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A Sonic Journey Through My Life So Far...

Originally an entry for the Melodic Milestone Playlist Challenge

By Paul StewartPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 30 min read
A Sonic Journey Through My Life So Far...
Photo by Namroud Gorguis on Unsplash

I initially planned to enter this into the Melodic Milestone Playlist but missed the deadline. As I had already finished 75% of it, it was still worth finishing and publishing.

Like every excellent song has a great intro that hooks you into the meat...well, most songs. You Suffer by Napalm Death has no intro, middle, or outro; it’s a big slab of angry noise and four words.

Anyway, as an intro to this, it may help to give a little context that I am Scottish-Italian and had the best parts of both cultures growing up. Lots of big dinners at Nonna's house, where there was an organised chaos to the whole affair. In the earlier days Nonna would even make the pasta, pizza and other things from scratch. For upwards of 13 people, depending who was there.

I digress. One thing that has become clear when creating this playlist, is my dad's influence. I have a complex relationship with my dad. I do not have many great things to say about him. I will always say that a lot of my eclectic music taste is owed to him.

I was surrounded by music during my childhood, largely thanks to Mum and Dad, but predominately Dad. He was an obsessive collector of vinyl, then cassettes, and eventually CDs. He was a member of the Britannia Music Club (if you know, you know). He would collect music from just about anyone and everyone.

Some artists were missing, obviously, as we only had a three-bedroom house, haha. Still, he was fully covered in terms of genres and the big names of all those genres. Folk, country, some jazz, big band, rock, metal, blues, disco, pop, MOR, AOR... there was a little bit of everything. So, for all the bad things I could say about the man, I would never fault his taste in music and film.

A Sonic Journey

Now, a few points before we move onto the playlist – this will not be totally in chronological order because I sometimes have a tragically terrible memory. And about times, dates, and things related to numbers. This is why I am a writer and not a bloody mathematician. Plus, numbers are, like, totally dull, mmmkay. They aren’t, really (I still have a poem to write based around the Fibonacci Sequence). Anyway, I digress.

However, the whole thing is still in keeping with the prompt and features songs that mean something important to me in some way, whether it’s a small or a big way. But, given I have deliberated over this list for about a month, you can almost guarantee that most mean something in a big way.

Let’s get this started.

Duran Duran - Rio

Although I can’t be sure, one of my earliest memories of music was Rio by Duran Duran. I have always loved the band and that song especially. The video was great and, even to my young eyes and sensibilities, made arsing around on a yacht in a sunny location aspirational.

John Williams - The Imperial March

Another early memory of music was from one of my favorite films or series, Star Wars. Star Wars also reminds me of my first crush. My mum and dad had friends who lived in a lovely, middle-class suburb of Glasgow. We semi-regularly would visit them. This meant that my mum, dad, brother, and myself (after my sister was born) all went to their house.

While the adults got drunk and laughed a lot, we kids would spend time in another room with their four kids, including the oldest daughter, who was taking on the role of babysitter. While I was incredibly young, I was quite enamored by her blonde hair and the fact she was nice to us kids. The usual sort of childish crush. So, Star Wars and music from the franchise remind me of those times. This also is a stunning piece of music that introduces one of the best villains in cinema history.

Kylie Minogue - I Should Be So Lucky

If the girl mentioned above was my first crush, my second crush, even less attainable, was Kylie Minogue. As a kid, I was a big fan of Neighbours, for my sins, and was rather taken by Charlene, as were many people. Stock, Aitken, and Waterman, the pop songwriting and production powerhouse of the 80s and 90s, obviously thought she had star potential, and she made the relatively easy transition from actress to pop icon.

I am not a fan of this song or the first album, though it was one of the first cassettes I owned that I didn’t simply borrow from my dad. It’s cheesy, but it’s testimony to Ms. Minogue that she is still making music all these decades later. Her music has also matured somewhat. This is a wart and all piece, so I wanted to include this entry among better choices.

Little Nell, Patricia Quinn, Richard O’Brien - Time Warp

Music played a significant role throughout my childhood and acted like a soundtrack in many different scenarios. Like many people, I attended a lot of school discos. Like many people who grew up in the UK, I went to many seaside holiday resorts like Butlins and Pontins. One thing that school discos and these kinds of holiday places had in common was the music they played. At school discos, there were a lot of go-to songs, usually Black Lace songs like Agadoo, The Conga, The Music Man, and Superman.

