What song changed your life?


Woody Guthrie’s ‘Union Maid’ taught me the power of song to stir an audience, and to this day I sing it at the Newport Folk Festival’s open mic on the Museum Stage.
— Nick Noble, Worcester, MA
Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ blew my mind when I was a kid. I was fascinated by the voice, and the fact that I couldn’t tell anything about how the person looked by how they sounded.
— Alyssa, NH
Bohemian Rhapsody
— -Trixie R., Berlin, CT
Rearviewmirror, Pearl Jam
— Jessica Dolin, Seattle, WA
Orange Moon
— Erykah Badu
‘A Better Son/Daughter’ by Rilo Kiley. Jenny Lewis is my spirit animal forever.
— Melissa, NYC
‘Terrapin Station’ by the Grateful Dead. I heard that guitar riff coming out of a stereo and I didn’t know what it was, but my life was never the same after that.
— Jake, Summit, NJ
‘Take Time’ by The Books. It came into by life when I was first really discovering how much music is actually out there and how you can choose to define and differentiate yourself through what you listen to. It was a pretty huge revelation.
— Emma, Boston, MA
‘I Knew Prufrock Before I Got Famous’ by Frank Turner. This is my favorite song about friendship and leads off my favorite album, Love, Ire And Song. Frank also was the first artist to allow me to interview him for my radio show while I was still in high school—40 artists and three years later I owe it all to Frank and his spectacular music.
— Geoff Morrissey Pembroke, MA
‘New Day’ by The King’s Singers. I played it for every boyfriend/potential spouse. If they didn’t like it, I broke up with them. I married a guy who not only liked it but let me have it in our wedding. xo
— Suzanne, Westport, CT
‘All the Good People’ sung by Fred Holstein
— Tim Mocarski, Racine WI
‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young - because it’s the first song I learned to play on the guitar that wasn’t classical and I felt like I was cool.
— Susan Haugland, Lake Bluff IL
‘Feel the Pain’ by Dinosaur Jr.
— Brad Lauretti, Florida
‘River’ - Joni Mitchell
— Steve, Naples, FL
‘The Age of Worry’ by John Mayer - heard it when I needed to.
— Lindsay, FL
‘Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night . . .’ by Bruce Springsteen
— Jeff Berger, Basking Ridge, NJ
‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford and Sons
— Nicole Chininis, Somerville
I could name so many songs especially from my childhood, listening to my parents play their albums but the U2 song “One” was timed so perfectly with a huge painful transition in my life. It all turned out good but that song still gives me goose bumps every damn time I hear it.
— Bonnie Kane, Providence, RI
‘Wilderness’ by Middle Brother
— Emma, Burlington, VT
‘Someone Like You’ by Van Morrison
— Anne Roy
‘Coming Down’ by Anais Mitchell
— Haley Katrin
‘I Won’t Give Up’ by Jason Mraz

Provides the reminder not to give up on many aspects of life during the time of my life that I needed a reminder.
— Tom Roy
‘Not Fade Away’ by Buddy Holly
— Peter Q., Sheffield, MA
‘Gay Thoughts’ by The Growlers
— Fritz Drybeam, Point Lookout, New York - Home of Poseidon
‘You were meant for me’ by Jewel. Started my love for singer/songwriters and everything acoustic.
— Samantha G., Meriden CT
‘Let It Ride’ by Ryan Adams. I was obsessed after the first listen and have been a fan ever since. ‘Let it ride, let it roll, let it go.’
— Jessica R, Nashville, TN
‘Victory’ by Trampled by Turtles. This song has everything I love about music. Good lyrics, good instruments, and a good vibe.
— Taylor W., Middlefield, CT
‘I can see clearly now’ by Jimmy Cliff was a song I listened to when I was down, and struggling with being a kid. The song has always has always been very emotionally for me.
