By the grace of God, I turned 34 this past weekend. Yet, to the outside world, I look 21 on a good day. I’m talking 21 as if I were my kid’s big sister or hired to be their nanny. Or as if my husband is robbing the cradle 21. My grandma, Becky, and mommy, Elouise, did their thing passing down these good genes to me!!! This black doesn’t crack honey! But, despite this fountain of youth that I’ve been blessed with, in my heart of hearts, I’m 47 ½. 47 ½ turning 65 about to draw social security benefits. LOL. I continuously forget that I’m only in my early 30s and often everyone else does too. My close friends are all older than I and my soul is even older than them. 34 appearing 21 but soulfully 47 ½ turning 65. Yep…that’s me!
Within the past 34 years, I’ve developed an infinite love for a good book (currently reading, The Year of Yes By Shonda Rhimes), a profound documentary (last one watched was Netflix’ Daughters of Destiny) and a perfectly mixed iced coffee (preferably from McDonald’s – extra ice, no flavor, just crème and sugar). But most importantly I OVER love music. Jazz, R&B, Contemporary Christian, Gospel, Hip Hop, Country, Pop. I LOVE MUSIC. (As I type, I’m currently listening to a jazz track called “Sunday Waltz” by Joey Alexander.)
So, to pay homage to my 34th Birthday and adoration of music, I’ve compiled a playlist of 34 songs (or albums) that bring back so many memories. These songs take me to places of randomness, laughter, comfort, triumph, embarrassment, happiness, reflection, solitude, or are just fun. This list, in no way, constitutes my favorite 34 songs/albums of all time. That would be entirely too difficult to do! I’m literally just writing songs/albums as they come to mind.
PS -If you’re looking for a deep, come to Jesus, get your life together post….stop reading now! There’s no reflective lesson here. Just fun. Trust me! My life is quite interesting right now and I need all of the fun that I can get! So, read (or sing) along and indulge in a few minutes of amusement with me.
Here we go😊
- Let it Go (Frozen Soundtrack)– As annoying as this song is, I know all the words. I swear I’ve heard it over 1,000 times. If there is a little girl under the age of 12 in your life, you can probably relate. But, I must give Disney and Idina Menzel credit. Ya’ll was in the upper room with this song!! Cause’ I’ve had to let some people, some habits, some shoes, some money, a whole lot of stuff go …and probably still need to let things go!
- Can You Stand The Rain (New Edition) – – Yes, this is New Edition’s song. But ever since the Best Man Holiday debuted in 2013, I cannot hear this song without thinking of the movie. Every single time I hear it, I can see Lance, Julian, Harper, and “Q” in matching all black outfits performing this song in Lance’s living room. Then, my mind goes to Lance’s epic breakdown at Mia’s graveside and how it nearly took all of us out…. not a dry eye in the movie theater.
- In My Daughter’s Eyes (Martina McBride)– Prior to Ayanna’s 2008 birth, my mom gave me this stuffed white bear. The bear had a wide – brimmed pink hat, ribbon collar, and polka dotted feet. Initially, I thought that the gift was a rather strange present. Neither my mom nor I like stuffed animals. However, once I pressed the stuffed bear’s heart, it all made sense. The bear began to sing, “In my daughter’s eyes, I am a hero. I am strong and wise. And I know no fear. But the truth is plain to see. She was sent to rescue me. I see who I want to be, in my daughter’s eyes.”
- Pieces (Steffany Gretzinger/Bethel Music) – My sister friend, Meagan, sent me a link to this song about a year ago. After the first verse, tears began to well. I thought of the people that I had given pieces of myself to who in turn disappointed, rejected,or undervalued me. Then I thought of how I often give pieces of myself to God when He really wants all of Me. But despite the fragments of myself that I release to God, He gives me all of Him. “You don’t give Your heart in pieces. You don’t hide Yourself to tease us… Your love’s not fractured. It’s not a troubled min. It isn’t anxious. It’s not the restless kind. Your love’s not passive. It’s never disengaged. It’s always present. It hangs on every word we say. Love keeps its promises. It keeps its word. It honors what’s sacred. ‘Cause its vows are good. Your love’s not broken. It’s not insecure. Your love’s not selfish. Your love is pure.”
- Entire 24K Magic Album by Bruno Mars –Besides being the theme music for Jelani and I’s staycations, this is one of the best albums of all time!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It teleports me back to the 1990s and gives a vibe like no other album. “Put your pinky rings up to the moonnnnnnnnnnnnn.”
