Alone: A Love Story

Season 3: Mixtape

The music and the stories about the music in Season 3!
The music that's woven through all my stories. (Michelle Parise)


Music mentioned in Chapter 21 - Courage

1. Road to Nowhere - The Talking Heads   

The vignette called Road to Nowhere is a nod to the 1985 Talking Heads song of the same name. Not my favourite Talking Heads song, but a pretty good one, even though it's only two chords.

David Byrne said he wrote it because he wanted to write a song that was "a resigned, even joyful look at doom" which I think is probably the best way to sum up my motivation for writing Alone: A Love Story!

2. Political - Spirit of the West   

There's a part of this vignette where I say:

I've had it with these sporadic bursts of love and affection. The reeling in and casting out.

That's a riff on the 1988 song Political by Canadian band Spirit of the West.

Then you'd reel me in, ream me out,
pick me up, push me out again.
And then repeat it.

The lyrics of this song are so spot on for relationships/breakdown of relationships (okay, some relationships!) There are actually two different versions of this song, the one above which is the original and then another with a different melody and much more upbeat rockin' out which they released in 1991 as a single off their album Go Figure. I like both versions and mix them together (unintentionally!) whenever I play guitar and sing it.

Music mentioned in Chapter 22 - Variations

3. Crown of Love - Arcade Fire

The vignette called Blindness gets its title from the line I say:

We kissed in a doorway. Our first kiss. And this is the moment, where we both chose blindness, however subconsciously.

The idea of choosing intentional "blindness" for things we know are going to be bad for us, is obviously a theme for me and The Man With the White Shirt. And, it always makes me think of a line from the Arcade Fire song Crown of Love:

They say it fades if you let it,
Love was made to forget it.
I carved your name across my eyelids,
You pray for rain I pray for blindness.

Yeah, I know. Hopeless romantic/masochist, that's me.

4. Time (Clock Of The Heart) - Culture Club

There are a lot of songs about time, but the song I think of most with the little vignette called Time is Time (Clock Of The Heart) by Culture Club.

Ooh, in time we could have been so much more ...

First of all, I love Boy George's voice so much, ever since I first heard him sing way back when I was in Grade 3. But my favourite Culture Club song is Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? which is still a total jam if you ask me. I never get tired of it! Helps with the slowwwwwww wound-healing.

5. I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life - Holly Cole Trio

Also in the vignette called Time, I say:

I want to be able to laugh it off, I mean, really laugh it off, like laugh him right out of my life, but I'm stuck with him forever.

And that's a little riff on the song I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life originally recorded by one of my favourite singers of all time, Nat King Cole, on his dreamy 1957 album This Is Nat King Cole.

But in the rare case of this song, I prefer a not-Nat version, by the inimitable (and Canadian!) Holly Cole Trio.

Music mentioned in Chapter 23 - In Dreams

6. In Dreams - Roy Orbison

The title of this chapter comes from my favourite Roy Orbison song ever, 1963's In Dreams. Holy man could he could sing. His range in this song is astounding! I think he changes key every four bars or something.

Actually, there are seven distinct musical movements in the song, each with their own melody and chord structure. It never repeats itself! In a 2 minute and 48 second ladder, he masterfully climbs through two octaves. It's bananas for a pop-rock song.

7. Ho Hey - The Lumineers

The vignette called Brooklyn, is all about an unexpected weekend romance I had while in New York City for a wedding. It was with with the best man, I mean how rom-com plot-line is that!

While we had this little romance, I mostly really did forget about The Man With the White Shirt. Mostly. But there was one point, as Best Man and I wandered around Manhattan, where we came upon an intersection that immediately brought a song (and White Shirt) flooding into my head. 

Think of what it might have been
If we took a bus to Chinatown
I'd be standin' on Canal and Bowery, she'd be standin' next to me

Yeah, standing with The Best Man at the corner of Canal and Bowery, an intersection I'd only ever heard of in the song Ho Hey by The Lumineers, I thought of The Man With the White Shirt. The lyrics were so apt, you know? 

I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart

8. New York - St. Vincent

There are a ton of songs about New York City, including the terrific Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. But the lyrics of St. Vincent's New York really say it all for me.

New love wasn't true love back to you love ...

That one line is basically the summary of Brooklyn​, you know? This song is SO good and so short, so I often listen to it twice in a row.

Also, St.Vincent (aka Annie Clark) is a total badass lady. Did you know she designed the first electric guitar for women? As those of us who play guitar well know, it isn't easy when you have boobs that get in the way and small hands that make fretting difficult. Also electric guitars weigh a f---ing ton. I dream of one day getting one of these guitars for women!

9. Pick a Direction - Yahenda

My head says one thing, my heart says another
Why can't they just get along with each other?

