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Feature: 10 Tracks That Have Shaped My Love of Music

Photo by: Diane Woodcheke

By Olivia Williams

Being 15, I haven’t been on this earth long enough to experience too much, or really know what my “taste” in music is like, and I’m sure by the time I’m an adult it will not be the same. Regardless, here are ten tracks that have had a huge influence on me as a person, have shaped my love for music, and explain why I love photographing it.

I’ve always been around different kinds of music and involved with music from an early age. My grandfather is a bluegrass musician, my brother is an all-genre musician, and my parents have filled our household with countless musical influences; many days were soundtracked by a multitude of genres, from The Beach Boys to Doug E Fresh, which I’ve heard my dad shamelessly sing every lyric to while riding driving.

Most of my earliest and favorite memories with music are from when I was about 6-8 years old. My dad bought a ‘68 Buick Skylark convertible which, to a 6-year-old, looked like a really cool Hot Wheels car. My family would hop in it and head off to the mountains with no certain place to go, and we would always have mixtapes and CDs playing the most randomly amazing songs. When I say random, I mean it!

We would listen to anything from Gordon Lightfoot to Dave Mason. The Black Crowes and Kid Rock could play all on the same CD and I would think nothing of it. I remember riding for hours,  laying down in the back seat, and looking up at the sky, just listening to the music. There’s something about cars and music that go together so perfectly. Some of the best songs were written about cars, like Sammy Johns “Chevy Van” or Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.” Most of the music and musicians who have inspired or influenced me are results of cruising around in that Buick with no particular place to go.

Miranda Lambert – “Kerosene”

Being the only female artist on here, she is someone I could relate to and be influenced by the most when I was younger. It’s probably odd that a kid could relate to setting a cheating ex’s house on fire, but it’s not just this particular song or music video that has influenced me; it’s her as a whole. It’s all of her albums and just what she embodies. She showed me that just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I have to tolerate certain things, or tolerate being treated a certain way, and that it’s ok not to fit the “girly girl” mold. She is one of the artists that have influenced me the most in my style and attitude. When I was 10, Miranda Lambert was the epitome of cool in this video and I’m still trying to recreate her outfit from it today.

Van Morrison – “Into The Mystic”

The first time I heard this song was at a blues festival, and I was over at the little vendor tents barely in ear shot of the stage. Lawyers, Guns & Money was on stage introducing this song, and I really wasn’t listening all too well. They started the song off with a lap steel intro and as soon as I heard the first note I stopped looking at whatever weird knick-knack the vendors were selling and just listened. It was one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard, and I instantly loved it. When the band finished, I asked who was on stage, and instantly downloaded the song, which I would eventually listen to it 100 times on repeat that weekend. It’s still one of those songs that just doesn’t get old for me

Cowboy with Duane Allman  – “Please Be With Me”

I was reading a biography about Duane Allman written by his daughter, entitled “Please Be With Me,” and I had no clue there was a song of the same name until I finished the book. I listened to it shortly after I finished the book, and it quickly became one of my favorite songs Duane had played slide on. Scott Boyer from Cowboy wrote it, and the only reason it even got recorded was because Duane wanted to play on a new song on Cowboy’s record! It was really just a throwaway song Scott had written while messing around, but Duane and Johnny Sandlin ended up loving it and voilà, it got recorded. Eric Clapton does a great cover of this song (https://youtu.be/YytOpnJ_3sQ), although the vocals are probably just as good as Cowboy’s. It just doesn’t have the same feel without Duane on the slide. That’s what makes the song.

Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations”

When I was younger, my dad made these CD’s with music to help me and my brother fall asleep. The mix had other artists on it but I always fell asleep too early to find out who they were. The first few songs on it were Beach Boys tunes and that’s all I remember. The great thing about the Beach Boys is that there wasn’t just one song that helped form my taste in music; the whole band itself and their albums had great influence on me! It still amazes how genius and before their time they were. Even though they definitely had their ups and downs, they are easily one of my favorite bands. Their harmonies were amazing and even to a kid not knowing exactly what harmonies were I knew that all of those guys singing together sounded unreal, and I loved every minute of it.

The Allman Brothers Band – “Soulshine”

I not only got my music taste from cruising in the Buick when I was younger, but also from my musically-inclined brother. Being that only a thin wall separates our bedrooms, whatever he was listening, so was I. This only means I have listened to I don’t know how many hours of the Allman brothers, and him trying to imitate Duane’s famous slide sound. That has had a lot to do with my music taste and the reason the Allman Bros. are a huge influence on me. Though Duane isn’t playing on this one, no matter who’s doing it it’s a great song and the Allman Brothers do an incredible version of it. No matter who you are, the lyrics to this song just have to make you feel good.