The same songs were played for kids at these holiday camps. Interestingly, especially as I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school, Time Warp from Rocky Horror was played, and we all danced following the instruI think Susan Sarandon may qualify as an early crush too. I saw the film slightly younger than I should have, but I thought it was strange and intriguing. The song is still a blast.

Rage Against The Machine - Know Your Enemy

After I got over my pop obsession, liking Kylie and Bros (shudder), I started to listen to a lot of dance music, like the earliest stuff by The Prodigy. Charly started it off because it sampled a little boy and a cat from a PSA. This was when I became more interested in what I would consider real music. As I said, if this was just about favorite music, it’d be 10 times, maybe 20 times longer. However, as I am following the brief and speaking about the music that means the most, made the most significant impact, or is connected to memorable moments, I will skim over the dance music and techno I listened to and jump to Rage Against The Machine.

The reason I say technically, I will get to it in a moment. I am pretty sure The Bends by Radiohead was the first guitar-based CD I bought, followed shortly after Rage Against The Machine’s debut. The reason why I have switched the order of these bands in this playlist around has to do with my first concert. Technically, the first-ever live show I attended was the Saturday of the first T in the Park Festival at Strathclyde Park in 1994. Rage Against the Machine were the headliners.

My first music festival was a fantastic experience. I saw plenty of bands across the day, but the main draw for me was Rage Against The Machine. Who tore the place apart. Interestingly, Cypress Hill was supposed to be on the bill earlier in the day but had run into trouble at Glasgow Airport. It was a passport issue.

We were told there were delays, and they were doing their best to ensure the Hill played. But as the day drew in, there was still no Insane in the Brain, making me bounce. Before Rage Against the Machine was meant to play, we were told that Cypress Hill would play a mini set before Rage Against the Machine with RATM as a special treat because of the delay. Which, as you can imagine, was a whole lot of fun.

There is really any song I could pick from the first album by RATM. Still, I chose Know Your Enemy because it has always been a personal favorite, showcasing what made the band so good.

Radiohead - The Bends

The Bends by Radiohead was the first album I ever bought by a guitar band. Radiohead was also the first band I saw in their headlining gig, which is why I said RATM was only technically the first real concert I attended because that was a festival. Whereas I saw Radiohead at the world-famous Glasgow Barrowlands. Sparklehorse were supporting, and I just remember them being good but a bit sad and melancholic.

Not that Radiohead were any more joyful. What they were was stunning. I saw Radiohead again at T in the Park in support of OK Computer, and they were even better. Still, I am glad I saw them before they evolved. It was nice to see the change. So, The Bends has always had a special place in my heart for that experience.

Wu-Tang Clan - Da Mystery of Chessboxin’

As my musical taste progressed from The Prodigy to more guitar-based music, my lifelong for hip-hop was also developing. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was one of the first hip-hop albums I owned, and other than Rage Against the Machine, it was also the most explicit, with heavy use of the N word too. Wu-Tang Clan had quite a big impression on me. It shaped my view of racism and trying to get on with people of other backgrounds.

Mystery of da Chessboxin’ remains one of my favorite songs and brings back great memories of discovering this hugely different music from what I was familiar with. Where I lived, there were very few black people and only a small number of Pakistani and Indian people. So, my exposure to other races was through the media, entertainment, and music. I also loved Wu-Tang Clan because they had cinematic connections, thanks to the kung-fun samples and mythos they had created. It felt important.

Public Enemy - Bring the Noise

Along with Wu-Tang Clan, DMX, and NWA (yeah, Italian-Scottish people like NWA, too), my big love in terms of hip-hop was Public Enemy. I loved everything about Public Enemy. The wall of sound The Bomb Squad production team produced, that booming, bass-heavy voice of Chuck D’s, and the quirkiness that Flavor Flav had to play off Chuck’s timely and important socio-political lyricism. While it would be perfectly acceptable to choose any song, I love the urgency of Bring the Noise. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is my favorite of the first PE albums.

Black Sabbath - Into the Void

Since I first heard the opening chords of songs like Paranoid, Iron Man, and this beast, I have always loved Black Sabbath. My parents saw them long ago before I was born, at The Apollo in Glasgow. So, heavy bands like Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin have always been a part of my life. Master of Reality has always been my favorite album, and Into the Void is my favorite song.

