Music shapes our identities and changes our lives. It brings back our memories and stirs up our emotions. My Song Stories asks music professionals and indie artists questions about the songs in their libraries. Today, Nate Rau, a Nashville-based music business reporter for the Tennessean, shares the artists and songs that have impacted his life and career.
By Kyle Bylin, author of Song Stories
Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Nate Rau. I'm the music business reporter for the Tennessean, a beat I've had since 2013. Prior to that I covered local government and sports and worked as an investigative reporter. For most of my life, music was just something I enjoyed as a fan, so it's been eye opening to see the business side of the industry in Nashville, where a wide array of businesses are thriving. You have major labels and creative startups doing business side by side, so my beat covers a diverse group of businesses.
What song have you most recently played non-stop or on repeat?
Lana Del Rey - "Love"
What song most compels you to sing along when it plays?
Parquet Courts - "Ducking and Dodging"
What song do you play when you need to feel motivated or inspired?
Wolf Parade - "I'll Believe in Anything"
What song are you most embarrassed to admit that you enjoy?
Len - "Steal My Sunshine"
What song in your library has developed a personal or deeper meaning?
My wife and I took a cross country trip in 2011 to see Animal Collective in concert. The show was supposed to be in Big Sur at the Henry Miller Library, but a mudslide forced it to be moved to Santa Clara. We listened to the band obsessively on that trip, especially "Summertime Clothes." I'm usually a guy who enjoys watching shows from the back of the club, but we were in the front of the stage and I'll never forget when they played that song. It was a special music vacation for us.
What five artists most influenced you when you were a teenager?
1) Weezer - "In the Garage"
2) Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Scar Tissue"
3) Pearl Jam - "Elderly Woman..."
4) Smashing Pumpkins - "1979"
5) Blink 182 - "Carousel"
What year did you graduate from high school?
What were your favorite activities or hobbies in high school?
I was really into sports and wrote for the high school paper. I was a pretty laid back kid whose defining memory of high school would be playing pickup basketball with my friends, listening to music, mostly alt-rock stuff from Chicago radio stations, and playing video games.
What five artists best represent your favorite music today?
1) Chris Stapleton - "Traveller"
2) Dolly Parton - "Blue Smoke"
3) Sleater-Kinney - "No Cities to Love"
4) Real Estate - "Talking Backwards"
5) The Hotelier - "Two Deliverances"
What is your most prized music possession or memorabilia?
I'm going to use my marriage and claim actually one of my wife's possessions - her mandolin. She's in an Americana band in Nashville and I bought it for her as a birthday present.
How would you describe music's role or importance in your life?
Between my wife being a musician and my job as a music business reporter, music totally occupies our lives. My 6-year-old son asked me to take him to a Radiohead concert, and also has started asking me to turn music down in the car so he can sing a song he wrote about dragons. That was when I realized how important music is to our family.
Kyle Bylin is the author of Song Stories: Music That Shaped Our Identities and Changed Our Lives, a collection of essays about songs that impacted people's lives. Read an excerpt here.