazy. It was definitely a variety show of some sort. I remember this blonde girl who was probably in 5th or 6th grade (she seemed SO much older than me at the time) was going to do a dance performance to this slow sad song. It was beautiful, though. I fell in love with the song at the time — so so 80’s, but that’s ok. The dancer had this gorgeous baby blue costume that was so sparkly and soft and fluid. I could have watched her dance forever. The song was Don’t Cry Out Loud by good old Melissa Manchester – remember her?

Thanks to this memory hitting me hard,  I am adding my top most memorable songs from Elementary School to The Music Challenge. Enjoy.

78. Melissa Machester, Don’t Cry Out Loud (1978)

These next songs were sung by my entire grade at one of those end-of-year concerts the music program has to put on. The theme was Disney and my class was given The Little Mermaid. I remember belting out these two particularly.

79. The Little Mermaid, Under The Sea (1989)

80. The Little Mermaid, Kiss The Girl (1989)

I don’t know what possessed me really, but I tried out for choir in the 5th grade and made it. In their defense, I think they did accept everyone who wanted to join. I somehow did make the elite Double Ten as an alternate, however. The Double Ten were the top twenty singers of the entire choir. They did special performances and competitions if I recall correctly like singing Christmas ditties at the Concord Mall. Granted, there were usually only 25 or so people in choir in all, so making the Double Ten as an alternate probably shouldn’t be as celebrated as the flattering success that it was in my mind. I think our choir director must have had a thing for Bette Midler because we were given Wind Beneath My Wings and this supposedly optimistic one as well …

81. Bette Midler, From A Distance(1990)

Another song stuck in my mind from those choir days is Take These Wings. Once it’s in there, you can’t get it out.

82. Take These Wings(19??)

And last but not least … Can they even play songs like this in school these days???

83. The Cat Came Back (wicked old folk song)



The Music Challenge #11- Concerts

I was never one to really spend money on music growing up. I enjoyed music and still do, but I was never a groupie or a follower of a particular singer, song writer or band (other than Aerosmith and The Beatles). My love of music stopped at purchasing a cassette single or eventually a CD here or there. I spent my money on movies and doing stupid stuff. Not necessarily money wiser spent, but that’s life.

I’m also a person who would attend a concert for entertainment. I want to see an incredible performance. I’m about showmanship. I want an experience. Say what you will about her, but Madonna is a performer not a singer in my book. A concert she produces would be worth my time and money. As much as I love a musician unplugging here or there, I do not want to pay well upwards of $75-$100 to watch someone sit on a stool for two hours knocking out acoustic versions of their top hits. I mean, I’m watching them sit on a stool for two hours… Not my cup of tea and a waste of money in my book.  And you can totally forget it if it’s a concert filled with nothing but new music. I paid to hear what I already know, not some experiment you’re running on an unsuspecting crowd to test your creative juices which in a lot of cases pale in comparison to your earlier career successes.

Over the years though, I have made it to a few concerts and when I hear one of the musicians’ songs on the radio, it takes me back to those moments.

Adding to The Music Challenge, songs from all of the concerts I ever attended:

My first concert ever was in the Grand Stands at the Elkhart County Fair. My grandparents listened to Ray Stevens. My mother listened to Ray Stevens. His music played often throughout my house and when he came to the county fair, we were all over that like white on rice. The man and his music are witty, funny, and totally entertaining.

70. Ray Stevens, The Streak (1974)

My first concert with friends was an Audio Adrenaline concert at Epworth Forest in Indiana. Remember them? Youth group teens everywhere flocked to this one. I remember I bought my first concert shirt there. It was orange.

71. Audio Adrenaline, Big House (1993)

Most people know by now that Dave Mathews was originally from South Africa. This is why I think my husband and sister-in-law were such big fans. They went to the Dave Mathews concert at the Lakewood Amphitheater  every year. When Clifford and I started dating, a ticket was bestowed upon me as well. Other than Ants Marching, I had no clue what the hell he was playing. It was all new music and it sounded terrible, not like the Dave Mathews music people had paid to hear played. It was my least favorite concert experience.

72. Dave Mathews Band, Ants Marching (1993)

I was SO psyched to see Art Garfunkel in concert! He played at the SCAD Theater in Savannah. He was wonderful and I am just so happy I can say I saw him live. It was beyond what I thought it would be.

