Tuesday, 14 May 2013

10 Songs That Shaped Me (A Blog Entry)

Hey guys and girls, Pat Challis here.  As someone who currently goes to counselling for many different reasons, I have been thinking about my life a hell of a lot lately.  About people I know now, people I knew before and about my experiences in life in general.

That's when I started thinking, you really can tell a lot about someone by the music they listen to.  One of my mental issues is that my head can sometimes be incredibly cluttered or 'noisy' as someone once put it and that makes it hard for me to concentrate sometimes.  Then I made the link to my music tastes.  You will see on my shelves everything from Ray Charles to gospel to Marilyn Manson via a bit of opera and quite a lot of world music as well.  I think my varied tastes in songs stems from how chaotic my head can sometimes be, which  in turn gave me the idea to tell you guys about the songs that have shaped me in some way.

These aren't in any particular order, just so you know.


'Backstabber' by The Dresden Dolls

This song is quite a bittersweet song for me on both a personal level and on a mental level.  I have a lot of problems with trust and because of that I sometimes tend to close myself off.  That's due to a myriad of reasons.  For a long stretch of my life, I went from relationship to relationship jumping to whoever would have me basically and that was the start of my self destructive nature coming out.  A lot of these relationships either ended when I was swopped for someone better or when I got bored of having been cheated on and this song reminds me of that part of my life.  There are some very happy memories attached to this song however so it's not all doom and gloom.  When I first met my partner Ashley, we bonded over our love of the band The Dresden Dolls and of Amanda Palmer's solo work as well so even though it does remind me of a painful part of my life, it also reminds me of the day I found my little 'ray of sunshine' in the darkness that I was struggling in back then.


Queen - 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

For me, this is the ultimate bittersweet song.  This was my late father's favourite song of all time and it will always remind me of him and that is both a happy thing for me but also an incredibly painful one as well.  When I lost my dad to Cancer, it literally tore me in two.  I was very close to him and we did everything together.  We all knew that when dad fell ill that it was the kind of ill that you don't get better from but he fought with every ounce of strength in him and I will always be proud of him for that.  I  could learn a hell of a lot from that because there have been times where I have just laid down and given up but dad would never have done that.  He didn't do that in his life and he sure as hell didn't do it at the end.  He even managed to hold on until we were all at the hospital before he sadly left us but how he found the strength to do that I will never know.

Even though it has been a long time now since he left, it still hurts every day that he can't see how I've done in life.  I know he wouldn't be proud of me for the bad things, I'm not naive on that front but I'd like to think that he looks down on us, on myself and Ashley and on Cyrus and smiles.  Knowing that he has a 'Mini-Me' down here.  Dad, I miss you and I always will.  Shoot a game or two of pool for me while you're up there.  I love you.


My Chemical Romance - 'I'm Not OK (I Promise)

During some of my most self destructive moments in my life, I did some incredibly harmful things.  I drunk myself to oblivion trying to drown out the anger and the hurt that I was feeling, especially after losing my dad, I would hurt myself too in a typically cliched and, with hindsight, stupid way as during this period I was trapped in what seemed like a never ending rotation of both physically and mentally abusive relationships.  I've dated more than one person that deemed it OK to use force to get their own way or to verbally  cut me to ribbons to make them selves feel better.  Over and over again it would happen and over and over again I would let it because at the time I didn't think I deserved anything better.  This song reminds me of that period yet I use it as a sort of 'call to arms' for my confidence because it reminds me to never go back there.


Finger Eleven - 'Paralyzer'

One of my favourite songs still and it brings up some very embarrassing memories but they're ones that make me smile.  I used to go to clubs a hell of a lot with my friends.  I didn't really fit in with my friends at the time, and I suppose I still don't in a way, but I wanted to be seen as not boring or lame so I would go along with them to the places that were apparently 'cool' and would drink what they drank and so on.  Embarrassing yes but this song reminds me of that.  It also reminds me of the really awfully cheesy ways that I tried to chat up women in the clubs while I was there.  If you're wondering, no, my chat up lines haven't improved.  Just ask Ashley.


Marilyn Manson - 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)

Marilyn Manson has always been a hero of mine despite his problems because he's always been brave enough to be himself no matter how many people despised him for it.  There's also a funny story about how I got in to the music of Marilyn Manson actually.

I was in a music shop with my mum.  I wasn't that old, maybe early teens and I saw the cover for the Manson album 'Smells Like Children' and for some reason, I absolutely fell in love with it.  After much bugging and, knowing me, bribery my mum bought me the CD and I have been a massive fan ever since.  I've even seen him live twice, both of which are two of my favourite live concerts that I have ever been able to go to.

So mum, it's kinda your fault that some of my music is a bit strange.  Thanks.


Guns 'n' Roses - 'Sweet Child o' Mine'

Weirdly this song reminds me of the two most important people in my life.  My girlfriend Ashley and my son Cyrus.

When Cyrus came to live with Ashley and myself, we were nowhere near ready to be full time parents and besides, we hadn't even been together that long and it put a massive strain on our relationship.  That strain is still felt massively now but I honestly think we should be incredibly proud of ourselves because we're raising a young boy with issues but he has come so far since he came to live with us.

