Theme songs are tricky things. I don’t mean television or movie themes, but rather those songs that come to hold an important place in your mind at a specific point in your life. This happens to everyone, right? A certain song gets, well, scratched into your soul. (I could try and write this entire piece solely in song quotes, but that would be silly.) As it’s the end of one year, and the beginning of a new one, I thought I would take a moment to talk about the importance of music as a background and a motivator in one’s life.
Neil Gaiman has a lovely passage in Anansi Boys about one’s own theme song, and he says,
“Each person who ever was or is or will be has a song. It isn’t a song that anybody else wrote. It has its own melody, it has its own words. Very few people get to sing their own song. Most of us fear that we cannot do it justice with our voices, or that our words are too foolish or too honest, or too odd. So people live their songs instead.”
This idea of living one’s song is one that’s been bouncing around in my own head a bit recently. My theme song for 2011, you see, was The Mountain Goat’s “This Year,” which is a song essentially about surviving ““ “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me” is the refrain. I saw the Mountain Goats live in March of 2011, and as I stood with my arm around one of my best friends, belting this song right back at John Darnelle, I realized this was going to be a tough year. And so it was, by my very first-world standards. Perhaps all years are tough, but this song, and how strongly I identified with it, just may have influenced how I saw this year’s events.
My theme songs aren’t always such downers, I promise. There was quite some time in college when Wicked’s “The Emerald City” embodied how I felt about Washington DC, my then-new home. Almost a decade later, if the sun’s bright enough as I’m walking through Dupont Circle, I can still here that song playing in my head, and remember the optimism and joy that went along with it.
In 2012, I want a song like that. I want you to have a song like that, too. A song that’s less other people’s words, and more our own. Bad things are going to happen to us all in 2012, but good things are going to happen too. I’m on the hunt for music that’s going to help me focus on the good things.
Got any recommendations? Have you had a particularly important theme song at some point in your life? And what sort of a song would you like for 2012?