Recently, I bought my Mum this cute little book called ‘Dear Mum: From You To Me.’ The pages are blank apart from a question or prompt relating to Mum’s life, which are for her to fill in.
On Boxing Day, I sat with Mum while she went through some of the questions, and we had a right laugh! My Mum was pretty cool back in the 80’s (as touched upon in the My Mum & Paul: My Favourite Love Story blog: https://www.carajasminebradley.com/post/my-mum-paul-my-favourite-love-story), and I LOVE hearing her tales of pub-crawling and endless music gigs and festivals.
The section referencing good memories revealed a story that I just HAVE to share (sorry Mum!).
My Mum was literally OBSESSED with the Manic Street Preachers back in the day. She still has a huge collection of their various singles and albums at home, from special editions to B-sides. In the early 90’s she won a radio competition to meet them at Cardiff Castle.
The prize included a fully paid for hotel with a spa, plus a fancy meal at the castle before the band mingled and circulated the tables.
“I spent half the evening going to the toilets to top up my make-up ready for when James came to our table,” Mum said when she recounted the story to me on Boxing Day.
“And was James nice?” I asked.
“I don’t know, I was too drunk and star struck to even think about it,” Mum replied.
For as long as I can remember, there has been a random spoon propped up against the clock at the bottom of the living room stairs at my Mum’s house. Because I’m so used to it, I’ve never really thought to question as to why there’s a random item of cutlery taking pride of place. My Mum has just decided to inform me that it’s a spoon she stole from Cardiff Castle that night!
While I was growing up, my parents had very different tastes when it came to music. My Mum was a fan of the aforementioned Manics, James and U2, whereas my Dad used to fill the house with the sensational chords of Lauryn Hill, LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z and Wyclef Jean.
I have previously posted about how the R&B scene influenced my life from a young age, thanks to my Dad: https://www.carajasminebradley.com/post/a-tribute-to-90-s-00-s-r-b-hangin-out-the-passenger-side-of-his-best-friend-s-ride
The memories I have of driving around the city with my Dad listening to R&B hit after hit are just priceless. The songs that take me back to the nostalgia of this simple bliss time and time again are still classics that I regularly delve into to this day.
I’ve always been fascinated by music and its ability to transport us back in time by the simple art of a few chords.
A good 90% of the songs I listen to are attached to a memory, a person, a feeling, or a moment in time. Some make me weep with a yeanring nostalgia, some make me laugh out loud, and some just make me feel so grateful to have experienced the recollection I am dreaming about.
Music can unite us in so many ways, e.g reconnecting us to a memory of a passed love one, or a spontaneous text between old friends: ‘My Humps by Black Eyed Peas just came on the radio at work – remember when we were obsessed with it in like year 8?!’
The power of music is spectacular.
This blog could well have dragged on for about 55 pages – there are so many songs I could write about! But I’m conscious of not only the word count, but also my ramblings that potentially make absolutely no sense whatsoever to other people, so I have condensed my list of songs that have shaped my life into the limited examples below.
She Moves In Her Own Way – The Kooks
This is my favourite song of all time, which may come as a shock to anybody who knows me, because it isn’t R&B, and it doesn’t include any references to ‘pimps and hoes.’ 🤣
I love this song because it beholds a lot of treasured memories from a few different times of my life.
Primarily, it reminds of the year 2006, which was when it was released. I was 12 years old, and every Sunday morning, I’d go up to the local riding school and take my favourite pony, Billy, out for a long ride in the countryside.
From the outside, this probably isn’t the most thrilling memory to read about, but for me, it just defines the blissful simplicity of those carefree days when I truly believed that I’d never love anybody or anything as much as I loved that pony.
During the summer of 2020, I got back into this song in a big way. This was around the time I’d bought my first house, and I was enjoying my last few weeks with my Mum before moving out. I’d listen to this song on repeat every Sunday morning while I drank in every last detail of the endless hills and gorgeous countryside behind my Mum’s house. Those solo walks alone with this song helped to clear my head of the moving stress, and sadness at leaving behind my childhood home. After my walks, I’d return home for lunch (leftovers from mine and my Mum’s 24 year strong traditional Saturday night feasts), and we’d watch Gavin & Stacey together (we are so like Stacey & Gwen it’s unbelievable!). Again, not the most riveting of memories, but one that means a lot to me, made all the more sentimental by the presence of this timeless song.
Me & Billy in 2006
Beautiful Day – U2
Okay, so: confession... I’m a Leeds United fan! (*Cue about 99% of my readers hastily clicking off my blog is disgust – SORRY!)
