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Top 10 Songs That Changed My Life

Updated on October 25, 2018
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Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.


Songs pierce the soul and open our minds and hearts to dreams and possibilities and also help ease our pain or increase our joy. Music can do a lot for everyone. All it takes is that one song to make everything better. In this article, I list the top ten songs that changed my life. With each song, I'll pull specific lyrics that resonated with me and explain why these specific songs impacted me so much.

#1: I'll Fly Away - Johnny & June Cash

I know, there are many who will say "don't get religious" or "don't get bias", but considering I'm talking about my life, I think I'll take my chances. I'll Fly Away was written way back in 1932 and has been recorded by several different artists, the standout amongst them being Johnny Cash with his wife June Carter Cash.

This song had the biggest impact on my life as it led to my salvation. Even if you're not a religious person, this song is undoubtedly upbeat and happy. With the lyrics "Some glad morning when this life is o'er, I'll fly away" and "Just a few more weary days and then I'll fly away to the land where joy will never end", it gives a reason for life. it gives a reason for death, and it gives us hope for what's to come after death. It shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how hard life is.

#2: Tell Me Why - Will Smith

Tell Me Why tries to make sense of all the madness in the world. Even though the song takes place shortly after 9/11, it's still just as important 17 years later. The emotion in this song breaks my heart every time I hear it.

"Why is the bomb always getting the last word"/"Why did all them cops have to be shooting to kill"/"Why did Malcolm and Martin depart from us"/"Why is human life always denied for loot"/"Why did Mandela have to live in a cage"/"why can't love seem to defeat hate"/"why is it so hard for all the children to eat"/"what am I supposed to say to my kids when they say why" - these are just a few of the heartbreaking lines in this song that makes you stop in your tracks and ask yourself..."why?" The thing I love about Will's answer to the question is that he doesn't have one. Now, bear with me here. Yes it seems cynical but do you honestly have an answer? As Will says, "I wish I could explain it". He goes on to express that the only way to fight the hatefulness in this world is to continue showing it how to love.

#3: I Am the Highway - Chris Cornell

Growing up, I only had a handful of friends and it used to really get me down. I used to feel like I wasn't worth anyone's time or that something was wrong with me. I was never a sporty or active person so maybe that's what was wrong with me. I'd rather read than throw a football around so maybe that made me a weirdo. Then along came Chris Cornell with the brilliant song I Am the Highway.

I didn't discover this song until after my second major break-up. We were engaged, then we weren't engaged, then we were close again, then we weren't. She was worse than a roller coaster. But going through the abuse that I went through with her brought back those feelings of worthlessness that I had when I was in my early teens. This song helped me through those dark days after I finally said enough is enough.

"Friends and liars don't wait for me 'cause I'll get on all by myself"/"I am not your rolling wheels I am the highway"/"I am not your carpet ride I am the sky"/"I am not your blowing wind I am the lightning"/"I am not your autumn moon I am the night" are just a few of the lyrics that stuck in my mind, slowly helping me realize that it's okay to be alone. It's not shameful and it's not a bad thing. You have to first be strong on your own two feet before you can be strong with someone else. You have to keep your guard up and say that you will not take the abuse and the hate anymore. You run your life, not others.

#4: This is Me - Keala Settle

I think at some point in everyone's lives, we've all hated something about ourselves whether it be a personality trait or a physical one. My whole life I've been told I'm too this or too that, too quiet, too stupid, too slow, etcetera etcetera. The past 14 years have been difficult. I've been bullied by a Nazi, been abused by who I thought was the love of my life, lied to and betrayed, cheated on and given up on to the point that I was ready several times over to give up myself. While yes there were songs that helped through certain situations, after a while things start building up and you feel like you're drowning. This is Me helped me realize that the first step in overcoming your faults is to accept them.

"I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I'm meant to be; this is me" - this line and every other line in the song made me feel a kind of peace inside. I realized that I'm not the only one struggling. There's others out there facing the same if not worse. Depression and self-loathing is a lifelong struggle but thankfully we have songs like this to help us remember that it's okay to be different as long as you are okay with yourself first.

#5: Dream On - Aerosmith

Dream On was one that impacted me early in life. I've always been a dreamer and I believe Dream On played a central role in that. As I've gotten older, I find that I relate more and more to the lyrics.

"The past is gone, it went by like dusk to dawn"/"Sing with me, sing for the year, sing for the laughter, sing for the tear"/"Dream on, dream until your dream come true" - The song taught me that life is fleeting and that you have to appreciate and hold on to the memories both good and bad. These are the lessons that you learn and grow from. And, when you discover what your dream is in life, never lose it. Dream on until your dream comes true. Chase your dream no matter what it is and don't give up even when things get rough.