— Jenn R
Precious - The Pretenders... I realized there was life beyond Country & Western & Classic Rock (which wasn’t Classic Rock at the time) :)
— Karen C., Sunapee, NH
Dark Star, Grateful Dead...Blew my 15 year old mind. I saw The Dead & The Allman Bros at the Fillmore East in 1970 and I’ve never been the same since.
— Rich West, Orange, N.J
Funky Cold Medina - Tone Loc. Mozart with a beat box
— Kevin DiStasio, Chattanooga, TN
‘I don’t know where I’m going, all I know is I’ll hit the ground running’ - Smog
— Columbia, SC
‘In Memoriam’ by The Oh Hellos for reminding to me stay wild and never give up on love.
— Pat, RI
‘Western Skyline’ - Dawes. Tears every time. I’m never home so music has become my home.
— Stephanie, Fort Worth, TX
‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys for all the people in my life who guide, inspire and love me.
— Sarah, RI
I heard ‘New Lace Sleeves’ for the first time on a fuzzy post debauchery commute and started crying in my car. Everything in my life came into focus and I ended up casting off a lot of hypocrisy I’d been carrying around. Thanks Elvis.
— Alex, Brooklyn NY
‘The Lighthouse’s Tale’ by Nickel Creek
— Skyler, Washington D.C.
‘Sympathy For The Devil’ by The Rolling Stones
— Bre, Ossining, NY
‘Maps’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was the first song I really loved. It introduced me to Karen O., who became sort of a role model for her creativity.
— Clara, Brooklyn NY
‘I’m late to the game!’ by Ray Lamontagne has been around a long time, but the second song in his set was AWESOME!! I will be trying to figure out which one it was, but meanwhile I’m sure I’ll become quite the Lamontagne fan!!
‘Friend of the Devil’ by Grateful Dead. My dad played bass in a country band for many years while I was growing up and he would sing that song. I heard it again many years later after he passed away, and many great memories of him came back all at once.
— Matt P., Bogota NJ
‘It Wasn’t Me’ by Shaggy. First song I ever downloaded on Limewire and really epitomizes high school and the close bonds I made growing up in Maine in the bunkhouse.
— Babo, Camden ME
‘Wish I had a river I could skate away on...’ River by Joni Mitchell
— Susan, Pittsburgh PA
‘Take the Night Off’ by Laura Marling
— Allison Schilling
‘32 Flavors’ and ‘I am Not a Pretty Girl’ by Ani DiFranco made me a feminist.
— Brooke, Metuchen, NJ
‘Both Sides Now’ by Joni Mitchell got me through my first broken heart. ‘It’s loves illusions I recall, I really don’t know love at all.’
— Annie McDonough
‘I Have Made Mistakes’ by The Oh Hellos, it’s a great reminder that learning and growth is critical. I can’t wait to hear them play on Sunday!
— Meghan Gloyd
‘Rill Rill’ by Sleigh Bells is my fight song. I can’t think of an occasion that is not improved by having that song playing out loud or in my mind.
— Ben Murphy
‘Vienna’ by Billy Joel, it was the first Billy Joel song I had ever heard, the line ‘where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about’ has always resonated with me. I find the playful criticism of the importance of life soothing and reassuring
— Austin High
‘So Well’ by Dawes. It’s a beautiful, simple song that goes straight to the heart and makes me appreciate the beauty in life.
— Arestia Rosenberg
‘The End’ by The Doors. I have listened to it daily since July 7, 1983. For 11:41 seconds each day, the world is my own.
‘Awake My Soul’ by Mumford & Sons. It taught me you only have one body to live in and to love yourself unconditionally.
— Matt Fraher, Brooklyn, NY
Beethoven - String Quartet no. 13
Changed the way I hear music.
— Brandon Cooper, Philadelphia, PA
‘Four Women’ by Nina Simone - I remember hearing that the first time as a kid and being floored...As a Black woman, it allowed me to be in touch with many shades of my past and the past of others like me...It was a guide to self-acceptance and I thank you, Mrs. Simone...
