Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Mandy's Essential Playlist


Mandy's Essential Playlist, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, spotify playlist, the story of my life


Music, one of the very most important things to me, when I am happy I listen to music almost every day all day, when I'm out I have my earbuds in and when I'm at home I stream it all around the house.  When I am depressed or sad or having mental health issues, the first thing that goes is my enjoyment of music, it begins to sound too loud and becomes uncomfortable but at its heart, music is one of the greatest loves of my life.

I've talked about music on my blog on several occasions and I've written about music for at least 5 years before the pandemic, I have reviewed so much music and had very few bad experiences because, for me, live music will always be like magic.

I wanted to compile an essential playlist for a friend but what became clear, very quickly was that for each track I was going to add to my playlist I would also need to annotate why that particular piece of music is important to me.  After 30 minutes I realised the gargantuan task that I'd just set myself in a throwaway comment.  Compiling a playlist of every song that is important to me would probably take a month and where would I start?  If I go back in time with my musical history, I could go all the way to Chopin, Holst, Gershwin and listening to a playlist that goes all the way from the 19th century probably isn't consumable in one easy sitting.  My history of musicals alone goes from George and Ira Gershwin and covers at least 100 years of music.

So let's say this is my first essential playlist and there are probably 10 more deep cut playlists for every single genre because really, I love music from so many genres, from jazz to rock to country to uplifting house and even my hatred of rap music was questioned when I heard the Hamilton soundtrack for the first time, yes it's a musical but if it isn't rap music in there then what is it?

So, let me start by saying that when I compiled this on Spotify, I didn't organise it by history (and yes, I am sure that's going to annoy some people). I simply pulled the music from various playlists that I play endlessly.  I do add new music to my playlists but there are core tracks that will always be there. This entire playlist may not be to your taste but I am unapologetic about the music that is on it, musical education is never wasted.

Mandy's Essential Playlist (click that link to listen on Spotify)