There is another reason why Black Sabbath brings back nice memories for me. My mum, dad, and the rest of my mum’s siblings were all big fans. When my Uncle Giovanni died at just 42, the family was shell-shocked. About a year or so after he died, Black Sabbath were touring for the album 13, with the original line-up reunited of Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, and, of course, Ozzy Osbourne. They were playing a date at the Hydro in Glasgow, and we all went. By we, I mean two of my cousins, three of my aunties, two of my uncles (mum’s brother and brother-in-law), my wife, and me. It was an exciting experience attending a gig of that kind with your family. Still, it was a great gig nonetheless, and although Bill Ward wasn’t playing, the rest of the band still managed to pull it off, despite being a lot older in years.

Anyway, that diversion got us off the chronological track. Never mind.

Foo Fighters - This is a Call

Speaking of Nevermind, time for some Foo Fighters. I was never a huge Nirvana fan when Kurt was alive, and I became a bigger fan after the fact. Another one of my first gigs after Radiohead and T in the Park was Foo Fighters. I was there for their first show in Glasgow as part of their first tour. I stayed at my friend’s house the night before the tickets were sold at the Virgin Megastore in Glasgow. We were sure there would be high demand and needed to get there early.

With Foo Fighters, I was a fan from the get-go. This Is a Call was the first song I and many people heard who were there at the beginning, and it reminds me of that first gig. I went on to see them each of the following three times they played in Glasgow. Every time was better than the next, but the first time was a blast.

The Smashing Pumpkins - Porcelina of the Vast Oceans

Like many people during the 90s into alternative rock, I was a big fan of The Smashing Pumpkins. Gish was great, Siamese Dream was the thing that cemented their place in history, but their third album blew my mind. When they announced they were touring and coming to Glasgow to support Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, I knew we would all get tickets. My friends, my brother and me. That album has so many great songs, but the one I was looking forward to the most and was still not sure they played live was Porcelina and the Vast Oceans.

We had wrongly been informed that they were starting their gigs with a short acoustic set, so we went to the front, and my brother was on someone’s shoulders. Then they stormed through Ode to No One, a very heavy song. We were in the thick of the mosh pit for that. It was fun but in a bruised limb kind of way.

They did play Porcelina and the Vast Oceans, all 9 minutes+ of it. It was glorious, and I think it got me a bit emotional. This song always brings back memories of that. The gig was also part of the last tour when their keyboardist died, and their drummer Jimmy Chamberlain left due to his involvement in the death (he supplied him with the drugs that killed him, I believe). Then the bass player D’Arcy was fired because of drug issues, and by the next time I saw them in support of Adore, it was just James Iha and Billy Corgan from the original line-up. So Porcelina reminds me that I managed to see the original line-up.

Garbage - Only Happy When It Rains

As anyone will know if you read my At Peace in my Pluviophilia poem, I am a massive fan of the rain. It kind of comes with the territory when you’re Scottish. I also have suffered from depression, in hindsight, longer than I’d care to think about. Put the two together, and you get this strangely anthemic and joyful song by Garbage. I loved Garbage from the moment that I heard Supervixen and Vow. But it was Only Happy When It Rains is a song I will never tire of hearing. It also reminds me of the two times I saw the band during their first two UK tours. Shirley Manson being Scottish and being a total badass also helped.

Leftfield - Melt

I have already provided a link to Melt by Leftfield with my Great Nothingness poem. This song does not link to any specific moment but is more of a go-to when I need to chill out and relax. When things get too hard, I sometimes listen to this beautiful piece of ambient trippiness and feel the anxieties melt away. Did you see what I did there?

Pulp - Disco 2000

During the mid to late 90s, when people would argue over whether Blur or Oasis was the Britpop band, my response was The Charlatans or Pulp. Not just to be contrary, but because Pulp was awesome. Disco 2000 is a somber song, just like Common People, with a bombastic, disco-tinged sound. That aside, the lyrics really got to me and summed up my luck with love during my teens. Lots of unrequited crushes that went nowhere. Happy days! It’s still a great song, though, and Nick Cave did a fantastic cover.