I mean, there's the eternal question right there. These are the lyrics of the song Pick a Direction by Yahenda.

You hear a lot of this song, and stripped down variations of it, in Season 3 of Alone: A Love Story. That's because they perfectly sum up the years and years of back and forth with The Man With the White Shirt.

The fun fact here is that I don't use it in the vignette called Pick a Direction, which is about me and White Shirt trying desperately to pick head over heart ... and failing. Again.

Music mentioned in Chapter 24 - Falling

10. Falling - Michael Kiwanuka

This chapter is called Falling and there are a billion songs out there with the same name but no song reverberated in my mind as much as Falling by the incredible Michael Kiwanuka.

This song is off the album Love & Hate and I don't know if there's any album I've listened to more over the past few years, it is that good, top to finish. It is a perfect album in the old-sense of it, the way we used to listen to full albums, not just singles, like we do now.

11. Running Up That Hill - Kate Bush

Chapter 24 is almost entirely flashback. We start in 2009, with a vignette called Finish Line, where, married with a two-year-old and still freshly living with the recent diagnosis of MS, I get the crazy idea that I am going to run a 10k.

Maybe this is cheesy but, in case you're dying to know, the first song on the playlist is Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush.

I also name-check a bunch of other artists I had in my perfectly-crafted race playlist:

12. Fire in Freetown - K'naan

I love Fire in Freetown so I'm pretty sure it was this song, but it's possible it was the awesome ABC's (featuring the legendary Chubb Rock!) both from 2009's Troubador, which is a perfect album I never get sick of.


13. The Guns of Brixton - The Clash

The Guns of Brixton is an excellent Clash song, off of the seminal 1979 album London Calling.

14. Mansard Roof - Vampire Weekend

Mansard Roof by Vampire Weekend, because I love any song that clocks in under 2.5 minutes.

15. 1er Gaou - Magic System

Originally released in 1999, Magic System had a massive hit with 1er Gaou in France in 2002, and no wonder. It's a massive hit in my apartment in any year.

Music mentioned in Chapter 25 - Lost

16. By Your Side - Sade

The beautiful little vignette called The Constant, takes place in the basement of the hospital where I get my yearly MRIs and you learn that year after year, no matter what, The Man With the White Shirt comes with me. It's a pretty over-the-top gushy ode to our weird love.

And if my words aren't romantic enough, please take a moment for Sade, the Patron Saint of Alone: A Love Story, to sing you By Your Side ...

Oh, when you're cold
I'll be there, hold you tight to me
When you're lost
You're alone and you can't get back again
I'll find you, darling, and I'll bring you home

17. Sea of Love - The Honeydrippers

Chapter 25 ends with a vignette called To the Sea, and there are a lot of songs about that ole sea we call love. In fact, there are a lot of songs called Sea of Love! Including this one from one of my favourite albums Trouble Will Find Me by one of my favourite bands, The National.

But the unofficial song of this vignette for me is Sea of Love by The Honeydrippers. Yes, I am serious! Please, Robert Plant is brilliantly cool on this song. His voice is buttery gold.

Fun fact: I usually don't love covers, but I LOVE this cover. I remember at the Grade 4 end-of-year party, I got to dance to it with the boy I really liked, Tony 3 (yes, there were no less than four boys named Tony in my Grade!)

Extra fun fact: I also named my Grade 4 floor hockey team The Honeydrippers. This is the kind of 9-year-old I was. Music music MUSIC!

Music mentioned in Chapter 26 - Caution

18. Caution - Bob Marley

This chapter is called Caution, which is a nod to my favourite Bob Marley song,  Caution, which is on the incredible album Kaya, which came out 41 years ago, in March 1978!

19. Baby, I Love You - Aretha Franklin

I love the little vignette called This Love Is Not Simple, it has some great lines if I do say so myself. But it's also super eye-rolling too. You want to just shout at me Seriously!?! Which is why I poke fun at myself about it.

I can just whisper it into his ear and not feel like a heartbreak soul singer from the 60s, lovin' a man no matter that he can't love her back the way she needs. But that's who I am. I'm a heartbreak soul singer from the 60s. I'll take whatever he gives me, but sing sassily about it.

The very specific heartbreak song I was thinking of when I wrote this is Baby, I Love You by Aretha Franklin.

I mean, holy lord if this isn't a paean to submission I don't what is! The sentiment of this song, and the corresponding way I felt about The Man With the White Shirt is the reason therapy exists. Lots and lots of therapy.

20. Let the Happiness In - David Sylvian 

In the vignette called It Exists, The Man With the White Shirt decides to really try with me. Starting with saying "Happy Anniversary" to me three years to the very day we first met.

