If Your Life Were A Song…

What would it sound like? Name that life song.

I posed this question to family members at a recent party.

Spouse Anita had the great idea to put up a poster-sized piece of paper. She wrote everyone’s name across the top and added 2 questions down the left side with room for more questions below.

life chart containing life song

The result was a grid where each person had a column of space in which to write their answers.

Even though we all know each other pretty well, being family and all, many answers were surprising. This process stimulated interesting conversations and spurred new connections with each other.

As a matter of fact, when niece Emma and I both answered the question “what’s one thing on your bucket list?” exactly the same, at the same time (travel the world), we started a conversation about taking a trip together in the next few years.

I gotta admit. I wasn’t too keen on the idea when Anita first suggested it. In hindsight, I’m quite happy. Just wait until you hear what I learned about my relatives.

I wrote out this question: If your life were a song, what would it be? Name that tune! Naturally, the answers were delightfully varied.

Here’s the list of song titles and artist/composer:

  • Holes to Heaven, Jack Johnson
  • Railroad Track, Willie Moon
  • Get up Stand Up, Bob Marley
  • Summer, Calvin Harris
  • There’s No Business Like Show Business (our family version)
  • Greater, Mercy Me
  • Affirmation, Savage Garden
  • This Little Light of Mine, Harry Dixon Loes
  • Holocene, Bon Iver
  • Impossible Dream, Mitch Leigh
  • May I Be Filled With Loving Kindness, Carola Lacy

That last one is an original song written by the family matriarch, Carola. Intrigued by the title, I asked Carola about it. When she said she wrote it and offered to sing it for me, I whipped out my smart phone and recorded it for posterity.

Now to listen to them!

I created a playlist of all the songs so you can follow along. If a description below intrigues you, give a listen.

Holes to Heaven. This life song represents someone’s love of travel. It would fit on any road trip mix tape*. Laid back energy, fueled by a simple ostinato** grooving down the road. [The YouTube video of Holes to Heaven has been removed by the Youtube account user.]

railroad track life song

Railroad Track. Ominous church bells ringing in a thunderstorm. Another song with a strong ostinato, but not laid back in the least. The music video suggests the song is about the demise of urban life. This person’s choice reflects her adroit political sense.

Get Up Stand Up. Stand up to power reggae song from 1980. The personal is political as expressed by Bob Marley.

You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can’t fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah!)

Summer. Brit Calvin Harris’ hot summer pop tune is heavy on synths and a driving dance beat. Electronica Dance. Is that a genre? Sure.

There’s No Business Like Show Business. One of the family members wrote this song title and the added note “our family version”. The words are rewritten to be sung at the annual DaVinci Days Kinetic Sculpture Race. Here is the first stanza.

Let’s Go On With The Race
Sung to the tune of There’s No Business Like Show Business.
There’s NO chal-lenge like RACE-ing a
ki-NE-tic ve-hi-CLE!
EV-ery-thing a-BOUT it is ap-PALL-ing!
ALL the sweat and BRUISE-s, tears and BLOOD!
NO-where you’re more LIKE-ly to be STALL-ing
than when you’re FALL-ing in goo-ey MUD!

greater life song

Greater. Images of covered wagons crossing the plains open this music video and they set the stage for the country feel of this faith-based song.

Affirmation. Another synth-filled pop dance tune. And then you hear the lyric. Each line is a statement, an affirmation beginning “I believe…” Positive, uplifting, energetic, heroic.

I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people’s hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it’s bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem
I believe I’m loved when I’m completely by myself alone

This Little Light of Mine. This surprised me. Looking for a YouTube video to add to the playlist, I found not only the Gospel renditions, but also a Country version by Addison Road. I’m including a Gospel version in the playlist. This song has a simple but powerful message. A great way to live one’s life.

Holocene. This is one of the most interesting songs that I listened to. I think because it defies genre. Sure, there’s some pop elements, alternative rock elements. The form is a bit unusual: verse, chorus, verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus. I like the music even though I can’t really say what it is about. The music is insistent and layered. And the rare use of wind instruments: clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, and trumpet – all featured in a sort of bridge before the last verse and chorus.

Impossible Dream. Hard to write about this song. I chose this as my life song. Impossible Dream is a song of hope and daring to dream for a better life. From the musical “Man of La Mancha”. I love how the melodic line builds, soaring ever higher with more aspirations and higher pitches. I also chose this song rather tongue in cheek. To say, “I can’t choose ONE song to represent my life! That’s Impossible!”

May I Be Filled With Loving Kindness. It’s fitting that we close with this song. This is a life song we could all get behind.

May I be filled with loving kindness
May I be peaceful and calm
May I be protected from dangers be they large or small
May my mind be free from hatred
May my heart be filled instead with love
For as i draw my friendship circle
Come step inside this circle with me
Yes! come step inside this circle with me
May we be well
May it be so!

Such a variety of musical styles!

While families will often have some common traits and practices, this list of life songs is remarkably varied. From Pop, Rock, Alt Rock to Country, Reggae, Musicals, and originals, this family that I have married into is special.

Party Game or Reunion Activity

Give this activity a try at your next Summer party, family reunion, or camping trip. You may be quite surprised at what you learn about one another.


*Mix Tape? What era are you from anyway? OK. I guess I mean playlist. But road trips use to mean popping cassette tapes into the car’s cassette player, not plugging your smart phone into the car’s USB outlet!

**ostinato – a repeated rhythmic pattern

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