The Chemical Brothers - The Private Psychedelic Reel

Another song that is not connected to any specific moment but has followed me for decades since I first heard it on The Chemical Brother’s second album, Dig Your Own Hole, is The Private Psychedelic Reel. There is a hypnotic feel to how it builds up and breaks down around the same basic melody. There are also two live clarinet solos, which sound like it would not work on paper, but they genuinely do. It is just...bliss.

Pearl Jam - Present Tense - Live

One of the reasons I was not so big a Nirvana fan was when Grunge exploded, I connected more with Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam has been one of my favorite bands since that period. For a long time, I didn’t think I would get to see them live because they didn’t like playing the UK often. That annoyed me. So, I was delighted in support of Binaural that they announced they would be playing at the SECC in Glasgow. If I was basing it purely on my favorite song, I would have picked out Yellow Ledbetter, but Present Tense has always meant a lot more to me. I always think about it when I get too retrospective and worry about past regrets and mistakes. It was like an anthem for mindfulness before mindfulness was really a mainstream thing.

The band went through a phase of making their own “official” bootlegs of their concerts and releasing them, in high quality, taken directly from the soundboard. So, the version I selected of this song was the version I heard, and among the many people singing and cheering, I was there. I wasn’t sure that they would even play that song; I just hoped, like I did with Smashing Pumpkins and Porcelina, that they would, so when he introduced it, with needing to listen to himself. The first chord was played, and I got very emotional very quickly. It will always be my favorite version of the song because of the moment, memory, and importance in my life.

Nine Inch Nails - Hurt

I would not say that my teens were a complete crapfest. I had a solid connection to my mum’s side of the family and loved spending time at my Nonna’s house. It was only really towards the end of my teens that troubles happened at home. However, I did have a lot of depression. For a long time, I was sure I would not live to see 18 years old.

I wasn’t going to kill myself, but I had a strong sense of pessimism. Which makes me laugh now, writing this at 43, haha. Anyway, I listened to Nine Inch Nails a lot, which may or may not have helped. I feel like it did because I didn’t feel alone. While I didn’t have the drug issues or other problems Trent had while making those earlier albums, I still felt disconnected sometimes. His music helped me feel less alone.

The Downward Spiral was my favorite album. In terms of the concept, the music, and the “no emotion left out,” it was just one of the single best pieces of music from start to finish I had ever heard. I cannot listen to it in full anymore for a whole bunch of reasons, and I listen to the lighter songs nowadays for want of a better word. Hurt has come to mean more over the years, though, as I’ve dealt with more significant problems.

I’ve made many mistakes as an adult; I have done things I am ashamed of and regret. So, in many ways, I really connect with this song. While many feel the album ends with the protagonist killing himself, I also like to think that there is a strong sense of hope.

Jeff Buckley – The Last Goodbye

I loved Jeff Buckley, and while I struggled to pick one from Grace, his magnificent debut album, I figured the best song for the playlist would be the first I heard by him. This is very poppy but has some sincere and raw lyrics that are song beautifully by Buckley. As well as being one of my favorite artists, his death greatly impacted me when it happened. I had experienced death before, of loved ones, but only when I was little when my mum’s oldest sister died.

This sounds ridiculous to some extent, but maybe not. This was one of the first times I had someone that I missed. I just felt sad that he was so young and had such a life ahead of him, one full of experience and, obviously, from a music fan’s point of view, full of more music. His posthumous second album is phenomenal, even if it was put together from recordings he made before his death that was basically…sketches.

The line “Please kiss me. Kiss me out of desire, baby, not consolation” struck me.

Massive Attack – Teardrop

I have always been a massive fan (haha, see what I did there?) of trip-hop and lo-fi kinda music. I listened to Portishead, Tricky, and Massive Attack in the 90s. This song is very emotional and has a stunning video. It makes me emotional for many reasons, depending on when I listen to it. I also learned, after the fact, that Elisabeth Frazer, of the Scottish duo Cocteau Twins, who sings on this song, wrote the lyrics about Jeff Buckley and his death. They had previously been in a relationship, so she remembered that when writing it.

Hence, it’s placed in this playlist.

Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness

Another song I remember loving from the moment I heard it back in the early 90s, while I was getting into more guitar-based music and indie, was this classic by Manic Street Preachers. I doubt I correctly understood the lyrics at the time. However, it sounded so emotionally frustrating while still being anthemic. The two solos are among my favorites by any artist. Serve the song perfectly and have enough flair.

