Songs For The Soul

There are certain songs that just do it, something magical, emotional, primitive, evocative. Songs are even used to define where we stand in our culture or our world, particularly when we are young, but later and when we should know better too! The songs and sounds might define our dress and hair-style, piercings, tattoos, even the face we present to the world. Was your Dad a hippie, a Mod, a Rocker; you used to be grunge, but now you're more house and R & B, but didn't I catch you listening to Will Young?

Songs also tell the stories of our times and sometimes become emblems of a defining time of change, when the young can say something to the old order about new values, or less significantly arrive at a time when it's clear the old fogies just don't get it, the Beatles are dead, and trance or hip-hop is part of our lives and not just as you say some tuneless repetitive racket!!

At a personal level, songs that stay with us speak of our hopes and despair, our loves and our let-downs, our anger and our wishes for a kinder, more compassionate world for the next generation of children to grow up in.

These are some of the reasons that I include popular songs in my peer support training programmes. Students can choose a number (boy, that ages me!) that means something to them and play it and talk about it and deal with reactions and comments about it and its meanings. If a student chooses to bring a poem, painting, classical piece, or even haul in their unmade bed, well rules are made to be interpreted and extended!

Categorizing, like comparison, is odious. Ask a writer what their song is about and they're entitled to say, "It's about 3 minutes, but I can play it faster if you're in a hurry!" What any work meant when it was written and what it means to you, and after a passage of time, can be quite different things. So, in the lists that follow the intention of the "and" is that my take on the song's theme is likely to be only part of the story. Some of you might even think that it was never about that in the first place! Or perhaps you'd put it in a different box. Or maybe you'd start again, since inevitably my list is biased by taste and the sounds of my younger years! Your own comments and suggestions would be most welcome.

In revising this page, as well as adding a few songs, I have also put in a short extract from the lyrics, which I hope will act as a reminder, and hopefully capture something of the song's theme.

Songs of Anger and..

My Generation   The Who   Why don't you all f-f-f-fade away!
That's Entertainment   The Jam/Paul Weller   An electric train and a ripped-up phone-booth
Anarchy in the UK     The Sex Pistols   I wanna be an anarchist get pissed destroy
We Don't Need No Education   Pink Floyd   ...dark sarcasm in the classroom

Songs of Loss and..

Without You   Nilsson   You always smile but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yesterday    Beatles I need a place to hide away
Fire and Rain   James Taylor   always thought that I'd see you again
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'    Righteous Brothers  baby, something beautiful's dying
I Heard It Through the Grapevine    Marvin Gaye  I bet you're wond'ring how I knew...
Nothing Compares to U   Sinead O'Connor   nothing can take away these blues
Heartbreak Hotel    Elvis Presley  It's down on the end of Lonely Street

Songs of Changing Times and..

Anything Goes   Lyrics by Cole Porter   Good authors too who once knew better words Now only write four-letter words writing prose
The Times They Are a-Changing    Bob Dylan  Your sons and your daughters are beyond your control
Woodstock    Matthews' Southern Comfort/Joni Mitchell  I dreamed I saw the bombers riding shotgun in the sky Turning into butterflies above our nation
What's Goin' On?    Marvin Gaye  Talk to me so you can see What's Going On
God Save the Queen    Sex Pistols  Don't be told what you want
Smells Like Teen Spirit    Nirvana  Load up on guns and bring your friends

Songs of Hope and..

Fast Car   Tracy Chapman  You've got a fast car Is it fast enough so you can fly away? You gotta make a decision Leave tonight or live and die this way.
Stand By Me    Ben E King  ...whenever you're in trouble
Theme from "Friends" - (I'll Be There For You)   The Rembrandts  'cause you're there for me too
You Can Get It if You Really Want    Jimmy Cliff  ...try and try, you'll succeed at last
Somewhere Over The Rainbow    Judy Garland/Eva Cassidy  the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true
Celebration    Kool and the Gang  Everyone around the world, come on!
All You Need Is Love    The Beatles  da-da-da-da-daah!
I Have A Dream    Abba  ...something good in everything I see
Shiny Happy People    REM  Throw your love around, love me, love me
We Are the Champions    Queen  and we'll keep on fighting to the end
Lean On Me    Bill Withers  ...when you're not strong
Good Vibrations    Beach Boys  Gotta keep those love-good vibrations happenin' with her
You'll Never Walk Alone (from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "Carousel")    Gerry and the Pacemakers   At the end of a storm there's a golden sky...
Wonderful World    Louis Armstrong  Skies of blue clouds of white Bright blessed days warm sacred nights

Songs of Anorexia and..

