Soundtrack to My London Life

Writing this post has brought back so many amazing London memories – I love how music can instantly transport you back to a moment in time… Prepare yourselves for some not-so-light reading, as well as YouTube links to some of the great songs that have made up the soundtrack to my life here over the past few years ♥

2006 – a year of new tunes

Robbie Williams –
Intensive Care  This was the first CD I bought in London, when I lived up North in Bounds Green and was still looking for a job (naively thinking my dream design job would land in my lap!) I basically had one song on repeat: Advertising Space. Was never a Robbie fan prior to this but love how haunting the lyrics to this song are (the rest of the album is not bad either…)

Damien Rice, Cannonball – from the album O – reminds me of my first Valentines Day in London, when a group of us (all South Africans new to London) decided to hit one of the bars we’d heard about in the city – only to discover that most bars in the Bank area are pretty dead on a Saturday evening! There was only one group of people in the place – a group of Argentinian guys – and they clapped when we walked in, obviously elated that there was some actual human life in the area that night! We spoke broken Afrikaans all evening so that the boys couldn’t understand us, ridiculous and hugely entertaining!

Fall Out Boy – Sugar We’re Going Down (from the From Under the Cork Tree album) loved this song which I discovered during my short stint as an online radio show host for a South African radio station start-up here in London… The interview for this job was certainly the most interesting one I’ve ever been to! Upon arrival, I discovered that it was more of a group interview – but less of an interview and more of a soiree – where they hired us all and then proceeded to tell us the job was unpaid…(!) They plied us with wine as a consolation and I can undoubtedly say that that this was the first and last interview I will have ever been drunk at!

Angels & Airwaves – We Don’t Need to Whisperthe whole album is great but I love the track The Adventure – it reminds me of walking to work along the sunlit Thames on spring/summer mornings (to my first real job as a receptionist/office manager at an Exhibition Design company), the majestic Tower Bridge in sight, a new day ahead of me – such an upbeat time of my life! It especially reminds me of the excitement I used to feel about being new to London and not knowing what lay ahead of me…

Muse – Black Holes & RevelationsSupermassive Black Hole – another one of my “perk me up” songs that I used to march to work along the river to (long gone the days when I walked from the station in high heels, I was now one of those women I first despised when I arrived in London, the kind who wore trainers with their work outfits) Later, this song became re-popularised by it’s use in the first Twilight movie… I bought this album while living in the marble mansion on Worple Road

Gnarles Barkley – St. Elsewhere – cant actually say that I loved the song Crazy but it reminds me of my housemate from Worple Road, Begi, who used to have it as his ring tone and always used to play it on the CD player in the kitchen, especially when we were having a Club-Worple-dance-on-the-table kind of affair (those were common!) It was a big hit in London over the summer of 2006, one of those songs you just can’t escape… (I literally mean it was everywhere!)

Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars from their Eyes Open album – first heard (and since loved) on Grey’s Anatomy season 2 final – later in 2009, the song I shared the first dance with my husband to at our wedding (goosebumps!)

2007 – a slow year

The Frey’s How to Save a Life (from their debut album with same title) – another Grey’s special (I cannot begin to describe how much I love this show!) This song reminds me of winter and my first festive season in London – was living in my third house-share on Clonmore Street in Southfields by then (yip, I moved around A LOT in my first two years here…)

Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight – this whole album is great but particularly love Leave Out All The Rest, No More Sorrow and Hands Held High – perfectly dark enough to reflect the hatred that developed for my first proper design role as a packaging designer/concept developer for a small confectionery sales company… It all started out great (how could it not, was surrounded by sweets and chocolates everyday!) the actual work was awesome, but the small company vibe and fact that everyone there was practically related started to get me down (as well as the fact that the office was in the sticks of Surrey – a long commute – used to listen to this album often while on the train to or from work…)

Lamb – What SoundAngel Gabriel – while on the train to dreaded packaging design job (see above) I made a friend who also traveled the same route every day, happened to be a South African and who also happened to live on the same street as me (I was on house-share number 4 by that stage, still in Earlsfield though!) She made me a compilation CD and this was one of the tracks I loved – beautiful!

