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Top Ten Songs For Being Home Away From Home

My brother Jesse and me, with a spray-painted snowman in front of our childhood home, circa 1987.

Excuse me while I get a little personal. Back in September I went to visit my parents for a full 12 days. For the first time in my entire adult life, I wasn’t compelled to immediately go do something else. Sure, I had lunch dates with friends, and fit in a little karaoke. But on a whole, I mostly spent my time hanging out with my parents. And not only did no one die from it, but in fact no one wanted to kill anyone else either. Spending time with my parents was not only pleasant, but (gasp!) actually enjoyable. Each day my mom taught me how to make something different out of the secret family recipe book. My dad and I went blueberry hunting and happened upon a black bear. We all watched procedural dramas and ate dinner on the couch with the dogs. My mom shared her snuggie. My dad shared the car. For the first time since they moved across the country, Seattle really felt like home.

This week I had surgery. Nothing too serious – the kind where they kick you home the same day with a stockpile of percocet. But also the kind where I’m on (absolutely bored out of my mind) bedrest for a week. And I miss having my mom here. (Sorry dad.) It got me thinking about home. The idea of home as something ephemeral. Transient, even. Musicians across all genres have tried to capture this in song to varying degrees of success, and I’ve spent the last three days in bed (as instructed) culling the possibilities down to a suitable mix.

Mom, Dad, I don’t say it enough, but… Thanks. This mix is for you.

And Without Further Ado, The Top Ten Songs for Being Home Away From Home (Okay, okay, there are 11 songs, not 10. Sue me.):

1. Christina Perri – Arms
I shazamed this song when I heard it on the radio while driving back from Massachusetts on September 11th. It planted the seeds for wanting to make this mix in the first place.

…I hope that you see right through my walls. I hope that you catch me ’cause I’m already falling. I’ll never let a love get so close. You put your arms around me and I’m home…

2. Billy Joel – You’re My Home
I knew this song existed, and I could almost hear it in my brain, but I kept thinking it was Jim Croce or Neil Diamond or someone else whose records my dad made me listen to as a child.

…Well I never had a place that I could call my very own, but that’s alright my love ’cause you’re my home…

3. Chantal Kreviazuk – It Feels Like Home To Me
I will never forget the first time I heard this song. Scott Fried was singing it. That remains the loveliest version of this Randy Newman song I have ever heard, but the CK version is a close second. (Not to overdue references to Neil Diamond, but he also covers this song, and it reminds me of Horatio Caine in CSI:Miami.)

…Feels like home to me, feels like I’m all the way back where I come from. Feels like home to me, feels like home to me, feels like I’m all the way back where I belong…

4. O.A.R. – I Feel Home
This band takes me back to college.

…I feel home, when I see the faces that remember my own. I feel home, when I’m chilling outside with the people I know. I feel home, and that’s just what I feel. Home to me is reality, and all I need something real…

5. The Magnetic Fields – You’re My Only Home
I love how many songs off of the 69 Love Songs triptych are actually really really sad.

…I will stay if you let me stay, and I’ll go if you let go; but I won’t go far away because you’re my only home…

6. Adele – Lovesong
Yes, a cover of The Cure, but I like this version better.

…Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am home again. Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am whole again…

7. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home
I almost missed including this one because it is just so obvious.

…Home, let me come home, home is wherever I’m with you. Home, yes I am home. Home is whenever I’m with you…

8. Talking Heads – This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
The first dance song at the wedding of my friends Koven and Madelyn.

…Home – is where I want to be, but I guess I’m already there. I come home, she lifted up her wings – guess that this must be the place…

9. 3 Doors Down – Your Arms Feel Like Home
From my g-chat with Alice while finalizing the song list for this mix: “I am currently listening to Talking Heads and wondering what kind of person finds it appropriate to put them on a mix with 3 Doors Down and if I will be judged in the afterlife for this decision.” For the record, I’m sure the answer is yes.

…I don’t care if I lost everything that I have known. It don’t matter where I lay my head tonight, your arms feel like home…

10. The Cinematic Orchestra – To Build A Home
Another sad one. But it has pretty piano!

…There is a house built out of stone, wooden floors, walls and window sills; tables and chairs worn by all of the dust. This is a place where I don’t feel alone; this is a place where I feel at home… Cause, I built a home for you, for me…

11. Chris Colfer (ft. Cory Monteith) – A House Is Not a Home
This song is so often covered, it was hard to pick a version. Helping to oversaturate is that it is an American Idol stand-by, highlighted in what seems like every season whether or not they have a Burt Bacharach week. I went with the Glee one, which gave me chills the first time I heard it.

…A chair is still a chair even when there’s no one sitting there. But a chair is not a house, and a house is not a home, when there’s no one there to hold you tight, and no one there you can kiss goodnight…

Several ways to listen to this. Some browsers strip the streaming code, but if yours isn’t one of them, hit play below. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you can listen to this mix on 8tracks here. Or listen to it on rdio here. If you think of any I missed, feel free to leave them in the comments. Enjoy!

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