Soundtrack of my life – the Esther edition

With this post I’m following in the footsteps of Michele (who did this back in June) and Sue (who did this recently and I’m looking forward to her part two). They answered the same questions that Richard Armitage answered in his NME interview in June about music accompanying life and I’m going to do that here as well. So, here goes…

The song I wish I’d written

Richard says: The Beatles – ‘Yesterday’. Pretty song, always reminds me of my older sister who sometimes used to sing the word “Yesterday” to me when calling me (my name Esther is hidden in that word). My own answer to this question is David Bowie’s Rock ‘n Roll Suicide.

I love the slow build up of the song and the weird ass lyrics. The song meant a lot to me at a certain time in my life (more about that below).

The first song I remember hearing

Richard says: Grease – ‘Summer Nights. Yeah, no. I mean the song is fine but I never loved it, it was never really a part of my life either and I was never very fond of Grease when it later did reach my consciousness. For this one I think I’ll say Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens (as he was called at the time). I remember my mom loving that song and that it was sung at the christening of my baby brother when I was around 4 (one of my earliest memories).

The first album I owned

Richard says: The Magic Roundabout – ‘Dougal and the Blue Cat’. This show wasn’t part of my youth at all, so I can’t really say anything about that. My first album that I adored was an album of English language nursery rhymes that I loved to listen to and I remembered it drove my family crazy when I wanted it to be played over and over again (we only had the one record player in the house). I just did a quick image search on google with the words: “nursery rhymes album panda” (I remembered a panda on the cover) and sure enough I found pictures!

I can distinctly remember the man on the record saying “Hello boys and girls” and then talking and singing those nursery rhymes. I think I may even still have the LP if I look through the records we still have tucked away in the attic.

The first album I think I ever purchased for myself was the album Felicita by the Italian duo Al Bano & Romina Power (on cassette!) when I was about 12 or 13. Even then it was not cool for youngsters to like them but I just loved Romina (who is the daughter of Hollywood actor Tryone Power) and I loved them in secret for quite a while. My taste developed into quite a different direction after that.

The first gig I went to

Richard says: Tina Turner in Vienna, 2009. Really? 2009? When he was 38 and based in London? I’m sure he must have been to other gigs as well before that. Now, I may be a late starter myself going to big concerts like that but never as late as that. I never had the funds as a teen to go to bigger concerts, so it wasn’t until I was 19 or 20 that I started going to a few concerts. I know I saw The Clash and Bruce Springsteen (my sister was a fan) around that time but the first one that really stuck with me was seeing David Bowie in the summer of 1990 in Nijmegen during his Sound and Vision tour. We weren’t too far from the stage and I was in heaven.

The song that reminds me of home

Richard says: ABBA – ‘Happy New Year’. Ah, ABBA – I think they were my first favourite band when I was around 10 years old (I used to tape their songs from the radio on my cassette recorder), so those songs can also take me back. What really reminds me of home, however, is every time I hear some well known Israeli song, like Hava Nagila or Hevenu Shalom Aleichem or Siman Tov! Mazel Tov! For my answer to this question I’ll pick the 1979 Israeli Eurovision winning song Hallelujah by Milk and Honey (lyrics and what they mean can be found here).

The song was huge in Israel and I remember singing an English version in school several times. This song can always bring me back to my childhood home and watching Eurovision together with my family.

The song I can no longer listen to

Richard says: Lonnie Donegan – ‘Nobody’s Child’. I didn’t know that song, so it’s new to me and I don’t really have an opinion on that one. For me the first song that comes to mind is I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. I adored that song when it came out in 2010, listened to it all the time, danced around the house to it (with the kids, who were about 9 and 6 at the time, and without the kids). I also loved the Oprah flash mob to that song and then at some point I just over-listened and suddenly completely had enough of it. Here’s the Oprah flash mob video that I just this evening watched again for the first time in eons. I still like the flash mob part but I think I’m still overdosed on the song…

The song that changed my life

Richard says: The Eurythmics – ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’. I always liked that song but it didn’t have that great of an impact on me. For me, I’ll pick the same song I answered to the first question here, David Bowie’s Rock ‘n Roll Suicide. It really pulled me through some dark times when I had no clue what to do with my life when I was around 20 and Bowie yelling “Oh no love, you’re not alone!” really gave me hope and helped me reach out to others to find a way. When I saw a handwritten transcript of the lyrics of that song in the “David Bowie Is” exhibition back in 2016 (just 11 days before Bowie died!), I took a quick clandestine picture of it and actually wiped away a tear. This song just means a lot to me.

