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My Life's Playlist

What a Mix it is!

By Gail WyliePublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 10 min read

What a challenge! Music has been such important component of my life. I’m sure would be simple to make up the 5000 words listing the titles of songs I love, so cutting back to just a few is difficult. But I do enjoy taking on a challenge. Be aware that each song listed represents many others, as well as itself, that were important at the time.

Now that I am in my seventieth decade of life, I can look back in amazement at all the ways that I would have developed a playlist throughout the years of my life. From a gramophone as a child with 78’s, on to the LPs (33’s) and 48’s of the fifties and sixties. Eight tracks ruled for some time before we moved on to cassettes and then CD’s. Yes, I used them all, and am thankful for them. But today, with the internet and youtube, it is so much easier. It makes this challenge, not only simple to create but possible to share with you all. Life is good and music makes it even better.

Climb, Climb Sunshine Mountain

We grew up singing in my home, my community and in our church. This song represents all the children’s songs that we memorized and sang in our home. I also taught them to my sons when they were little. Yes, it brings memories of the past, but it also has its own story. For the last few years of my mother’s life, she would phone on my birthday and sing this song to me when I answered. She then would describe how much I loved singing it when I was a child with (in her words) my face aglow. I sing it now with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

El Paso by Marty Robins

During the fifties we lived with a radio, not a television, or the internet. I have a unique memory of this song, as my sister and I would lay on the floor, after we had been sent up to bed, and listen to the sound of the radio playing downstairs through the heating ducts. This song puzzled me as a young child, as I tried to figure out how a man could sing the song after he had been shot. It didn’t make any logical sense to me at that time. I think I have figured it out now – it’s not him singing. In the midst of this, El Paso became a well-loved, memorized song throughout my life along with many other popular songs of that time.

Twist and Shout by the Beatles

I always appreciate the fact that not only was I at the right age to fall in love with the Beatles, but I also had the opportunity to watch them on the Ed Sullivan Show at the very beginning. Our neighbours had acquired a television set and invited us over every Sunday evening to watch it with them. It’s not easy to choose which of their songs is “the favourite” as I love them all in their own way. I have chosen Twist and Shout for this list as it is one that we sing as a family every time we decide to have a sing-a-long. Throughout the sixties, I dreamed about seeing the Beatles in concert, knowing full well it was an impossibility because of where I was living. However, this dream came true in 2019 as my oldest son took me to the see Paul McCartney in concert. Wow, what a show!!

This Land is Your Land (Canadian Version)

The late fifties and sixties may have opened the door to rock music, but they were also a time when folk music flourished. As a Canadian, I have chosen our rendition of This Land is your Land, a rewrite from the American version at the time by Woody Guthrie which we also sang. The great thing about folk music was that we all sang along together and thus continue to hold these tunes in our minds as we age. Folk music parties called hootenannys were a big part of my teenage years, as were coffee houses with folk mucisians featured as the entertainers.

Hallelujah Chorus by Handel

In 1967 I went off to college and joined the college choir. Now, be aware I had been singing in choirs from the age of 4 on, so this wasn’t what was new to me. However, the choice of music was. We performed Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus for a community Christmas concert under the direction of a very strict director. He pushed me in ways I had not been before. As a soprano, it was a real thrill to not only reach those high notes, but also hold them. His lessons have not been lost. Each Christmas I find a rendition of the chorus on the internet and sing along. What joy!!

Radetsky March by Johann Straus Sr. performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

After I left college, I got married and started raising a family, which was the common step one took at that time. Due to our circumstances, I was stay-at-home mother, something I have never regretted. In the midst of being a homemaker, keeping the house clean and meals on the table is a twenty-four hour a day job which never ends, often leading to boredom and frustration. It was during this time that I discovered how effective and stimulating cleaning, while listening and dancing to Straus music, could be. I would put in the eight track and go at it. In no time at all, it seemed, the work was done. I came to love all of their songs and still dream of going to Vienna and dancing to them. The closest I have made it, to date, is floating down the Danube River with the Blue Danube playing in the background by a gypsy band. Pure magic! Working to a waltz is effective, but if you really need to get a move on, the Radetsky March is the way to go, which is why it is featured! How I would love to be in this audience someday!

Running Bear by Johnny Preston

When my children were little, we spent a lot of time driving long distances. I used this time to teach them the songs of my past. My son turned up with a song book for my 60th birthday that he had created in memory of those road trips. The thing shocked him at the time was that he discovered that we not only sang the songs with the correct words, as he found them on the internet, but that we also sang the whole song, not just the first verse. What fun we had that night sharing them with the grandchildren! Running Bear also represents my love for what I call story songs - songs that tell a complete story. I could make a whole playlist of them!!

How Great Thou Art performed by Elvis Presley “based on an original Swedish hymn entitled "O Store Gud" written in 1885 by Carl Boberg. The English version of the hymn is a loose translation by the English missionary Stuart K. Hine from 1949.” Wikipedia

During the early eighties I chose to follow a dream from my past and became a foster mother. It was a very tough time in my life as I was now raising eight sons instead of four, with a government that was very lax in making its monthly payments on time. Far to often, I walked down to the post office to pick up the monthly check, only to find it was not there. The only way I got through this period of my life was through singing hymns as I walked home, where I had to face the reality of trying to come up with another meal for ten, from the dwindling food stocks in the house. I have hundreds of hymns stored in my memory due to my experience singing in choirs throughout the years and I am sure I sang them all during those walks. How Great Thou Art is definitely one of my favourites. And of course, how can anyone of my age, not include Elvis ( the KING) in their playlist?