4 Stone 7    Manic Street Preachers  I want to walk in the snow and not soil its purity
Ana's Song    Silverchair  You're my obsession I love you to the bones

Songs of Betrayal and..

I Put A Spell On You    Nina Simone  ...because you're mine
I Can See For Miles    The Who  I know you've deceived me now here's a surprise I know that you have 'cause there's magic in my eyes
Can't Stand Losing    The Police  You'll be sorry when I'm dead And all this guilt will be on your head
Careless Whisper    George Michael  I should have known better than to cheat a friend

Songs of Drugs and Booze and..

Mr Tambourine Man    Bob Dylan  Yes to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Sorted For Es and Wizz    Pulp   What if you never come down?
Waiting For The Man    Lou Reed  Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive, I'm waiting for my man
The Drugs Don't Work    The Verve  ...they just make you worse
Binge    Papa Roach  When I'm sober life bores me so I get drunk again
Cocaine    JJ Cale/Clapton  If you got bad news, you wanna kick them blues, Cocaine
Cold Turkey    John Lennon  My feet are so heavy, so is my head, I wish I was a baby, I wish I was dead
Golden Brown    The Stranglers  ...never a frown with Golden Brown
The Needle and the Damage Done   Neil Young   I watched the needle take another man

Songs of Sexual Orientation and..

Lola    The Kinks a dark brown voice she said"Lola"
Closet Man    Dusty Springfield  ...come out into the light
Tainted Love    Soft Cell  ...I give you all a boy can give you
Relax   Frankie Goes To Hollywood  When you want to, go to it!

Songs of Suicide and..

Theme From M*A*S*H*(Suicide Is Painless)   Writers Mandel/Altman  The pain of life will pierce our skin
Jeremy    Pearl Jam  Jeremy spoke in class today
Ev'rybody Hurts    REM  Hold on...
Fade To Black    Metallica  Emptiness is filling me to the point of agony
No Hero    The Offspring  I should have known you went through it alone
Grace    Jeff Buckley  Wait in the fire

Songs of the Struggles of Adolescence and..

Pictures of Lily    The Who  ...helped me sleep at night
1979    Smashing Pumpkins  cool kids never had the time
The Living Years    Mike and the Mechanics  I wish I could have told him in the living years
At Seventeen    Janis Ian  The Friday night parades of youth were meant for one more beautiful...
Come on Eileen    Dexy's Midnight Runners  I swear at this moment you mean everything
Don't Stand So Close To Me    The Police  Strong words in the staffroom The accusations fly

Songs of Protest and..

Sunday Bloody Sunday    U2  Bodies strewn across a dead-end street
19    Paul Hardcastle  Destruction of men in their prime whose average age was 19
Streets of Philadelphia    Bruce Springsteen  So receive me brother with your faithless kiss Or will we leave each other alone like this...
Biko    Peter Gabriel  ...only one colour dead
Strange Fruit    Billie Holliday  Southern trees bear strange fruit Blood on the leaves Blood on the root
War (What Is It Good For?)    Edwin Starr  absolutely nothing!
Galveston    Glenn Campbell  I clean my gun and dream of Galveston

Songs of Losing Your Mind and..

Mad World    Tears for Fears/Gary Jules   Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow No tomorrow, no tomorrow.
Man Of The World    Fleetwood Mac  And there's no-one I'd rather be But I just wish that I'd never been born
19th Nervous Breakdown    Rolling Stones  Nothing I do don't seem to work It only seems to make matters worse
Paranoid    Black Sabbath  Happiness I cannot feel so love to me is so unreal
Angie Baby    Helen Reddy  Folks hoping you'd turn out cool But they had to take you out of school You're a little touched you know...
Sweating Bullets    Megadeth  Anxiety's attacking me and my air is getting thin
Fell on Black Days    Soundgarden  How would I know that this could be my fate?
Suicidal Dream    Silverchair   I dream about how it's going to end

A couple of books worth checking out!

Michael Heatley with Spencer Leigh, (1998), Behind the Song.
ISBN: 0-7137-2651-2
Steve Turner, (1995) A Hard Day's Write (guess whose songs that's about!)
ISBN: 0-316-87871-5

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