What’s The Soundtrack Of Your Life?

It’s been a while since Jean Cocteau railed against stuffy 19th century German music, writing “what we need is music of the earth, everyday music…music one can live in like a house” in his 1918 manifesto ‘The Cock & The Harlequin’. Lucky for us, we live in a time of plenty. There’s so much music; sometimes cacaphonic, sometimes glorious but always “music we can live in”. Just look at the release of the new Twitter music app. And you thought you didn’t need another way of streaming and discovering new music?

Sometimes a song or an album goes deeper than just surface enjoyment. It can infect you, affecting a psychic change or slam-bang alter the way your live your life. That’s when it gets really exciting. To mark Record Store Day, we asked musicians to reveal the records that shapen them for this week’s NME. Dave Grohl talks about the LP that got him through Kurt Cobain’s death, Johnny Marr’s on the record that made him pick up a guitar – and there are lots more. Below, NME writers reveal the Soundtrack To Their Lives. Let us know the stories behind the tracks, bands or albums that’ve soundtracked your life, or parts of it.

The record that got me through winter at a gas fire factory

There was a time when I had a rubbish job in a gas fire factory. I had to be there at 7.30am every morning, and I had various methods of making sure I could get up as late as possible and still get to work on time. One method was to listen to the album ‘We Are The Lazer Viking’ by the noise-rock band An Albatross. It’s not, really, a great record. But it’s a totally mental screamy electro-metal album that gets through its 11 songs (with titles like ‘The Revolutionary Politics Of Dance’, Wrggggggggggrkyyyyy!!!!!’, ‘I Am The Lazer Viking’ and ‘The Vitally Important Pelvic Thrust’) in nine minutes. Every morning when I woke up the first thing I did was listen to it. If I wasn’t ready to leave the house by the time it had finished, I had failed. I was absolutely exceptional at getting dressed really quickly by the time I handed in my notice. And that was the soundtrack to my life during that particularly bleak winter.

Tom Howard, Reviews Editor


The record that made me get a tattoo

Tom Waits & Keith Richards – ‘That Feel’. I first discovered Tom Waits’ 1992 record ‘Bone Machine’ after hearing ‘Goin’ Out West’ on the Fight Club soundtrack, and the album proved to be just as raw, visceral and life-shaking as being punched in the face by Tyler Durden. The record ends with a ragged duet between Waits and Keith Richards, a broken hymn to “that feel” in your gut that you can never shake. There’s a line about it being “harder to get rid of than tattoos”, and something about Waits’ mournful croon made getting inked seemed irresistible. The song also mentions a “wooden leg” and “glass eye”, but I stopped short of going that far.

Kevin EG Perry, Assistant Editor, NME.com


The band that soundtracked university

“I got soul but I’m not a soldier”… It’s September 2004, and I’m 17 years old, fleeing from Glasgow into the big bad world (Manchester) to begin LIFE (a degree). I am meeting the people who will shape me (older, 18-year-olds) and I am living on my own manor (damp Halls Of Residence) and wherever I go, whatever I do the echoes of choruses from The Killers’ ‘Hot Fuss’ ring clear. In the library, in the quad, in the clubs, in my single-bedroom… The Killers are EVERYWHERE. Over the course of three years my life feels like it’s changed beyond belief, all the while that album played through. In June 2007, I celebrate graduation in the fields of Glastonbury. The Killers headline on Saturday night. I’m on some guy’s shoulder. My best friend’s on some guy’s shoulder. All our other uni friends surround us. “I GOT SOUL BUT I’M NOT A SOLDIER!” we sing in unison. And that’s why I will always like The Killers.

Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor


The band that taught me everything

The Beatles, ‘Help!’ was first thing I ever knew. I didn’t buy any records for myself until I was 10 so made do with my mum’s old collection – mainly a bunch of Petula Clark, Shadows and Kenny Ball 45s and this one LP, The Beatles’ final pure beat-group album. It taught me all about pop, the harmonies, the hats you wear, the sort of thing you sing about – being in the movies! – and which instrument did what. For better or worse, I know it’s the foundation of everything I’ve thought about music since.

Matt Horton, Writer

The song that made me want to move to Honduras

I hated reggaeton when I first heard it. That jagged, bludgeoning off-beat and the sex-demented lyrics but within a few weeks of living in the clubs of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, I completely fell for it. It soundtracked a coming-of-age period where I moved away for a bit and got into all sorts of trouble. Apart from Ryan Adams and Jeff Buckley, I don’t think I listened to anything else in 2003. When I hear a song like Don Omar’s ‘Dale Don Dale’ now my stomach lurches and I want to go back there; I can almost taste the frijoles, hot street dust and adrenaline.

Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.com


The first record I ever bought

TLC’s third album was first album I ever bought with my own(ish) money at Woolworths in Aberystwyth. It was the end of 1999, maybe the start of the exciting new year 2000 and, looking back, the person behind the till shouldn’t have sold it to me because it was the version with the so taboo ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker. I remember it clearly because a) I listened it to on repeat for months learning the words to ‘No Scrubs’ even though I was terrified of boys and b) because the same day my best friends bought Dido – No Angel and Limp Bizkit’s ‘Significant Other’. Huge releases. The other thing I bought that day was the debut by squealy rock band JJ72 (it was a strange winter) but only one has stayed with me. I’ve got the proper copy still, and I still walk down the street listening to ‘My Life’ – mantra “It’s my life and it don’t affect nobody else but me” – and feel like a boss, just like I did then. They dedicated the album to everyone who has ever sent them fanmail and the sleeve folds out into a poster featuring names of their fanclub. I guess it was an early version of the retweet which, if i was a pre-teen again, I’d definitely be trying to get from my favourite bands.

Sian Rowe, Assistant Reviews Editor

A record that soundtracked my friendships

‘Is This It’ came out shortly before I started at Cardiff University, in 2001. During my first year it was as ubiquitous in my halls of residence as stolen traffic cones and posters of Che Guevara. While ‘Last Night’ soundtracked the beer-skid dancing at the Clwb Ifor Bach venue every Wednesday night, putting the album on when walking into a flat became as natural as flicking the kettle on. A stunning, influential album that would change the face of indie music. But for me, it’s the sound of friendships being forged and overnight dissertations being written.

Jamie Fullerton, Features Editor