What’s your theme song?

I’ve read a few things lately that talk about the importance of having a theme song: some song that inspires you and speaks to you and that you can play as a psych-up song if you’re going on a job interview or into some other situation where you need to feel confident.

I love this idea, but it’s driving me nuts. I love music, but upon reflection I have realized that my music is comprised solely of songs that make terrible theme songs. There are songs I’ve always loved deeply, like Joni Mitchell’s “All I Want” which are lovely but nothing to base your life on. Or Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” — I love it and love singing it at the top of my lungs, but it’s not really the message I want as a theme song. They Might Be Giants “Shoehorn with Teeth”? Robyn Hitchcock “Balloon Man”? Elvis Costello “The Greatest Thing”? (Ok, that last one could maybe work.)

I considered Cat Stevens “If You Want to Sing Out” but somehow I feel that a song that could have been my theme song when I was 12 won’t help me in working toward being the awesome grownup I’m trying to be.

Any suggestions?

Comments (11)

  1. Sarah March 26, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I think Peter Gabriels “Salisbury Hill” would be a good one. Also Seals “Prayer for the Dying”, which sounds depressing but is actually really affirming & uplifting.

  2. Anne March 26, 2009 at 10:04 am

    My high school theme song was Howard Jones’s “No One is To Blame,” and that’s when I stopped having theme songs.

  3. emily March 26, 2009 at 10:12 am

    isn’t if funny? all the songs that I love, that I play over and over, are not theme songs. The National’s “Apartment story” whose actual main chorus is “stay inside till somebody finds us/do whatever the tv tells us/stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz/so worry not…” hmmm.

    I’ve been playing around a little with my first love, John Denver, and “sunshine on my shoulders” (as a child, it was the first song where I applied the lyrics to real life…one day at swimming lessons…sunshine on the water DOES look so lovely! gee whiz!)- another song that one should sing very loudly (when alone). but not really an anthem. I’ll keep thinking.

  4. Clog March 26, 2009 at 10:35 am

    What? I am supposed to have a theme song? Here I am almost 66 and I didn’t know this….maybe “Stay’in Alive” by the Bee Gees. They actually use the rhythm of this song to revive cardiac patients when doing CPR.

  5. Anne March 26, 2009 at 11:01 am

    That BeeGees/CPR fact just made my day. I had no idea!

  6. emily March 26, 2009 at 11:09 am

    anne, SOMEONE is to blame for putting that song in my head, and I think I’m blaming YOU!

    That said, it’s hard to beat Bowie’s “Heros” for getting one pumped up.

    And the Tuesday on the radio I heard r.e.m.’s “belong” and turned the volume in the car up silly loud. So maybe that. I did once listen to that whole album over, over, over on a drive from nj to ct without getting tired of it. But it’s not, er, super pumping.

    I think the thing is, theme songs have to be uplifting AND talk to you. Plenty talk to some part of you, strongly. But to ACT UPON YOU in a positive way…that’s not always, you know, your FAVORITE song. Still thinking.

  7. Elizabeth March 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    How about an anti-theme song?

    “TV Party” by Black Flag?

    “Flowers on the Wall” by the Statler Brothers?

    You know, the celebrate-sitting-around-and-doing-nothing theme song?

    I’ve thought a lot about this though, coming up with a marathon running playlist that would last long enough for me to finish and psyche me up in the process (I currently run with no i-pod).

    Seriously, though, I’ve been singing “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies to my husband a lot lately: “I’M NOT CRAZY (Institutionalized!)! YOU”RE THE ONE WHO’S CRAZY!” As a joke, of course. 😉 What does that say about me? Yikes!

  8. Patrick March 26, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I think that I have two, and they are both(gasp…surprise….shock)Grateful Dead songs
    Scarlet Begonias and Box of Rain.

  9. Lisa March 26, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    I have always said that if there was a sitcom about me I would want Queen’s “Don’t Stop me Now” to be the opening credits, so I guess that is my theme song. Such an party starter!

  10. Julie March 26, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Oooh, Lisa, that’s a good one. See, this is why we’re friends, because you have imagined what the opening credits song to your sitcom life would be (what’s wrong with me that the only way I can picture mine is with the “One Day at a Time” theme song?).

    You all know a lot more artists and songs than I do.

    I love “Box of Rain” but it would be a terrible theme song for me because it just makes me want to take a nap.

    I think that what I’m realizing is that the song I’m looking for, which would have a chorus along the lines of “Be yourself/be real/work hard/don’t forget to keep setting goals/work out every day/put yourself first/stop messing around on Facebook so much” would be a fairly awful song. Unless maybe Ani DiFranco did it or something. I don’t know much about her music, but she seems like some kind of theme song poster woman.

  11. Beth March 27, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I love “You gotta be” by Des’ree, but that has been co-opted by so many people/products/pharmaceuticals. Joe’s theme song is Mighty Mouse’s “Here I come to save the day!”

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