Rebel Yell by Billy Idol

My sons were teenagers in the eighties and so the rock music of this decade rocked our home throughout this time. The boys followed in my footsteps, by not being content to just listen to music, but to sing along, as well as perform in the community. Rebel Yell was a favourite of my second son, who even bleached his hair to be like Billy Idol. It is only one of the many rock tunes of the eighties that brings me back to being a mother in a houseful to teenage boys.

Wipe Out by the Ventures

Singing wasn’t the only music my sons made. They also took up playing instruments and formed their own rock band for a time. Now they weren’t only singing, but they were also playing. We certainly didn’t have the quietest house on the block. Wipe Out was a favourite and yes, they sounded as good as this – at least to their mother!!!

Take This Heart by Michael Gillingham

In time, the boys moved on from copying the music of others to creating their own. My oldest son was in the studio at age 16, recording his own music and his mother (me) moved from listening to anything and everything out there, to playing his music the majority of the time, especially after he left home. It had been so nice to live in a house with a guitar playing the background all those years! His cassettes and cd’s got me through the empty nest experience. This is only one example of songs he has written.

Emotion by Barbra Streisand

A suicidal six-year-old changed my life dramatically. He was put into our home as a foster child with very little information of his past. It didn’t take us long to figure out he was suicidal, as he spoke of it often. He was clear on how he planned to succeed: by running in front of a moving car. We managed to keep him alive while he lived with us, mainly because we had nine people in the home, keeping their eye on him. In time, his mother moved out of the district, so social services removed him from our home. I realized I needed to know more, in order to be effective with the children we were fostering and made the decision to return to university. Every day I drove for three quarters of an hour to classes each way. During this time Barbra Streisand and Emotion got me through.

My husband, at the time, had grown up in an alcoholic home, a home where it was not safe to show any emotion. He carried this on as an adult. Over the years I had learned how dangerous it was for me to show any emotion at all and I had changed my behaviour to keep our home safe. This song opened me up to the reality of the damage I was doing to myself. I would turn it on full blast as I drove and sing along at the top of my lungs. Expressing emotion in that way got me through the years until all my children graduated from high school.

I Have a Dream by ABBA

I had to leave home to complete my degree. Each Sunday evening, I left my children and my husband and got on a bus to travel 5 hours to the university, sleeping all the way as I had a class first thing Monday morning. I took 6 courses each semester, in order to earn the credits I needed for the degree and typed papers for other students to earn the money for the bus fare. Friday afternoon I was back on the bus and home to take on the role of mother and housewife again. It wasn’t an easy time. It was then I found this song by ABBA. I would put it on each morning and sing along. It helped me get through each day of classes, even though I wasn’t completely certain as to what this dream was. Getting the piece of paper at the end of the year was a first step to a completely different life.

A Time for Us written by Henry Mancini. The Love Theme from the movie Romeo and Juliet

I reached the point of suicide in the fall of 1992. When I told my husband how I was feeling, he put on his jacket, said “do what you have to do” and walked out of the room. I realized that my marriage was truly over: “till death do us part”. I began building plans for a different life, which included going back to interacting with people from my past who had been cut out, because of my husband. One was a man I had met in college back in the sixties. This became the song that got me through the commitments I had made until I could leave the situation I was in. I even learned to play it on the piano. It became the theme of our marriage in 1996.

The Red River Jig by Alexander Begg, performed by Corn and Boots of Northern Cree Fiddle

My Current husband is Metis. He grew up in a family surrounded by Metis music, played by members of his extended family. Thus, this music has also become part of my playlist as we both enjoy it so much. Featured is the Red River Jig as it is the best known of the Metis music.

Captain Kerry by Joshua Gillingham

Time moves swiftly on. The child, the teenager, the college student, the young mother and their music are all part of my past. However, when I hear them in the present, I am swept back to so many different places, so many different experiences. They are such a gift!! A new door opens with the birth of grandchildren. In the midst of this, I have another songwriter and performer in my family. A beloved grandson who fills my life with music in his own way.

Do you Hear the People Sing composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg (music), Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel (original French lyrics), and Herbert Kretzmer (English lyrics). From the movie Les Miserables.

As I grow older, I fear I get more and more frustrated with humanity in so many different ways. When the stupidity gets to be too much for me, this is the song I find on the internet and sing along with. Yes, I do truly believe it is time for another major revolution!


About the Creator

Gail Wylie

Family therapist - always wanted to be a writer. Have published books on autism. Currently enjoying trying my hand at fiction. Loving the challenges of Vocal. Excited to have my first novel CONSEQUENCES available through Amazon.

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Comments (1)

  • Gail Wylie (Author)about a year ago

    Would appreciate someone sharing how to link directly from the story with the photos.... doesn't work for me, no matter what I try.

Gail WylieWritten by Gail Wylie

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