— Michelle Cruz, Providence, RI
‘59 Sound’ by The Gaslight Anthem
— Joseph Cooper, Ocean County, NJ
‘Jesus, Etc.’ by Wilco
— Corey & Rachael
‘Snow Is Gone’ by Josh Ritter

’I’d rather be the one who loves than to be loved and never even know’ is a line that has reverberated through me since the first time I heard it. I have carried it with me ever since and during many different contexts in my life I always come back to that line and it somehow helps me through, no matter what the situation is.
— Joanna Goldin, San Francisco CA
Without a doubt, ‘Wild as the Wind’ by Garth Brooks changed my life. If you’ve never heard it, you ought to change that.
— Brandon Rivington, Brooklyn, NY/Columbus, Ohio.
‘Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.’
’Murder in the City’ by The Avett Brothers
— Marissa Simoes, Beacon, NY (Home of Pete Seeger)
‘Just Keep Me Moving’ by kd lang on Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
Because kd lang has the most beautiful voice!!!
And this very simple song reminds us all to enjoy the moment that we are in.
— Lisa Carpenter, Ridgefield CT
‘Wait So Long’ by Trampled by Turtles. This was the first song to turn me on to folk/bluegrass music. You can’t help but stomp your feet when you hear the fiddle!
— Jess Doucette, North Reading MA
Upon the watershed, standing at the fork in the road ...... You’ll never fly as the crow flies, get used to a country mile.
— Indigo Girls
‘Bonnie & Clyde’ by Serge Gainsbourg was introduced to me through the ending scene in this slightly forgotten Oliver Assayas film, Irma Vep. I had never heard French Pop before and I never looked back
— Coyote, Bethel CT
‘Conversation in a Car’ by Aztec Two-Step. Song not so much “changed” my life but really helped during difficult times, when I was going through numerous surgeries, starting with, as I call it, a simple brain surgery.
‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac changed my life because I heard it when I was in a dark place and the lyrics changed my perspective!
— M. Hastings, Ithaca NY
‘The Way I Used To Be’...Frank Turner
— Cyndi, Foster RI
‘Do You Remember’ by Jack Johnson
My proposal song to my girlfriend and she said yes!
— David, Jamestown RI
‘Another Pleasant Valley Sunday’ by Carole King, but the Monkees’ version. Great food for thought and kick ass dance beat for an impressionable suburban pre-adolescent! The source of many spontaneous dance moments throughout my life.
— Liz, Peace Dale RI
The first time I listened to ‘The Purple Bottle’ by Animal Collective, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The place where that song started at was definitely not the same as where it ended. It’s so rich, layered and complex that I hear & feel new things every time I listen to it.
— Rina, Brooklyn NY
‘I’d rather be the one to love than to be loved and never even know’ - ‘Snow is Gone’ by Josh Ritter

This lyric of this song was eye opening when I was just 20. It makes me think about why we love, and why we share our love in spite of the risks of being hurt.
— Kerry, Alexandria VA
‘Welcome Home’ by Radical Face
The line “take these scars from off my back, I don’t need them anymore” has been instrumental as I have moved forward from pain and been able to start new things in my life.
— Elise, Portland ME
‘Til There Was You’ by the Beatles. Our wedding song and being married to my husband for the last 29 years has changed my life!
— Kriss Auger, Wickford RI
‘Hace Tiempo’ by Fonseca. Happiest sounding song ever with the saddest lyrics. It made me realize the best thing you can do with your life is take your hardest moments and repurpose them into something that could make someone else happy.
— Taylor Duffy, Midland Park NJ
‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon is easily the first song I can remember being exposed to as a child, and the only song that has remained with me throughout my entire life. I can still go back and listen to that whole album and remember what I was wearing and doing when I heard it at such a young age in my childhood home. That song in particular instantly puts a smile on my face and reminds me why I still love music and attend things like the Newport Folk Festival
— Emily Witkowski, Woodbridge NJ
Patti Smith’s ‘Because the Night’ was a song that allowed me to feel connected to a community I identified with but had previously felt isolated from.
