When I was making my “Influences” Spotify playlist, I was actually quite shocked by just how much I wanted to put on it. So I decided to add more songs.
I don’t know if these songs have influenced the way I write or sing. I don’t know if they have influenced me as an artist. What I can say is that every song on this list has influenced me as a human. I am a different person, a more thoughtful or fun or joyful or grounded person, for having discovered these songs.
"Where I Stood" - Missy Higgins
Discovering Missy Higgins was a big win for post-college me. Her voice is so soulful and her stories are so real. She taught me about nuance, that the most important thing is to tell a story. If you tell it from your heart in your own way, even if it’s something people have heard before, it will be new and fresh and emotional and evocative.
"Every Little Kiss" - Sara Evans
I honestly I have no idea why I love this song, but I have loved it literally from first listen. Something about the instrumentation makes me feel so free and peaceful. At this point, this is one of the songs I listen to when I need to come back to myself. It makes me feel like myself.
"Bicycle Race" - Queen
This song makes me feel like a kid again. The fact that there is a musical interlude that consists almost exclusively of the sound of a bicycle bell to me encapsulates the brilliance of Queen and reminds me that we have no limits as artists and creators. The important thing is to play with joy.
"Mother" - Tori Amos
I was assigned this song in an audition class I was taking. I hadn’t fully explored Tori’s catalogue. Putting myself in this song was one of the most emotionally rewarding experiences of my life. If this one doesn’t give you all the feels, you should probably check your pulse.
"Help" and "Eleanor Rigby" - The Beatles
I was raised on a steady diet of the Beatles. These were two that stand out in terms of helping me become me. I used to listen to “Help” in my times of great distress as a teenager and young adult. “Eleanor Rigby” had me hooked with its’ mystery.
"I'll Cover You" - RENT Soundtrack
I was remiss last time in not putting any Broadway songs on my list. Honestly, I have more musical theatre influences than I can count or catalogue. It would be a whole other very long list ☺ But this is potentially my favorite song from the show that changed my life. I discovered Rent through my parents at age like 13 (they’re progressive) and it very much shaped my understanding of humanity. This song is to me the purest expression of theatrical love that I have ever witnessed.
"Both Hands" - Ani DiFranco
I love this song. It has so much emotion in it. There isn’t a long drawn out story about it, but this song has drawn so much emotion out of me when I needed it most. And it continues to do so.
"A Thousand Miles" - Vanessa Carlton
In the age of the boy bands and girl groups, there was Vanessa Carlton. She played piano and her voice was different than all the others on the radio. Though I didn’t fully understand it at the time, she showed me a lot about my preferences, about the kind of artist I would one day want to be and the kind of work I would one day create.
"Roam" - The B-52's
This is the song of my childhood. My dad introduced my sister and I to the B52s and this became our song. This song is a part of my childhood and a part of my family.
"Quit Playing Games With My Heart" - The Backstreet Boys
I remember this being my favorite song from childhood. Before this, I was a follower in terms of my musical tastes. I feel like I liked whatever music my sister liked. But this was a Backstreet Boys song, and she was a major N’Sync fan. So I credit this tune for teaching me musical autonomy.
"I Feel The Earth Move" - Carole King
This was quite possibly the first pop song I ever sang in front of people, and for that reason it will always have the most special place in my heart. (Never mind the fact that it’s just the best song.)
"The Scientist" - Coldplay
This is just the saddest love song ever and it always takes me right back to breaking up with my high school boyfriend. If you ever need to remember that music makes you feel things, listen to this one. And for me, this song has taught me that music can hold my experiences, that a song can connect me to a time and a place within seconds… it is magic, indeed.
"True Colors" - Cyndi Lauper
I feel like we all need the message of this song. I need it now and I needed it when I first heard it. I need the reminder that there will always be people in my corner, people who will see me for who I am and accept all the parts of me, even the ones I’m not thrilled with ☺
"The Chain" -Ingrid Michaelson
I found this song after college during a particularly challenging period. Something about Ingrid’s voice and the layered vocals was so soothing to me. Every time I listen it makes me feel like everything’s going to be ok. And I found this song at a time where I really needed the reminder that everything was going to be ok.
Ok… so these are some of my favorites! What are yours? Comment back and let me know. Maybe I’ll make a playlist of your favorite musical inspirations?!