I usually listen to this at least once a week, at the very least. The lyrics are as pertinent now as then, probably even more so.

Monty Python – The Lumberjack Song

As an interlude, I’ve included something that never ceases to make me happy. I love comedy songs, and among the best are Monty Python’s songs from their movies. While Always Look On the Bright Side of Life is a stone-cold classic, I have always loved the silliness of The Lumberjack Song.

Enjoy a break from the emotionally charged music!

Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks Theme

To lengthen the interlude, here is another stunning piece of music from one of my favorite TV shows as a teenager, Twin Peaks. I was a massive fan of David Lynch back then, and I still admire the man today. The Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, Blue Velvet, Dune, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Wild at Heart, and Eraserhead, were all films I loved.

So, this piece of music doesn’t really evoke specific emotions but reminds me of the time my friend and I watched it all…binged it and got super freaked out by the mind-warping aspects of the plot and its many twists.

It’s still a great piece of music.

Atari Teenage Riot – Sick to Death

How about some aggressive digital hardcore? Digital Hardcore was credited mainly to Digital Hardcore Recordings, Alex Empire, the owner of that record company and founder of the group Atari Teenage Riot. It was a fusion genre that combined hardcore punk with various forms of electronic dance music like drum and bass, techno, and breakbeat, while also taking influences and inspiration from noise music and heavy metal. It was a racket, it’s fair to say!

I remember listening to The Future of War and being incredibly angry about everything in my teens. This is a fun little angry number with many great screamed vocals by one of the female vocalists Hanin Elias. Marvellous bit of noise.

Neil Young – Old Man

I have loved Neil Young since I first borrowed Harvest from my dad’s insane collection. Although Man Needs a Maid may be my favorite from that album, I had always resonated strongly with Old Man, even when I was a young man. This is a live version due to Neil Young removing most of his collection from Spotify, and the completist in me wanted to make sure all the songs I featured were on Spotify so I could share the link.

Beck – Diamond Bollocks

During the 90s, I was a massive Beck fan and managed to see the great, quirky man twice. The first time was for Oldelay! While the second was in between Odelay! And Mutations, which is what this fantastic song comes from. I love many Beck songs, but this one sums up his vision for things that shouldn’t work but do. This was made up of 11 different pieces of songs because he and his band needed to let loose in the studio while recording what was mostly a very maudlin and folky album. Coolest. Harpsichord. Piece. Ever.

This song reminds me of being younger and less worried, but also more worried, and all the great gigs I attended. The song still makes me smile like it did the first time I heard it.

Travis – The Last Laugh of the Laughter

It may be pretty predictable for a Scot to mention Travis in their life’s soundtrack playlist, but I don’t care.

I first heard Travis towards the end of the 90s, long before I met my now-wife. Since then, I have loved the band, and The Man Who, their second album, figures in my top 10 of all time, even if I can’t ever seem to place all of the entries.

When I met my wife, we seemed to be opposites musically. She thought all I listened to was aggressive music, which was only partly true. It was only when she connected better through music better. She subsequently listened to a lot of the stuff she had dismissed before. All because of Travis. When we had our second child, she wanted one of his middle names to be Travis in honor of the band. So, there you go.

I thought I’d run with this deep cut from the album. I was hard pushed to pick a song, but rather than choose one of the singles people may have heard, like Why Does It Always Rain On Me? Beautiful stuff.

Hot Hot Heat – Bandages

My wife and I met in 2002 and became a thing soon after. There was a visit, then another, and I never went home. Around the same time, she had to move out of her current home in Essex, and for some reason, we decided to go to Leeds because she knew someone there, and it was cheaper than Essex. While in Leeds, that’s when we got married, had our first child, and went to our first gig together. The first band we saw was Hot Hot Heat, who were touring to support their debut album, Make Up the Breakdown. This was the first single, and whenever I listen to it, I remember how much fun we had at that concert at the Cockpit in Leeds.

Badly Drawn Boy – The Shining

I first got The Hour of the Bewilderbeast, the debut album by Badly Drawn Boy, the Christmas after it was released, along with Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe, if I remember correctly, and other stuff. I always loved that album, which eventually came with me to Leeds. When we had our first child, my wife used to dance around the house to this song. So, as well as being a lovely bit of folk music, it reminds me of that joyful time.