— Emily Furtado, Providence RI
‘Falling Slowly’ by Glen Hansard
— Dan, Cambridge MA
Chopin-Scherzo no.2 in b flat minor. Truly a musical masterpiece
‘That Teenage Feeling’ by Neko Case helped me remember what kind of love was worth finding and holding on to
— Mo, Baltimore MD
‘Transatlanticism’ by Death Cab for Cutie. It was a song that helped me feel all of the pain of leaving home for the first time.
— Madeline Heising, Boston MA
When I learned how to play ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ by Gershwin, i felt like i had truly mastered playing the piano. That changed my life.
‘Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise’ by the Avett Brothers - ‘Decide what to be, and go be it.’
— Dana, New York
‘Nothing is Easy’ by Jethro Tull because I realized you could play something besides guitar and drums and still play rock.
— Marc, Washington Heights NY
‘Down in the Valley’ by The Head and the Heart. It opened my eyes to modern day folk music and my life has been all the better for it!
— Rachael, Providence RI
‘Hard Time Killing Floor Blues’ by Skip James. I had never heard a song that sad and soulful before.
— Will, Boston MA
‘Jackie and Wilson’ by Hozier. It was a song that fit absolutely perfectly with my life, and the love of my life.
— Andrew, CT
Ex-Factor- Lauryn Hill
— Aisha, Brooklyn NY
‘S.O.B.’ b y Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats because it allowed me to use a bad word in front of my parents without getting in trouble.
— Regan, Woodbury CT
‘Death with Dignity’ by Sufjan Stevens....this music has helped me get through many difficult situations. Thank you Sufjan.
— Amanda, Pawtucket RI
‘I Won’t Give Up’ by Jason Mraz. This song became a staple for my girlfriend and I and has helped us through so many difficult times, but always reminds me that love is worth holding on to.
— Danny, Providence RI
‘King of Carrot Flowers (Pt. 1)’ by Neutral Milk Hotel
— Courtney, Somerville MA
‘Love shack’ by B52S. When I was a kid, the whole family would break out in song when “Love Shack” came on the radio. To this day, it’s my favorite karaoke song. Love Shack, Baby!
— Stephanie, Nashville TN
The song that changed my life is Langhorne Slim’s ‘Wild Soul.’ Whenever life gets stressful or a little hectic, I play this song and it reminds me to take a step back and appreciate the beauty the world has to offer. The line “I need honeysuckle breeze, Lord release my wild soul,” represents the whole vibe perfectly for me.
— Carolyn, Fairless Hills PA
‘Crane Wife #1, 2, & 3’ by The Decemberists. Seeing them at Folk Fest last year was the highlight of my year!
— Jamie, Washington DC
The song that changed my life is ‘Home,’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes! Home is whenever I’m with you, Newport Folk!
— Fil, Wakefield RI
The song that changed my life is ‘Please Pardon Yourself’ by The Avett Brothers. It was one of the songs that brought me in as a major fan. I’ve been to over 60 of their shows and even have the song tattooed on me! “The day will come, the sun will rise, and we’ll be fine”.
— Karissa, Hackettstown NJ
‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ - Took me from enjoying music as a spectator to actually making music with other people.
— James, Worcester MA
Billy Joel’s ‘Travelin’ Prayer’ changed my life. I was 10 years old, staying with a friend in Maine and I bought the tape in a little store in Ellsworth. I was instantly in love. When I got home I told my mother that I wanted to learn to play piano—the rest is history.
— Chrissie, New Orleans
I used to fall asleep at night listening to my dad sing me Peter Paul and Mary’s ‘Puff the Magic Dragon.’ It was my favorite lullaby and my first folk song!
