Songs of Significance
August 9th, 2004 by Jessica

I’ve been thinking of putting together a scrapbook album of all the concerts that I have attended. Also another thought was to chronicle the songs in my life that have significance in some way, to record them for prosperity. What better an outlet for collecting thoughts than my Blog?

Here are 31 songs with an important attachment to my life, thus far, in chronological order.

01. Jessica by The Allman Brothers
I’m named after it. My DaD says, “Although the song is a free-spirited, wide ranging 10 minute instrumental packed with intricate keyboards and incendiary blues guitar riffs, mixing the subtle with the outrageous, it somehow all went together and came out a classic!” Sure sounds like me, doesn’t it?

02. Material Girl by Madonna
Madonna is to this day one of my very, very few heroes. She is strong, talented, open minded, courageous, and opinionated. Everything I love in a person, encompassed into one very attracted, extraordinary musician! Material Girl is important because as a young 6-year old Madonna wannabe, I would have contended with you for hours that the song was called “Mamma’s Cheerio Girl.” I guess I’m a little opinionated myself; regardless of how wrong I was!

03. California Girls by Van Halen
I truly believed that this song was written about me and my friends, growing up on California Street in the Genessee Gardens section of Bridgeport, Michigan. Oh how wrong I was! At 7, I just didn’t know any better.

04. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!
This catapulted George Michael into my top 2 artists of all time (up there with Madonna). Even at the age of 7, I was totally and completely in love with George. To prove it, I even went so far as to officially have my Cabbage Patch Doll renamed “George Michael.” I was in love with him and we were going to get married someday. (How was I supposed to know he was gay?)

05. Broken Wings by Mr. Mister
Oh David Boensch, how you have impacted my life without knowing it! It was third grade, age 8, and David broke my heart. The first really big crush of my life was just that – crushed – every time David made fun of me. He even hung up on me after I suffered through eating one entire Wendy’s hamburger (ewy ucky icky pewky nasty ucky ICK!) just for the privilege to call him one evening. This song was my only release from heartache; I sang it at the top of my lungs every day.

06. Dude Looks Like a Lady by Aerosmith
I met my best friend, Jennifer Strachan, on the first day of Fifth Grade in Mr. Cooper’s Class at Harvey E. Kauffman Elementary School in Bridgeport. We clicked so fast you’d think we were literally attached at the hip. We used to roller skate to school in the spring of fifth grade together, screaming this classic at the top of our 10-year old lungs and gathering very funny looks from the neighbors along the 5-block path.

07. Funkytown by Lipps Inc.
I still don’t remember how we got hold of this 45 record. It might have been part of my DaD’s growing DJ collection, or one of Jennie’s mother’s records. We thought this was one of the funniest songs we had ever heard! Jennie and I used to replay this record over and over on her phonograph at her home on N. Porter Street in Saginaw. We made it sound even funnier when making up voices to sing it in.

08. Once Bitten Twice Shy by White Snake
My Mom is a bartender in a little town called Mio, Michigan at the Mio Saloon. During the summers, I spent a lot of time there in the bar (not unusual) singing songs off the jukebox and playing the old bar piano for the patrons. Between sixth and seventh grade, this was the most popular song on that jukebox. One very attractive gentleman at the bar would often sing along with me. I didn’t realize that he was a drunken scumbag until much later – but had fun singing with him when I didn’t know any better!

09. Sweet Child ‘O Mine by Guns & Roses
We have Jeff Salmen to thank for this one, my classmate at Bridgeport Middle School in the sixth grade. I spent a lot of my time roller skating at Bridgeport Roller Rink with Jennie, where Jeff also frequently could be found asking me to ‘go with him’ and begging me to slow-skate with him. He wrote in my yearbook, “To a girl I asked to go with me 67 times and SHE SAID NO!” Jeff used to serenade me with “Take me down to the Paradise City where the GIRLS are green and the GRASS is pretty!”

10. Into The Night by Benny Mardones
I began to help my DaD with DJ shows about this time for weddings and banquets. This was about 1989 and seventh grade. Benny sang his heart out with Into The Night, and it signified for me what I hoped every boyfriend at the time would do – sweep me off my feet and be so romantic I would love him forever. Luckily for my husband, none of my then-boyfriends fit the bill.

