You know when you hear an old song and you're instantly transported to a specific time and place? You get all the nostalgic feels, then somehow the lyrics resurface from the depths of your memory and all of a sudden you're belting out an almost perfect rendition of Karma Chameleon in the checkout line.
Aren't our minds amazing?? I've been thinking a lot lately about my first memories because I think they occur when I was about 4 years old, which is how old my daughter is right now. I'm constantly wondering what about our days she's recording and what will she recall decades from now.
With that in mind, I felt it would be a fun project to create a kind of soundtrack to her childhood since music is an integral part of our lives. I've been testing out my playlist for a few weeks while at home and on the go and it's so interesting to hear what Gianna likes (Paul Simon!) and what she's not quite ready for (The Who).
Since buying albums and listening to each track in succession is a thing of the past, and since the radio (IMO) is subpar, I think curating a specific playlist for our children is an especially loving gesture that they'll appreciate for years to come and perhaps transport them back to a cherished place and time that you intentionally created for them.
Another bonus: being able to tell stories about the songs that have meaning to us and share them with our kids, which I think strengthens our bond even more.
So here's how I did it and you can, too!
1 - BRAINSTORM. Grab this worksheet (coming soon!) or the nearest piece of paper and think about artists and songs using these prompts for inspiration.
What did your parents listen to? Your first exposure to music is likely to have come from your parents. Think of songs that remind you of them and include any that you'd like to share with you child. A few from my list: Yusuf/Cat Stevens - The Wind / James Taylor - You've Got a Friend / Doobie Brothers - Listen to the Music / Chicago - Saturday In the Park / Bread - Everything I Own / Elton John - Yellow Brick Road
What were your favorite songs growing up? Think about what was on the radio that you couldn't get enough of or songs that your cool older cousins introduced to you. A few from my list: Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight / Madonna - Material Girl / Wham - Wake Me Up Before You Go Go / Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody
What songs have significance to you as an individual? What was your favorite song from the first album you bought with your own money or most memorable concert you went to, a piece you rehearsed and performed in a high school ensemble, or the song that gave you the warm and fuzzies from a mixed tape gifted to you. A few from my list: Wilson Phillips - Ooh You're Gold / Counting Crows - A Murder of One / No Doubt - Spiderwebs / Spyro Gyra - Morning Dance / The Cranberries - Dreams / Weezer - Island in the Sun
What songs have significance to you as a couple? Something from your meet cute, first date, or the first dance at your wedding perhaps. A few from my list: Brian Setzer - Jump Jive 'n Wail / Santana - Smooth / Heatwave- Always and Forever
What songs remind you of your child/ren? Is there a lyric that describes them, what about the time of year that they were born, or maybe something special about their appearance or personality. A few from my list: Hole - Heaven Tonight / The Temptations - My Girl / Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl / Paul Simon - Father and Daughter
"Here comes the sun in the form of a girl / She's the finest sweetest thing in the world.." Hole, Heaven Tonight
What are their favorite songs? This list is for them after all! Consider adding songs they already love to the list. Hopefully you love them too, but if not maybe there's a cover version that's a nice compromise. A few from my list: Bruno Mars - Count on me / The Lumineers - Ho Hey / Alicia Keys - Girl on Fire / Idina Menzel - Let It Go / Auli'i Cravalho - How Far I'll Go
Favorite songs from TV shows, movies, or Broadway? Actual soundtracks are a terrific source of inspiration for personal soundtrack creating. Consider what shows you have binged or what cinematic scores have stayed with you. A few from my list: Van Morrison - These are the Days / Carole King - Where You Lead / The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony / Barenaked Ladies - Big Bang / Star Wars Medley - Peter Hollens, Linsey Sterling
What's the local flavor where you live? Think of songs that are representative of where y'all put down roots – songs that capture the essence of your hometown/state – the history, the sports culture, or simply any homegrown bands that you love. A few from my list: Ricky Sylvia - The Florida Song / Jimmy Buffet - Cheeseburger In Paradise / Neil Diamond - Sweet Caroline / The Standells - Dirty Water
Favorite oldies? Catchy melodies and saccharine lyrics – you really can't go wrong with this genre. A few from my list: Ben E. King - Stand By Me / Rolling Stones - She's a Rainbow / The Beatles - In My Life / The Ronettes - Be My Baby
New favorites? Maybe a song hasn't woven its way into your memory bank yet, but it has a great beat or a feel good message. Or perhaps old is new again in the form of a cover song. A few from my list: Matoma - Wonderful Life / The Mowgli's - I'm Good / Graffiti6 - Free / Taken By Trees - Sweet Child of Mine
2 - DECIDE on the platform/app. I use Spotify and you can check my playlist out here.
3 - CREATE a new playlist, give it a name, and begin adding the songs from your brainstorming session in Step 1.
4 - PLAY it often. At home or on the road, let these songs soak in during those precious and seemingly mundane moments.
Elsewhere on the interwebs:
What Music Do You Play for Your Kids
136 Songs Your Kids Will Love (That Won’t Drive You Insane)
School of Rock: 88 Classic Songs All Kids Need to Hear
Tell me what songs your kids should know by heart and share your playlist, too!