Last Wednesday I was on the radio. If you discount a couple of angry sentences I screamed into a news reporter’s Dictaphone during the 2001 student protests outside Cork’s City Hall (imagine, “We want our exams corrected!” in a “They’ll never take our freedom!” sort of way) that was later replayed on the three minute news on the hour and then never again, it was my first time, and it was really my first time on there – eek! – live.
The idea was I chose six songs and the DJ, the lovely Martina O’Donoghue, played them and, in between, asked me why I picked the songs I did. Now contrary to popular belief, I’m not stoopid. I wasn’t there to talk about my obsessive scrap-booking hobby, why I still haven’t watched The Sopranos or how I once came within a postage stamp of applying to partake in a European Space Agency experiment where I’d be locked in two shipping containers with six other people for eighteen months. (They were simulating the effects of a manned mission to Mars, if you were wondering.)
No. If I was on the radio and broadcasting to, um, tens of people, then I was going to make sure I ended up talking about my book.
So what to pick? After much, much, MUCH thought, some helpful Twitter friends and several trips through my iTunes library, I finally settled on these six songs:
1. Bad Day by Daniel Powter
I needed a starting off point and I thought Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana might be going a bit too far back. (I saw him for the last ten minutes of his concert in 1988. I was six.) Instead, I chose a song that seemed to be played on Dutch radio every 17 minutes throughout the summer of 2005, the same summer that – I feel – my life as I wanted it to be really began. (The warm up act, anyway.) It was my first summer working abroad; I was a highly-stressed training administrator in a little village called Hoeven in the Netherlands. We walked through a strawberry field to get to work, the supermarket can gave you credit for returned Heineken bottles and there was an IKEA ten minutes down the road. (You can imagine what my room looked like). It was also where I found out that I could possibly work in Walt Disney World, and thus my adventures began.
2. Stop This Train by John Mayer
If you’ve read Mousetrapped, you’ll know the story of Stop This Train. A short recap: I was peed off, I was sleep-deprived and I was exhausted. I’d been in Orlando for a couple of months, and it was sucking big time. Pixie dust was scarce on the ground. I was on a Disney shuttle bus on my way to work – because, without a car, I had to rely on a combination of walking, cab trips and free Disney transportation to get to the hotel – with my face in someone else’s armpit, when I heard Stop This Train in my earbuds for the first time, and I wanted to jack it all in and go home. But because soon after things in Orlando started to pick up and Stop This Train is one of my all time favorite songs, it now only brings happy memories – memories brimming with pixie dust.
3. Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra
Does this one need explaining? Are you serious? When I marry Astronaut Mike Dexter* it’s going to the first song we dance to at our wedding. If you really don’t know why though, you should have a look at this.
4. Life is a Highway by Rascal Flatts
More than any other song, this sends me straight back to Orlando. Specifically, two places in Orlando. The first is the bus stops at Downtown Disney Marketplace. That’s where I used to get the buses to the hotel, but it’s also my ‘local’ entrance; even when I had a car, I’d walk through there. (It was also by the Earl of Sandwich. YUM.) Music is piped in the area over speakers, and Life is a Highway was played all the time. The second is in my car, on an actual highway, driving to Cocoa Beach for some cold Coke, a good book and some rays. Hell yeahs. (It’s also over four and a half minutes long. Bonus!)
5. Breathe by U2
Until about a year ago, I wasn’t a U2 fan. I really couldn’t be a U2 fan, because my brother had been playing With or Without You on repeat for the last five years and as a direct result I equated Adam Clayton’s bass with nails on a chalkboard, at least on that song. But everyone said U2 are amazing live and what better place to see them than in their own city, so off we went to see the first night of their 360 Tour in Croke Park, Dublin. They were amazing and I have since been converted (although I almost exclusively listen to No Line on the Horizon, lest their be any accidental hearing of With or Without You), but that’s not why I chose Breathe, their opening number that night and my favorite song on the album. I chose it because I first heard it that night, at the concert, and it was July 24th 2009. A week later, on July 31st, I worked my last day at the dreaded nine-to-five, put away my stapler and refocused all my energies on writing my novel and, hopefully, changing my life. Last week, my novel went out to some – gulp! – editors. If one of them decides sometime in the next two months that they might like to publish it, I will have achieved my goal in under a year. And then I’ll have to remind myself to breathe.
(See what I did there? I’m so clever. I know.)
6. Steer by Missy Higgins
Stumped for a sixth song, I was kind of hoping we’d get to chatting and end up only playing the first five. No such luck. My sixth (FILLER!) was Steer by Missy Higgins. (Side note: I discovered Missy Higgins after the esteemed Harlan Coben went on tour with her. Yes – an author and a singer/songwriter on tour together. Who’d have thunk it?) I chose it because it’s a happy, smiley, sunny, if-you-can-dream-it-you-can-do-it sort of song, and I wanted to end on a happy note. I wanted to say that all jokes aside, you have to do what you want to do, and you have to believe that it’s going to happen.
Well, maybe not all jokes aside.
*30 Rock reference alert! Although I’m not opposed to marrying astronauts. NASA only though, no ESA. I’m picky that way.