11. Ballade Por Adeline by Richard Clayderman
This one is an instrumental piano solo that I played during my second recital at Bridgeport High School in 1990. It was probably the most technically difficult song I have ever played, and I was so nervous to play it in front of 30 people! I still love hearing the song, although I must say that I have never liked a rendition better than the one that I played in 1990. (Ok, maybe I am biased?)

12. Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice
Picture this: The Eighth Grade Talent Show at Bridgeport Middle School. Each act was allowed to pick its own song to play. Out of ten acts, four of them chose Ice Ice Baby! This was the height of Vanilla’s success, and we soaked up every iced fleck of it. This song could not have been cooler – we totally dug every stolen riff of it!

13. Baby Baby by Amy Grant
My first true love was Matt Wright. Matt and I started dating in 1990 and were on and off again for a year or so. He was my first kiss – right about the time that this song was introduced. It encompassed everything I felt about Matt at that time. I loved it so much I learned to play it on the piano the best I could, although I don’t think I ever told him that…

14. Everything I do (I do it for You) by Bryan Adams
Please, anyone with a shotgun – PLEASE kill this song! That is how I felt about Mr. Adams’ #1 hit in 1991. Being a DJ with my Dad, we must have had 30 brides in a row pick this damn song as their wedding song. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to erase a song from my memory more than this sappy dramatic piece of crap!

15. Do Me by Bel Biv DeVoe
Heading into high school, I was also coming of age in many other ways. This song was a very naughty signifier of what I wished I could do with whatever boyfriend I was with at that time. I think because I knew it was naughty, I liked it even more! Part of me wonders though, would I want my 14-year old listening to these lyrics? I doubt it!

16. Cold Hearted by Paula Abdul
Oh my… this one brings back memories. Freshman year, my friends Angie Grunow and Jaime Cutliff decided to perform in the Mock Rock at Heritage High School in Saginaw, Michigan. We chose this little dance number, bought matching outfits (shorts and solid color t-shirts) and practiced, practiced, practiced! I was SO nervous to get up on that stage… and for good reason. We were terrible, we were literally laughed off the stage! How humilating!

17. More Than Words by Extreme
This song always struck me as a beautiful ballad and the words were perfect. This was the song of my Dad’s and his girlfriend at the time, from what I understand. In 1992, I was learning my voice and loved to try it out on this melody. Not to mention, I thought the boys of Extreme were, shall I say, gorgeous? Their long hair put me over the edge of giddiness.

18. Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode
My sister was huge into Depeche Mode and the club scene in 1992, and as she went off to college I was still listening to the Smiths and Depeche Mode and others of the genre. She told me once that she met a guy on the dance floor of a club in Miami Beach on Spring Break in 1992 and began dancing with him when the awesome dance center of this song came on. He later became the father of her first child, therefore etching this song into the culturally significant once of my life. Without it, there might not be an Ashley!

19. Sir Psycho Sexy by Red Hot Chili Peppers
It was July of 1993, and Nathan was my ‘first’. I met him online, a tall skinny guy from Freeland, he kicked off a whole mass of boyfriends one right after the other. This was around the same time RHCP released Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which quickly became one of my favorite albums of all time. This song, Sir Psycho Sexy, was so sick it was awesome! Nathan, whose online name was Psycho, fit the bill. Psycho. I should have KNOWN better. One time, he tagged a bridge in Freeland with spraypaint, and couldn’t even figure out how to spell his handle. PSYCO. That, ladies and gentleman, summed him up nicely.

20. Under The Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Woe is me; at 15 I was so depressed you could barely see my eye color because they were always looking away at something else. I used to hang out with my cousin Jeff at the train bridge up West Michigan Avenue in Saginaw Township, and this song happened to come out around that same time. I used to run out over the river on these tracks, which today I would NOT do, and jump underneath the tracks onto the big cement pillars with Jeff. I would envision jumping down into the river and never coming back; this song helped to cement that thought into my head. Music can be healing or harming, depending on your disposition in the world…

21. Storms in Africa by Enya
Before my Junior year at Heritage High School in Saginaw, I attended a Band Camp at Central Michigan University to learn Colorguard for my school. This was the song we used to learn an entire routine for show at the end of the camp to our families. We had to learn the entire thing in just 5 days and put it on at the end, showing the techniques and the teamwork we had learned. It was one of the hardest things I had done to that point, and it’s all on video tape. I hope I’m never famous! 🙂

22. Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp
First at age 8, I thought that when my Mom (Diane) decided to leave our family that she probably ran off with some guy named Jack. Not quite; his name was *exploitive deleted*. Later, when I had forgotten this idea, I listened to this song in my car, driving for the first time by myself, on my 16th birthday. What a rush! My sixteenth birthday, all by myself! “Hold onto 16 as long as you can; changes come around real soon, make us women and men.” Boy did that hold true for me!

