My favorite birthday tradition is the creation of my birthday playlist. This year I need 36 (36!) songs to help me to reflect on the year. I wish I could say that these all have some deeper meaning and represent something that happened over the past 365 days; the truth is that these are just the songs that I want to be listening to as I move into my 37th year. In absolutely no particular order.
1. The Phoenix, Fall Out Boy
I’m gonna change you like a remix and raise you like phoenix. I don’t always love Fall Out Boy, but when they write a great song I can’t get enough of it.
2. Purple Sky, Kid Rock
Kid Rock’s Born Free album is the one of the best road trip albums ever written.
3. Still Into You, Paramore
After all this time, I’m still into you.
4. Bruises (feat. Ashley Monroe), Train
First of all, I love Train. Their last two albums have been amazing. And I love the lyrics. I think I’ve had this conversation with old high school friends. These bruises make for better conversation.
5. When They Come for Me, Linkin Park
Picking just one Linkin Park song for my birthday playlist is torture, but I forced myself to do it. This song has the most amazing sound. Try to catch up, motherfucker.
6. When I Was Your Man, Bruno Mars
I still confuse Bruno Mars and Sacha Baron Cohen and I haven’t got a clue why. They are definitely not the same person.
7. Cups, Anna Kendrick
I did not love Pitch Perfect, but I fell in love with Anna Kendrick. And this song. I listen to it on repeat for much longer than I’m comfortable admitting.
8. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is going to be a theme in this playlist. This is the most passive-aggressive break-up song ever written, and I love it.
I ain’t saying you treated me unkind; you could’ve done better, but I don’t mind. You just kinda wasted my precious time, but don’t think twice, it’s alright.
9. We’ve Got Tonight, Bob Seger
JJ and Ava’s dinner serenade: I know it’s late. I know you’re hungry. I know your plans include Fancy Feast. Still here you are. Both of you whining. Longing for grilled beef to be put on your plate…
10. Girl On Fire (Inferno Version) [feat. Nicki Minaj], Alicia Keys
This is my favorite song to listen to with the top down in my car. Alicia Keys is, as always, amazing. Also, I kind of think Nicki Minaj is seriously bad-ass and awesome, even if I mostly dislike everything she does.
11. Good Riddance, Green Day
I don’t even feel the need to justify adding this to a playlist. Kick ass song. Full stop.
12. Everybody Hurts, R.E.M.
I put this song on a playlist earlier in the year and remembered why I love it.
13. Hero, The Makepeace Brothers
There are days when I just need this song to exist in my life.
14. Street Corner Preacher, Amos Lee
I had to narrow down my Amos Lee choices to just one. This man’s voice can change my mood in just a few minutes.
15. Imagine, John Lennon
One of the best songs ever written. Also, listening to it makes me think of David Archuleta and that makes me smile.
16. Rollin’ and Tumblin’, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
I had the chance to see Buddy Guy live again this past year. Despite his “grandpa on a bus trip” attire, he was amazing.
17. Backwater Blues, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
The thing is, I don’t actually listen to KWS Band very often – but they are my favorite live music experience. You can listen to them play for three solid hours and when it is over, you just want to go back and do it all over again.
18. Kiss Me, Ed Sheeran
I don’t even know where I first heard this song, but it was one of my best musical discoveries of this year. If you have any use for a make-out song, do yourself a favor and download this one.
19. Livin’ the Dream, Uncle Kracker
Take iconic Whitesnake lyrics and combine it with the chill out Uncle Kracker vibe, and you end up with an amazing road trip song.
20. Love is a Verb, John Mayer
Oh John Mayer. I have such conflicting feelings for you. Whatever I might feel about you, the fact remains that you are a kick ass songwriter and a damn good guitar player.
21. Everything Is Sound, Jason Mraz
I don’t make playlists without Jason Mraz. This one hits the b-day list because it’s Sammie’s favorite.
22. Love Interruption, Jack White
This song creeps me out in the best possible way.
23. Times Are Not Changing, Will Hoge
Best musical discovery of the year was Will Hoge. (My cousins have been trying to get me to love him for years, but until Modern American Protest Music, I just didn’t connect.) This is NOT a Bob Dylan song, but it certainly could be.
24. Jar of Hearts, Christina Perri
This chick opened for Jason Mraz last summer. I had no idea who she was until then, but she was amazing live. Her recorded stuff is a little too polished for me, but this song is beautiful.
25. Bring It On Home to Me, Sam Cooke
I have been listening to a lot of Sam Cooke this year. I blame Gavin Degraw.
26. Our Song, Matchbox Twenty
The new Matchbox Twenty album was probably one of the best things to happen in the past year.
27. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go, Miley Cyrus
Yes, Miley Cyrus covered a Bob Dylan song. And it is amazing. (She did a cover of Jolene that deserves to be on this list, but I don’t have an audio track of it.)
28. Subterranean Homesick Blues, Michael Franti
Another Bob Dylan cover from the Chimes of Freedom album. Michael Franti with a little Subterranean Homesick Blues.
29. With God On Our Side, K’naan
Okay – my last Bob Dylan-related entry. K’naan covering Dylan feels right.
30. Demons, Imagine Dragons
Another great musical discovery from this year. Look into my eyes; it’s where my demons hide.
31. Home, Phillip Phillips
Despite hearing this song way too flippin’ often on HGTV, I still love this song.
32. Life Is Beautiful, Vega4
I will listen to this song regularly for months, and then decide that it is the most annoying song in the world. I’m currently in a “listening to it regularly” mode.
33. Dark Side, Kelly Clarkson
Okay, don’t judge me. I first heard this song covered on Glee and I may still like the Glee cover a little better. But Kelly gets the b-day playlist spot because this is an incredible song.
34. Red Red Wine, UB40
I dunno. I put this on a playlist in October and it’s been carried forward to every playlist this year. Admit it – you love this song, too.
35. Hey There Delilah, Plain White T’s
I just discovered this song this year. I’ve owned it for years, but I don’t know that I ever really listened to it. This may be the most romantic song ever written.
36. Love Me Like a Man, Bonnie Raitt
The older I get, the more I want to be Bonnie Raitt when I grow up.