2008 – a year of oldies

A friend introduced me to the U2 rendition of one of my all time favourite songs – Unchained Melody. I love the original (by the Righteous Brothers, made famous by the film Ghost) but I also fell in love with this version which U2 have put their own stamp on so brilliantly…

I was so lucky to attend an amazing event in the summer of 2008 – The Nelson Mandela Birthday Concert in Hyde Park – it was incredible! The old guy himself even made an appearance, and the artists performing to raise funds for Madiba’s charity included: Razorlight, Sipho Mabuse, Soweto Gospel Choir, Leona Lewis, Zucchero, Sugababes, Will Smith, Annie Lennox, Agape choir, Jamelia, Loyiso, Vusi Mahlasela, Johnny Clegg, Eddy Grant, Kurt Darren, Simple Minds, Brian May and Andrea Corr, Amy Winehouse, Josh Groban, Queen + Paul Rodgers!

The Used & My Chemical Romance – Under Pressure cover – a few words to sum this one up: partying with Amy – our getting-ready-feel-good song :)

Kings of Leon, Only By The NightSex on Fire – I’m really bad at hearing actual lyrics and often think what Im hearing is something completely different to what it actually is. Case in point: until I knew the name of this song, I thought the lyrics were “ooooooooooooooh this shit is on fiiiiiiiiire”… Yup…

Johnny Clegg Concert – after getting back from this concert late one night, I was sitting on my bed with my friends Clea and Elise when I got a drunken phone call from hubby-before-he-was-hubby-when-he-was-still-just-a-flame telling me that he’d arrived in London and wanted to come visit (probably less to do with wanting to see me, more to do with needing somewhere to crash – so romantic!) So I let him come over (amazed that he found my house in his state!) and he basically didn’t leave for nearly three weeks, until he moved into a flat a few 100m’s down the road from me. That’s kind of where it all started for us… (quite appropriate that someone gave us a JC + Juluka Greatest Hits CD as a wedding present!)

Keane, Hopes and FearsSomewhere Only We Know – this takes me right back to the beginning of my relationship with Murray (while he was still staying at my house, see above) – it was still at that awkward stage when we weren’t even calling it a relationship, and things got a bit weird before I went off to Paris to visit some friends one weekend. I stole his iPod to take with me on the Eurostar, but let’s just say our musical tastes are quite different! Found a couple of tracks to keep on repeat and this was one of them – appropriate for the confusion I felt about the awkwardness between us just before I left… Such a beautiful melancholic number <3 When I returned, the weirdness was over and our relationship became official.

In 2008 Alexandra Burke won the The X Factor and did a rendition of of Hallelujah – I preferred and became obsessed with the Jeff Buckley version  – originally recorded for his album Grace. Let’s just say I totally killed this one!

2009 – a bit of a blur

MIA – Paper Planes
from the Slumdog Millionaire ST – first heard in a shop in Wimbledon where the cashier thought I was nuts asking her if she knew what the song was! Still love it (bang bang bang bang!)

Jonathan Cain – Bridal March, one of the last songs I heard as an unmarried woman :) Love the piano music… (This, along with Edward’s Lullaby from Twilight, and piano music by Michael Silverman, have made me want to learn how to play – seriously considering it once I’m home!)

Greenday Concert – November – O2 Arena, London. Murr and I went – our first concert as newlyweds. One word: incredible! (Billie Joe Armstrong with that black eyeliner = yum!)

