My Soundtrack for 2018 Brings Back a Lot of Memories

18 Dec

Every year has its own soundtrack. It’s the collection of songs and sounds that, when you hear them, they remind you of times gone by.

My soundtrack for 2018 does exactly that, recalling the times I spent lazing by the pool aboard a cruise ship, watching the Olympics, celebrating my birthday in New York City, enjoying live music, driving around in the summer with the volume up and my car windows down, and much more.

I like compiling this kind of “time capsule” playlist instead of writing a top-10 (or whatever number) list of the year’s “best” songs and albums because music tends to play such a large role in my life, and I often can remember certain events by what I was listening to at the time. Besides, taste is so subjective, so when looking back on the year gone by, I’d much rather call attention to more music than less. Because tracks wouldn’t have been added to this playlist if I didn’t like them, anyway.

And so, for example, my 2018 time capsule playlist includes nods to all the concerts I attended this year, including the Killers, Anderson East, the Chainsmokers (at IBM’s Think conference), Jimmy Buffett, Cheap Trick and Def Leppard and Journey (all in one show! in the very front row!!), Imagine Dragons (at Workday Rising), and finally, the legend, Ms. Darlene Love. Zac Brown Band I actually saw two nights in a row at Fenway Park. I also saw the Lone Bellow twice — once in a parking lot outside Chicago on a rainy Friday evening, and then the second time during their even more intimate acoustic TRIIIO tour up in Rockport, Mass., after which I actually got to meet and take a photo with them.

Speaking of meetings, Barenaked Ladies also performed during the Think conference, and the morning after, I had a (bummer of a) conversation with drummer Tyler Stewart about why Steven Page isn’t still in the band. And I met Melinda Doolittle, from American Idol, because she was performing in a show aboard our cruise ship this summer.

I need a separate paragraph to mention Springsteen on Broadway, which I saw on my birthday, and which was as intimate and transcendent an experience as I had hoped it would be. Just as exciting was being so close to him outside the theater before and after the show; it made the evening even more special. I’m so thankful the entire show was released as an album and Netflix special at the end of the year.

Speaking of Broadway, I also saw Jimmy Buffett’s short-lived musical, Escape to Margaritaville, and Tina Fey’s Mean Girls in New York. Here in Boston, I saw the pre-Broadway tryouts of the Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill and the stage adaptation of Moulin Rouge!, plus Book of Mormon (finally) and Hamilton (for the second time). A special shoutout as well to “Weird Al” Yankovic’s awesome “Hamilton Polka,” and the various Hamildrops that also made their way onto my playlist.

There are songs on this playlist that remind me of favorite TV shows, such as Empire and Nashville — the latter of which ended its six-season run in July with a moving reprise of the show’s signature song, “A Life That’s Good,” on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium. (And by the way, very cool that one of the show’s stars, Lennon Stella, started releasing her own music soon after that.) There was that really great segment of Carpool Karaoke where James Corden and Paul McCartney drove around Liverpool, and Brandon Victor Dixon’s star-making performance of the final number during the incredible live TV production of Jesus Christ Superstar, not to mention the return of Flight of the Conchords in an HBO special. “Mirror” is a song I learned about during an episode of David Letterman’s Netflix show. I loved that Kelly Clarkson actually sang “Heat” live during the (very cold) Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, while everybody else lip-synced. And Luke Combs and Leon Bridges both appear on the playlist because I really enjoyed their episode of CMT Crossroads.

Naturally, there are also songs and an instrumental track from movies, including from some of my favorite films of 2018 — Black PantherFree Solo, If Beale Street Could Talk, and BlacKkKlansman — and others from films like A Wrinkle in Time, Hearts Beat Loud, Avengers: Infinity WarDeadpool 2, Whitney, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Boy Erased, and Welcome to Marwen. I even added Jamie Cullum’s really nice cover of “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” one of the better songs from Mary Poppins Returns.

Brothers & Sisters’ version of “The Times They Are A-Changin’” played during the end credits of the Barack Obama documentary The Final Year, and its arrangement was also used in a performance by Jennifer Hudson during the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., following the shooting in Parkland, Florida. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt performed their “Found/Tonight” mashup at the March as well. And the shooting also inspired Dispatch’s song “Dear Congress, (17).” Later in the year, on the day of the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, the Lone Bellow’s plaintive cover of “For What It’s Worth” took on extra meaning.

One holdover from last year: Caroline Keller Band finally released a new EP this year, and it included “Get Gone,” which Caroline performed when I saw her at the Bluebird in Nashville.

Three songs — “Say Something,” “Girls Like You,” and “thank u, next” — are here partly because I really liked their music videos. That said, I need to acknowledge that I liked Shawn Mendes’ “Lost in Japanbefore I saw its very cool Lost in Translation–inspired video.

Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young” is here because I used it to wish my niece a happy 10th birthday in May. And Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” is here because it reminds me of the house band’s seemingly endless, audience-participation-heavy performance of it on the last day of our cruise to Bermuda this summer.

There are songs that I just really liked, that aren’t necessarily associated with any particular memories or events — like Hozier’s “Nina Cried Power,” Glen Hansard’s “Roll on Slow,” the Wild Feathers’ “Quittin’ Time,” Chance the Rapper’s “I Might Need Security,” Hunter Hayes’ “This Girl,” any number of songs from Jason Mraz, Anderson East, and Eric Hutchinson’s new albums, and perhaps the guiltiest pleasure of 2018: “The Middle,” by Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey.

While there are, of course, no Spotify recordings to add, no recap of my 2018 musical memories would be complete without a mention of all the times I drove into Newton Centre this summer and heard my friend Ken enthusiastically playing the Billy Joel–themed piano.

And of course, there’s a song on here to remember the loss of Aretha Franklin, whose voice will never truly be silenced.

In later days, when I want to remember 2018 and what was going through my head this year, I’ll load up this playlist and it will surely bring me right back.

What songs are you putting into your time capsule this year?

One Response to “My Soundtrack for 2018 Brings Back a Lot of Memories”


  1. Here’s to My Future. But First, Here’s to My Yesterday! | Martin's Musings - December 31, 2018

    […] This year, about a month and a half after ZBB, Dawn and I snuck up front for the Jimmy Buffett show at Fenway, then somehow got into the front row center for the Cheap Trick and Def Leppard and Journey show two nights later! Likewise, at Workday Rising in October, Melissa, Danielle, Galen, and I found ourselves right up front for the Imagine Dragons concert at the Customer Appreciation Party, which was a much better show than I was expecting it to be. (Yes, there was a lot of live music this year.) […]

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