Records That Changed Our Lives: Finding hope in Tracy Chapman and 'Brand New Eyes' : All Songs Considered What record changed your life? NPR Music's Turning the Tables, which challenges sexism in the pop music canon, asked writers that question. Every week in March, we're diving into their answers.

Records That Changed Our Lives: Finding hope in Tracy Chapman and 'Brand New Eyes'

Records That Changed Our Lives: Finding hope in Tracy Chapman and 'Brand New Eyes'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1089166340/1089503416" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Paramore's Brand New Eyes and Tracy Chapman's Tracy Chapman are featured in our Records That Changed Our Lives series. Photo Illustration by Estefania Mitre/NPR/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Photo Illustration by Estefania Mitre/NPR/Getty Images

Paramore's Brand New Eyes and Tracy Chapman's Tracy Chapman are featured in our Records That Changed Our Lives series.

Photo Illustration by Estefania Mitre/NPR/Getty Images

What record changed your life?

Last year, NPR Music asked 12 writers to answer that question as part of Turning the Tables. That's our long-running project about musical greatness, where we discuss artists, histories and lists of songs and albums that make up the popular music canon and challenge the often sexist and exclusionary way that canon has been shaped. Turning the Tables has published lists of the 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women, the 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women+ and more. In last year's series, we turned the lens on our own lives by enlisting women and non-binary critics to each tell us about one life-changing record by a woman artist. This March, for Women's History Month, we're taking over All Song Considered every Wednesday to go deep with writers from the series.

This week, host Marissa Lorusso, who edited our Records That Changed Our Lives series, is joined by two writers whose essays describe just that — how a life-changing record can create the necessary space to find one's identity. Tracy Chapman's debut self-titled album was a companion to scholar Francesca T. Royster during a turbulent time of attending graduate school and coming to terms with her queer identity. And for writer Alex Ramos, Paramore's Brand New Eyes was a soundtrack to sorting through big questions of faith and family. For both, these albums acted as powerful reprieves and as means towards self-definition.

You can listen to our full conversation at the audio link at the top of the page, and hear songs we discussed below.

Featured Tracks And Artists:

1. Tracy Chapman: "Fast Car" from Tracy Chapman

YouTube

2. Tracy Chapman: "For My Lover" from Tracy Chapman

YouTube

3. Paramore: "Playing God" from Brand New Eyes

YouTube

4. Paramore: "Turn It Off" from Brand New Eyes

YouTube

5. Tracy Chapman: "Baby Can I Hold You" from Tracy Chapman

YouTube