Andrew WK – Long Live the Party

Another great gig my wife and I went to see was Andrew WK, who played in Manchester, I believe, at Manchester University’s venue. So, I picked out this epic because it reminds me of that night and how much fun they were to see live.

Placebo – Pure Morning

This relatively upbeat song, by Placebo standards, never ceases to make me smile. That’s really all I have to say about this song. It was apparently inspired by two of Brian Molko's female friends and is just about having someone to cuddle up to when you are coming down from a night of being buzzed and everyone else is starting their day!

Beastie Boys – Sure Shot

There are too many great Beastie Boys songs that I could have chosen, but the one that I listen to regularly without fail and still recite all the lyrics is this one. I also love the late Adam “MCA” Yauch’s pro-feminist verse. That felt quite ground-breaking in the 90s and has become even more pertinent 30-odd years later.

Hope of the States – Me Ves Y Sufres

After all that joy comes more darkness. This song has always resonated with me, especially when I’ve screwed up. At one point, along with Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, I saw it as my personal anthem. It is a beautiful but sad epic of a song, still, but I always find it quite a challenging listen. Even if I make myself do it so I can learn from it.

Elbow – One Day Like This

This is the polar opposite of the above, as this is an incredibly upbeat song. It has a lot of heartfelt, honest, raw, but humorous lyrics. I associate this song with some incredibly happy times, and it’s hard not to sing along at the end. The way it builds up towards that point is masterful and has a passing resemblance to Hey Jude.

Linked a great live version for the piece, though the album version is in the playlist at the bottom.

Murray Gold – Dr. Who Theme

I have always been a fan of Doctor Who. I am old enough to remember when it was still on television before the dark period when it was canceled. The last Doctor I remember seeing was Sylvester McCoy, and then Paul McGann, who became the Doctor for a one-off TV movie in the 90s. I had seen the reruns played and loved Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, William Hartnell, Peter Davison, and Tom Baker. I know they are out of order, Whovians, and I am not changing it! Bahaha.

Anyway, when the revival of the series began, a few years into it, my wife and our kids became big fans of it, and it became essential viewing in our house. That was until the Peter Capaldi years when my wife got a bit bored of it, and it was only me and my two sons who watched it. But in honor of the first few years with Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith, I wanted to include the theme music, an updated version of the fantastic theme written by Ron Grainer and brought to life by Delia Derbyshire. This is by Murray Gold, who composed all the original music for the series until the 13th Doctor’s (Jodie Whittaker) tenure in the Tardis.

Billy Joel – Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

This song is probably my favorite Billy Joel song, aside from Piano Man and We Didn’t Start the Fire. I’ve chosen it, though, because we tried to visit as often as possible when my late Nonna was still alive. Looking back, it was never really enough, but we did the best we could at the time. I was not always great mentally, in hindsight.

When we still had a car with a CD player, we would listen to two CDs regularly, a best of Billy Joel and a best of Neil Diamond (cos, rock and roll, guys!). At the same time, we made the journey from Paisley, where I currently reside, to Glasgow, my home city and where my Nonna and most of my family live. Around the point in the journey when we were crossing the River Clyde, we would often, depending on the traffic, be listening to Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. So, this song is now synonymous with memories of those times. I still miss her.

LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great

This song hits me every time emotionally. Especially since my Nonna died. It straightforwardly deals with grief, as James Murray relates his feelings about the timely death of his therapist. It still sums up my feelings about the death of my Nonna and just the death of loved ones and those close to us. The lines “The coffee isn’t even bitter, because what’s the difference?”

No real fanfare or big deal is made about anyone’s death unless you’re the Queen or something. That, in a sense, is why I was so annoyed at the fuss over the Queen. I understand it, and no one else has to be upset about my Nonna passing other than me, my family, and her friends. But it still grated on me.

Despite its downbeat feel and aching lyrics, I love the arrangement.

The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun

This is by no means my favorite song ever by The Beatles. However, as it’s my wife’s favorite song, it reminds me of her whenever I hear it, and she’s away visiting her mother or cousins down south in England!

Ennio Morricone – The Ecstasy of Gold

From The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, this beautiful piece of music always stirs me. I loved those films, though it has been a long time since I watched them. I still, though, listen to the music. There’s another slightly darker reason for putting this on this playlist, as I have made all that needs to know aware that this has to be played at my funeral. It has a very funeral kind of feel to it! If that makes me sound slightly pompous – so be it! I’ll be dead, hah!