— Michelle, RI
The song that changed my life is ‘And It Stoned Me’ by Van Morrison. My Dad’s favorite artist of all time is Van Morrison. And I’d heard many of the songs before. but, this was the first one that I felt was my own. I particularly fell for the line - It stoned me just like jelly roll.
— Perry, New York City
The song that definitely helped shape my love for rap and hip hop was probably ‘Without Me’ by Eminem. It was the first real rap song I had been introduced to, and led to my love of the genre.
— Carter, York PA
‘North American Scum.’ Heard it for the first time while driving on a road trip down to NOLA. My friend and I basically played it on a loop for 200 miles. It was awesome. We’re getting married next month.
— Alex, RI
The song that changed my life is: ‘Love Will Come to You’ by the Indigo Girls because as a closeted young man in the early 90s it gave me hope that one day everything would all work out in the end. And it does. ‘Hoping just because I spoke the words that its true.’
— JV Mercanti, Brooklyn NY
‘Jesus Loves the Little Children.’ Its the song that taught me I was living in a racist culture. “Where are all the red and yellow and black children?” They can’t be with us in church, but they’ll be with us in heaven. Huh?
— Robert
‘The girl’ by city and colour. When I first heard it it said everything I have ever felt for my wife, Breann Farnsworth. Music says what you can not. I love her and this song helped me tell her.
— Zach Erickson
Standing On The Moon
— Gregory Droggitis
‘Hallelujah’ - Rufus Wrainwright.

Always inspires and reminds me of the beauty in music
— C. Jamison, Wickford RI
‘Head full of doubt/road full of promise’ - The Avett Brothers
— Dan Fams, New York City
‘In Spite Of Ourselves’ by John Prine. It was the song I heard as I took my first steps as a married man, walking down the aisle with my beautiful wife
— Ben Shaw
The Violent Femmes ‘Hallowed Ground’ cuts me to the bone. If they play it I’ll probably weep like a maniac. Let’s hope that happens.
— Dan Soto, Stamford CT
‘Let it Be’ by the Beatles - it has helped me so much in my early life struggles and even now that I am older.
— Anna Simmons, Boston MA
‘The Eye’ by Brandi Carlile. ‘You can dance in a hurricane/Only if you’re standing in the eye.’
— Lindsey Sampson, Boston MA
‘Getting Ready to Get Down’ by Josh Ritter. Be the joy in the joyful and the laughter in the grief!
— Kathleen, Boston MA
‘Sigh no More’ by Mumford & Sons came out at a a very vulnerable time in my life. After years of hurting every time i took a breath, I got to a point where everything started to get back into place and I was finally able to breathe without sadness anymore and be ok about it.
— Diack Ba
‘Could I’ve been anyone other then me’ Dancing Nancies, Dave Matthews Band. I was 14, discovering DMB a few years after their big hit came out. I was an insecure teenager, full of angst. This song cried out- be you, be true to yourself. As much as it seems cliche to like them now, their music gets me through it all, 18 years later. Music does it that to me, and I love it. The song is called ‘Tripping Daisies’...
— Samantha Stafford
‘Celebration’ by Kool and The Gang
— Breezy J, BWater NJ
‘Everybody knows you only live a day but it’s brilliant anyway’ by Elliott Smith
— Jessica Grant, Massachusetts
‘And all my life I’ve been burning by the dreams I had’ - Delta Rae “Run”
— Zoe Bulger, Boston MA
‘Cover Me Up’ by Jason Isbelle, ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by Cream, and ‘Cowgirl In The Sand’ by Neil Young!
— Steve Marietti, Ohio
‘All Delighted People (Original Version)’ by Sufjan Stevens. Well, at this second anyways. A song unlike any I had heard before the synthesized this wondrously chaotic maelstrom of swirling strings and electronics, always bordering on the uncontrollable, balanced with the sparse and vulnerable quote of one of my other favorites, Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”. I remember bawling alone in my car pulled over and parked under a bridge in the early morning of a bad night listening to that for the first time and how comforting and reaffirming it was.
— Matt Barbosa