2010 – a feel good year

Biffy Clyro (another lead singer that = yumness, clearly have a type when it comes to male rockers!)Mountains (Only Revolutions album) – in the beginning of 2010 I had just started freelancing and spent all day in my “office” (spare room in our house with desk and office chair in it – enthusiasm soon ran out and before no time was working in front of the tv!) working or messing around online and listening to Spotify… Love this song. Also love Biffy’s Many of Horror/When We Collide (which Matt Cardle did a cover of after winning X-Factor)

Glee Cast – Dont Stop Believing – officially became a Gleek when I first heard this cover of an old favourite <3 Love this show for exposing me to new music and some old tunes – it even made me appreciate Maddona who I never “got” before their Madge-themed episode. So clever and love how they root for the underdog.

K’naan, Wavin’ Flag – from hundreds of miles away I could feel the spirit and connectedness of our beautiful country as it hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010. I loved hearing this song, made me feel apart of it all even though I wasn’t there to experience it for myself – felt so proud to be South African!

2011 – year of the songstress

Virgin TV Karaoke
– my skills and love for “at home karaoke” during impromptu parties emerged early in 2011 when friends George & Lol were staying with us before they went traveling – they’ll be able to vouch for my rapping abilities (Snoop Dogg “featuring Andrea” – Drop It Like It’s Hot) after a particularly heavy night… Only 1 out of 4 of us made it to work the next day! Port- and wine-fuelled Karaoke evenings were common even up until recently (Sarah-Faye and I can belt out Taylor Swift’s Love Story like no other!) and Im hoping (much to Hubby’s dismay) that they’ll continue once we’re settled in SA…

New discoveries: no particular memories attached to these, I just really like them: Lucy Schwartz – When We Were Young (here’s a blog post about this song) and Christina Perri – Jar of Hearts (here’s a blog post about this song)

Sara Ramirez – cover of The Story – another Grey’s Anatomy number, this time sung by one of the characters, Cally (played by Sara Ramirez) – it featured in their Glee-esque episode where quite a few other actors sang as well. Didnt know she had such an amazing voice and loved this from the first minute I heard it (wrote a post about this song). It was also sung/played on guitar by my bestie Sarah’s brother at her beautiful wedding in October – stunning ♥

Wherever You Will Go cover by Charlene Soraia – have always loved this song by The Calling and loved this cover too – so much so that I wrote a post about it which you can read here. I used to hear it almost daily on Magic when I worked as a temp at Lawson Rutter in West Kensington while I was pregnant, towards the end of 2011 and in early 2012

Snow Patrol Concert at The Shepherds Bush Empire – so special for us seeing as Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars was our wedding song – they tricked us though and pretended they weren’t going to play, but they did – right at the end, last song! Loved this concert, very small, intimate and low-key – perfect for a young couple who had just found out they were with child ;)

2012 – little time for music now that baby is here

We Are Young
by FUN
. featuring Janelle Monáe from the recently released album Some Nights – the first time I heard this I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and was washing the dishes while listening to the radio. I thought “hmmm. catchy song” but didn’t actually catch the name or the artist. Little did I know. I was still singing the parts I could remember (very little!) by the time I went to sleep and by the next morning had forgotten all of the lyrics (AND the tune!) completely, except for three words “we are young”… Turned to my trusty Twitter friends and amazingly someone knew what I was talking about and sent me a link. It became my ‘pregnancy song’, such a feel good number – I’d listen to it on repeat while walking in the park most days. Still love it and kind of feel that it is mine and Addi’s song (albeit kind of inappropriate, talking about carrying each other out of bars and stuff, but anyway!) (link to blog post about this song)

As It Seems by Lily Kershaw – I have very few songs on my iPhone (haven’t synched it to my iPod/iTunes properly yet) but bought this one online and basically played it on repeat during walks in the park with my newborn Baby Bird… (also wrote a blog post about this song)

Hush Little Baby – as sung by Andrea Barras. Yip, this is the latest and greatest – I even come up with lyrics on the spot – my fave so far: “if that diamond ring don’t shine, Mama’s going to buy you a bottle of wine…” I have one fan. She thinks my singing rocks.

And that’s where we’re at. I have one week left in London. I’m an emotional wreck – excited one minute, scared the next, sad about leaving behind such a huge part of my life, but dying to begin the next chapter… It’s all happening!


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