The Proclaimers – Letter From America

It felt right to end the playlist with two of my favorite songs by two of my favorite Scottish artists. I love The Proclaimers, and this song makes me emotional about the prospect of leaving as much as the other one. I did not realize the dark and even sadder story behind the lyrics when I was younger. I will not go into too many details here, but much of this song’s history highlights some of Scotland’s long-standing issues with being a part of the UK.

Dougie MacLean - Caledonia

As a Scot, I am obliged to include this song, but it is a song I have always loved, and whenever I leave the country, even for a short time, I remember it. We are planning to move, to be closer to my wife’s mother, and I swear I will listen to this and look northwards each day I am in England until I return. Anyway, enjoy. It’s a really great song.

So, there you go. It’s not as complete as possible, even at its stupid length. There’s no Bowie, Prince, or Lou Reed, which is strange; neither is there Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Pavement, or many other bands. But there you go. I am sure they will find their way into later playlists that I publish.


Thank you for sticking with it; all of you still here. As a special treat, here is a bonus, especially for Dharrsheena!

Author's Note: I have also put a link together for the Spotify playlist for anyone that wants to take the sonic journey. There are also a number of links to other pieces of music I love that you might enjoy throughout the piece, starting with the Napalm Death track mentioned in the intro!

Thanks for reading!

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About the Creator

Paul Stewart

Scottish-Italian poet/writer from Glasgow.

I put myself into every piece of writing I publish.

A heady mix of experimentation, dark, light, emotion, heart, humour & more.

"Every man has a sane spot somewhere" R.L Stevenson

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock4 months ago

    Great, diverse playlist. My personal favorite: Nine Inch Nails - "Hurt".

  • Tehreem nadeem4 months ago


  • Dana Crandell4 months ago

    Well done, Paul. I really enjoyed this and the eclectic collection. I'm almost convinced to complete mine.

  • Naomi Gold4 months ago

    Wow, a look into the mysterious world of Paul. 😊 I’m legit jealous you had a Nonna making that amazing food. I had a Nana who couldn’t cook anything, except to fry bologna for my sandwiches. There are lots of great artists and songs here. My favorites are: “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” “The Private Psychedelic Reel” “Teardrop” “Pure Morning” “Here Comes The Sun” 💖💖💖

  • I appreciate this list and will come back often. Inspiring music and a lot of knowledge! Thanks!

  • Paul [insert middle name] Stewart, you just had to do that, didn’t you???!!!! Lol!!! And here I was thinking the surprise was gonna be a song about the colour red, or a Taylor Swift song or a song from Taylor Swift's album Red 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 I'm so sorry your missed the challenge. I'm still waiting for your Fibonacci so you better bring out the mathematician in you, lol! I'm so sorry you felt suicidal during your teenage years and I'm so glad you're didn't act on it 🥺 Oh wow, from not liking Travis, your wife went to wanting his name to be one of the middle names for your son. That escalated quickly, lol! I don't know so many of the songs here but I enjoyed them!

  • Gal Mux4 months ago

    Damn... I may know the bands but I don't know the songs... Apart from here comes the sun! Great song! And you are a true rocker!!! As a mild rocker I feel the vibes ...

  • Phil Flannery4 months ago

    It's disappointing you didn't make it into the challenge, but a good effort all the same. I hear you, a lifetime of music is a lot of music to talk about. Something has to miss out. I assume due to your age, the 90's were big for you. Mine were the 70's. Jeff Buckley and that song from Massive attack, brilliant. Neil Young, Monty Python, Foo Fighters, some brilliant choices. I have loved reading peoples' music journeys.

  • Mariann Carroll4 months ago

    Paul, this is quiet a long playlist. I learned so much about you. It was also like a self interview. I cannot believe you are into hip hop music, I was very surprised. I enjoyed getting to know you better through your playlist . 💕

  • Andrei Z.4 months ago

    Oh, I didn't know that Hurt originally belongs to nine inch nails, and that Johny Cash just made a cover. To be honest, I like the cover somewhat more. It's great that you added a Spotify playlist! I noticed that many people here on Vocal didn't do it.

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