- Reckless Love (Corey Asbury/Bethel Music) – “There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up…Coming after me…There’s no wall You won’t kick down…Lie You won’t tear down…Coming after me.” There will never be a love that compares to Christ’s love for me. Each and every time I hear this song, I’m reminded of that. “Ohh the overwhelmeing, never-ending reckless love of God!”
- Clean Heart (Fred Hammond) –“Clean Heart” is probably on biweekly rotation. Sometimes life gets mucky. I’m talking running in the rain, freshly straightened hair gets wet, favorite leopard flats ruined type mucky. Life causes your heart to hurt and to bleed, anger, resentment and unforgiveness. My continual prayer is that as David cried out to God in Psalm 51, that God will “create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit.” Fred Hammond sings, “Give me a clean heart…A better one I pray to stay on the path You’ve chosen and stick with it all the way. Give me a clean heart and I will serve nobody but You….”
- Entire Voyage to India Album by India Arie – India is so underrated. The depth of truth in her lyrics….very few write on that level. In 2002, this album was the soundtrack of my freshman year in college. And again in late 2005 it was the soundtrack to my dating relationship with my husband. My friend, Porsche, even sang the track “Beautiful Surprise” as I walked down the aisle.
- Love On Top – (Beyonce) “Bring the beat in……….Honey, honey, I can see the stars all the way here………..” The very first time that I heard this song, I fell in love.
- Hakuna Matata (Lion King Soundtrack) -Can somebody put this “no worries for the rest of your days…it’s our problem free philosophy” anointing in a spray bottle? I’d sure love to spray it on my student loans and every other bill I have. I’m just saying!
- Dance with Somebody – Whitneyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This song takes me back to 1987. I was only 3 when it was released. But I can clearly remember my god-sisters, Karen and Valerie, blasting this song from the radio. I would later grow up and sing it in from my mirror with my hairbrush microphone. “Ohhhh, I wanna dance with somebody! I wanna feel the heat with somebody! Yeah, I wanna dance with somebody. With somebody who loves me!!!!!!!!!!”
- The Entire, Debut Self -Titled Brandy Album – This was the first CD I ever purchased with my own money. At the age 10, my biological father, Joseph, took me to a music shop on Biscayne Boulevard just so that I could buy the album. From “I Wanna Be Down” to “Brokenhearted,” I played Brandy’s CD until it couldn’t play anymore! Scratch marks, songs skipping and all. Brandy remains one of my all -time favorite artists and I must see her live one day!
- The Entire Waiting to Exhale Soundtrack – I didn’t know NOTHING about love, heartbreak, the power of friendship, or that a man could make you so mad that you’d blow up his car. I mean, I was barely 11 when this movie and soundtrack were released. But this album HERE………………… From “Shoop, Shoop” to “Sittin’ Up in My Room” to “Hurts Like Hell” to “Count on Me” ….one of the best R&B albums ever.
- Show Up (John P. Kee) – Every time I hear this song it takes me to my days at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. We sang this song in the junior choir! We had hand motions and all. We would put our hands on your heads in a salute motion. Then we lifted our hands up to the sky and sang, “Shoowwww Up!! He’ll showww up on timmeeee!!!” Looking back, the choreography was corny. But we were in sync and singing our hearts out for Jesus!! That’s all that mattered.
- There Is Hope (Mississippi Children’s Choir) – This was my first solo ever. Another New Hope Junior Choir hit. No, I do not sing solos today.
- Spend My Life (Tamia & Eric Benet) – My husband and I chose this song for our first dance at our wedding. Every time I hear it, I’m transported back to May 12, 2007. My heart smiles. Then, I wish I could get my parents’ money back. I’d keep my husband, my dress, and ask for a refund of everything else. In my honest opinion, the money we spent could have gone towards a list of other things. Note: This is all coming from someone who has a Pinterest Board with over 100 pins labeled, “If we were to renew our vows and had an extreme budget…” SMH
- Peace (Juanita Bynum) – My mom and my aunt, Lucritia, drove my sister, cousins and I crazy with this song. I heard this song almost every day of my middle school and freshman year of high school years. We could not understand for the life of us why we were subjected to such torture every single day! Juanita would sing/scream/travail “Peace! Peace! Grab a hold of God’s peace!!!!” Now as an adult, who recently played this song last week, I understand the indescribable, saving power of God’s peace. His peace “surpasses all understanding” and don’t know what I’d do without it.