When I was younger, I’d regularly go to Elland Road with my Dad. Tuesday night games were my favourite, when Dad would pick me up from school and we’d make the journey across the motorway, sharing Haribo on the way. This was our ultimate ‘football song,’ and we’d always listen to it at least once on the way to Leeds and back.
On 8th May 2010, Leeds beat Bristol Rovers in the most nail-biting game to finally secure promotion into the Championship after years of heartache in League One.
In true Leeds style, the win was right down to the wire, but that only added to the blazing atmosphere that erupted throughout the stadium at the final whistle. Strangers embraced in a state of sheer delirium. I remember looking to my right and seeing a grown man just sat on the steps in disbelief, clutching his scarf, tears rolling down his face.
That afternoon as we were driving slowly away from the ground, my Dad and I wound down the windows of the car and blasted this song out. Crowds of fans started singing along to it in the street. It was such a beautiful moment, on a truly beautiful day.
I Got You – Duke Dumont
This song reminds me of the holiday I took to Malaga in March 2014 - a month before my battle with anorexia began.
One of my favourite places in the whole world is the Gibralfaro Viewpoint in Malaga. The views that bless the eye from the very top of this stunning spot have the power to infinitely inspire.
I stood up at that viewpoint for the first time and I just fell so deeply and utterly in love with Malaga. That very revelation kick-started my desire to see more of the world and eventually work abroad; the very things that ended up pulling me out of anorexia some years later. Those dreams (that would eventually become my reality) kept me going. The memory of those views and the faint tinkle of this song at the back of my mind acted as my medicine while I was going through my darkest days with anorexia.
While travelling solo across Europe in 2015, I returned to Malaga. I sat at the Gibralfaro Viewpoint for hours, listening to this song. And when I moved to Spain, just 20 minutes from this very spot, in early 2016, I spent an emotional afternoon up at the viewpoint, silently thanking the city for the unspoken belief it had unknowingly given me two years before.
I take solace in the realisation that this song and my favourite place will always be there, no matter what life throws at me. That magical view will forever arouse my dreams and give me the courage to pursue them.
My favourite place in Malaga
Lucky Man – The Verve
As mentioned in many of my blogs, 2021 was the year in which my relationship with running changed quite dramatically. Seven and a half years of anorexia had made running my enemy and something I felt painfully compelled to do to keep the voice of oppression satisfied.
In June 2021 – after years of lonely and depressing half marathons in all weathers - I entered my first 10k competition, and it completely changed my life for the better. Competitive running revealed a whole new world of friends, support and immense pride. In a matter of weeks, running flourished into my therapy, my freedom and my absolute everything.
While I have a designated ‘running playlist’ crammed full of fast-paced anthems by The Prodigy and Faithless, this song found its way onto my random shuffle during one of my 2021 running competitions. I was ready to press skip, when the lyrics exploded inside my head, leaving me in tears as I raced along. In that moment, as the sun gently cupped my face in its hands and I realised that I was enjoying running for the first time in years, the lyrics summed up exactly how I felt.
‘Happiness, more or less... It’s just a change in me, something in my liberty...’
Action shot of me placing fourth female in one of my 2021 10k competitions - the smile says it all! ❤️
Proud – Heather Small
My primary school – like quite possibly every single other in England – used to play this as we walked into our assemblies, shortly before they gave out the weekly ‘merit’ awards. Even back then, it ignited a sense of pride within me as I sat on the dusty wooden floor in my sky blue jumper. I mean, back then, I mostly associated pride with the fact that I had kept my Tamagotchi alive for more than two weeks.
Now, I pop this song on if I need a bit of a pick-me up, or if I simply want to have a private five minutes to fully take in and appreciate something I have achieved. Whether it’s a quick listen before a running competition, or a thought-provoking session after having a piece of writing published, this song never fails to take me right back to that little 11 year old version of me in the assembly hall. I am hugely proud of 11 year old me for everything she went on to overcome; everything that made me the person I am today.
Free – Ultra Nate
Every time this song played, my Dad would tell me about his friend who had split up with his wife, quit the job he hated and moved to Greece to open a bar. Dad’s friend told him that this song was playing as he drove to the airport to start his new life, and it’s a story that I have always been enthralled by.
It very much became the soundtrack to my own ‘f**k this’ moment back in 2015. I too quit the job that I loathed, left behind everything and everyone I’d ever know, and went travelling on my own, eventually bagging myself a job abroad.
To honour my Dad’s friend and also in the hope that his bravery and success might rub off on me, I listened to this song on the plane on my way to Venice: the first stop on my travels.
