1. Wir sind Helden: Wütend genug
Shouldn't I be angry, people keep asking me, shouldn't I be ranting and raving and cursing my fate?
They don't understand if I respond with a simple question.
They look at me like I was out of my mind.
"But you lost your leg, you had to give up your home and your work and your dreams!"
Sure I did, and I certainly did my share of ranting and raving and cursing my fate, I'm not a saint who serenely accepts whatever life has thrown his way.
But that was long ago. I've outgrown that. Mostly, at least. There are some days when I wish things had taken a different turn. I'm still no saint, of course.
More often than that, I am thankful for all that I got instead. My love. My kids. My life as it is.
2. Jefferson Airplane: Volunteers
They are going to war again, that country that I should rightfully call home. I haven't got any hard feelings about the USA, after all I spent a happy childhood there, and it's not the fault of the States that my youth was not all that happy.
But I don't understand why they are once more sending young men to a faraway country to fight and die, or be shot and crippled, and I admire those who take to the streets in protest.
3. Loreena McKennitt: The Star of the County Down
The piper had drawn a little crowd gathering at the edge of the fair in the village square, mostly awed children.
Nell took my hand and dragged me over there, too, smiling happily.
"Isn't that lovely?" she said.
I nodded and smiled back at her, but my smile froze when I recognized the tune. It was not one of the upbeat Breton dances he had been playing earlier, it was an Irish folk song that catapulted me back across the ocean, back into a dark, smoky bar, back to a curvaceous young singer with shiny black hair. It had been one of Rosie's favourites, back when we were still going strong, before she had betrayed me.
4. Bruce Springsteen: Buffalo Gals
Jess squealed with glee as I spun her round and round, singing along with me, making up nonsense words when she lost track of the lyrics, and I laughed because she looked so adorable, trying to keep the song going but losing my lines myself at some point.
"… we dance by the light of the moon", a sweet voice chimed in.
I looked around and found Mom standing in the doorway with a big smile on her face.
She had always been a good singer, but I hadn't heard her sing often after my father had died. Hardly ever, in fact.
5. Rattle The Boards: St Patrick Was a Gentleman
"Grandpa, let it be", I giggled. "You just can't sing!"
"I can't sing?" He gave me a hurt look that I knew he was faking, and I laughed all the more for it.
"No, you can't! Let Grandma do the singing!"
"That boy says I can't sing. Listen to that!" He defiantly broke into another scratchy rendition of his old folk song, his voice wandering wildly through the high and low notes.
Grandma smacked him with her dish towel and said, "That boy is quite right, John Walsh. Leave the singing to him and me. Care to sing a bit with me, Mickey love?"
"Of course!" Together, we finished the song at the top of our voices while Grandpa sat by and shook his head in laughing defeat.
6. Wir sind Helden: Alles
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Mick", Grandma told me firmly.
I was sitting on the threshold of the back door again as I had done so often lately, my head on my knees, staring moodily into emptiness.
"It has been three weeks now, and you know you can't mope around forever. People are already asking what's the matter with you – all that just because of a girl? She'll be back for her next holiday after all. You've still got all of your life ahead of you, so don't whine about a few months of separation!"
7. Madonna: American Pie
I recalled that scene by the back door many years later, lying on my back in a lawn chair outside the rehab facility, trying to relax in the sun that was slowly gaining strength as spring turned into summer and trying to forget why I was here.
How silly I had been, to think that the world was ending just because Eliza had gone back home to Boston and wouldn't be around for the next months.
And how glad I would be if all my current worries came down to missing a girl.
I was missing a woman, more than I could say, but that was only part of the problem.
How naïve I had been then, how hopeful, what a silly dreamer with my head in the clouds!
It had been such a wonderful time in retrospect, blissfully carefree, with health and the promise of happiness in abundance. I should have lived my life to its fullest then instead of pining for a girl who'd leave me in the end.
8. The Avett Brothers: Pretty Girl From Michigan
"Were you ever unhappily in love, Dad?" Annie looked up at me, her eyes red and eyelashes spiky from crying. "Before you met Mum?"
"Oh, yes, Annie, I was", I said wistfully, not quite ready to elaborate on the subject. "It's something we all have go through sooner or later, I guess." I wiped her tears away with the heel of my hand, and she sniffled thankfully.
"I guess so, too. I only wish it wouldn't hurt so much!"
9. Karan Casey: Black Is the Colour
"What did make you fall in love with Daddy?" Annie asked with interest and bit heartily into her apple.
"At first it was probably that he was so totally different from everyone else around. He didn't care what people thought of him, he spoke his mind where other people tiptoed politely around a tricky subject, and he challenged me, saying I wouldn't last long on that island. I'm not quite sure if I didn't hate him a little bit at that moment.
"And then we got to know each other better, and I started to love all the little things about him. His eyes, his mouth, his voice, the way he squinted, the way he walked, and the way his hair curled around his ears and collar and kept sticking up everywhere when he took of that old hat he used to wear all the time. I even loved those awful cigarettes he smoked because he had this habit of dangling them from the corner of his mouth that looked so incredibly sexy, if you don't mind me saying this about your father."
"Wow." Annie nodded, impressed.
10 . Elvis Presley: Love Me Tender
I felt her move beneath me, moaning pleasurably, her fair skin golden and beautiful in the lamplight. Her eyes had been closed but she opened them now, fixating me with a mellow loving gaze.
"I love you", I whispered hoarsely. "You have no idea just how much I love you."
"Oh, I think I do", she replied and grabbed my neck, pulling me close for a deep, deep kiss.