Do you always have a song in your heart? Do lyrics and tunes weave through your thoughts? Dick Clark spoke wise words when he said, “Music is the soundtrack of your life.” I can hear the first chords of certain songs and have memories flood back as strong as when they first happened.

Since I tend to write about dark topics, I purposefully chose a lighter prompt from 642 Things to Write About for today. So this is the prompt I chose:

If each decade of your life was represented by a pop song, what would they be?

1968 to 1978: “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey

This song is a soulful, haunting story about death and loss. I remember listening to it on the school bus, staring out the window as the words and melody carried me away. I knew a lot of pain and loss during that time. A kid who rode my bus was hit and killed checking a mailbox by the road. Our house burned and we lost everything, including my favorite toys. My beloved uncle was murdered. His sister, my aunt, died four months later. My cousins, like siblings to me, moved away. I changed schools three times and left friends behind. We moved to a different state, a different culture, and different way of life.

The sadness in “Wildfire” resonates with me.

1979 to 1988: “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi

Although this wasn’t one of my favorite songs from that decade, I think it best describes me during that time. Most people would think I’d pick a Rick Springfield or Michael Jackson or Prince song, because they definitely topped my playlist back then, but this song reminds me of the person I was becoming: making goals for myself, being stubborn enough to follow them, committing to live the life I wanted. I was going to do what I wanted to do, and be damned anyone who stood in my way.

Here are a few lyrics that especially ring true:

I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd
You’re gonna hear my voice
When I shout it out loud
It’s my life
It’s now or never
I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I’m alive
It’s my life.
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said
I did it my way

1989 to 1998: “Mama Knows” by Shenandoah

This was the decade my children were born. My whole life, everything I did, every decision I made, became about them. I birthed them, educated them, disciplined them, supported them. I had to be the bad guy, even when it broke my heart. All my actions became about raising amazing young men. I think I did OK.

1999 to 2008: “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson

This decade was hard. But we persevered and are stronger people because of it. We lost a car, a house, several business, lots of money and almost lost us. But we came out on the other side stronger. We’re not looking back.

2009 to today: “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z

We’ve been through great change since 2009. I left a career that had been my dream. We started a successful — albeit not monetarily — journalist venture that has since closed, but was an amazing journey. Our children graduated high school and colleges. We’ve visited amazing places and found where our hearts thrive: New York City.

This song is a perfect soundtrack to the past few years and the many years to come. It has a hopping beat that grabs you in the chest and has you rocking as he calls out all the neighborhoods we’ve seen and fallen in love with: Brooklyn and Tribeca and Broadway.

In New York,
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York

I also think it epitomizes the last year of hip hop and rap music that has entered our lives and settled in for a long stay. It’s inspiration. It makes me happy. It makes me long for those streets that exude energy and excitement. It’s a feeling that comes back when I listen to Jay-Z’s song, but it also makes me long for it even more.

I have a pretty eclectic soundtrack. But, then again, I have had a pretty eclectic life.

These aren’t necessarily the songs I think of when reviewing my favorites, but I think they summarize the decades pretty well. Makes me wonder what tunes will define the next four or five decades.

What does the soundtrack of your life sound like?