But the song is also another one off those songs that is bittersweet for me.  On one hand, the song reminds me that these two people are the two reasons why I am still here today.  I'm old fashioned in the fact that I want and feel like it's my duty to care, provide and protect these two people no matter what  happens.  That old fashioned point of view also provides me with some of my biggest regrets in life.

Cyrus came to live with us after so many horrible things had already happened.  I won't go in to detail here because it's not really my place to but boy went through so much in such a short amount of time that nobody should ever have to go through.  Yet even though in the end, he came to us and he's thriving despite his problems,  I still blame myself.  Could I have done more?  Legally, no.  Do I still think I could have done?  Hell yes.  Until Ashley stood up and gave me the kick up the arse I needed, I was nowhere near strong enough to fight for Cyrus and I still blame myself for him having gotten hurt.  While realistically there was and would never have been anything that I could have done to have stopped it happening, I still massively blame myself to this day and I suppose I always will.

With Ashley, she has has given up and done a lot for me but because of my past and my mental problems, I have sometimes not been what I should have been to her.  In fact, I've been downright horrible to her and have hurt her with my words and actions too many times to mention.  Despite all of that, she says she can see the good person inside of me and has stood by my side no matter what.  I'm always going to be ashamed that I upset her even once and that's why there's a line in the song that makes me tear up every time I hear it.

"She's got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I'd hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain"


Jane Siberry - 'Can't Rain All The Time'

For as long as I can remember, I have written.  Short stories, poems, attempts at novels and now reviews and interviews.  The main thing that influenced me the most was seeing the movie 'The Crow' for the first time and it really inspired my writing and influenced many things in my life.  Some of them not all that exciting like the way I write things and what I write about right through to how I see life and my belief system.  In fact, when I lost my dad, the movie became like a comfort blanket for me because of the storyline of being able to get back to the person you loved and I loved, still do, my dad very much.  This song is from that movie and I honestly feel sums up the movie perfectly.

No matter how many times I hear this song, I still get goosebumps.  Siberry's voice is so fragile yet beautiful and when I listen to it, I tend to close my eyes and remember that one day I'll get to go to see all the people I love that have sadly left us and for that, I will always love this song.


Amanda Palmer - 'Ampersand'

Amanda Palmer, the lead singer of Dresden Dolls, appears in yet another song in this list but for very good reason.

I have been in many relationships where that relationship has broken me and taken away my confidence, making me small and insignificant.  Also in Ash's past she has felt the same too, so this song is incredibly important to both of us because of that.

The way I look at it, this song reminds me of when I was strong enough to walk away from an intense and very abusive relationship with someone who not  only hurt me physically but majorly screwed with my mind, leaving some of the mental scars that I still wear today.  There are some lyrics in this song that mean a hell of a lot to me and I think of them a lot when I feel myself slipping back in to that old me.

"And I'm not gonna watch you wanna burn yourself out baby
No I'm not gonna stop you
Cause I'm not the one that's crazy"

 This song acts like my shield telling me that I am better than that old me, stronger than that old me and most importantly, I deserve more than what that old me was given.  Luckily that's what I have found in the shape of Ashley.


Alanis Morissette - 'Thank U'

It's kind of weird how a lot of the songs that mean the most to me are sung by strong women singers.  Strange.  Doctor Freud would probably have a field day with that one but anyway, I digress.

This song means a lot to me because the lyrics really strike a chord with me and really do bolster what I believe about loss, death and grief.  It also makes me think that sometimes even though you can feel that live is throwing nothing but sh*t at you that it helps to just step back, breath deeply and  realise that no matter what, there is always something beautiful to see.  Sometimes you just have to look harder than other times.

Ten (a)

Regina Spektor - 'Samson'

Ten (b)

Goo Goo Dolls - 'Iris'

Ten (c)

Hoobastank - 'The Reason'

Hold up a minute there Mr Challis I hear you cry.  You have THREE number tens.  How is that possibly fair?  Well my kind and patient readers, well those of you that have stayed awake through this massive blog entry, there is one good reason why there are three.  That reason is Ashley.

Ashley, yes I know you're probably sick of hearing about her by now, is and always will be the love of my life and my rock but she's more important than that.

Ashley is the reason that I am alive today and I have no doubt about that.  The path of self destruction that I was on, and I'm not naive in thinking this, would not have ended well for me.  She picked me up, dusted me off and showed me that I am a hell of a lot stronger than I have ever thought that I could be.  These three songs signify that for me, as sappy and cliched as that sounds.

It's OK, I'll wait for you guys to stop vomiting.  Done?  Good, I'll continue then.

To cut a long story short, I owe Ashley a hell of a lot and while I have been guilty of not always showing her how much she means to me, I can always look at her and just think "damn I'm one lucky son of a bitch" and you know what guys?  It's true.  I am.  Thank you for reading.  Next time, I promise I won't be so boring.

Be kind to one another and if you see someone in need, open your heart to them.  You might surprise yourself and save someone.

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