I put all my MP3s into one big playlist, hit the “Shuffle” button and this is first song that came up: Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee’s cover of Randy Newman’s “Sail Away.” Good enough.
Thus ends my list of 30 songs that left a strong impression on me at some point in my life. Some of the songs still resonate with me. Some don’t. The Buena Vista Social Club, Chirstine Fellows, Choying Drolma, Danny Schmidt, Eilen Jewell, Emmylou Harris, Geoffrey Oryema, Gillian Welch, The Gladiators, Howlin’ Wolf, Joe Higgs, John Coltrane, Lee Scratch Perry, Miles Davis, Nigel Kennedy, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Public Image Limited, Randy Newman, The Tear Garden, Toots and The Maytals and Utah Phillips all came close to getting on the list.
I could end all this with some statement about how most of people never stop listening to whatever it was they listened to in junior or high school or whatever part of their youth was the most formative. Music is like a time machine, I could say, because listening to music can bring us back to a time when we had few responsibilities and the world subsequently seemed simpler, some might even think better. It’s not the music or the world that was better. It’s how the music makes us feel that keeps us listening. But I won’t bother going off like that.
Here’s the full 30 Song Playlist.