  1. Blackbird - The Beatles.  I feel like I came to The Beatles quite late but I've been lucky enough to see The Bootleg Beatles live which were about as near as you can get today as well as extensively listening to their music.  Blackbird is such a simple song but it's also beautiful.
  2. God Only Knows - The Beach Boys.  I was writing for an online site a few years ago and had the honour of attending a concert, it was shortly after the atrocities of Manchester Arena and security was so high just to get into Sage Gateshead but they completely blew me away.  God Only Knows will always touch my heart, the lyrics in the second verse get me every time
  3. Zac and Sara - Ben Folds.  I saw this performed live when Ben Folds came to the northeast a few years ago, there's just something joyous about the heavy-handed piano style of Ben Folds and the complex lyrics of this song, there really is everything in this song if you listen to it.
  4. Us - Regina Spektor.  I discovered this song from watching the movie 500 days of summer and it became one of the most iconic pieces of my life, in 2010 it was one of 3 songs I chose to be played at the vow renewal of me and my then-husband, I had to reclaim this song after we separated because I loved it so much and I didn't want to not be able to play it again.  I play it now and it reminds me of a time and place in my life and I think it's important that we don't erase those memories because everything brings us to the place where we are now and the person we have become.
  5. Leave a Light On - Belinda Carlisle, this was a difficult choice because the Runaway Horses album defined the summer of my fifteenth year on earth, I managed to see this whole album performed just a couple of years ago for its 30th anniversary, I went on my own and I loved every single second, this was the soundtrack to my teenage years and to my first experience of love and all of the complexities that come with it.
  6. Prelude/Angry Young Man - Billy Joel.  I have loved Billy Joel since I was 11 years old and received the Innocent Man cassette for my birthday, Billy has such an eclectic style that it just makes me happy.  I may not have seen him in concert but I have seen Elio Pace who performs "The Billy Joel Songbook" 3 times, he sounds more like Billy Joel than Billy Joel and when he starts the show with Prelude/Angry Young Man, I always get that intense ASMR reaction.
  7. Old Town - The Coors.  The Coors were the soundtrack of my mid-twenties, or at least my weekday soundtrack, my weekends were mainly made up of euphoric house music but I remember working in the men's department at House of Fraser in the Metrocentre and being able to take in my own CD's and I used to play this track a lot because it's happy and bouncy and I am at my best when I am happy and bouncy
  8. Greatest Day - Take That.  I have seen Take That live about 4 times now and this song is anthemic, when I hear it, it's so full of promise, and the reality is, every day could be the greatest day of your life.  I will always love Take That, they're the soundtrack to my life in two parts.
  9. Proud, Heather Small.  This is another anthem, every day you should ask what you've done today to make you feel proud and if you're guessing the theme, I love uplifting music, I also love Miranda and you can't listen to Proud without thinking about Miranda.  A couple of years ago I arrived at a festival just as Heather Small came out and when she sang Proud I cried because I was so happy to hear her sing it live.
  10. Bad Habit, Ben Platt.  This is a pretty new addition to my ultimate playlist, I discovered Ben Platt through Dear Evan Hansen and when he started to produce his own music, I fell in love with it, this one has the lyrics "Someone to quiet the voices in my head, make the sing to me instead, you do" and really, those lyrics about having anxiety and wanting to be with people who make you feel happy, well that's what the meaning of life is to me
  11. Waving Through a Window, Ben Platt.  Two mentions on one list but this is my favourite song from Dear Evan Hansen written by Pasek and Paul who also wrote the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman.  Dear Evan Hansen is the show I was going to see before the pandemic, it's probably my favourite musical now and I think it's because it's about fitting in, I never fitted in, I have always been different and whether you're growing up or an adult, wanting to desperately fit in can be hard, this song really sums that up and the anxiety that goes beside it.
  12. Defying Gravity, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.  Wicked, the musical, saved my life and I am unapologetic about my love for it.  I was in a really dark place when Elphaba came along and told the world that she might be different but she was going to do things on her own terms. I love this musical so much that I've seen it live at least 3 times and it was the first West End musical I took my daughters to see, Looby was only just about to be 4 at the time and we've all loved Wicked ever since.
  13. Heroes, David Bowie.  David Bowie, obviously a genius and yet, I love this song not because of him but because of Moulin Rouge, it features in the Elephant Love Medley and the lyrics sang to me "Though nothing, will keep us together, we could steal time, just for one day" I love that lyric so much, I can't promise my entire life to someone nor would I expect them to do the same of me but those days where no one else matters, the days which never end like a little bubble of time, maybe they're the meaning of life.
  14. Mr Brightside, The Killers.  If there's ever a party this is the one where everyone is on the dancefloor, arms in the air, completely euphoric, I bloody love this song.
  15. Mr Blue Sky, ELO.  This is such a happy song but there's an amazing string section in there and when you play it loud it makes you want to dance.  It also features in one of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who, I love it, my children love it and if there was ever a happy road trip playlist, this always features on it.
  16. I've got the music in me, Kiki Dee.  So I've always loved this song and then last year I watched Zoe's Extraordinary Playlist and this was in an episode which made me want to do a Flashmob before I was 50, I have 2.5 years left and one day, flashmobs will be allowed again, it's the ultimate dancing down the street, singing at the top of your voice kind of song and during lockdown I'd play it in the garden, singing it loudly because it made me feel happier and then one day my neighbours came out and said how they would hear me singing and they'd love it.  We have been friends ever since even though they've all moved back to India.
  17. Don't You, Forget About Me, Simple Minds.  Classic 80's song and The Breakfast Club, was there ever a more iconic 80's movie, I was in love with half of the Brat Pack and I still love the movies today, I also love when the Barden Bella's sing this and you'll only get that reference if you love the Pitch Perfect movies as much as I do.
  18. St Elmo's Fire, Man in Motion, John Parr.  Obviously, I was now onto the '80s. Brat Pack vibe and my favourite of all of the Brat Pack movies, St Elmo's Fire, I don't know how many times I have watched this movie but I will love it until the day I die!
  19. New York State of Mind, Barbra Streisand.  I was really conflicted about this one as iconically Billy Joel wrote it and he'd already had a mention.  Barbra, my ultimate diva, well I couldn't decide on which song from her amazing back catalogue I wanted to include but if I had not added any Streisand to my essential playlist then it would not have been my playlist.  I discovered Barbra in my early 20's and fell in love, she's one of the most celebrated female musical icons of our time.
  20. Black Eyed Boy, Texas.  I'm going to say a word which might instil in you a deep fear or loathing or both but for many years, this was my favourite Karaoke song.  In my mid-twenties when I would go out partying we'd go to the club, we'd dance around with our arms in the air and then quite often we'd end up back at my house which was pretty much at hovel at that time and we'd put on the tunes and do some karaoke, they were some of the best times of my life and I regret nothing.
  21. Bittersweet Symphony, The Verve.  Did you know that the piece of classical music at the start of this isn't really classical music?  It's just written in the style of a great symphony but oh those strings and that orchestra make my heart sing.
  22. Love of My Life - Queen.  The song that Freddie wrote for his muse and lover Mary Austin, it's simply a beautiful song and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me.
  23. We are Family, Sister Sledge.  I play this at every party I have, I love it as a piece of uplifting disco and I honestly believe the people I have in my life now, they're my very real and wonderful family.
  24. This Woman's Work, Kate Bush.  If you have ever seen the video for this or if you have seen it in She's Having a Baby, the 80's Kevin Bacon movie, you will probably have shed a tear, anyone who's a mum will understand this song.  It's haunting, it's so quiet and yet powerful.
  25. Labour of Love, Hue and Cry, some of my favourite Scottish songsters, my love for their music began in the 80's and this song, part song and part major political message, well by the end you're left in no doubt where the political affiliations of the Kane brothers.
  26. Fergus sings the Blues, Deacon Blue.  My youth in the '80s was accompanied by Deacon Blue and though the popular choice might be to go for Dignity, I remember playing this over and over on the jukebox in the village pub in my latter teenage years and still listen to it today with a spring in my step.
  27. Say a Little Prayer, Aretha Franklin.  I don't even have to give an explanation, it's Aretha, I love northern soul and this is one of the most iconic songs of all time ever!
  28. This could be (an everlasting love) Natalie Cole.  Not only does this feature in my favourite Christmas movie, The Holiday, it's also so happy and upbeat, but it's also a song that is filled with hope and we all need a little hope in our lives.
  29. Come What May, Nicole Kidman and Ewan Mcgregor.  My favourite movie musical of all time, the third of Baz Luhrmann's red curtain trilogy and the only original song to feature in the jukebox musical, it was written originally to go into Romeo and Juliet and it just didn't fit and so when he went on to Moulin Rouge and needed the "lovers secret song" this was it and honestly, any man who can sing to me like Ewan Mcgregor, I'll fall in love with in about 3 seconds.
  30. A Thousand Miles, Vanessa Carlton.  This song is probably one of the most listened to songs since it was first released in 2002 and I have listened to this at least once a month since then, if this song doesn't make you feel a little something with its upbeat twinkly piano medley then you might just have to check you're actually alive.

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