Amanda Gates

Songs of the Day

I’m not really a music person. I just like what I like. That might be Sheryl Crow or Foo Fighters or a little old-time Neil Diamond because it makes me feel nostalgic and warm inside.

My company has a Song of the Day email group and I got on it but was too intimidated to ever “curate” a week. Because what if people judged my songs? But then after a while I said screw it, and decided to curate two different weeks.

Here were my choices.

Women Who Rock Week

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: This lady right here proves that you can “make it” at any age, like, say, being nominated for your first Grammy at age 58. She brought 60s and 70s funk and soul to the ears of those of us born post-1980.

Here’s “Stranger to My Happiness,” where Sharon not only rocks it but also rocks her post-chemo, beautiful bald head. She emits strength.

Liz Phair: What can be said about Liz besides that the self-produced Exile in Guyville is pure brilliance. Here’s a woman who’s not afraid of her sexuality or what people think of her. She’s also not afraid of a little (or a lot) of cursing. She broke down a lot of barriers for what it means to be a woman in music. And at nearly 50, she’s freakin’ hot.

It’s hard to pick my favorite song of hers – she’s crossed over to more pop-rock in recent years – but “Divorce Song” is always one I turn up and belt out (privately, in my car).

Carole King: Let’s take it back. She’s a legend. Tapestry held the record for the most weeks at No. 1 (15 weeks) for 20 years (until Whitney broke it with The Bodyguard soundtrack).

“Where You Lead” is my go-to lullaby. I still sing it nearly every night. (It’s also awesome because it was the theme song for Gilmore Girls – another pop culture example of whip-smart females representing.)

Jenny Lewis/Rilo Kiley: While Rilo Kiley is no more (or is it?), several of Jenny Lewis’ songs speak to me. They’re anthems for tough times. Or inspiration for something better.\

My favorite of hers is “A Better Son/Daughter.” I cranked it during a rough patch. My favorite verse.

"But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap

And it teases you for weeks in its absence

But you'll fight and you'll make it through

You'll fake it if you have to

And you'll show up for work with a smile"

Hayley Williams/Paramore : Ladies can appreciate her powerful femininity. Everyone can appreciate her set of lungs. Paramore’s been paying dues since they were teenagers. Hayley’s success at age 26 is quite amazing. I saw Paramore perform last year and Ms. Williams just Kicks Ass.

"Last Hope" is my favorite single from the band’s most recent album. It’s best heard live.

Acoustic Week

Dave Grohl: Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light came out the day my mom went into hospice. I listened to it every day as I drove to and from their house to be with her. I love the album in its entirety, but “Walk” is the song I still can’t listen to without tears forming in the corner of my eyes.

Dave says he wrote “Walk” after his daughter Violet took her first steps. But I think he knows there’re multiple meanings behind “learning to walk again.”

Sarah Blackwood: “Wrecking Ball” is probably the only Miley Cyrus song I can name, and it’s because of Sarah’s (and Jenni and Emily’s) version of it. It’s hauntingly beautiful.

Billy Corgan: Smashing Pumpkins is my husband’s most favorite band. I support his fandom, of course, but have never joined him there. However, Billy went on a special 10-city acoustic tour this summer and we saw him in June. Billy acoustic is much more my speed. It was a great show.

Here’s "Tonight, Tonight" acoustic from a couple years ago.

Ingrid Michaelson: Her biggest hit by far, I’ve loved “The Way I Am” since the day it came out back in 2007.

Grace Potter: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have been around for a more than a decade, but I only discovered them recently with “Stars.” The studio version really showcases Grace’s vocal power, but this acoustic version is just so lovely, too. It makes me think of my mom, out there just beyond my reach.



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