I've gone for songs that were playing at significant moments, rather than songs I necessarily think are out of this world wonderful. I'm also finding this surprisingly hard, so I'm not sure I've picked the most appropriate ones. I've tried this meme or variants on it several times, and this is the first list I've been at least vaguely content with.
- Bunthorne and Grosvenor's duet Conceive me if you can from Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience
My parents are desperately unmusical but believe in giving their kids a Musical Education. So I spent my childhood in a welter of Gilbert and Sullivan, with my dad painstakingly explaining the hundred-year-old political satire. It wasn't a bad route into classical music, actually.
- Gabriel Fauré: Requiem
I was very intense (and somewhat religious) as a young teenager, and the first of many things I loved with desperate adolescent passion was this music.
- Ugly Kid Joe: Cat's in the cradle
Mid-teens when I was starting to establish my own identity and getting into 'alternative' music. And this one stands out from a bunch of similar stuff because it was the sound-track to a subliminal crush on a schoolfriend of mine.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers: Under the bridge
This (and a couple of lovely people) got me through being a misfit among all the trendy north London Jewish teenagers at camp. I don't think I was this emo for more than a couple of weeks, but the song stayed with me.
- Sisters of Mercy: Under the gun
Leaving home and my first forays into adult life coincided with doseybat making me a truly wonderful compilation tape which entirely revolutionized my taste in music. It's very hard to pick just one song from that, actually.
- Tori Amos: Anastasia
I fell apart a bit when I was 19, and MK put me back together and incidentally got me completely hooked on Tori Amos while he was doing so.
- Nirvana: Smells like teen spirit
Like, I suspect, a frighteningly high proportion of my generation, I lost my virginity with Nevermind playing in the background. But the big V is mainly just an excuse; Nirvana has been playing in the background for most of the past 10 years, so this one had to be in here somewhere.
- Psalm 23 from Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms
This is the theme song for a passionate and turbulent relationship when I was at university.
- Liz Phair: Polyester Bride
- Simon and Garfunkel: For Emily, wherever I may find her
- Was (not was): How the heart behaves
I was very obsessed with this for most of the first year of my PhD.
- Beth Orton: She cries your name
The real amazing stand-out song on a compilation tape lethargic_man made for me just after we started going out.