The song I want played at my funeral

Richard says: Kool & the Gang – ‘Celebration’. That feels like a bit of a cop-out answer to me somehow. I am all for celebrating life but I also think it’s important to allow contemplation and some pain in when you lose someone. (Modified to add that on re-reading this the term ‘cop-out’ may have been too strong a word and reaction to this song choice of Richard’s. It’s just that somehow this choice doesn’t seem as genuine to me as the other choices mentioned, but then that’s probably all in my head and has nothing to do with Richard.) For my own funeral, I really wouldn’t know which song I’d like! I was going to pick a poem instead by W.H. Auden, as so brilliantly performed in Four Weddings and a Funeral, but that’s a cop-out too. And then I remembered one of the very, very few Dutch songs that I like. This one was played quite a lot around the time my father was deteriorating and I have this image of me driving away from my dad’s nursing home in his final days while it played on the radio. It’s a very sweet song and I think I wouldn’t mind having that played at my funeral. It’s called Mag Ik Dan Bij Jou (literally translates to “Can I then with you”) by a Dutch singer and comedian called Claudia de Breij. It’s about finding shelter with a loved one and the song completely captures my heart…

The song I listen to before performing

Richard says: Imogen Heap – ‘Hide and Seek’. Yeah, not really my music. I’m not a performer, so not sure what would be a good one for me. But if it’s about getting keyed up, then maybe a Muse song? These lines from Knights of Cydonia (at around 4 minutes into the video below) feel very apt for the time we live in now.

Come ride with me, Through the veins of history,
I’ll show you a God, Falls asleep on the job
And how can we win, When fools can be kings?
Don’t waste your time, Or time will waste you

The song I do at karaoke

Richard says: Queen – ‘Radio Gaga. Sounds fun enough. As for me, I don’t do karaoke. Ever. If I really had to, I could maybe do an ABBA song or something else really easy. The lower range of Chris de Burgh’s voice suits mine quite well, so I could maybe do Patricia The Stripper but then maybe some stripping action would be required with that as well, so better not. Somehow You Are My Sunshine springs to mind. Not that I particularly love it but it’s easy and nice enough. Here it is in the Johnny Cash version, his voice makes the song more interesting.

The song I discovered during lockdown

Richard says: Daði Freyr – ‘Think About Things’. That really is a fun one, especially that video! I haven’t really had any big music discoveries while in lockdown (I don’t think) until recently. The Lucifer tv show has some really great music that is completely new to me. I was looking for something different to listen to the other week, decided to search for some of those songs and I found a whole Lucifer themed playlist on Spotify. Some of these songs are a real revelation and I love that I am discovering a whole lot of great new music this way. Let me share a few of my discoveries…

I could go on but these are already five songs instead of one. So, here is the Spotify playlist I used, should anyone else be interested as well. I’ve only been listening to these for the past week or two, so I am still traveling on my road to discovery.

That’s it, my answers to the NME questions. Thanks for the inspiration NME, Richard, Michele and Sue. Anyone else interested in playing along?

25 thoughts on “Soundtrack of my life – the Esther edition

  1. Servetus

    I find your posts in this vein so interesting because of your international childhood and youth: you list a lot of things that surprise or interest me. I love “Morning has Broken,” too, but Cat Stevens didn’t write it. It is a much older song. (Still a goodie.)

    I’ve thought about doing this a few times but the categories aren’t really good ones for me. Maybe since you and Sue have done it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He didn’t write it? I didn’t know, just know that we listened to it a lot and yes, I do still like it and still listen to it on occasion when I play my Cat Stevens playlist (unlike the Italian songs by Al Bano and Romina, which I only still like for purely nostalgic reasons but I never choose to listen to anymore).

      So, which songs surprised you, I wonder?

      I’d be very interested to read your choices so if you can find the time, energy and inclination, please feel free to jump in!


      1. Servetus

        I only knew that b/c I had a tattered copy of the Vaughan Williams hymnal as a teen when I was accompanying church services, and it’s in there. That was compiled in the 1920s or 30s, I think. I was and am a big Vaughan Williams fan.

        [ok: googling — melody is a traditional Scottish tune, words written by Eleanor Farjeon in 1931]

        I think most people associate it with Cat Stevens. Amusing in that he had his own religious odyssey after that. Hasn’t hurt the popularity of the song, though.

        I’m often surprised by the Israeli music you know — mostly only my Jewish friends know those songs — and just in general, you have really wide ranging tastes.

        I’m in a phase right now where I am really struggling with listening to music at all (in fact, I started a post about that recently). Your comment about music you heard while your father was dying resonated with me. I can’t listen to any of the stuff I heard or had on heavy rotation in the summer of 2013 right now.

        Muse joke: I think they should get some of the Nobel Prize, since they wrote the advertising jingle for it!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m not well-versed in Vaughan Williams at all (had to look up what it was he composed again, and yes, that Allelujah he is risen Easter song I remember being sung in church a lot!). I had no idea the Morning Has Broken song was that old, I’ll have to ask my mother if she knew that it was in a hymnal.

          Israeli music – We sometimes celebrated Shabbat with Jewish friends visiting and even if we were alone, during a Shabbat my parents would often put on a record of Israeli songs and we’d all just dance in the living room to them. When we celebrate Christmas together as a family we on occasion will still put on an Israeli song and all dance in the living room. (See old family pic here:

          I’m so sorry you’re finding it generally difficult to listen to music at all right now. I put on music when I go for a drive or a walk and it does help get me out of my head (like with all those Lucifer songs right now).
          About my father – I can’t listen to any of the music that was played at his funeral and I used some piano music in a slideshow video I made, that I can hardly listen to anymore either. Same goes for Bowie’s final album (which is about mortality), I listened to that two or three times but it’s not only tied to his passing but somehow to my dad’s passing as well. But this particular Dutch song, while I do associate some of it with my father’s passing, it is also really about me and my personal longings in relation to several people in my life. It’s one of the very rare occasions where I think the English translation can not quite convey the feeling of the song in the same way the Dutch lyrics can.

