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Ottawa, Ontario

Just a little corner of the interwebz where I occasionally jot down a thought or two. Why do I do it? Partly to communicate in some way with you, the reader, and partly because it's some sad way of leaving a legacy of some kind I guess.


twelve songs that define me

Jonathan Tom

Yesterday I saw a video from one of the YouTubers that I follow, Samurai Guitarist, entitled “My Life Story Told Through 12 Albums” and I thought it would be kind of a fun challenge to do so here’s my take on that video. I would encourage you to try it for yourself whether you publish it or not. So without any further ado, here are twelve songs that define me (or at least have meaning to me):

  1. Chicago - Glory of Love: This was, I think, one of the first songs I remember influencing me. It reminds me, even to this day, of a classmate of mine in the third (I think it was third) grade whose sister was suffering from leukaemia. We learned this song and sang it on a television show fund raiser and the fact that it’s now in a production show doesn’t bother me too much.
  2. C&C Music Factory - Gonna Make You Sweat: This song was big for my final year in elementary school back in Edmonton. I don’t remember exactly how this affected my life but the fact that I remember it clearly means something.
  3. Soul Asylum - Runaway Train: Believe it or not this song was really influential for me. It was the first song that got me to pick up a guitar in high school and to this day I still play. As a bit of a shout out, the other songs from Grave Dancer’s Union that live with this one in my head are Somebody to Shove and Black Gold.
  4. Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven: I couldn’t call myself a guitar player without having this song on my list now could I? It’s one of the most iconic songs for the guitar but also for music as a whole as well. It was also my gateway to the electric guitar.
  5. Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby: Yes, yes, I know but if I’m completely honest, I still know all (ok, most) of the lyrics to this sing… I guess it’s up there with MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s Theme Song for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  6. Pearl Jam - Daughter: I remember jamming along to this song in high school with my friends. I also remember how long it took me to really figure out that this was supposed to be played in a non-standard tuning (open G for you curious types). This whole album is really one that I had in my walkman on many occasions.
  7. Metallica - Nothing Else Matters: Metallica was one of the first forays into “heavier” music and this song was one of the first that I remember picking up along with the entirety of the Black Album. Right around the same time I also was pretty much into Guns N’ Roses - Appetite for Destruction.
  8. Jimi Hendrix - Little Wing and The Wind Cries Mary: I know it was supposed to be one song but these two influenced me and my playing fairly significantly. It was also songs like Red House that introduced me to the blues.
  9. Stevie Ray Vaughn - Pride and Joy: SRV’s cover of Jimi’s Little Wing is what brought me to start listening to his music and Live at Carnegie Hall featured on my stereo for a long time when I discovered it.
  10. Robert Johnson - Sweet Home Chicago: After SRV I delved a little deeper into the blues and this song and Robert Johnson in general impacted me towards the end of my high school years and in the beginning of my college years.
  11. John Mayer - Slow Dancing in a Burning Room: Let’s be honest, this album (Continuum) epitomizes what an album should be… Chock full of songs that you can’t seem to get out of your head and that mean something to you. John Mayer really hit the nail on the head with this album and as a throwback to the blues of the after mentioned songs his Trio stuff is also excellent.
  12. Incubus - Isadore: Again, I know this sounds like a broken record but the whole If Not Not, When album is fantastic. The departure from “classic” Incubus to really feature Brandon Boyd’s vocals shows the band’s commitment to really changing things around.

Alright, I’ve done my part and I know there are some pretty key songs and artists I’m leaving out (Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Queen… I’m looking at you), but the stipulation was to have only twelve. I cheated somewhat already by tossing in a few others in the explanations for the choices I made but I felt it necessary while keeping it (hopefully) entertaining.