For various reasons, I wasn’t able to go home and see my family and my childhood friends that much in 2018 and 2019. 2020 was going to be the year that I addressed this. I had plans to go at least once every two months, to spend more time with people I haven’t seen much of in recent years, to watch my nieces as they continue to rapidly grow. But 2020 wasn’t having any of it. As we move into August, it’ll be a year since I have set foot in the Derbyshire hills I grew up in. Lockdown has, in some ways, led to increased levels of contact with people over Zoom and the phone. I have seen and spoken to some of these people more than I have in years, which has obviously been amazing. But it has also made me miss home all the more. You all know me by now. Whenever I feel any type of emotion, I find a way to link it to music. So here are ten songs that remind me of home.
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
I can’t hear this song without being transported back to my childhood. Van Morrison is my mum’s favourite artist, and his albums were played almost constantly in the house I grew up in. ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ is probably my favourite song by the notoriously miserly singer. While a lot of his music is now not that listenable to me, this one will always get me moving and remind me of seeing a smile on my mum’s face.
Stan – Eminem
There are several reasons why this takes me back to the Derbyshire village in which I was born. One is that it was a repeated listen among me and my friends and was often the soundtrack to us hiding away in my room and finding various ways to get off our heads. Another is that it was the song I used to get my parents on board with Eminem, playing it repeatedly in the living room until they could finally see the magic in the storytelling.
Chelsea Dagger – Fratellis
Okay. We all hate this song now, don’t we? Football terraces have turned into one of the most oft-repeated chants of all time. And the band never really lived up to that early hype. In fact, we would probably look back at this and wonder what the fuck the hype was all about in the first place. But my now 15-year-old niece bloody loved it. When I think of her as a toddler the first thing I remember is her marching around my mum’s living room, sweating like a mad thing, demanding we play this song on repeat. Da da da/da da da/da da da da da da da.
Redemption Song – Bob Marley
Another one that works on several levels for me. Probably my dad’s most played song when I was a small child, and possibly my most played song when I was a teenager. One of the only ones on this list I still love in the same way, too. I remember a version on a battered VHS documentary that I would watch on repeat. Bob’s music has everything I look for, and the emotion within it has carried me through all sorts of times. But when I hear Bob I mostly think of home.
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
I have never been able to work out why my sister, who loved happy hardcore and bands like Skid Row and Guns and Roses, suddenly started playing this titanically awful song on repeat in her bedroom. But she did. I shouted at her up the stairs, I tried to hide the CD, I went out and played football and hoped it would have stopped when I got home. But no.
Flake – Jack Johnson
Look. We were the cool ones, okay? We were into Jack Johnson before all of you fakers. Our friends had travelled Australia and had come back with the CDs of this artist that none of us in the UK knew yet. It was like our own discovery, and we listened to it obsessively. Jack Johnson hasn’t aged massively well if I am being honest, but I stand by ‘Flake’ as a complete and utter tune.
Rumble in the Jungle – The Fugees
My eldest sister left for nursing college when I was still quite young, so a lot of my memories of sharing music with her come from a distance. I would burn her CDs. She would tell me the names of songs she had heard that she thought I might like. This absolute beauty from The Fugees stands out, in particular, as one that we shared. Particularly as it seemed to go somewhat under the radar after their huge hit with The Score.
Let it Go – Idina Menzel
I have already mentioned once niece above. I still lived at home when she was small, so I was able to see more of the music that she enjoyed at that time. I have two younger nieces, one who lives in Australia and one who is near to our childhood home in Derbyshire. If I’m looking for music that makes me think of them, it can only be the lead song from Frozen. It feels like it was the only song we listened to and the only film we watched when we were all together that Christmas, and those two loved every minute of it.
Angels – Robbie Willliams
I have admitted my teenage love for Robbie Williams on this website before, and I couldn’t have made this list without including him. This song stands out. I shared drunken singalongs with my friends in a nightclub (kind of) called the Pav to ‘Angels’, and I also remember thinking it was the ultimate song to play when I was trying to impress a girl. I’m no longer sure about that. I remember shaving my eyebrow to look like Robbie, and I remember saying I want this as my funeral song. My dad often tells the story of how I would play this on repeat and he would listen to it through the wall as he was trying to go to sleep.
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
I have discussed this at length on the most recent episode of the podcast, so I won’t bang on about it for too long here. But it is the ultimate song that reminds me of home. I remember singing it in the mirror on my own in my room, and I remember listening to it on the record player and in the car with my whole family. What a song.
Words by Fran Slater