A few weeks after Bruce turned 60, just over three years ago, I got a package from him in the mail. Inside sat a music CD, with a short note saying he had burned it for his milestone birthday party. Fantastic stuff, 16 songs in all. Many I recognized from artists like Neil Young, Van Morrison, and Dire Straits, but others were performed by folks I had never heard of. I wrote Bruce, saying: “You gotta tell me the meaning of all these songs :).”
He followed up the next day detailing why he had selected each track. It was like a mini-tour of his personal story. You can find the whole list, with just a few edits for privacy, below. But here is the beginning of his note:
I decided to create a soundtrack of my life as a gift for the folks who came to our party. So burning a CD actually seemed easier than creating a website and telling people to download it.
Once I started compiling songs, though, I got carried away and created enough songs for 11 hours. So I tried to boil it down to fit into an 80-minute CD.
This was Bruce: quirky, funny, sentimental, and an altogether great person who cherished friends and family in a special way.
—Bob Buderi, Founder and Editor in Chief, Xconomy
Neil Young, Old Man
This one is obvious and a perfect place to start, especially since I don’t necessarily feel like I’m 60 and feel like I’m still a lot like I was when I was 24.
Joni Mitchell, You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio
I had such a crush on Joni Mitchell in high school. I associate this song with an off-campus high school summer program in Cortez, CO, maybe because it’s a little country-western twangy.
Steely Dan, Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me)
A college favorite with lyrics that have no meaning, but it kind of acquired meaning for me when I went to journalism school in New York.
Dire Straits, Wild West End
Off their debut album that had Sultans of Swing. I think it’s a song about London, but there’s a bar on upper west side called the West End, so it’s another strong grad school association. It was either this or Elvis Costello and “Accidents will Happen.”
The Clash, The Magnificent Seven
This was my favorite on the Sandinista album. It came out at my first newspaper job — at The Dubuque Telegraph Herald.
Joe Jackson, Steppin’ Out
From his cosmopolitan Night and Day album that I strongly associate with The Kansas City Times and dating Lynn O’Shaughnessy.
The Manhattan Transfer,Soldier of Fortune. Isn’t this a great song? I listened to it in Los Angeles, and it reminds me of a favorite Graham Greene novel, “The Power and the Glory.”
Suzanne Vega, Ironbound
This was on a cassette I played during a drive up Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur.
Van Morrison, Before the Days of Rock and Roll
This was on a Van Morrison Greatest Hits CD that came out in the 90s. But I had never heard it before and I thought it was just fantastic. You can almost see Van as a child in Ireland tuning into AFN and all these European radio stations.
George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
I started listening to this album again about 2003. When I was in Pittsburgh covering a bankruptcy hearing in the Peregrine Systems financial scandal, I woke up dreaming this song. It was like a revelation.
Arcade Fire, In the Back Seat
I discovered this Indy group out of Canada, and just loved them. They made their own CDs.
The Afro Celt Sound System
I strongly associate this band with driving Caitlin and Ben to soccer games and tournaments all over Southern California. I discovered them when I heard a Peter Gabriel song on the radio, and I thought “Great! he’s got a new album. But it turned out he was a guest artist on Afro Celt, playing on Peter Gabriel’s music label.
Zero 7, Lukufenele
Ever hear the soundtrack for “Garden State?” Zach Braff had selected all these sensational alternative bands I had never heard of. Lukufenele reminded me of Afro Celt.
Au Revoir Simone, Stars
When we went to visit Caitlin in Barcelona, I got separated from the rest of the family on a trip to a seaside resort outside the city, and spent the afternoon wandering around by myself, listening to my iPod with Au Revoir Simone.
Of Monsters and Men, King and Lionhart
This indy band is from Iceland. I strongly associate this particular song with a hike I made into Rocky Mountain National Park with Caitlin and her boyfriend. We drove home singing this at the top of our lungs.
Lorde, No Better
Just discovered this off her Pure Heroine album that came out last year and was stunned by how good it is.
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