From the first time that I met Brad as a co-panelist on #ONedmentors, I was intrigued by his style. He is an honest, insightful and provocative educator who is not afraid to question the status quo. Brad Shreffler is the host of the Planning Period Podcast, a writer and an innovator. He is the Curriculum Resource Teacher at a high school in central Florida focusing on supporting and providing professional development for teachers. He runs the school’s student tech support squad and has now taken on overseeing a peer tutoring initiative with high achieving students being paired with younger students in need of support, Brad has a fine balance of working with teachers and students.

Brad’s eclectic taste in music made the task of preparing for his guest appearance on the Personal Playlist Podcast an “unbelievable” challenge but a “great one”. He was concerned about his deep connection to nostalgia and its draw  in the pursuit of his first song of the three, but I reassured him that he was not alone. I had recently posted about the power of nostalgia in music, so I tried to ease his concern that he was overly focused on the songs of his past, as this is quite a normal phenomenon.

When I first saw the artist of Brad’s nostalgic song, I was sure it was one of the parodies that I knew from my youth. Not only was I wrong, and much older than Brad, as it turned out, but the song incorporated a lot of parts of Brad’s past. It was written to the melody of a classic tune, but the lyrics are recap of the most epic movie series of all times. As Brad proceeded to introduce this song choice, we learned that Brad was motivated to do well in school by being offered a CD as an incentive. The first album he “earned” was Running With Scissors by Weird Al Yankovic. Not only do we get insight into Brad’s sense of humour, we learned of his deep affinity with the Star Wars saga referring to himself as a Star Wars geek. According to our guest, one of the best messages from the artist is to, “Be yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously.” Here is The Saga Begins to the tune of the Don Maclean classic, American Pie.

When Brad began introducing his identity song, he went back to his childhood and said that we were taking a 180°. His chosen song is about divorce, and it relates to him in many ways. This song speaks to him both as a child of divorce and as someone who is divorced. This album, called Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, has a lot of songs that made him listen to  his Walkman over and over, with headphones on all the time. Brad said, “This might have been one of the first times that I looked at music as being able to tell my story.” He really connected to this song and even wondered if it was written about his life. Brad used examples from the song  as points of deep connection or lines that felt more like a personal narrative saying, “It connected to me so much at a higher level.” It’s amazing how personal connections can change how you take in a song, and the music changed for him as the father of a child experiencing divorce. It helps Brad consider his past and make sure that his son can’t relate to this song like he can. Here’s Blink 182 with Stay Together.

It was the right time to introduce the third song on the playlist: the pick me up (though other descriptors include theme song, happy song, inspirational song or motivator). After gauging Brad’s age, I inferred that his foray into this song was from a hilarious scene in a movie based on character developed on Saturday Night Live.  Wayne’s World, the movie,  features two small town guys who, among other things, like to listen to great rock and roll. The movie actually re-launched Brad’s song choice’s popularity, putting it back on the music charts and helping the band begin a comeback after the death of their lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Brad loves the song so much that even when hearing it in the background, sitting in the women’s intimates aisle in a department store, he was unabashedly “headbanging like a lunatic”. He added, “I could think of a lot of songs that I’ll sing to anytime they come on, but I can’t think of any other song that has the physical response that this song does.” I couldn’t find a place to edit the song, so it plays in its entirety on the podcast. “I think this might have been my first introduction to music as a storytelling medium.” I hadn’t played it yet, but Brad was already smiling ear to ear in anticipation.  Here is the “phenomenal” Bohemian Rhapsody.

Listening to the song was so much fun, and so was the P3 experience with Brad. Some of the additional songs that he mentioned that he couldn’t find a way to include were Marshall Mathers LP 2 and The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps. He also mentioned You’ll Never Walk Alone, which he used to play in band after every football game. As I thanked Brad for spending this time with me, he thanked me for, “…forcing [him] to pick songs and relive [his] own life.” While reflecting on the degree of honesty about his personal life in this podcast, he noted, “I think that IS the power of music- to get some real powerful truth in a way that I wouldn’t normally do.”