High School Play List


Given my previous post mentioning my upcoming ten year high school reunion, I was inspired to make a play list today featuring songs I remember from high school. Please note that these are definitely not all songs I personally chose to listen to when I was in high school, just the stuff I remember being popular, playing at school dances, that kind of thing. Presented in roughly chronological order, you can hear the list here.

The List:

1. "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" by UB40. This was huge my first year of high school, if I'm remembering correctly. Another UB40 cut, "Red Red Wine" was also big. For reasons I don't understand, I associate UB40 with my ill-fated first high school boyfriend.

2. "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum. No words for how huge this song, and Soul Asylum's album "Grave Dancer's Union," were. It was actually the first CD I ever bought, when I was, I think, 14. I have special romantic girly associations with another track on that album, "The Sunmaid," but this was the one that everyone knew. It stands in for other stuff, too, coming, like I did, at the tail end of real grunge and the beginning of the faux-grunge sell-out movement.

3. "What's Up?" by 4 Non-Blondes. This song makes me think of my best friend Scand. She loved 4 Non-Blondes. I hadn't heard this in years until I put it on this list, and it actually holds up pretty well to my ear.

4. "Cryin'" by Aerosmith. The mid-90s were a big 70s flashback period, as you probably remember, and who better to celebrate that than Aerosmith? I think this song played at every dance I ever went to in high school. And the videos--for this and especially for "Crazy" a bit later? Huge stuff. Everybody wanted to either be Liv Tyler or do Liv Tyler (or, in my case, both).

5. "Hey Jealousy" by The Gin Blossoms. And so we begin to embrace corporate 90s rock...little did we know that in a few years, rock would be so dead we'd be nostalgic for the Gin Blossoms.

6. "Stay" by Lisa Loeb. Another song I associate with Scand, and also with the sexy/smart girl I was planning to be in college by the time this came out. Wonder what happened to her? Probably the same thing that happened to Lisa Loeb. Anyway, this song also brings up the movie "Reality Bites," which was not exactly a small deal at this point.

7. "Whatta Man" by Salt N Pepa. I'm not proud when I say that I grew up in an all-white community, I'm just stating a fact. And, looking back, a lot of the music we listened to was all-white too. There were things happening in rap and R&B when I was in high school that I had no idea about, and the rest of young America did. Not much I can do about that now, of course, but it's a strange thought. Anyway, white as we were, Salt N Pepa did penetrate, and I personally still have a soft spot there.

8. "Linger" by The Cranberries. Not much to say, except DAMN I still love this song.

9. "Don't Take the Girl" by Tim McGraw. Where I grew up, there was a good bit of country music. I'm sparing you most of it, though I do remember it vividly. However, I have to include one country song on this list, just to be fair, and this one was both huge and not that annoying. Damn contemporary country, anyway.

10. "Gangsta Paradise," by Coolio. See above re: whiteness of my community, but I don't think anybody anywhere missed this one.

11. "Carnival" by Natalie Merchant. By the time I started listening to Ani DiFranco, in around 1994, the chick singer was starting to make some headway on the regular radio airwaves as well. These women didn't do half what Ani did for me, but it was still nice to hear the odd girl voice on airwaves that were previously so testosterone soaked. Natalie Merchant is one of those.

12. "Always" by Bon Jovi. I think this song may have been the theme of my senior prom. Or some similar event.

13. "You Ought to Know" by Alanis Morisette. One of my best high school memories is connected to this song. It involves riding around with Scand in her car, screaming along to this CD. Well, I screamed--she sang. Anyway, it gives me the warm fuzzies even all these years later. Gotta love Alanis for that. I don't quite think it is what she was going for, but whatever.

14. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Deep Blue Something. And so we return to corporate music. As far as corporate music goes, I actually like this song, but man I hated it then. It was on all. the. damn. time.

15. "1979" by The Smashing Pumpkins. Ending on this note likely makes my generation seem a lot cooler than it actually is, but a little revisionist history never hurt anybody, did it? And this song was big, as was whole album. A last breathe into grunge. And poetically, the year I was born. Incidentally, if you've never thought about the lyrics to this song, you should. There's a lot going on there.

OK, here ends my trip down memory lane. I challenge all you out there to try to do this--I'd love to read/listen to your memories.


I think every girl in our age group has that You Oughta Know experience. And it's about Uncle Joey on Full House. Ew.

And I think some people might say revisionist history did hurt some people. You know, like, Holocaust deniers? :) Ha. History jokes are funny.

Lisa Loeb had a TV show with then BF Dweezil Zappa. I only wish that happened 10 yrs later so they could have a reality show.

I just came across my old tapes, and among those were the Soul Asylum, 4 Non Blondes, and The Cranberries tapes you mentioned. Of those, only 4 Non Blondes still really resonates with me, and I think it was because it's the only tape I bought solely for the reason that I liked the music on it. Soul Asylum was my attempt to fit in, and The Cranberries was somewhat of a compromise (my students love the Cranberries tape, though--"wow, my [mom/older sister] used to listen to this!". Makes me feel old.).

I can't come up with 10 songs, and our lists overlap a lot as it is, but I'd add a couple more:

"Stairway to Heaven" -- Did we have any dances that did not include this song? And did I get stuck dancing this with Gusty every time?

"Out of Range", Ani DiFranco -- Still makes me think of watching you wash dishes in the kitchen with the door slid closed, trying to talk about teenage angst above the music and under your parents' tv.

"Shine", Collective Soul -- The 1st cd I listened to in my new cd player, which was in my sweet '84 Chevy Cavalier.

"Lovefool", The Cardigans -- I had to look this one up online, but Joe used to play the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack in his truck all the time. Pop-y and non-descript.

"Brass Monkey", Beastie Boys -- Another Joe staple, but I still have a soft spot for the Beasties.

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