Little Feat – “Roll Um Easy”

This was one of the first Little Feat songs I remember hearing. It’s a lot like “Into The Mystic” for me when I heard the first little riff, but I was hooked and listened to it on repeat for the next week. This song was off of Dixie Chicken, which is a great album that has more well-known songs on it like “Dixie Chicken” and “Two Trains.” Along with “Roll Um Easy,” Little Feat’s “Willin’” formed my love for the band and their music. This is another song with some amazing slide work on it and, along with Lowell George’s voice, makes it one of my all time favorite songs.

Blackberry Smoke – “Ain’t Got The Blues”

I thankfully found these guys when I was pretty young (more like my brother introduced their music to me when I was a kid but still). This is a band that I could happily listen to 24/7 because they are just that great. There’s no one Blackberry Smoke song that I could pick that is my favorite or has shaped my love for their music specifically, but this one does a pretty good job at it. These guys showed me that some of the greatest musicians never get any radio play (or at least not on radio stations around here). They really shaped my love for Southern rock and the music that has been coming out of the south for years. Some people say these guys are bringing back southern rock or they are the “new” Lynyrd Skynyrd. You can call them whatever you want, but I think most people can agree that they are some talented musicians that are making real honest music and people are digging it!

Johnny Cash – “Ring of Fire”

I’m not exactly sure where the first time I heard this song was, or even when I heard it, but I do know I sang this song all the time as a kid and I’m sure annoyed my parents with it. This gem of a song by Johnny Cash formed my love for the man in black. No matter who you are or what kind of music you like, you have heard one of this man’s iconic songs at some point in your life. Songs like “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues” made him famous but he had so many more songs that were just as good. He shaped my love for classic and outlaw country, as well as some blues. Johnny Cash is one of those musicians that will always be iconic to any generation.

Robert Earl Keen – “Mr. Wolf and Mamabear”

When someone asks me, “What’s your favorite song?” this is what I respond with. This has been my all time favorite song since I was a little girl, before I even knew what most of the song was about, and to be quite honest it still doesn’t make that much sense to me. I just know the meaning of the words now. No, this isn’t some philosophical song that has some deep meaning about life, nor is it about love of any kind. It’s exactly what the title says it’s about: Mr. Wolf and Mamabear. I know the first time I heard this phenomenal song I was riding in the Buick. Again, like all my favorite songs, from the first few seconds I heard it I loved it. I remember loving it so much I wanted to show all my classmates this amazing song when I was in the 1st grade; granted, the song talks about smoking opium and calling the “dogs of war” (I just suggest you listen to the song to understand), but I was still so devastated when my parents told me I couldn’t show the children at my private Christian school I was attending at the time. This one will always be my favorite song, and I have no clue why, but it’s great.

Tom Petty – “Anything That’s Rock n Roll”

Tom Petty’s music, style, and attitude is just too cool. I don’t think there is one Tom Petty song I’ve ever heard that I didn’t like. I could try to list 10 of my favorite Tom Petty songs and I would still have a tough time doing it; just picking one of his songs was difficult, to say the least. This one is off the band’s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers debut album, which has the 2 singles “American Girl” and “Breakdown” that made Tom Petty a household name. Though this one was only released as a single in the UK and still doesn’t have nearly the recognition in the US as it I think it should, nevertheless it’s a great track off of a great album which has had a huge influence on my love of music.

I could have listed 100 songs that have had an influence on me through the years, but most of the songs listed here I heard when I was pretty young and they had a huge impact on me as a little kid; I think that says something about the songs and the artists. I’m pretty certain without that Buick and the CDs/Mixtapes I would have had a majorly different taste in music, and probably would not be doing music photography. So kudos to that Buick.

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4 Comments

  • Michelle Williams

    / Reply

    Olivia, we are so proud of you. So excited to see what is next for you. You are an amazing young lady and I see big things for you.

  • Hannah Vantrease

    / Reply

    You are such a talented writer (and photographer)!

  • Houston

    / Reply

    Your taste in music is as awesome as you are. Besides being a fantastic & talented photographer, I’m sure there is a future in journalism as well. Keep up the good work Olivia! 👍❤️🎼🎸🎶

  • Cindy McBride

    / Reply

    Love the Allman Brothers! Great job on the article!

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