#6: Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

Bohemian Rhapsody has gone down in music history as one of the greatest songs of all time. Some people don't understand the meaning behind the song, thinking it's just a random bunch of things thrown together. That's not true, though. The song's actually about a man who was in love with a girl but the girl was with the leader of a gang. Out of jealousy, our main man killed the gang leader thinking that would get him the girl. It didn't, however, and now the gang's after him. So this song is his goodbye letter to his loved ones because he knows he's about to die.

"Mama, life had just begun but now I've gone and thrown it all away"/"Mama didn't mean to make you cry"/"Carry on carry on cause nothing really matters"/"Mama I don't wanna die, sometimes I wish I'd never been born at all" - these words are powerful themselves. Of all the people in our lives we don't want to hurt, our moms are number one on everyone's list. Notice how he repeats "nothing really matters" throughout the song but he also tells his mom to carry on if he dies and he also pleads that he doesn't want to die. So obviously something does matter to him, that most likely being his mom.

It actually does have a very deep and powerful message, one that has knocked me on my butt a few times and made me realize that life wouldn't be worth it without mom.

#7: Starman - David Bowie

Starman was partially responsible for sparking my curiosity and love for space. I used to love to stargaze while listening to this song. It was always a peaceful song that helped me relax and remember that there's a bigger purpose than just what this small world has to offer. As I grew older I understood more and more the hopeful message within it.

"There's a starman waiting in the sky, he's told us not to blow it, 'Cause he knows it's all worthwhile" - these tell us that the starman has seen the purpose and meaning of life and he wants us to keep our hope and faith because he knows the end will be worth all the pain and heartache. There will be a light in the darkness eventually, you just gotta keep watching for it.

#8: Bad Reputation - Joan Jett

Joan Jett has been another huge influence on my life. Whether it was a breakup, or a bad day, or an awesome day, Joan Jett's music has helped me get from one week to the next. Bad Reputation was one of the songs that helped me shrug off what people thought and worry more about my own life.

"You're living in the past, it's a new generation"/"I'm only doin' good when I'm having fun and I don't have to please no one"/"I've never been afraid of any deviation, and I don't really care if you think I'm strange, I ain't gonna change" - Joan says repeatedly that what matters is what you do. Be true to yourself. What others say about you is none of your business. Don't care so much what others say about you, whether it be gossip or bullying, and focus on what makes you happy. Don't change for anyone. Be who you are and who you want to be.

#9: Celluloid Heroes - Joan Jett

I'm sure Celluloid Heroes was a song long before Joan Jett sang it, but this is the version that struck a chord with me. As a lifetime lover of film, this song makes me tear up thinking of all these screen heroes that we often hail as gods and goddesses as regular people who have had their own struggles and pains. It's a humbling song that I've never forgotten and never will.

"Everybody's a dreamer, everybody's a star"/"Those who are successful, be always on your guard"/"Success walks hand in hand with failure on the Hollywood Boulevard"/"You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard, some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain"/"I wish my life was a nonstop Hollywood movie show"/"Celluloid Heroes never feel any pain and Celluloid Heroes never really die" - this song goes in depth telling the stories of some of history's biggest stars. From Greta Garbo to Bela Lugosi, some of these amazingly talented people are only remembered for their films and talent but many neglect to recall these peoples' lives off-screen. There are stars that worked their whole life for just one moment of fame and there's some that achieved it effortlessly. There's some that suffered because of fame. It's truly humbling to realize these people are true heroes more so off screen than on.

#10: Die for Me - Criss Angel

Regardless of what you may think of the title, Criss Angel's Die for Me is actually a very sincere and, in a way, romantic song. It asks the impossible of you, and also makes you look yourself in the mirror and think, what is the point? What, or who, would I die for?

"Truth, lie, to live or die, makes no difference if you're never going to try"/"I know I'll die for you, but will you die for me?" - He's basically saying that you're not living if you're not trying. You have to put in effort in life and you have to have a purpose otherwise what's the point? Criss goes on to say that he'd die for this person, but is this person as sincere as he is? Is she (presumably) in it for the long run or is Criss just another notch in the belt so to speak? Criss is a very intense person and he's suggesting with this song that you need to look for the one person in this world who will love you for you, who would do anything for you, even die. But you have to also reciprocate that. You have to have that same love and devotion for that person. This song taught me what true love is.


Millions of songs have touched people around the world in both good and bad ways but there's only a handful that truly impact and inspire you as an individual. So below in the comments, let me know the songs that have impacted you the most. I look forward to hearing from you!

© 2018 Nathan Jasper


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