I had a friend in college who once asked me if I could recall the music that played during the loss of my virginity. Although music was always an important part of my life, I was ashamed to say that I couldn’t mark that moment with any particular tune.
I’m not certain that my friend wasn’t equally ashamed to admit that every time he heard Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” he recalled his first moments of intimacy. That conversation made me realize how music is a milestone–marking events trivial, important, tragic and glad.
So, ever since then, I’ve been conscious of those musical milestones and offer this set of music that define past, present and future events in my life:
• I pretty much let our wedding be planned by professionals except when it came to the music. I’d been to too many receptions where a Top 40 deejay had cheapened the mood. The entire ceremony and reception was soundtracked by my wife and I and our wedding song was Bob Dylan’s “If Not For You”.
• Listening to WXPN on the radio during the twenty minute ride too and from the hospital when both of our children were born, I distinctly remember Van Morrison’s “Sweet Thing” playing softly against the moans of labor coming from the passenger seat signaling the birth of my son.
• I remember driving home from that same hospital with my wife and son and shiny new daughter with the same radio station offsetting an awed silence. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and we all looked ahead as Robin Holcomb’s “Rock A Bye” appropriately accompanied us.
• We celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary by throwing a bigger party than our wedding. Times have changed, things are different and this time we danced to Nick Lowe’s “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road”
• My father dies on the Fourth of July. I remember flying down I95 to Johns Hopkins with CCR in the tape deck however, 4th of July by X always comes to mind when I think about that surreal time. It’s the perfect mix of mystery and melancholy.
• The death of my father at an early age has me planning things I’d rather not think about. The wills are complete, the executors are named and there are instructions for the music to be played at the wake, funeral or party!
Bob Dylan If Not For You from New Morning
Van Morrison Sweet Thing from Astral Weeks
Robin Holcomb Rock A Bye from Rock A Bye
Nick Lowe True Love Travels On A Gravel Road from Impossible Bird
and…Todd Palmer’s Wake Playlist
2 thoughts on “Musical Milestones”
I am a good friend of Tom Nagy and came across your IG page after recently spending a weekend with Tom and his family camping. We listened to one of your playlists and Tom mentioned that he thought you and I share a similar taste in music and after listening, we do. That brought me to your IG page and then to this page. I can relate to your writings about music and the importance of it relating to moments in our lives.
I have always told my wife I would like her to play Forever Young by Bob Dylan at my funeral, she likes the song but hates when I bring it up. Also, I spent a significant amount of time preparing our song selections for our wedding as I did not want the mood to be, as you say, cheapened by a top 40 deejay. I look forward to reading more from you.
Thanks for reaching out. People with discerning tastes in art need to stick together!
I actually am curating a wake/funeral playlist and need to write about that sometime as well. There’s some Dylan on there but not Forever Young, check it out:
This is the playlist I update frequently when I learn / hear / explore new things:
Do you play an instrument? Looking forward to meeting you IRL.