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Listen to the Music that Shaped You - Res 26


The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.

At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.

For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.

Res 26: Listen to the Music that Shaped you

Growing up, my paternal grandmother lived about 30 minutes away and my dad’s hometown sat close to an hour away. A result of frequent gatherings meant that these regular road trips through the small towns of Western Pennsylvania with my father would be something I’d grow to cherish.

My dad kept a handful of CDs in the center console and while there may have been more variety than I can recall, I have very distinct and very singular memories of two soundtracks in particular – one of Johnny Cash and Meat Loaf.

Yes, Meat Loaf. As a spunky elementary school child, I was happy to proclaim Meat Loaf as my favorite musician, while most of my friends were happy to label it their favorite meal.

I grew up memorizing the lines to old Johnny Cash songs and jumping around within the constraints of my seatbelt to Bat Out of Hell. I would fix the numbers in my memory of my favorites and even if I didn’t know the name, I would know that number 4 on that CD was really good. Even today, Folsom Prison Blues can stop me in my tracks.

The other day, I tuned to my “Billy Joel” Pandora station and let past decades of music carry me away. It bounced through Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel, and other similar artists. Then, I thought of Meat Loaf. I wanted to listen to Meat Loaf.

Before I knew it, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad was playing in my ears as I returned to my work. But suddenly, I wasn’t in my Dad’s car driving to my Uncles – I was immersed in the music I had listened to for the duration of my childhood and the lyrics beat down upon me:

I want you, I need you But-there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you Now don't be sad 'Cause two out of three ain't bad

And for the first time I’m seeing Meat Loaf for more than catchy melodies. And I’m listening and I’m tearing up – over Meat Loaf – in the middle of my office.

And the song ended.

And I sat there for a moment, wrapped up in melody and words and meanings that flew straight over my head as a child. And I took a sip of water. And I closed my eyes. And I pressed replay.

Resolution #26: Listen to the Music that Shaped You

I was talking to a friend recently about how I wanted to reread a book I had read in high school. I thought it would be meaningful to read it again, as someone who has new life experiences and is more educated than I was 8 years ago. After my Meat Loaf meltdown, I realized that the same can go for music. In re-listening, you just might learn something new about yourself.

I want to listen to the songs that shaped me with new ears. I want to hear melodies in a new way and understand lyrics that flew over my tiny pigtails years ago. And I also want to thank the people who brought that music into my life.

Today, July 9th, is my Father’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad. Thanks for introducing me to Johnny Cash and Meat Loaf. I might even listen to Alice’s Restaurant today in your honor.

Love always,


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