23. Theme to Romeo and Juliet by the Heritage High School Marching Band
This was our theme song for the 1993-1994 marching year at HHS. One of the most difficult things I endured was hundreds of positions on a football field, coordinated with hundreds of flag and rifle moves combined with multitudes of altering wind conditions. I’ve never really liked Romeo and Juliet, but this theme was beautiful as played by the band. Looking back, I realized how uncoordinated we were, and the band was always out of sync – but I thought it was wonderful at the time!

24. Why Go by Pearl Jam
This song is about a girl whose parents put her into a mental institution, and she sees no point of wanting to get better to go home to her ‘family.’ My depression had hit me so hard that I wanted to be that girl. In fact, most of the album Ten by Pearl Jam can sum up my life at age 16 and 17. My mom’s twin brother had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for trying to kill his wife, and I really felt bad for him. I tried to visit him a few times but the staff would not let me. It was just another blow, and I felt like I would never get past the feelings in my life. (Thank goodness it did, eventually, pass.)

25. November Rain by Guns & Roses
This lovely song was the one that my high school sweetheart Corey and I chose (unofficially) as ‘our song’ for our relationship. However, our official song was “When It’s Love” by Van Halen. I didn’t realize November Rain related to death and heartache. Maybe he did? Who knows?!

26. Can’t Be Sure by The Sundays
Near the end of my Junior year of high school, this song became our Winterguard routine’s anthem. I had never heard of The Sundays before, but this song is ingrained into my skull along with each flag toss, formation change, pole swap and gymnasium layout in central Michigan. We sucked. I mean, we really sucked. One time we got second place because there were only two teams competing! That was our best claim to fame. I think we earned last place every single time we competed. I didn’t realize how bad we were until I looked back on the tapes a few years ago… and nearly cried from sadness and laughter both at once!

27. Black Sunshine by White Zombie
To this day, I have not heard too many songs to rival this one with poetic license. The introduction lyrics are mesmerizing in their quality; when accompanied by the music, the whole package is fascinating. A poet by nature, I always try to find beauty in words and have always felt this song to be one of the best ever. It may not be beautiful in a traditional sense, but cleverness wins with this classic. Incidentally, the only other song I have felt this way about is “Drops of Jupiter” by Train.

28. I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred
Milan, New York and Japan! I was too sexy for that song, for sure. My senior year of high school, we performed this gem in Spanish for the Spanish French Club annual talent show. I was “Milan”! I held a giant cutout of Italy and strutted down that catwalk just like the men in the video. Soy tan sexy para Milan!

29. Wannabe by The Spice Girls
There was only one thing I wanted to be when Wannabe came out – with this total hunk I met my sophomore year of college! He was unbelievably attractive, mysterious, intelligent, funny… everything I had ever wanted in a man. We went out bowling on one of our first dates, to Cosmic Bowl in Scottsdale. Wannabe came on, as loud as it could be – and we danced and jigga-jig-ahh’d the night away. If The Spice Girls had not got Andrew to open up that night… we might not be married today! Thank goodness for significant songs like this!

30. Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega
Catchy, fun, and a huge international smash hit – what more could you ask for? Oh and I forgot to mention, it was totally all about ME! Hearing my name on the airwaves always gives me a rush of sexy confidence. I was one of Lou’s special girls, “A little bit of Jessica here I am, a little bit of you makes me your man!” Especially since I was the last word in a string of girls including Monica, Ericka, Rita, Tina, Sandra, and Mary… forget about them, it was Jessica who stole the show! *LOL*

31. The One by Elton John
I learned to play this song on the piano when I was 17 because I loved the video so much. It features two people, embracing together on the floor, totally naked but tasteful – revolving in a circle with shadows and lights emblazoning their skin in the darkness. I fell in love with this imagery and felt that if I could ever feel such beautiful love, that it would have to last forever. Fortunately I found that love, and when we married on February 2, 2002, The One was our wedding song. (NOT that damn Bryan Adams tune.)

So there you have it: thirty-one songs that have impacted my life in some way or another. I hope you enjoyed this voyage and that it helps persuade you to chronicle something similar for others to read and envision in the same way.

Oh, and if you happen to do the same – I’d love to read it!

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