I always feel wistful whenever I hear this song. I admire the bravery of 21 year old me, and her ability to take her life by the balls and not give a shit what people thought. Sometimes I have to remind myself of her gumption and quiet assertiveness, and I hope that I contuine to do her justice.
Loving Paris during my solo European travels 🌎
No Letting Go – Wayne Wonder
Summer 2003 – when I was 8 years old – really cemented my life-long love of R&B. The scene was just ablaze with hit after hit, all summer long. This song, along with many other greats, became the soundtrack to the drives I went on with my Dad. We’d pump Galaxy 102 radio station as loud as it would go and release these bangers through the open windows.
The rest of my classmates were perfecting their S-Club 7 dance moves, and I was there learning raps alongside my Dad.
Rule The World – Take That
My Mum really got into Take That in 2006, during the band’s ‘second wave.’
Listening to Take That instantly puts me in a good mood. Their songs are so uplifting and instrumentally stunning.
Mum and I have been to two Take That concerts. Witnessing this song live just blows me away every time. The lights in the venue are dimmed and a midnight blue shade ebbs across the stage. The audience are encouraged to activate their torch setting and wave their phones above their heads. It takes my breath away, and means so much to me to share it with my Mum.
When I got married in 2019, my Mum walked me down the aisle to this song. I wanted that special moment to be enhanced by a song that exclusively had meaning to me and my Mum. Rule The World was perfect.
Mum walking me down the aisle on my wedding day
99 Problems – Jay-Z
Right, so now that we’ve covered weddings, I might as well mention the song I want played at my funeral!
Jay-Z should be king of the entire universe, in my opinion. His lyrics – particularly his earlier ones – are ingenious and surprisingly poignant (listen to I Made It, if you don’t believe me. It’s about his Mum, and boasts the most gorgeous set of lyrics: I was OK with not having everything as long as Saturdays, you had the Commodores playing. The expression on your face was priceless...).
Jay-Z is a storyteller, an incredibly witty observer, a political educator and a philosopher. He has a breathtaking intelligence and loads his lyrics with clever and thought-provoking tongue twisters.
Anyway, I’m not going to say that this track is one of his most touching tunes, but it is quite possibly his most iconic work, and it’s the tune I want my coffin-bearers to march across the church to.
I Love College – Asher Roth
I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to decide which song to choose to talk about my college life. I could have picked Where Dem Girls At? by David Guetta & Nicki Minaj, Don’t Srop The Party by the Black Eyed Peas, or pretty much anything by Pitbull. (Deffo showing my age here! I went to college between 2011-2013, which basically confirms that I’m a fossil x).
This song was relatively new when I started college, and was the backing track to every single house party throughout those unbeatable three years.
I WISH I could experience just one more of those crazy house parties, surrounded by a 50-strong group of brilliant friends.
College was the absolute time of my life, and this song just sums the experience up flawlessly. (Well, I wasn’t quite as cool as Asher Roth, so you can probably omit the references to alcohol for a tamer beverage such as a Fruit Shoot…)
Top 10 Songs of All Time –
What’s Luv? – Ashanti & Fat Joe
Maneater – Nelly Futardo
No Scrubs – TLC
Through The Wire – Kanye West
The Journey Continues – Mark Brown & Sarah Cracknell
Disco 2000 – PULP
Love Don’t Let Me Go – David Guetta
Thank You – Dido
Flowers In The Window – Travis
Drinking in LA – Bran Van 3000
Top 5 Bands –
Salt & Pepa
Top 5 Female Artists –
Lana Del Rey
+ Can I also include Sophie Ellis-Bextor because she’s my girl crush?!
Top 5 Male Artists –
Kanye (the OLD Kanye)
Top 5 Albums –
Eye To The Telescope – KT Tunstall
Kingdom Come – Jay-Z
Graduation – Kanye West
Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor – Caro Emerald
AM – Arctic Monkeys
Top 5 Favourite Lyrics -
‘For a lonely soul, you’re having such a nice time’
- Keane: Nothing In My Way
‘Come on baby blue, shake up your tired eyes the world is waiting for you… May all your dreaming fill the empty skies.’
- Oasis: Let There Be Love
‘But they gon’ have to take my life before they take my drive, because when I was barely living that’s what kept me alive’
- Kayne West: Bring Me Down
‘Now how dare he have her heart, when it got stole. So he tries to pacify her, but what’s inside her never dies...’
- Amy Winehouse: He Can Only Hold Her
‘All your dreams are made of strawberry lemonade’
- Oasis: Talk Tonight
Cara Jasmine Bradley