73. Art Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Waters (1970)

SCAD started this free New Alumni concert in Forsyth Park in Savannah the year Clifford was graduating. They chose George Clinton as their inaugural musician. Of all of the concerts I have ever been to, this was the surprise. I LOVED it! I never considered myself a fan of funk, but boy can George Clinton and his peeps Turn. It. Out. I have a whole new appreciation for the genre. Now a funk song is always included  on my top ten jams list.

74. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Give Up the Funk (1977)

There is something about this man that draws me to him and his music. He’s been compared to Freddie Mercury, and maybe that’s the hook that always keeps me coming back for more. In 2007, my sister and I took one of our youth group girls to see him in concert at Center Stage (formerly Earthlink Live!) in Atlanta. You want to talk about showmanship? Performance? Yeah, and he’s sexy as hell? Everyone should take time to see Mika in concert at least once in their life.

75. Mika, Relax, Take It Easy (2006)

I’ve already posted about my Styx experience, I think, but essentially my dad had gotten Chelle and I track seats at the Elkhart County Fair to see them. It was fantastic! They were fun and light and just utterly sensational.  Their energy was off the charts! I’d wanted to see Styx in concert for years, and it was sort of neat to be able to see them playing back near my hometown actually.

76. Styx, Come Sail Away (1977)

This was the concert that I won tickets to through the Mark Arum radio show in Atlanta. It was at the Verizon Amphitheater. I took my younger sister and it was such a beautiful night. Loved every minute of it.

77. Boston, More Than A Feeling (1976)





The Music Challenge #10 – Senior Year

I will be adding a few songs to The Music Challenge this week. All relating to senior year and graduation as a companion piece to Monday’s post.

Here we go …

65. The Senior Pep Rally that I may have mentioned before – a large group of us tried to learn the dance from the Will Smith video. We dressed in white button down shirts and black ties with sunglasses and the whole shebang. I remember rehearsing whenever we could squeeze in a few moments. I also remember flailing about and failing miserably. I am not only tone deaf, but I have no rhythm. I am the least musically inclined individual in the world. But hey, humiliating yourself in front of the entire student body for the good of the collective should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Will Smith, Men In Black (1997)

66. Sticking with the Will Smith train, this song takes me to our annual Spring Fling (a day of school spent in the great outdoors wherein 7th -12th grade classes competed against one another in a myriad of various silly and athletic contests. So basically a required day of attendance, but spent with friends goofing around on school grounds while tanning ourselves- and maybe winning at something). This Spring Fling was circa 1998. A small few represented our senior class in the good old Lip Sync Competition. I can’t remember if we won.

Will Smith, Miami (1997)

67. This makes me crack up every time I hear this song and it’s totally not a funny song. AT. ALL. It’s one of my favorite songs from back in the day, but it’s the context in which it was used that makes me laugh. Our video team, bless their hearts, used it as part of the soundtrack to our senior video (a VHS montage of various classmates grinning and doing stupid stuff to the melodramatic musical stylings of the 1990s). The reason this one cracks me up is because though on a shallow level listen, one might think the song is about reminiscing Freshman year and how fast times flies, etc. (which is likely why it was used in the video), but on closer inspection it’s actually about a dude remembering his girlfriend’s suicide with an implied abortion entered into the mix. Like I said – NOT. FUNNY. AT. ALL. Probably shouldn’t have been the background music to moments of mad antics, but alas, it is what it is and that is where this song takes me.

The Verve Pipe, The Freshmen (1996)

68. I love Green Day. I loved Green Day back when they were brand spanking new. I particularly love this song. It was sung by our senior choir at graduation and whenever it plays, I think about being on those risers in the gymnasium with my fellow classmates singing it to our friends and families all over again.

Green Day, Good Riddance (1997)

69. This song sums up the area in which I grew up. We kept religion in our little Podunk public school long past the point of political correctness. I’m pretty proud of that. It was sung by my classmates and me at the end of our graduation ceremony. It was actually a rather contrived cheesy moment, but it was put forth would good intentions, and again, defied the laws of the land in a public school setting.

Michael W. Smith, Friends (1987)



The Music Challenge #9 – Road Trips

I have done a lot of road trips over the years. A. Lot. Most of them involve driving to or from America’s Heartland in some shape, form or other. The company you keep and the music you play make the trip. Music is particularly important on those lonelier treks where small talk and tall tales typically shared with cohorts can’t exactly be the order of the day.