- Stomp (Kirk Franklin/God’s Property) – Before trap influenced gospel music (no shade), Stomp was the first hip-hopish gospel song that I’d ever heard. I was 12 when I first saw the music video. I thought, “Finally someone understands the younger generation!” “GP are you wit’ me!!!!!!”
- Too Close (Next) – First. And. Last. Middle. School. Dance. That is all I will say about this! Jelani, my dear husband, I know that you are dying with laughter as you read this one.
- I Feel Like Going On (Five Heartbeats Movie Version) – When that camera zoomed in on Eddie Cain’s face as he began to sing, my soul leaped!!! I was rocking back and forth just like Duck in the church audience.
- I Hope You Dance (Leanne Womack) – I’m sure everyone else who loves this song will probably say the same thing. But this song was written just for me. “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder. You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger. May you never take one single breath for granted. God forbid love ever leave you empty handed. I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens. Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance. And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance – I hope you dance……”
- Anything Patti Labelle – Growing up, my mom was a huge Patti Labelle fan. Patti Labelle is the only secular artist that I’ve known my mom to have a heavy rotation. Patti songs remind me of my mom. Every one of them. They remind me of my childhood, peach cobblers, road trips, and home. I love my mommy!
- I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing (Aerosmith) – No particular reason for this song other than it is one of my absolute favorite love songs of all time.
- Always Coca Cola…Yeahhhh (Tyrese Commercial) – The first time I saw Tyrese with that black backpack getting on that bus…I was mesmerized. I think that’s when my fascination with dark brothas began. (I still have love for Will Smith, Common, and David Beckham) Tyrese was singing his heart out on that bus. “Dahhh dahhhh dahhhh dahhhh, always Coca -Cola…….Yeah.”
- Bless the Broken Road (Rascal Flatts) – When Ayanna was 7, my sister, Ashley and her two friends, Sharese & Shareese, came to visit us. They spent about an hour teaching Ayanna this song. Not only did they teach her the lyrics but to also add a country “twang” to it. Hilariousssssss!!!
- Wind Beneath My Wings (Bett Midler Version from movie Beaches) – Beaches is one of my favorite movies. The original, not the remake. Without fail, I laugh and cry. Laugh and cry. But when Bette Middler sings “It must have been cold there in my shadow. To never have sunlight on your face.” I cryyyyyyyyy like a big baby!!!
- Entire Free Yourself Album by Fantasia – American Idol was a weekly ritual for my college friends and me. We would pile in Lauren’s room to watch the magic and foolery of stardom. This was back in early 2000s when there was ONLY American Idol. We watched Fantasia from her initial audition until the live finale shows. She won our hearts and I’d become a fan for life. Fantasia’s Free Yourself Album was my driving music. Repeatedly listening to that album would take me all the way from Oklahoma to our then family home in Columbia, SC.
- Entire Gumbo Album by PJ Morton – This album just makes me feel good! It reminds me that soulful, wholesome, hearty music still exists. Thank you, PJ!
- I Believe I Can Fly (R.Kelly) – Did everybody sing this at their elementary graduation???????
- She’s Your Queen to Be (Coming to America) – #fortheculture
- Entire Salt Album by Lizz Wright – My roommate, Leslie, introduced me to the jazz artist Lizz Wright, in the summer of 2003. Leslie and I were worked in Maryland as summer camp counselors. Listening to the sound of Lizz’ voice brought a refreshing, serene, and cool stillness to our un-air-conditioned country style, cicada swarmed, summer dorm evenings.
- Superwoman (Karyn White) – I’m not sure what memory this 1998 song evokes other me knowing all the lyrics and singing them to the top of my lungs. “I’m notttttttt your superwomannnnnnn….”
- Anything from the Williams Brothers, Canton Spirituals – My daddy, Lem, loves the Williams Brothers and Canton Spirituals. Every time I hear, “Clean Up What I Messed Up,” “Glad I’ve Got Jesus,” “Depending on You,” or “Cooling Water” I think of my daddy. I love my daddy!!
- Isaiah Song (All Nations Worship Assembly Atlanta) – This song randomly appeared on my Youtube playlist about two weeks ago. It came when I needed it the most. I’ve played it so much that I hear it in my sleep. “You’re making ways in the wilderness. You’re making rivers in the desert…..” This is all I keep repeating. Over and over.
So, here’s to this new year of 34! May you bring me closer to my dreams, great memories, valuable lessons, and even more life and mood altering melodies!
Photo Credit: Wesley Gibbs