          Muse – Nobel prize? I must have missed something there. They did make a song called Stockholm Syndrome once… 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Servetus

            Non sequitur: thought this might amuse you:

            VW: We played the English Folk Song Suite my first year of high school for competition, and it kind of snowballed from there. I noticed that the arrangement of “For All the Saints” in our hymnal was his arrangement (youth Servetus pastime: reading the hymnal during boring sermons), and then I got paid $10 a person the next year to accompany “Silent Noon,” which was on the vocal competition list for both girls and boys, which meant that I rehearsed it with something like nine people — and that is really a song that I could potentially have listened to infinitely — so my piano teacher suggested a recording of more of his songs, and then I started listening to all the recordings the public library had. That’s a frequent effect in my life — I learn about something and then start noticing it everywhere. He’s certainly in my top five favorite classical composers.

            I sympathize with the problem of not being able to listen to stuff, indeed very intensely. Hopefully, it comes back at some point. I think in my case I’m so brittle and tense that I can’t risk any kind of brief emotional relaxation. Something needs to give; I hope it’s politics or the pandemic.

            Muse — ok, no one gets this joke somehow. I need to work on how to tell it. But I am amused that this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for theoretical and practical proofs around supermassive black holes, yet no one is rewarding Muse for doing the marketing via their song, “Supermassive Black Hole.” They probably don’t need the money, but it’s the principle of the thing!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thanks for the Darcy. 🙂

              Oh, yes, that! I actually was singing the song in my head when I heard about that Nobel Prize win! So, not sure why I, as a Muse fan, didn’t get the joke. Maybe it really was the delivery… 😉 Either that or I’m just dense.


              1. Servetus

                No, I clearly have to work on the joke. The only person I’ve told it to who got it is my ex-boyfriend from the 90s, who is a physicist and listens to a lot of music.


  2. Esther what a great post ! I think ABBA is to me what David Bowie is to you and I won’t include a ABBA song here 😉
    Thank you for the shout out too😘❤️
    I could relate to Richie a lot more with his soundtrack choices maybe because we grew up in the same decades and because I could relate to some of his choices besides my beloved ABBA.
    Thank you for sharing yours here! ❤️👏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for being one of the inspirations to do so. 🙂
      Yeah, I’m the same generation as Richard as well so some of his choices really bring back moments in my own life as well. I mean, Eurythmics were great, I did love them too, and Tina Turner was pretty awesome as well.
      I really like ABBA for a bit of fun (Gimme Gimme Gimme was even used in a sketch at our wedding, so always an extra fond memory there) but yeah, they don’t come close to matching my love for Bowie. 🙂


      1. Esther Bowie lifts you up when you are down, makes you smile and is your go to instant mood lifter I’m guessing here and that is what ABBA does for me. There music isn’t just light hearted fun either.
        You made my day with your kind words too ! 🤗❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So cool that you did this too, Esther! I didn’t know anyone had also done it before me. The more the merrier!

    I love “Morning Has Broken” and enjoy Bowie also, although the only album of his I owned was “Aladdin Sane” which I played a lot during my teenage years. I listened to lots of stuff that wasn’t considered cool, during the ’70’s when my friends were all listening to hard rock. Pre-disco Bee-Gees, Bread, Steeleye Span, ’50’s and ’60’s music, really all kinds of music. I listened to the hard rock too, but also listened to whatever turned me on.

    We sang “Hava Nagila” in school, quite often too if I remember correctly. I wonder why? I always loved to sing it, though.

    I never thought of the song I can’t listen to being something I’ve heard too often, but that is true too! When I get a new album, I tend to play it over and over until I’m sick of it! Usually, though I will go back to it again, though.

    Thanks for sharing your soundtrack!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

      Before I fell in love with Bowie I had more of a ‘pop’ taste, for a while I was quite into 60s music, the rock came later (started with Bowie’s Ziggy and I took it from there).

      That playing over and over again sickness – I have that with a few other songs as well, but nothing as strong as I Gotta Feeling.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Soundtrack of My Life: Armitage/Me – Part II | I'm Feeling This

  5. Interesting song choices Esther, thanks for sharing. And you managed to get Muse in! (I’d like Knights of Cydonia played at my funeral). I didn’t get Servetus’s joke either but that’s more to do with my ignorance about the Nobel prize. Hopefully they played S.M.B.H. at the after party (If they have such a thing).

    Liked by 2 people

            1. It’s a bit like Homes under the Hammer, where they always find music befitting a certain situation and sometimes that really cracks me up. I on occasion still (half) watch that show, just because of the apt music choices.

              Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Der Soundtrack meines Lebens, bis jetzt zumindest | nellindreams

  7. Pingback: Silence the pianos, or: not a music post | Me + Richard Armitage

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