I love road trips. Like with a capital L. They make me happy. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely moments when I’m ready to get out of the car and simply be done with the whole ordeal. Highways and byways can easily become monotonous solitary trails seemingly leading to nothing more than a great big abyss, but I like the time these trips give me to slow things down, take a step back and just think about things.

Driving from Atlanta to Northern Indiana recently, I was doing just that- thinking. Certain songs are more conducive to internal contemplation and deliberation. There are definitely times when you want to roll down the window, let the wind hit your hair, and put the pedal to the metal while blasting tunes that just totally pump you up. Road trips are not those times for me. Partly because rolling my window down while going 79mph on an interstate doesn’t do my hair any favors (you’ve seen my hair on a good day, right? forget after hazardously wind-swept conditions), but also because they are the times allocated to quiet consideration and meditation. It’s the time for me to put things back in perspective because inevitably something somewhere in my life is horribly out of whack. I realized on this last 1,340 odd mile journey, that Classic Rock is it for me.  It relaxes my mind. Again, it puts things in perspective. It speaks truths and allows me to reflect on what really matters. Continue reading


The Music Challenge #8 – Slow Dance Songs

To continue in the vein of Monday’s prom related post, and desperately needing to add to The Music Challenge, I’ve decided to insert these cheesy sweethearts that overwhelmed every girl’s gushing heart while opening doors of opportunity for their hormonal-driven dates at some random dance in the 1990s.

I begin with my Junior prom. The theme was Take My Breath Away. I still remember sitting in the Home-Economics room with the prom committee when one of my comrades threw it out there for consideration. All I’ll say, given that it was prom, it could have been SO much worse. I’d gladly accept a Top Gun inspired prom slow song over something inspired by the sinking of a gigantic ship. I’m just saying … Continue reading


The Music Challenge #7

When I was writing my pen pal post the other week, it reminded me a lot about my various travels over the years. There are certain cities or locations where music played quite a role in my experience, or at least in remembering my experience there.

Adding to The Music Challenge – songs from around the world. Or rather songs that remind me of being around the world. Continue reading


Throw-Back-Monday: School Dances

School dances had so much potential back in the day. If you eliminated the angsty teen melodramas, the pubertal hardships, the unrequited crushes, and the desperate need to be accepted by your peers at all costs, dances were the perfect events for letting loose and having a genuinely good time. A time made all the more merry by the music being played.

Unless you had a significant other that week, you typically went with a group of friends. You also typically cleared the dance floor the moment a slow song came on. You promptly exited the cafeteria floor (that’s where a lot of my school dances were) because it was time to claim your location on the wall. The slow songs were terrible and the country songs thrown in made my stomach turn. Even then, surrounded by farmers and Country-Western-loving-fiends, I hated Country music.

BUT, once the painfully depressing slow song segment would end, it was back to business. Shimmying and shaking to Billboard’s top hits. There were always those songs that got everyone going like YMCA and The Loco-Motion.  And then there were the everyday chart toppers with a few old school songs thrown in to boot. A little Madonna, a little Prince, a little NKOTB … school dances could easily be a fun, safe and pretty upright way to spend a Friday night with your friends. And yes, I am well aware things have changed – OR maybe they haven’t changed as much as we might think. Continue reading


The Music Challenge #5

Funerals are depressing things. I don’t do well with funerals. I think I may have mentioned that before. The thing is, when I die, I’d like it to not be so depressing. You’ve seen movies like Love Actually where Liam Neeson gives his wife a great send off to Bye Bye Baby. Or any film or TV show where an Irishman dies and they throw a big party at the local pub. Lots of Guinness to go around. Little bit of Danny Boy thrown in for good measure … That’s what I want.

My younger sister and I have discussed this topic at great length over the years. It’s almost like a game. When we go, what should our funeral song be? What would be a great funeral song for the people we know? (although that version of the game can get a little mean – funny as hell, but a little mean).

You can actually go several ways with the funeral song question. I’ve decided to add my go-tos to The Music Challenge list as the following songs always make me think of death and funerals when I hear them. Not that I’ve ever heard a one of them at an actual funeral. In fact, I’m used to hearing rather slow and melancholic hymns, but the bottom line is, when these songs flash across the radio, I have had the thought “THAT would be a GREAT funeral song for…” Continue reading