I want this anniversary to be happy, I do. I want to let the happiness in, but I don't know if it's real this time.

That line is a nod to the song Let the Happiness In by David Sylvian, who was the frontman of the 70s/80s band Japan, but went on to a solo career of esoteric, brainy music and collaborations with people like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Robert Fripp.

This song is from the beautiful 1987 album Secrets of the Beehive, introduced to me by my ex-boyfriend The Musician, who was a huge David Sylvian fan. The lyrics feel just right for this part of the story, and all of it, actually!

Listen to the waves against the rocks
I don't know where they've been
I'm waiting for the skies to open up
And let the happiness in

21. One of Us Cannot Be Wrong - Leonard Cohen

There is a tiny vignette called One of Us Cannot Be Wrong, that's an excerpt from an actual email I sent The Man With the White Shirt on Canada Day 2014. The title is a direct steal from the Leonard Cohen song of the same name.

But you stand there so nice in your blizzard of ice,
Oh please let me come into the storm

Is there anything better than that line? No, unless it is any other line from the master poet and my hero, LC.

Music mentioned in Chapter 27 - Blow Away

22. Blow Away - Yahenda

Chapter 27 is called Blow Away, after the song Blow Away by Yahenda. This song (and variations of) is used as the main Man With the White Shirt theme in all 3 seasons of Alone: A Love Story

And even if I'm just a paper doll, I'll fold into myself and learn to fly 
While the winds of change blow through you all, they pull me up to the sky
I'm up in the sky and I feel like I could blow away

23. Noite e Amantes - Philippe de Sousa feat. Marisa Teixeira

There is a beautiful song you hear in the vignette called Trying, when I am talking about White Shirt's family and my obsession with where they are from (Angola and Portugal.) As I talk about trying to learn Portuguese, the music you hear is a fado song called Noite e Amantes (Night and Lovers) by Philippe de Sousa feat. Marisa Teixeira.

Fado translates to fate, and basically every fado song makes me cry. There's something so tortured and beautiful about the melodies. There's a reason the Portuguese have the word saudade in their lexicon and that it's tied to fado music, both melancholic. I know, it's surprising I'm not Portuguese.

Music mentioned in Chapter 28 - Love After Love

24. Fleetwood Mac -You Make Loving Fun 

There's a tiny scene in Shamble where Farm Boy and I kiss on New Year's Eve and I flash back to The Man With the White Shirt.

He kisses me long and sweet, there in my friend The Lawyer's living room, so close to the spot where just the year before, The Man With the White Shirt kissed me at midnight then said it was the best New Year's kiss he's ever had, that it was his happiest New Year's Eve.

And right after, Fleetwood Mac's "You Make Loving Fun" came on, and we laughed and sang it out loud in each others' arms. It was always my least favourite song on that album, I thought it was so cheesy, until that moment when it became my favourite, because now it was a memory and a feeling.

Normally I'm all for a Christine McVie-penned song, but You Make Loving Fun was always a bit cornball to me. Until this moment, as I said.

While it's true I do have a soft spot for it now, it's hardly my favourite song on Rumours! C'mon Parise, keep the hyperbole to a minimum! There are at least four songs on that album that are my favourite before this one, no matter how lovely the memory attached to it is!

(What's that? You want to know what my favourite favourite is? Well, okay! It's the Stevie Nicks song Dreams, which is a karaoke staple for me and also has the truest lyrics ever. Stevie knows what's what.)

25. Paul Weller - Wild Wood 

The final vignette of the entire series is called Wildwood, after one of my favourite songs ever, Wild Wood by Paul Weller.

Climbing, forever trying
Find your way out of the wild, wild wood
Now there's no justice
Only yourself that you can trust in
Climbing, forever trying
Said you are gonna find you way out of the wild, wild wood

This song speaks to me. It's always been there with me, through this entire ordeal, as a mantra. A reminder that one day I will not be lost in the thicket. I will be out of the woods. All the arboreal cliches will be behind me.

I love it so much, it's etched on the back of my beloved iPod Classic!

One day, Paul Weller, one day. (Michelle Parise)

Want to keep up with Alone: A Love Story? Listen for free on your favourite podcast app. 

About Michelle Parise

Award-winning producer Michelle Parise is the writer, performer and producer of Alone: A Love Story, a book she began writing in January 2013 and adapted into a podcast for CBC in 2017.

She's worked for CBC Radio and Television for over two decades. Michelle was born and raised in Toronto in a gigantic Italian immigrant family where she was surrounded by storytellers.

As a child she wrote hundreds of short stories about her life. Her commitment to honest storytelling started early and is part of everything she creates, continually striving to make connection through shared experience.